New initiative targets drug market on Charleston's West Side - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

New initiative targets drug market on Charleston's west side

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CHARLESTON, West Virginia -

The problem is a trend of drug violence on Charleston's west side.

The goal is to curb that trend.

The plan is called the Drug Market Intervention.

It's a program new to Charleston that will change the way criminals are punished.

It works like this: A non-violent low-level drug offender will get a chance for 'alternative sentencing'. 

"It gives them a golden second chance," said U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin."Give them a chance to do something positive."

Doing that, the hope is, will cut the legs out from underneath the drug market.

It's a plan that has seen success in other areas, including Huntington's Fairfield neighborhood.

According to Goodwin, that area, which was responsible for 60 percent of Huntington's crime was reduced to ten percent just six months later.

"Marked drops in all facets of crime," said Goodwin.

It's a plan that has gotten the support of Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster, community activists and others.

Some in the area, however, see the program as racially charged. 13News crews talked to one woman, who asked not to be identified, who called the plan an 'attack'.

She, and others, will have a chance to sound off at a meeting scheduled Thursday at 6 p.m. at New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church.