U.S. Attorney announces pilot drug pre-conviction drug program

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced on Friday that the District of South Carolina will participate in a pilot Federal drug court called "The BRIDGE Program". The program is one of the nation's first Federal pre-conviction drug courts and brings together a team of professionals to address cases involving non-violent substance and drug abusers.

The program is unique because it brings criminal justice and drug treatment professionals together. The team will be led by a judge and includes a court staff, attorneys, probation officers, substance abuse evaluators, treatment professionals. Their mission is to maintain a critical balance of authority, supervision, support and encouragement which aims at breaking the cycle of criminal behavior, alcohol and drug abuse and incarceration reducing re-arrest and conviction rates.

The BRIDGE Program is an effort between the U.S. District Court, U.S. Probation Office, Federal Public Defender's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office. The pilot program will start in Charleston, SC.

Although there are numerous other state drug courts operating in South Carolina, the BRIDGE program is the first pre-conviction drug courts.

"I am very excited about the BRIDGE program, and the opportunities it presents," said U.S. Attorney Nettles in a news release. "The program's high level of defendant supervision keeps the public safe in the short term, while the program's efforts at rehabilitating defendants keeps the public safe in the long term.  And successful participants ultimately become more productive members of society. It truly is a 'win-win'".