SOUTH BEND - Lola Savidge, 32, of Grayland, entered a guilty plea to possession of heroin and was sentenced to a year in prison followed by 12 months of community custody (probation), which will require completion of drug treatment.
"Ms. Savidge had been participating in the Pacific County Drug Court Program, but unfortunately, and despite our best efforts, she was not successful and was removed from the program," said Pacific County Prosecutor Mark McClain.
McClain, along with the Pacific County County Clerk Virginia Leach, and Superior Court Judge Michael Sullivan, volunteer their time in support of a program designed to reduce the local cost of incarceration. The 15-month Drug Court program requires participants to complete drug treatment, high school education, moral recognition therapy, and attend weekly meetings with the judge, clerk and prosecutor.
"The program recognizes there will be bumps along the way and is designed to swiftly address missteps, usually with short stays in jail or other sanctions thereby reducing the cost of overall jail expense while promoting sobriety," McClain explained. "Sanctions increase with dishonestly or based on the type and frequency of the misstep.
"The savings locally is significant and the program is designed to make jail seem extremely less attractive, which is likely why Ms. Savidge asked to go to prison rather than be sentenced to the range set by the legislature," McClain continued. "She actually asked for a longer sentence than the legislature authorized for her offense and the charge."
Savidge's range was 6 to 12 months in county jail. While the county has supported the program with some funds, the judge, clerk and prosecutor volunteer, something that is likely to continue according to McClain.
"While most counties fund employee's time to support these types of cost-saving programs, our county is unable to do so, but the judge and clerk have stepped up to make this program a success and it is our goal to continue this program as long as we are able to given staffing levels," noted McClain.
"I cannot say enough about the dedication of Virginia Leach and Judge Sullivan in their efforts for this program over the years," McClain said. "These kinds of programs are personally taxing on those who work with these defendants, as we often get to know them on a very personal level and come to know their families and children along the way. So when they fail, it frequently feels like a personal failure, which is why these dedicated public servants who have given so much to this program merit our thanks; not only for the savings to the county, but also for being able to give so much for those who we frequently forget."