On Dec. 2, Pima County officials unveiled the details of a $1.1 million federal grant that would fund a program to provide substance abuse treatment as an alternative to prison time for people convicted of certain drug offenses.

“Substance abuse really ravages our neighborhoods and our community,” said Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall. The county has seen a 171 percent increase in drug offenses since 2002, she noted.

The grant would fund a Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison Project. LaWall said it would be the first of its kind in the state. Its goal would be to save money on incarceration expenses by providing treatment and preventing recidivism. Candidates for the program would have to meet specific criteria to participate.

Also at the news conference were Pima County Superior Court Presiding Judge Jan Kearney, Pima County Public Defender Robert Hirsh and The Haven treatment center director Margaret Higgins.

For more on this story, read next week’s Explorer.

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