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The special court was initiated in 2015 as county officials struggled with a growing drug epidemic that has flooded courtrooms with cases and prisons with addicted defendants. The number of fatal drug overdoses in Westmoreland County has set record highs every year since 2009. The county recorded 176 fatal drug overdoses in 2016, and the rate this year is on track to surpass that, according to the coroner’s office.
Westmoreland County’s drug court can handle 50 defendants.
“This graduation proves what we knew all along: drug court works. I’d like to have it expanded, because we have a waiting list of more than 20 people. I’d like to see the capacity doubled,” said Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio, who oversees the program along with Judge Christopher Feliciani.