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Delaware County program that offers free counseling to low-level drug offenders is working, officials say

Delaware County officials discuss drug treatment program
Delaware County officials discuss drug treatment program 02:02

CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — People arrested for crimes like drug possession often end up in a courtroom. But now there's a program in Delaware County that offers them an alternative to the criminal justice system.

Instead of police arresting low-level drug offenders, they will offer them the option to get free counseling through a 90-day program at MVP Recovery in Chester.

"We're talking about our holistic approach that we've taken to the war on drugs and really, the war on addiction," Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said during a press conference.

If defendants successfully complete the diversion program, their criminal charges will be dropped. If they don't, the charges will be reinstated. This is part of the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI).

"It's a game changer," Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said.

Phil Waibel, runs the LETI program at MVP Recovery, and said it's been a success so far.

"I spent the last year, year and a half, going to police departments and sharing what an amazing opportunity this program is," Waibel said.

Since Delaware County adopted LETI about three years ago, officials say it's working. More than 140 people have been diverted away from the criminal justice system, and about half have already completed the program, Stollsteimer said.

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