HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Soon, some drug offenders will have a choice to either straighten their act or face charges and go to jail.
The STAND program started in North Charleston a few years ago and has since become a means of removing drug activity from the streets.
“It gets at some of the problems that we have with youngsters that are allegedly standing on the corner selling drugs,” Dr. Alvin Heatley of Hartsville said.
Dr. Alvin Heatley is just one of the many people who live in Hartsville looking forward to a new program that will begin in January. The program is aimed at getting drugs off the streets.
“You can become a productive citizen, instead of a person that decides to sell drugs and do criminal activity,” Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson said.
Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson said the STAND program, also known as Stop and Take Another Direction, will help give a second chance to those caught with drugs, on a misdemeanor level.
The STAND program has been used throughout South Carolina and proves to be successful, according to the chief.
“Conway is on board and they're doing it; Aiken is doing something similar I think there are some other municipalities as well trying to do it,” Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson said.
Hartsville police are partnering with state agencies to help enforce the program.
This is how STAND works:
If someone is arrested on a misdemeanor charge for selling drugs, police will be able to offer that alleged criminal a chance to either face charges or enroll in the yearlong STAND program.
“We can help you get your GED; we can offer you job opportunities and you can get back in the main stream of life,” Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson said.
People like Heatley say STAND will help create a stronger sense of community.
“I think it will bring the community together because I think in order for the program to be successful the people in these particular communities will have to work together,” Dr. Alvin Heatley of Hartsville said.
“It's geared toward our young people. We preach all the time about saving our youth and saving our young and that's what we are trying to do,” Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson said.
WMBF News asked the chief about concerns -- whether STAND is being too lenient on drug offenders. He says because of the programs' track record he doesn't believe so.
“I say you have to be in their shoes. And you have to be a family member of theirs. You have to be someone who cares about them. If you care about your family members you want them to have a second chance,” Hartsville Police Chief James Hudson said.
Only misdemeanor drug offenders will be eligible for this program.
If someone has a felony drug charge they will go straight to jail.