Don’t Let Thugs Abuse the System

West Virginians have been doing more to give drug criminals and intoxicated drivers second chances during the past few years. In part, that is not because we are especially forgiving, but due to pressure to ease overcrowding in regional jails and prisons.

Instead of being packed off to serve jail or prison terms, some offenders are being told they can escape cell time by completing drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. Many have done so.

But some do not take advantage of the deal.

A Charleston man, Michael Salisbury, 29, made headlines recently. Salisbury had been convicted of fleeing arrest while driving intoxicated in 2011. Last May his sentence was suspended, on condition that he attend a drug rehabilitation program.

Salisbury was kicked out of the program after he tested positive for methamphetamine. But due to what officials are blaming on a miscommunication, he was not sent back to jail.

Police say that on March 6, Salisbury went into a woman’s home and forced her to perform sex acts – in front of her children. Later, he allegedly forced her to withdraw money from an ATM machine.

If convicted, Salisbury probably will serve a long prison term. But why was he at large in the first place?

Clearly, rotten apples who abuse the new drug and alcohol treatment program should be re-arrested immediately. Northern Panhandle officials should ensure nothing like what happened in Charleston occurs in our area.