KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — North Carolina’s 8th Judicial District Recovery Courts have implemented a new program that could expunge the criminal record of those pending charges for substance use-related crimes in exchange for the completion of their 14- to 18-week Recovery and Rehabilitation Program.

Those eligible are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with the majority approved and exceptions for those facing violent or trafficking crimes. Those with the program said this not only helps an offender’s criminal record but also provides steps necessary to help them as a whole.

“If they need housing, we can provide housing, if they need detox, we can provide that, any support services they may need for a 14- to 18-month period of time, and at the end of that time if they have been successful, and we hope they will, their charges are dismissed and expunged off their record,” said Adult Accountability and Recovery Court Administrator, Colleen Kosinski.

“They realize there is a problem, and they are reaching out to us, not guaranteeing they would be successful but doing everything we can to help them be successful,” said Audra Haddad, Family Accountability and Recovery Court Administrator.

WNCT spoke with Kinston community leaders to learn about their support for a program like this.

“When we’re talking about substance use and addiction, it’s a lot different than violent crimes, we’re not talking about people that are shooting people, were talking about people that got addicted to a narcotic or drug for various reasons and here’s an opportunity for them to go through the court system and really come back to our community and become a productive citizen,” said Kinston Police Chief Keith Goyette.

“I think it’s a big deal for Kinston and Lenoir County that we have such a program in place to be able to put themselves, their lives, their families in a better position to move forward with their lives so hopefully they take advantage of it,” Kinston Mayor Don Hardy said.

Although the program is only eligible for people with pending substance use charges against them, Recovery Court Administrators said they can refer similar programs to community members without a criminal record.