By Mike Dougherty

MEDIA, PA (CBS) — Law enforcement officials in Delaware County are trying to help people who have fallen into the hole of heroin addiction by giving first-time offenders a second chance.

Cooperation is key in the Second Chance Court program. Police, district judges, county judges and the DA’s office are all working toward a common goal.

“This program is geared toward young individuals that are getting jammed up because of their addiction, because they’re committing crimes of theft,” said District Attorney Jack Whelan.

He says 2nd Chance Court is for people age 18 to 25 with little-to-no criminal record.

“For the parents and for the people of Delaware County so that we can make a difference,” Whelan said.

When an addict is arrested for theft, the process begins with local police, and eventually judges will decide if that person gets enrolled in the program.

Judge John Capuzzi says addicts who are accepted will be taken for treatment instead of sending them to jail or releasing them on bail; reducing drug dependency as well as recidivism rates is the goal.

“We’re trying to break that cycle. We want to get it right in the beginning,” said Capuzzi.

He says the beauty of the program is that it can be tailored to suit the needs of each individual.

“Recovering addicts have stressed the fact that the optimum time for intervening, in an attempt to stem the addiction cycle, was immediately after the first arrest,” Capuzzi said.

He expects about 100 to 120 people to enter the program in the first year. Those who commit violent crimes are ineligible.

Judge Capuzzi says he has seen countless sob stories from the bench and, until now, he was unable to give those defendants the help they needed.

“Everybody is an individual, and that’s what we’re gonna do. Treat people as individuals,” he said.

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