She was told she would never stick with the program.
He had been a drug user for 35 years.
However, both overcame to become a part of the most recent graduation of the 10th Judicial District Drug Court .
The drug court is a form of alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders on drug charges. It gives them a chance to stay out of jail and get help, according to drug court coordinator Jill Barrett.
Originally, the program was a year long and completed in four phases. The program was extended to two years after the court saw graduates returning to drugs. Judge Carroll Ross, who presides over the drug court, said the court had great cooperation throughout the counties of the 10th District. The court meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
On Tuesday, five people graduated from the program. All those who run the program except for the case worker and Barrett are volunteers. Everyone said they were proud of the graduates.
“I’m proud of myself,” graduate Jessica Crumley said.
Crumley had been pregnant when she started the program. This motivated her to stay with the program, and her baby was born drug free. She has recently moved to a new home and wants to concentrate on being a good mom. Crumley also said she does not want to go back to her old lifestyle.
Ross reminded graduates this is only the beginning.
“Its a lifestyle change,” Barrett said.
Graduate Joni Martin said the most difficult part of staying drug free is staying away from former friends who were a part of that lifestyle.
For Steve Bigham, it was an unreal feeling to graduate form the drug court. He said his goals moving forward are to spend more time with his children and grandchildren, “keep working, and stay drug free.”
Ross encouraged graduates to take the advice of those who loved them and had supported them in the process.
“That’s the best part of law enforcement— seeing people change,” Sheriff Jim Ruth said during the ceremony.
Some in the program have been in jail and find themselves facing the same issues, others are sent to drug court after violating probation.
Martin said wanting to keep from going back to jail kept her motivated to stick with the program, despite those who told her she would never see graduation day. Even her husband, a former graduate of the program, did not think she would or could stick with it. Not only has Martin completed the drug court program, she is now attending Cleveland State Community College as a legal assistant major. She will be a sophomore in the fall.
The drug court started in 2004 and is made possible through the drug task force and several people, including the district attorney’s office, the public defender, case workers and probation officers.
In addition to attending drug court, participants are also required to have a full-time job and meet with Action Counseling and Consulting multiple times a week. Action Counseling is a private company categorized under Social Service and Welfare Organizations.
Dr. Linda Wells said individuals in the program spend between nine to 12 hours with Action each week. Wells said she wanted to be a part of the program because she has seen that treatment works better than jail time.