Felicia King, Lauren McKee, Zack Liner and Colleen Henson all completed the two-year program with no drug screenings finding anything besides physician-prescribed medication, according to Dr. Linda Wells, action counselor in the program.
Wells said she could see the positive impact successfully completing the program was having on the individuals’ families.
All the graduates credited the roles of several community leaders who they said have worked tirelessly to make the program a success.
“You all are life savers,” Liner said. “You saved my life. I’d either be in jail or dead (if it wasn’t for this program).”
King received a special presentation in addition to the plaque presented by Judge Carroll Ross when her daughters presented her with a single rose.
Also during the ceremony, many family members and members of the drug court expressed how proud they were of the graduates.
State Rep. John Forgety recounted the story of David and Goliath during the graduation ceremony and encouraged those present to have faith and stand against the giants in their lives.
The drug court program was implemented in the 10th Judicial District eight years ago as an alternative sentencing option for those arrested on felony drug charges.
“This program is designed for people who want to solve their drug problem,” Ross said.
The program is completed in a series of four phases and a year-long aftercare program. During that time, participants must meet with the action counselor and attend drug court meetings on a regular basis.
Also as a part of the program students are required to write their life stories.
According to public defender Richard Hughes, new legislation supported by state Sen. Mike Bell and State Rep. Eric Watson that takes effect July 1 will open up this alternative sentencing to more people.
He said the new law would expand the program to allow those with felony drug charges and charges of forceful crimes that had been dismissed to be eligible for drug court as an alternative sentence.
Those convicted of crimes involving force are still ineligible. Previously, those with charges of crimes involving force, even if they were dismissed, were not eligible.