MADISON — As each graduate of drug court stood up to get their diplomas, pictures were snapped, applause came from the audience and a few tears were shed as each name was called by the Honorable William S. Thompson, 25th Circuit Court Judge out of Boone County.
Thompson honored graduates from the adult and juvenile drug courts in both Boone and Lincoln counties.
“The program has been successful for many and continues to grow by leaps and bounds,” Thompson said. “This is a time to celebrate, because if not for drug court these people would be serving time in the state penitentiary.”
Thompson says although there is some recidivism, drug court rehabilitates many addicts.
“This is not an easy program,” he said. “But for those wanting help and wanting to change their lives, this program can really help.”
The ceremony was held at the Boone County Heritage & Arts Center on Main Street in downtown Madison on Wed., July 2, 2014.
These graduates weren’t receiving a high school or college degree. Instead, they were receiving confirmation they have made it drug-free throughout the program.
There were eight graduates, five adults and three juveniles. Some have graduated from high school and others from college, but all appear to be on the right road for a better future.
“We are very proud of all of these graduates,” Thompson said. “This shows their dedication and many are already working and have become productive citizens.”
Geneva Callahan was one of the graduates and said drug court opened her eyes and changed her life.
“You have got to want to make a change in your life,” she said. “You have to want it to get it and work for it and it will happen.”
Callahan participated in Lincoln County. After a few early setbacks, she made it phase 3 and promised her probation officer and the judge the only thing she would ever have to apologize for is if she stepped on their foot.
“She has kept that promise,” Judge Thompson said.
Jenny White participated in Lincoln County drug court after transferring from Cabell County. She entered the program after completing the 28 day program at Pinecrest.
“Jenny made it through the program with only one minor setback,” the judge said. “She has since became a mentor and leader to the other participants. She has gone above and beyond, just completing the program by assisting the planning and evaluation meetings, meetings to establish community support and has even participated in treatment team.”
Rodney Smith also participated in Lincoln County and completed the program in one year.
“He was able to obtain employment, working out of town during phase 3 and did not miss one drug screen,” the judge said. “We are very proud of him.”
Erik Hall and Joshua Halstead both participated in Boone County.
“Eric made it through the program with very few mistakes,” Thompson said. “Eric is currently enrolled at Marshall University working towards receiving his master’s degree.”
Halstead took a little longer to complete the program, the judge said.
“Josh was very well-liked by participants and staff,” the judge said. “He finally made it and I know he will enjoy having more time to be in the woods hunting Ginseng.”
Every graduate from drug court was at one time convicted of a drug-related crime.
Thompson said that drug court gives participants a second chance to go through guided rehabilitation, instead of having to live through confinement in jail.
“You never want to see a person fail,” he said. “This is a program that can make a difference in our community.”
Thompson said drugs have affected every family in both counties.
“It breaks my heart to see what drugs are doing to our community and families,” he said. “As you see, most of these participants have children. We need to fix this problem and drug court is one way to attempt to fix it.”
The judge told the graduates their work is not over.
“Addiction is a lifelong struggle,” he said. “You must now be a role model for others and stay involved.”