The Honorable Robin Jean Davis, a West Virginia Supreme Court Justice who is from the Van area of Boone County, was one of the guest speakers at the ceremony.
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 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.”
The graduates included two from Boone County and one from Lincoln County. They did not wish to have their names or pictures in the newspaper.
The ceremony was held at the Boone Heritage and Arts Center on Wednesday, June 6, at 3 p.m., and included special guest speakers the Honorable Jay Hoke, 25th Circuit Court Judge out of Lincoln County, the Honorable Brent Benjamin, West Virginia Supreme Court Justice and the Honorable Robin Jean Davis, also a West Virginia Supreme Court Justice who is from the Van area of Boone County.
“This program could not be successful in any form or fashion without the individual efforts of those in the program,” Judge Hoke said. “There is nothing more difficult than to change your life.”
Hoke added that 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.”
Justice Benjamin said he remembered when the drug court program began and it was nice to get to see the success stories.
“We must show these graduates how important their accomplishment is,” he said.
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.
“We are very proud of all of these graduates,” Justice Davis said. “This shows their dedication and many are already working and have become productive citizens.”
The program works as an alternative sentencing to prison and has shown a “very positive” impact, Justice Benjamin added.
“This program gives graduates back to their families and restores their lives,” he said.
One graduate with children did such a good job with community service it led to a full-time job opportunity.
“We are very proud of these graduates,” Judge Thompson said.
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. These graduates can now become productive members of society.”
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.”