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.
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 in the Boone County Courthouse last week.
These graduates werent receiving a high school or college degree. Instead, they were receiving confirmation they have made it drug-free throughout the program.
There were six graduates, but two were working and excused from coming to the event.
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.
Tommy Tomblin was one of the graduates and said he has a job lined up in Ohio.
I walked from Ottawa to Madison everyday, he said. About 24 miles, so to graduate is a wonderful feeling. Its the best feeling in the world.
Jack Parson, 43, from Lincoln County, said the program changed his life forever.
I had to prove a point to everyone, he said. This program provided me a chance to do just that.
The program works as an alternative sentencing to prison and has shown a very positive impact.
Lori Stevenson was very addicted to prescription medications, but said after setting in jail she starting thinking about her children.
I kept clean and I started believing in myself and that I could do it, she said. I had to let my old friends and past lifestyle go. You have to want it.
Every graduate from drug court was at one time convicted of a drug-related crime.
Josh Lester, of Lincoln County, now works at Petty Oil.
He worked and did drug court at the same time, Judge Thompson said. He did what he had to do to graduate and provide for his family. We are very proud of him.
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.