An appearance in a courtroom is not something most people look forward to.
But for the eight individuals seated in the jury box in Clark Circuit Court Thursday, it was a court appearance they had anticipated for a very long time.
The eight were gathered to celebrate their graduation from Clark County Drug Court and to celebrate a hard-earned second chance on life, free from addiction.
The drug court, in its second year, offers individuals a chance to reclaim their lives through a rigorous three phase program with a regimen of accountability, treatment, structure, community service and an after care component.
Each phase usually takes about a year to complete, and participants are required to attend regular meetings, submit to random drug testing, participate in counseling, complete community service and to pay restitution, court fees and child support.
Program administrators perform frequent checks on participants and report their compliance back to the judges who referred them. The judges issue sanctions for infractions during the course of the program.
Circuit Judge Jean Chenault Logue told the large crowd of family and friends of the graduates that they were “an incredible group” of which she was very proud.
“Usually when we see people here it is not their best day. But today is a good day,” Clark said. “What you see here today are people who decided that addiction is not going to control their lives. They are going to take charge of their lives again to make sure that they are good family members, good community members and just good to themselves. We have an incredible group here.”
Logue also dispelled the idea of some people that attending drug court is the easy way to get out of jail.
“You hear people say, ‘Oh, drug court. That’s the easy way out,’” Logue said. “I guarantee you that anybody who says that has never been to drug court. It’s not the easy way out. In fact, more and more people say to me, ‘I can’t do that. It would be easier to just go serve my time.’ So when you complete drug court, you have someone who is extremely dedicated and has made a commitment to make a big change in their life.”
Graduates said the program was tough, but they learned a lot about themselves.
“I didn’t think this day would ever come. Deciding to go to drug court was one of the easiest things I've ever done in my life, and then as it turned out it was one of the hardest things I've ever done,” Cassandra Crawford said. “I didn’t think I would ever get through this. But I don’t ever want to go back to the place I was.”
Fellow graduate Herbert Beasley thanked the counselors and drug court administrators for their belief in the graduates.
“It’s been a long time coming, but today is a good day for me. Sometimes people just need people behind them to push them,” Beasley said. “I’ve learned a whole lot from drug court and grown up a lot. I don’t have the desire to be a loser anymore.”
Guest speaker Tayna Fogle, a reentry specialist with the Bluegrass Area Development District, herself a convicted felon and recovering addict, charged the graduates to continue to make good choices and to take advantage of the support of their families.
“There’s no excuses. You’ve got the knowledge. This is where the rubber meets the road. You’ve got to make the right choices. But the best thing you’ve got going for you is you’ve got people in your corner in the judges and counselors and your families,” Fogle said. “You guys have another opportunity for your families and your children to hug on you. This is not something to take lightly.”
Contact Bob Flynn at email@example.com.