It was a time of celebration on Wednesday as five new graduates completed Christian County Drug Court and were recognized for their accomplishment of getting on the road to recovery and sobriety.
Shannon Davenport, Coty Flynn, Derrick Tillman, Devin Johnson and Mindy Keller were all congratulated by Judge Andrew Self and Judge John Atkins during the graduation ceremony.
For Davenport, the experience started with her forced detox while in jail.
“Going to jail was one of the best things that has happened to me,” she said.
Once she started to recover from that, she said she decided she wanted to be healthy for her family — especially her children.
“I no longer wanted to be everybody’s burden or a disappointment,” Davenport said.
And she said she was thankful that drug court allowed her to get her life back.
“Drug court is not easy, if so — everybody would make it,” Davenport said. “But you will make it if you want to.”
Johnson said the drug court program and residential treatment helped him improve himself in order to begin to kick his drug habit.
“I didn’t have a drug problem — I had a me problem,” Johnson said. “You have to work on yourself on the inside.”
In closing, Atkins said that he has a sticker on the door to his office that says, “Drug court works.”
“I want to improve on that saying, because drug court works if you work drug court,” Atkins said.
The Christian County Drug Court program has 15 active participants, including the five who just graduated.
Drug Court was Kentucky’s first Specialty Court program and has a long track record of significantly reducing drug use and criminal behavior. Instead of spending time in jail, Drug Court participants choose to complete a substance use disorder program supervised by a judge. Drug Court graduates are more likely to return to productive lives and stay gainfully employed, pay child support and meet other obligations.
The Department of Specialty Courts at the Administrative Office of the Courts oversees Drug Court programs in 120 counties.
Individuals eligible for Drug Court have been charged with drug use or nonviolent drug-related crime, with their main problems stemming from substance use disorder. Drug Court combines close court supervision and treatment with other services to intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse and crime.
The program uses a team approach that involves collaboration among local judges, Drug Court staff, prosecutors, defense counsel, treatment professionals, law enforcement officers and other community agencies. Drug Court staff work closely with treatment providers and other community resources to offer a comprehensive approach to recovery and help participants regain control of their lives.
Participants are required to take part in mental health sessions, self-help groups and frequent urine screening. They also must obtain employment. The felony program lasts a minimum of 18 months and the misdemeanor program lasts a minimum of 15 months. Those who successfully complete the program may have their charges dismissed through diversion or be granted conditional discharge through probation.
Since being implemented in 1996, Drug Court has successfully combined a strong treatment component with the legal weight of law enforcement. The program provides alternative services for much less than the cost of incarceration.
People charged with offenses related to substance use disorder who are interested in being considered for Drug Court should talk with their attorney about a referral.