Drug courts use the power of the criminal justice system to stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Here in Winnebago County this unique court was first in session back in 1996. Over 250 people have graduated the program, a day that means they are ready to leave the past behind in order to have a positive future.
Kathy Carter is one of 17 graduating drug court. This courtroom is an all too familiar setting to her as she's been in and out of the system since 1991. Her drug of choice was crack cocaine an addiction that even landed her in the penitentiary.
Drug court is the therapeutic form of justice. When court is in session the judges, attorneys, probation officers and substance abuse providers work to problem solve with non-violent offenders. Drug court programs require intensive supervision based on frequent drug testing, court appearances, and treatment and recovery services.
In order to graduate participants must be drug free for six months and arrest free for a year. Through drug court offenders also work with substance abuse providers. Statistics show that drug courts reduce the number of repeat offenders. That means fewer trips to jail which is a cost saving step for us taxpayer.
Kathy can't buy back the time she lost due to her drug addiction, but on this graduation day she has earned back her life.