February 7, 2008
JOLIET – Ten people who were facing criminal charges stemming from their drug abuse have kicked their addictions and will graduate from the Will County Drug Court Program during a ceremony scheduled for 1 p.m. Feb. 14 at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St. The public is invited to attend.
The Will County Drug Court Program helps drug abusers who have committed non-violent offenses break their addictions. The program then integrates them back into their communities as productive, tax-paying citizens. Next week’s ceremony will bring the number of graduates to 187 since the program’s inception in 2000.
Will County Drug Court boasts a remarkable success rate. Ninety-two percent of those who have graduated from the local Drug Court have gone on to lead productive, drug-free lives. Only 8 percent of those graduates have committed new criminal offenses.
Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow spearheaded the development of the local Drug Court Program more than a decade ago. In 1997, the state’s attorney wrote a $30,000 planning grant application that was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Two years later, the Department of Justice Awarded approved a $500,000 start-up grant for the program that was supplemented by a $50,000 state grant.
“Our Drug Court succeeds on two critical fronts,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “On one level, the program provides the necessary treatment and counseling services to help non-violent offenders kick the addictions that drove them to commit their crimes in the first place. On a larger scale, this program helps the entire community by turning around the lives of people who once had been a financial burden on society. Everyone benefits when former addicts stop committing crimes and become productive citizens who hold jobs, pursue educations, own homes, raise families and pay taxes.”
In Drug Court, prosecutors and defense attorneys work with the judge and treatment providers to help abusers kick their addictions. The program is a cost-effective alternative to dumping non-violent drug offenders into state prisons, where they cycle in and out of the system at recidivism rates as high as 70 percent.
The cost of operating the Will County Drug Court is a fraction of what it costs taxpayers to arrest, prosecute and house non-violent offenders in state prisons. It costs roughly $3,000 to put a person through Drug Court. By contrast, it costs taxpayers annually more than $33,000 for each prisoner housed at the Will County Adult Detention Facility and more than $23,000 for those housed in state prisons.
Drug Court is a tough and intensive process. Defendants allowed into the program are carefully screened. They must remain drug free, submit to random drug tests, find employment, follow through with treatment and attend weekly Drug Court sessions if they are to graduate.
Drug Court graduation ceremonies are often emotional events. Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, who presides over Drug Court, introduces graduates individually and discusses how the program helped them clean up their lives. Graduates are supported by their family and friends.
“Drug Court graduations are touching experiences,” Judge Policandriotes said. “These graduates have worked hard to complete a tough program that turned their lives around. They already have proven they can remain drug-free, complete their education and hold down a job. The graduation ceremony validates and confirms their commitment to their new, drug-free lives.”
For more information on Drug Court, go to http://www.willcountysao.com and click on Crime Prevention.
Charles B. Pelkie
(815) 530-7110 (cellular)
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