JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that the Will County Drug Court Program recently graduated its 200th participant and has helped another 17 people who faced criminal charges stemming from their drug abuse kick their addictions.
The Will County Drug Court Program helps drug abusers who committed non-violent criminal offenses break their addictions. The program then reintegrates them back into their communities as productive, tax-paying citizens. State’s Attorney Glasgow spearheaded the creation of the local drug court in the late 1990s.
The recent ceremony brought the total number of drug court graduates to 203 since the program’s inception in 2000. The 200th graduate, Valerie Stewart of New Lenox, has since enrolled in school to earn her EMT license.
“For every dollar we spend on a prevention program like drug court, we save ten times the money in remedial costs,” Glasgow said. “But more importantly, we help individuals who previously had been a drain on society become true assets to their communities. Our program helps people like Valerie Stewart open doors that were closed to them while they were abusing drugs. She and other graduates will achieve goals they could not have accomplished without successfully completing the program.”
During the ceremony, Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, who presides over drug court, introduced graduates individually and discussed how the program helped them clean up their lives. Stewart was quoted as saying: “Before drug court, my life was a wreck. The only thing I did was get high. My life was unmanageable and I had no control.”
But through treatment and with the help of a new support network and a 12-step program, she now finds herself with almost two years of sobriety and the opportunity to start school this fall.
“Drug court is a tough program that requires hard work and strong commitments by participants if they are going to turn their lives around,” Judge Policandriotes said. “The graduations are rewarding experiences for me as the presiding judge. By the time I hand them their graduation plaques, I have gotten to know the participants personally. I know how hard they have struggled. And I know they are ready to start their lives over once again.”
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.
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.
Drug court is an 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.
For more information on Will County Drug Court, go to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office Web site at http://www.willcountysao.com and click on Crime Prevention.