Graduates filing into County Commission chambers downtown got more than a fancy piece of paper...They won a second chance at life with all non-violent drug related charges dismissed!
A drug court graduate says, "...It's the best thing that ever happened to me."
Suffering from a crack cocaine addiction, Chrystal was busted a year ago. She found herself facing Judge Tim Dwyer who has presided over Drug Court since it started in 19-97:
Chrystal continues, "...I know that when Judge Dwyer put his glasses this way down his nose, that he meant serious business. He said, girl get over there and shut up and I did shut up for the next 365 days and I just thank God."
Chrystal and the other graduates have remained drug free for a solid year.
Judge Tim Dwyer with Drug court says, "...How many people wish once in their life they could be out somewhere and see someone who is drowning and be able to rescue them or run in a burning house and rescue them. In drug court, we do that everyday."
A University of Memphis study tracked drug court graduates for three years along with a sample group of offenders who didn't participate in drug court. 23 percent of drug court graduates were re-arrested on drug charges, while 80 percent of non-participants got in trouble with drugs and the law again:
Scarlet Crews with the Drug Court Foundation says, "...People are getting their lives back and these folks committed crimes so this is crime reduction. You're not going back out."
835 people have now graduated from the program. The Drug Court Foundation estimates it has saved taxpayers nearly 25 million dollars, money that would have been used to imprison these people who now find themselves truly free!