Crime Tracker: Drug Court helps turn lives around

Graduates filing into The Shelby County Commission chambers recently got more than a fancy piece of paper. They won a second chance at life, with all non-violent drug related charges dismissed

Suffering from a crack cocaine addiction, "Chrystal" was busted one year ago. She found herself facing Judge Tim Dwyer, who has presided over Drug Court since it started in 1997.  "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.

"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," Judge Dwyer said.

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:

"People are getting their lives back and these folks committed crimes so this is crime reduction," said Scarlet Crews of the Drug Court Foundation. "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, money that would have been used to imprison these people who now find themselves truly free!