Two graduate from drug court program
Published 7:06 pm Friday, December 16, 2016
The Second Judicial Circuit Drug Court recently celebrated the graduation of two of its members Friday morning.
Tyler Cook and Worlie Lee Pryor graduated from the month-long program that allows felony offenders with drug-related offenses to not only deal with alcohol and drug-related issues, but also have a chance to have their charges dismissed and records expunged.
Lowndes County District Judge Adrian D. Johnson oversees the program, and he added that Cook and Pryor are both outstanding examples of the transformative nature of the program.
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“People make poor decisions sometimes, and they’re both good examples of the fact that poor decisions don’t have to negatively affect the rest of your lives,” Johnson said.
“Lee had a problem with alcohol, but hopefully he’s learned how to cope with that problem going forward. Tyler had a problem with marijuana, and hopefully he’s learned how to cope with that problem going forward. Tyler had significant medical difficulties he’s had to overcome, but he didn’t let that adversely affect his attitude going forward.
“Both of these guys have a smile on their face every time they walk in here, and they’ve always been positive. And I think that positive outlook affects everybody else in drug court.”
The program requires monthly attendance of drug court, as well as a daily call-in.
Participants are required to report to the court for testing and perform 10 hours of community service per month.
They are also required to attend drug treatment—either in-patient or out-patient, depending on the severity of their addiction.
Participants are also asked to attend monthly meetings with Bro. Charles Box of the Walnut Street Church of Christ, who helms the drug court’s personal development program on the first Saturday of each month.
In addition to these things, participants must maintain employment or actively be searching for employment, maintain a driver’s license and work toward a GED, if they don’t have one.
The program takes a minimum of 12 months, and includes both sanctions and incentives.
Participants who work earnestly toward their goal are given a coin at the end of each monthly meeting, and three coins can be cashed in for a $50 reward. Sanctions are given when the opposite occurs, resulting in additional community service time or jail time for up to 30 days.
But with the program’s 80-percent graduation rate, Johnson has seen far more ups than downs.
“It’s a wonderful program, and I’ve seen a lot of folks turn their lives around completely and make wonderful decisions and move on to be productive citizens,” Johnson said.
“Sometimes, it can literally be a 180-degree turnaround that people make. Some people make that decision from day one to turn their lives around and not use drugs or alcohol any more and they sail through drug court and never have an issue. And there are some folks for whom that takes a little longer to sink in.”
“It’s like turning a battleship; it takes a long time to get turned around, but once they get heading in the right direction they understand. We try to work and accommodate because the ultimate goal is to get people drug and alcohol-free.”