Six men and one woman graduated today from the Gulf Coast Drug Court. Each person stays in the program as long as they need to complete the rigorous requirements, but everyone had their unique struggles. The crowd burst into applause as graduates of the Gulf Coast Drug Court Program received their diplomas, but the real accolades are seen in the graduates' everyday lives. Danny Davis, one of the graduates, says, "I'm not the same person I was before the program, and I think that's reflected in other people and how they view me now." Davis is one of today's seven graduates who swapped jail time for rehabilitation through drug court. He and the others spent at least two years in the program, getting their G.E.D.s, working full time jobs, and doing weekly community service. Step by step, they worked toward this goal and getting their lives back on track.
Lincoln Hardison, another graduate of the program, says, "It’s made me grow as a person. It’s made me grow as a father and as a supervisor for my job. So yeah, it’s definitely had an impact, all for the good." Robert Krebs, Jackson County Judge, says, "It’s certainly a good alternative to incarceration, and it's probably one of the best rehabilitative tools that the criminal justice system has at this time, to make some inroads and make people productive citizens." Graduates celebrated with friends and family all that they've accomplished throughout the program. Hardison also says, "I think just using the tools that this program has provided and continuing to use them on a daily basis allows for any problems that arise, for you to be able to handle them in a grown-up, responsible way."
It's a second chance these graduates say they won't take for granted. These are the final steps before their records are expunged, and they can truly start with a clean slate. Participants will be doing follow-up reports for a predetermined amount of time until they are ready to be 100% on their own.