Inside Look at Drug Court Part One 

We often report on crimes where drugs and/or alcohol were contributing factors.But what becomes of some of the people involved?There’s a program in Washington County that’s trying to help these folks turn their lives around.Meghan Hayward got an inside look at drug court.Some people just need a push in the right direction to get straightened out.In Washington County, there’s a program that aims to do just that.Washington County is known to have a drug problem.There’s an adult treatment program that’s helping several folks get clean and turn their lives around.”It’s very structured. They have to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. They have to go to treatment. They have to see me, they have to see the judge once a week.”Drug court is a selective process as well.”We’re suppose to evaluate the way their motivated and they’re screened to evaluate motivation. But we’ve had folks that came in unmotivated and the light went off somewhere during drug court. So it’s really inexact science measuring motivation.”John Romei is the coordinator judge for the program.He says it’s important to get these folks into a different environment, one with clean and sober people.Romei says they don’t trust anyone when they first start the program. It’s something that has to be earned.”Drug addicts lie. They’re use to lying. Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re lying. They’re just so use to it, it’s become such a part of their life.”Romei says some folks who do know about the program think it’s letting drug addicts get some kind of break. But he says that couldn’t be further from the truth.”We test them. We do require they live in a clean, sober place where they have to agree to let us come in to their house day or night without warrants and search their refrigerators and cabinets to see if there is alcohol and drugs..”They say the people that are really serious about their recovery come to realize he and his team are on their side.Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Tari Murphy calls it the “ah-ha” moment.”You can just see the light bulb come on and it’s like oh yeah I get it. And it’s different for everyone.”They also realize there are going to be slips along the way.”To help them understand they have to change their lifestyle. They have to maintain that lifestyle. And also we have to help them understand if they slip it doesn’t mean they’re bad or weak. It doesn’t mean they necessarily have to go way back to their old way of living. They can learn from that pick themselves up and move forward.”Romei says he’s a strong believer in drug court.”There are people who for the first time in their life get clean and sober and stay clean and sober. You just see people’s lives turn around 180 degrees.””When we see their success. They’re out in the community, they’re working. They’re staying clean and sober and they’re not committing crimes.”Once folks graduate from the program, they’re no longer required to attend drug court, but it is encouraged.Romei says they have several graduates who still attend and they help keep the program successful.”Even if you look at drug court as an alternate way of confining non-violent folks you can justify, more than justify the existence of drug court. But we do a lot more than that in my view.”