HAZARD — Perry County Drug Court held its graduation on Tuesday night at the Perry County Court House.
Twelve participants graduated from the 18 month program, including Taryn Hall, Rick Logan, Michael Campbell, Patti White, David Deaton, Vanessa Mullins, Tina Brock, Angela Hylton, Tony Trent, Candra Sizemore, Tonya Collins, and Crystal Lyttle.
Drug court is a state program designed to keep fight substance abuse in the state by giving offenders the opportunity to seek help from all facets of the system so they will not have to renter it again.
According to the Kentucky drug court website, it “seeks to intervene and break the cycle of substance abuse, addiction, and crime by coordinating the efforts of the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement and mental health, social services, and treatment providers.”
Keynote speaker Ken Bolin, pastor at Manchester Baptist church and director of God’s Closet, spoke to graduates and those in attendance about the importance of drug court, not only for those involved in it but for the community as a whole.
“I believe in drug court. I believe that drug court is the last, best hope for some people in the mountains,” Bolin said.
Bolin went on to say drug court brings people together from all the offices and departments that deal with substance abuse crimes and that is the reason it is so successful.
Around $12,000 in tax payer money is saved every time a participant graduates drug court, Bolin said, because they do not reenter the system as repeat offenders. Only 20.2 percent of drug court graduates were convicted of a new felony within two years of graduation, compared to a 57.3 percent felony conviction rate for those who did not participate in drug court but instead chose probation for offenses similar to those committed by drug court participants, according to the Kentucky Court of Justice.
Bolin said even though budgets are tight, community leaders must do everything they can to keep drug court up and running.
“We cannot let drug court go. Drug court works,” he said.