OKLAHOMA CITY, okay – Oklahoma County Treatment Courts, consisting of Drug Abuse Court, Impaired Driving Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Treatment Court, will recognize recent graduates at a ceremony public on Tuesday, April 5 at 5:45 p.m. at the Frontline Church located at 1104 N. Robinson in downtown Oklahoma City.
In the presence of friends and family members, graduates will celebrate the successful completion of their respective court treatment programs and the dismissal of their charges. Selected individuals will also share their stories of transformation and hope for the future. The public is invited to attend.
Oklahoma County Drug Court is a comprehensive program that provides support, substance use disorder treatment, supervision, and accountability as an alternative to traditional sentencing. Nationally, drug court is considered the most effective criminal justice intervention for severely dependent offenders. On average, those eligible for the program have had 7.6 arrests due to addiction and face felony charges that are ultimately dismissed.
“I just want everyone to know that change is what happens when you meet people’s needs and give them the right support, encouragement and accountability,” said Judge Kenneth Stoner, presiding judge of the Oklahoma County Drug and DUI Court.
Oklahoma County Treatment Courts Celebrate Transformation
“We follow evidence-based practices on how to work with someone and approach them in an informed and supportive way. Our goal is different from that of other courts. Our multidisciplinary team truly focuses on everyone’s needs.
Since the program began in Oklahoma County in 1997, 2,356 men and women have successfully completed the drug court program and had their charges dismissed. With an 83% success rate, the Oklahoma County Drug Court is one of the most successful in the state.
Although the courthouse was closed at the onset of COVID-19, 90% of drug court participants continued on a voluntary basis.
“It was important that we continue to make ourselves available and provide this support system to participants, even though we could only do so virtually and on a voluntary basis,” said Kelly Basey, Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney.
“It was inspiring to see how many participants chose to continue progressing through the program without the threat of punishment. They kept working, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.
Some former offenders became drug court staff
Drug Court holds a celebration for graduates twice a year. In November 2021, a graduate, who now works on staff at drug court, shared his story and how support through the program has helped him on his journey to recovery. He was surprised by an order expunged from his case by the judge, along with three other former graduates who now also have support staff roles at the treatment court.
Although charges are always dismissed for people who complete a treatment court program, there are other benefits. In addition to lifelong recovery support, graduates are less likely to re-offend.
Graduates from July 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021 increased their earnings by an average of 67.9% through employment support services. Children also reunite with a sober and successful parent since, while only 9% of participants had children living with them when they start the program, 90% are reunited upon graduation. The program also saves taxpayers money.
In 2019 alone, the program saved $20,083,000 based on the cost of incarcerating participants who were instead sent to drug court.
To help support the continued success of the Oklahoma County Drug Court, donations may be made to the Oklahoma County Drug Court Fiscal Sponsorship Fund held at the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma. Donate to www.cfok.org.
For more information on Oklahoma County Drug Court, please visit www.okcountytc.org.
Click on here for the pictures. Photo credit: Abi Ruth Martin.