During the March 2023 Island County Drug Court graduation ceremony, graduates were presented with the courts first ever “recovery rocks.” Carolyn started tumbling found rocks and realized she could use them as part of the court’s graduation ceremony, providing a unique token for participants to carry forth with them in their journey.
It is said, rough seas make smooth stones and just like you, every rock is different, polished and shaped by the waves and water they come from. While they have some imperfections, they are each beautiful and unique in their own way. And some are given a little extra polishing to become what they are now. You joined the program, were given some extra help and encouragement, to help you become who you are now. Over time, our recovery and your recovery rock, may need some attention (and maybe a little more polishing). You have worked hard and overcame rocks in the road of life and revealed your honest beauty (inside and out). Pick a keepsake stone as a reminder to keep rockin’ your recovery!
“I am so grateful to Island County Drug Court for not only the support and encouragement to work on my recovery, but also the guidance I have received in reintegrating into the community. I think being involved in the court system in a positive way has changed the way I view myself as an individual and as a member of the community and society at large. This experience has really helped me overcome a lot of feelings of guilt and shame for my past behaviors and I have a newfound respect for myself. I am honored to have had the opportunity to prove to the courts that I am capable of change and to have earned the dismissal of a felony. I feel like I have a much better footing in life today than I did before starting this process. I appreciate the encouragement to continue in my education, and I also appreciate being treated with dignity and respect throughout a very challenging time in my life. Thank you to: Thea S. from Sunrise Services, Carolyn Pence, Ken Delano, the Deputy Prosecutor, Public Defenders Claire Charbonneau, and Nicole Nelson, Island County Superior Court, and Judge Skinner.”
N.C. March 2023 Island County Drug Court graduate
“I won’t let my past keep my future from being anything but excellent. At first Drug Court was a way out of jail. They paid my rent until I could manage my life on my own. They paid my phone bill until I could afford it alone. This program saved my life and helped me change from a lost boy to a good hardworking man. Everyone on the team, even the prosecutors, wanted me to succeed. This program changes lives and you all should feel very good about what you’re doing with your lives because you saved mine. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all!”
V.G. March 2023 Island County Drug Court graduate
“I found the Drug Court program to be very time consuming, but not a waste of time. I am grateful for everything I have learned and the person it has helped me become. I figured out early that it is only as hard as you make it. If I were ever given the option of Drug Court again, I would be happy to take it. I have learned a lot and it has become an important part of my life. None of this would have been possible if I were not clean and I would not have been able to get clean if it were not for the Drug Court Program. For this, I am grateful and cannot thank the Drug Court team and program enough.”
A.B. March 2023 Island County Drug Court graduate
The WSADCP Training Committee would like to thank Carolyn Pence, Therapeutic Courts Coordinator, for contribution to our Treatment Court Month celebration.
The mission of the Shelton Municipal Individualized Treatment Court (ITC) is to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism of those who suffer from substance use disorders and/or behavioral health issues by connecting these participants with community treatment services. The Court seeks to assist those especially in the Latino community as they are underserved in our community and an important part of the community. In order to accomplish this mission, the Individualized Treatment Court seeks to address the unique needs of each individual. The ITC Court is pre-conviction.
The Shelton Individualized Treatment Court has blended Drug Court, Behavioral Health Court, and Community Court standards into one Court. Furthermore, we serve our Treatment Court community in five languages: Akateko, Mam, Q’anjob’al, Spanish, and English. Eighty-three percent of our participants do not speak English. In addition to traditional substance use disorder and behavioral health disorder treatment we offer voluntary services tailored to each individual. Examples are employment assistance, sober housing, ESL, education, relicensing, and financial planning.
We were created through an AOC grant and commenced in February 2022. So far nine (9) individuals have graduated from the program with a certificate in either Spanish or English awarded along with a dismissal of criminal charges.
The WSADCP Training Committee would like to thank Judge Stephen D. Greer, Municipal Court Judge, for contribution to our Treatment Court Month celebration.
My name is Daniel “DJ” Rivera and I graduated from the Snohomish County Adult Drug Court program in March of 2008. My clean and sober date is March 6, 2007, which is a day that transformed my life into something more spectacular than I could have ever dreamed. I am going to tell you a little bit about what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now.
My life prior to entering Drug Court was filled with daily use of alcohol and drugs. My use started out with alcohol and then cannabis around 14 years old. It was very obvious that I did not drink like my friends I was partying with as I would consume as much alcohol as I could in a short time and black out. My father passed away from a heart attack a couple of days after my 17th birthday. I was present when he died and performed CPR on him until medics could arrive. This event would serve as a catalyst that would take me down a path that I could not get out of on my own. I was introduced to methamphetamine soon after and was immediately hooked. I was homeless off and on for the next ten years and would often stay with “friends” until those bridges were burned.
During this time, I met a woman that I entered a relationship with, and we would use together. She eventually got pregnant, and we had a son together. I remember telling her and my unborn son that I was going to get sober. My son was born, and I remember crying uncontrollably. There were tears of happiness and tears of sadness because I knew I was not going to be able to stop.
My addiction soon got worse. My son was about six months old when I was arrested for a possession of a controlled substance charge on December 28, 2005. It would be over a year before I would enter Drug Court. During this year, my addiction got even worse, and I was trying to hide my use from everyone around me.
On March 6, 2007, I entered Drug Court. This is also the date that I claim as my clean and sober date because the first UA I took was from that day which came back clean. I had never kept track of my clean time before since I could never get more than a couple of days. I entered treatment shortly after contracting in and began attending 12-step meetings immediately. It was through treatment, MRT, and 12-step meetings that I was able to achieve sobriety and more. I began changing everything about myself and going through the 12-steps with my sponsor and eventually working through the steps in MRT. I graduated from Drug Court on March 9, 2008, but my story does not stop there.
I would later return to school and enter the substance use disorder program at Edmonds Community College and would graduate in 2012. I interviewed at different agencies before I chose a site for my internship. Little was I to know that I would embark on an amazing journey with this agency. Six months after starting an unpaid internship, I was hired on full time. One benefit of working for this agency is they were one of the two contractors for Snohomish County Drug Court. I eventually was made a backup for the treatment liaison position and then became the treatment liaison for the Snohomish County Juvenile Drug Court program. I became a clinical supervisor in August of 2016 and would have to step out of my role as the treatment liaison. I was then given the opportunity to supervise both the Adult and Youth Drug Court program for my agency. I would also return to school during this time and obtain a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.
I have seen and been a part of a lot of change over the years. Some changes have really benefited the clients by providing more individualized services and opportunities. During the pandemic, the Blake Ruling was handed down by the Washington State Supreme Court. This ruling stated that possession charges were no longer a felony. I watched helplessly as some of our client’s charges were dismissed and with that dismissal their opportunity for recovery. Most of these clients returned to use and have struggled to get sober again.
I think about my own journey and what would have happened to me if I did not have the opportunity that I had. Drug Courts work! They provide us the structure, support, and accountability that we need to learn how to live life without substances. Today, I am a father, a son, a brother, a coach, an employee, and many other things. I owe this all to the opportunity that I received so many years ago that helped me start my journey in recovery.
NADCP ART CONTEST RUNNER UP
Out of my Shell – New Identity
The red road to welbriety in my Native American culture is when we are on our way to mental wellness and sobriety. The turtle represents myself and my sober identity coming out of the shell and as you see I put no face on the turtle inside the shell because in addiction, I had no real identity.
The WSADCP Training Committee would like to thank Jamie Reed, Program Manager, for her contribution to our Treatment Court Month celebration.
Mason County Therapeutic Courts consist of Adult Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Veteran’s Court, and Family Recovery Court. The two amazing case workers, Susan and Gabbi, are at the heart of the court team.
Susan and Gabbi bring their unique experience as graduates of a therapeutic court to their work with participants to connect with, encourage, assist, and hold them accountable so that all participants can have the best chance at success.
I am proud of who our program helped me become and am grateful to work with such amazing people, and really, this job helps keep my recovery strong; reminding me where I came from. I couldn’t be more blessed.
I feel like I’ve changed, and I don’t want to ever forget where I’ve come from. I know how it feels and I don’t ever want to be unaware or forget. I try to connect with people because I can see what needs to be done because I know what it was like when I went through it. I try to help them regain hope.
The WSADCP Training Committee would like to thank Kayla Henley, Court Coordinator, for her contribution to our Treatment Court Month celebration.
Roxy pictured at her King County Drug Court graduation on March 8, 2023, carrying a toolbox to remind her of all the skills she has learned to help her in her recovery.
Watch as Roxy and treatment court staff share about her experience and the benefits of Drug Courts. As Roxy states, “it’s like a second chance at life.”
You are also welcome to watch the entire inspiring March 08, 2023, King County Drug Diversion Court graduation (1 hour, 10 minutes), the first in person graduation held since the coronavirus shutdown traditional court operations.
This year as part of National Drug Court Month, NADCP is hosting an art contest for treatment court participants and alumni! Art is a powerful tool for conveying the emotions and ideas related to recovery that may be difficult to verbalize. Click here for more information.
This National Drug Court Month, WSADCP and WADC join more than 4,000 treatment courts across the country to celebrate lives, families, and resources saved by this vital justice reform. Therapeutic Courts across Washington State are fostering recovery and reducing crime by offering evidence-based treatment and accountability to people struggling with substance use and mental health disorders. WSADCP and WADC are excited to share a few success stories from those who have been through programs across the state. THERAPEUTIC COURTS WORK!
LEWIS COUNTY DRUG COURT: RONNIE
KING COUNTY DRUG DIVERSION COURT: FREDRICK
In March 2021, facing more than 57 months in prison for vehicle theft, Freddie, was given a chance at Drug Court. His opioid use had started off as pain management but quickly spiraled out of control. Freddie explains he was addicted to alcohol, methamphetamines, and opioids and engaged in theft to support his use. He was living homeless and unemployed at the time he transferred into drug court. Freddie moved into drug court transitional housing the day he discharged from jail and kept in close contact with his case manager. Soon, his life started changing. Twenty years after he lost his driver’s license, drug court helped him get it back. That led to an employment opportunity and at the age of 43, in less than two years’ span, Freddie went from stealing cars to working full-time as a delivery driver. Freddie has reconnected with his children and is in the process of securing permanent housing.
“This program has been hands down amazing. I have been in and out of the system – jail and institutions – since 1997. I have had multiple arrests, a lot stemming from drug use and alcoholism and bouts of homelessness, and mental health issues. Out of all this time, I never seen a program like Drug Court. I really think it needs to be expanded – it could benefit a lot more people. I am doing the work – but the vehicle of Drug Court has pretty much saved my life. I hope the funding continues. I can’t say enough about this program. Fifteen years of hell was unraveled in less than two years. I know I am not fully healed, but I am healing. When I look back from 2020 to where I am today, it is not even me. ” Freddie says what surprised him most about Drug Court was how the whole court setting is so different than mainstream court. “Everybody was for you – the judge, the prosecutor, everyone. The whole team claps for you and is excited when you are doing well…I had a team behind me that wanted me to succeed.” In April 2022, Freddie graduated drug court. He is looking ahead to his future and thinking of ways to give back.
LEWIS COUNTY DRUG COURT: DANIEL
KING COUNTY DRUG DIVERSION COURT: MARJORIE
Marjorie comes from France and Ireland and has been in the US since 2003. She was very involved in sports growing up and competed as a gymnast for 15 years. In June 2011, Marjorie got diagnosed with chronic stress fractures in her back, which promptly ended her gymnastics career. Having so much free time on her hands and not knowing what to fill it with, she turned to drugs, and the next eight years were filled with unhealthy choices, incarceration, and treatment facilities. On May 6, 2019, Marjorie learned she was pregnant; her sobriety started the next day. After this jumpstart of motivation, she has since found passion in life. She is a King County Diversion Court graduate, an active member in the 12-Step meeting community, and is a dedicated mother to her son, Liam. Marjorie hopes to become a pillar in the recovery community and strives to make a difference using her personal and professional experience. Marjorie is a certified Recovery Coach and works as a Program Manager at Peer Kent.
LEWIS COUNTY DRUG COURT: DAVID
KING COUNTY DRUG DIVERSION COURT
You can experience the triumphant jubilation of a drug court graduation by watching the recent King County Drug Diversion Court Graduation here.
KITSAP COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH COURT: JEFF
Jeff graduated from the Behavioral Health Court program in September 2021. He shares his experience and successbelow.