Bethlehem Press

Friday, December 15, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY BERNIE O’HAREJudge Craig Dally presents graduation certificate to Alysha in ceremony at Drug Court. PRESS PHOTO BY BERNIE O’HAREJudge Craig Dally presents graduation certificate to Alysha in ceremony at Drug Court.
PRESS PHOTO BY BERNIE O’HAREAlysha completed an intense four-phase program under the supervision of Stephanie Greene-Wimmer and Judge Craig Dally. PRESS PHOTO BY BERNIE O’HAREAlysha completed an intense four-phase program under the supervision of Stephanie Greene-Wimmer and Judge Craig Dally.

Drug Court celebrates another graduate

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 by Bernie O’hare Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

The court celebrated its third graduate last month with ice cream cake.

The graduate’s name is Alysha. She’s a person who has struggled with heroin and who had been in and out of the system since 2010. She’d attend a few meetings with her probation officer, Cynthia Greene-Wimmer, but would start using again and abscond. Friendless, she described hiding in a bathroom with her son in her arms when deputy sheriffs came looking for her. At the time, she was pregnant with a daughter who would be born addicted to heroin.

When given a chance in Drug Court, she noticed that everyone “was so happy. I want what they have.” She managed to find a job and has returned to school so she can help others with addiction problems. But her main goal is to be the best mother she can be. “It is not always easy,” she said. “Every day is not a good day. Just don’t leave before the miracle happens.”

Her father Anthony also spoke to Drug Court participants. He noted his own father struggled with alcohol, “and he’s the best guy I ever knew.”

Alysha’s probation officer, Cynthia, now participates in the Drug Court’s recovery team.”If you need us, we’ll be here for you,” she promised.

Judge Craig Dally, who administers the NorCo Drug Court, told participants that Alysha’s graduation is “The place where I want all of you to be.”

About the Court

- It’s a post-conviction court for defendants who have already pleaded guilty to drug offenses.

- It is a low volume court with about 35 participants that meets weekly.

- It’s an intense four phase program that includes drug testing twice per week over a period of 18-24 months

- Graduates must maintain sobriety for at least nine months; be employed or enrolled in school; have stable and sober housing; and have paid off their fines and costs or make consistent payments.The final phase calls for 120 consecutive days of “clean” time.

- There have been three graduates.

- Nationally, the two-year recidivism rate for a drug court graduate is 27 percent, compared to a national recidivism rate of 60-80 percent.

- As of November 2016, Drug Court has saved 4,138 prison days, resulting in a savings to the county estimated at $423,386.

The Money Trigger

Before an addict can advance from one phase to the next, he or she must complete and read an essay. What follows are excerpts from an essay on “addiction triggers” by Drug Court participant Amber, who is now in Phase III and working.

“To me, money would represent power. I flourished off of having a lot of it. The more money I had as a user or dealer, the more powerful I was. Today that is not the case. I earn every dollar working 40 hours a week. Hard-earned money is much more appreciated. The fact that I earn it honestly gives me the opportunity to be more responsible and careful with it.”