Drug court grads thankful

Employers asked to provide jobs

Seven participants in the Drug
Rehabilitation Court said thank you on Tuesday as they graduated after spending
more than a year in the programme, which has helped them stay employed, sober
and out of trouble for at least six months.

“Thank you for giving me this last
chance,” said one.

“Thank you for giving me so many
chances,” said another.

“It was very hard for me, but I
came through, so I’d like to say thanks to the team for bearing with me,” said
a third.

The team he was referring to
consisted of Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale, Magistrate Nova Hall,
several Crown Counsels, Defence Attorney John Furniss, counsellors, social workers
and court staff. The team meets weekly outside of court time to share notes on
the progress, or lack thereof, of the drug court participants. Some of the team
members hold one-on-one sessions with participants or engage them in group
discussions.

One of the two women graduates
illustrated how important community support is when she expressed gratitude to
the businessman who gave her a job and to her uncle for “all the times he
talked to me.”

Another named the two counsellors
in particular who helped her deal with difficult personal and financial
problems. “I’ve come out a better person,” she told the gathering.

In welcoming guests to the
ceremony, drug court coordinator Catherine Guilbard (formerly Chesnut)
explained that this is the fourth group to have completed the programme since
it began in October 2007.

With Tuesday’s seven, the total
number of graduates is 40. To date, three have re-offended.

Mrs. Ramsay-Hale’s remarks included
a plea to employers to provide jobs. She pointed out that it takes time for an
addict to regain the trust of his family and regain his place in the community.
“The only way to keep an addict in recovery is to keep him engaged in society,
keep him in a job — embrace him in daily life,” she said.

Employers of several graduates were
in the audience, along with Brian Hurley from Digicel, Eric Bush from the
Rotary Club of Grand Cayman and Michael Levitt from Rotary Sunrise.

Mr. Hurley said later that Digicel
became involved after Ms Guilbard explained what the drug rehab court was
trying to achieve by supporting participants and then giving them more
responsibility. Instead of counsellors trying to call participants, they have
to call their counsellors and also check in with the coordinator for possible
drug screenings. Some people with no income found phone communications
difficult, so Mr. Hurley said, “We provide cell phones based on what Cathy says
she needs.”

During the ceremony, Mr. Hurley
presented each graduate with a gift certificate which can be used toward a
handset or phone credits. Of the drug court he said, “I personally feel it’s a
fantastic initiative. The graduates have come through a tough course.”

Magistrate Hall made the official
presentation of engraved trophies to the graduates, taking time to speak
personally with each one.

The trophies were sponsored by
Rotary Grand Cayman. Rewards presented throughout the year to recognise goal
achievements were sponsored by Rotary Sunrise and they included movie tickets,
pizza coupons and book certificates.

All seven graduates were in drug
court for at least one year. Their success on Tuesday was observed by most of
the 46 people currently in one of the four phases of the drug court programme.

The aim of this specialised court
is to stop drug abuse and associated criminal activity. But it is not an easy
option, Ms Guilbard emphasised this week. Only one of every two applicants gets
into the programme, she said. Once in the programme, only one in four has
actually made it to graduation so far. The others return to the regular courts
for sentencing.

LOCALDrugcourtgradsSTORY

Mrs. Guilbard

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