Sixty-five men and ten women have completed the arduous program since 2009
Cayman’s Drug Rehabilitation Court held its 10th graduation ceremony on Tuesday for the 73rd, 74th and 75th participants to successfully complete the program.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats congratulated the three young men for achieving their goals: sustained sobriety; stable housing; full time employment, schooling or volunteer work.
“It’s been a long and difficult, but ultimately rewarding, journey for them,” he said. “All of them committed crimes. All of them got caught. They were all in custody at some point.
“But then – and this is the crucial part – they did the right thing and accepted responsibility for their actions. They said ‘Guilty’ and came into the program,” Mr. Foldats told the gathering of friends, family members and supporters.
The program is not easy, he pointed out. It can involve three to five meetings per week with counsellors or probation officers plus regular court attendance and random drug screening.
“Now they are sober and have the necessary skills to be responsible and productive members of society,” he said.
The magistrate thanked guests attending the ceremony, saying it was important for the community to show support.
Two service clubs have been involved from the very first graduation.
Rotary Club Sunrise, represented this year by director Finley Josephs, sponsors the rewards and incentives part of the program. Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, represented by president Stephanie Wight, sponsors the graduation trophies and certificates.
Digicel became involved after former drug court coordinator Catherine Guilbard explained that participants were given responsibility for calling their counsellors, but some people with no income found phone communications difficult. The company began providing cell phones based on court-determined needs and has taken part in the last five graduations.
This year, Digicel representative Patrice Beersingh awarded each graduate with a touchscreen Alcatel 903 device powered by Android.
Jean Solomon, who helps drug court participants find jobs through the National Workforce Development Agency, presented the men with cologne.
Also present were members of the court team that provides professional support, including probation officers Maxine Anglin and Erica Ebanks, counselor James Fieser, attorney John Furniss and Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson.
Each graduate stood and expressed gratitude to the team “for working with me … for letting me get things off my chest … for your encouraging words.”
Drug court officer Katrina Watler said later that the 75 graduates to date were 65 men and 10 women.
Of the 75, 13 have re-offended, she said. Of those 13, three have been admitted back into the drug court program and one has successfully completed it a second time – she was not added a second time to the number of graduates, Ms Watler noted.
The current total of people enrolled in Drug Rehabilitation Court is 33. In 2013, 39 offenders applied; seven were deemed not eligible, six were revoked and four withdrew, leaving 22 still participating. They are joined by eight people who joined the program in 2012, two from 2011 and one from 2010.
Ms Watler said the requirements for graduation are: six months sobriety from illicit drugs; full-time employment, voluntary service, or studies; successful completion of all court ordered treatment; completion of all specialised probation terms.