Eighty former addicts have completed the program since its inception in 2007
In the latest round of graduations from the Drug Rehabilitation Court, four men and two women completed the program.
The trophies and certificates awarded were testimony to the graduates’ accomplishments over the previous year or more: six months of sobriety from illicit drugs; full-time employment, voluntary service, or studies; completion of all court-ordered treatment; completion of all specialized probation terms.
Many of the 28 people currently in the program, which is seven years old, attended the graduation and heard how it has changed lives.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats, who presided at the ceremony, read excerpts from the graduates’ comments on their progress.
He praised one young woman who attended court sessions and all of her meetings with counselors or probation officers while holding a job and caring for her children. He quoted her as saying: “I’m no longer involved in my old lifestyle. I know my priorities.”
He also noted the goal of a man who struggled for years, but then decided that he wanted to learn how to cope with the stress of everyday life. Now the man is breaking unhealthy patterns: “I can have a good time without drugs and alcohol,” he said.
Another man decided to change from a lifestyle of drug abuse and social isolation because he wanted to be a good role model for his son. Now, he said, he has a better attitude, is more outgoing and enjoys a better relationship with his family.
Mr. Foldats said the youngest male in the group is a fine example of what an individual can do. “He was electronically monitored initially because we [the drug court treatment team] weren’t sure of his motivation, of his ability to participate. But he showed himself to be punctual and congenial, adopting a sober, productive lifestyle.”
He quoted the young man as saying, “I feel brighter and healthier now.”
The magistrate commented, “That’s exactly how you should feel.”
He also cited the struggles of a man who graduated in 2009, but then faced further difficulties.
“What did he do?” Mr. Foldats asked rhetorically. “He said, ‘I stumbled. I have to get up. I have to keep moving forward.’”
This was an example of perseverance, the magistrate commented. Other program participants needed to know that if they stumbled they could pick themselves up and they will have support from the drug court team, he indicated.
Team partners include Jean Solomon and Diane Conolly of the National Workforce Development Agency, who assist recovering addicts in their efforts to find employment, and Bud Volinsky of the Bridge Foundation, which has established halfway houses that lead to integration with the community.
Private sector partners include the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman and Rotary Sunrise, both of which fund awards and incentives as court participants progress through increasingly demanding phases of the program.
Digicel provided each graduate with a present of a DL600 smartphone.
Mr. Foldats encouraged graduates to come back and check on other drug court participants.
“Help them to be as successful as you were,” he said. He also reminded them that the drug court team is still available to help them if needed.
Drug Court’s 11th graduation
Court coordinator Katrina Watler said this was the court’s 11th graduation. Since March 2009, when the first graduation was held, 68 men and 12 women have completed the program. Of the 80, 14 have re-offended. Several of those who relapsed applied to enter the program again; if they complete it a second time, they are not added again to the number of graduates, she said.
Since the previous graduation in September 2013, one drug court client has had his participation revoked for noncompliance and two others have dropped out, Ms. Watler said. All three were sent back to the regular criminal court.