55th District Court Celebrates 22nd Graduation Ceremony

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By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

Alisha Kelly, a 2010 graduate of 55th District Court Sobriety Court, is proof that a better life is possible for those who make it through the rigorous program. The most difficult part, she noted, is "keeping up with all the things you're responsible for--drug and alcohol testing, as well as intensive outpatient treatment, AA meetings and community service--all without having a driver's license."

Fortunately for Kelly, because she was in a place where she was "sick and tired of being sick and tired," she embraced the program and with the help of others completed all the requirements including "doing a 90 in 90 or 90 (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings in 90 days." Now she is not only a graduate of Sobriety Court but also a graduate of Douglas J. Beauty School and has her first job at a salon in Mason.

"I just completed my first day (on the job) today", she said, beaming, "and I'm going on a mission trip to Mexico in May with my church."

The twelve graduates of the program would agree with Kelly that Sobriety Court changes lives. As each of the twelve graduates of 55th District Court's 22nd Sobriety Court 22nd graduation stepped up to receive their discharge from probation and a certificate of graduation they had a story to tell. Comments included:

* This has been a life altering experience.

* I feel more motivated.

* I've developed relationships I can count on. I never had that before.

* I am so grateful for the opportunity. I've learned to live life on life's terms.

The graduation ceremony was held on December 6, 2011 Mason City Hall in Mason, MI.

Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, Director, Michigan State Police was the keynote speaker. She congratulated the graduates commenting that this day was a "day of celebration" for the graduates who have been given "a second chance" and a new start on life.

The Honorable Judge Donald L. Allen, Jr. presides over the 55th District Court's Sobriety Court.

"Our Sobriety Court continues to be a win-win situation, proving rehabilitation effectively protects the community, saves significant taxpayer money, and returns citizens to productive lives," Judge Allen stated.

"We are very proud of our program, our participants, and of the community support we consistently receive. The long term success of Sobriety Court is based upon close supervision of probationers by an interdisciplinary team dedicated to the safety of our community."

Research continues to show that Drug Courts work better than jail or prison, better than traditional probation, and better than treatment alone.

* Nationally, 75% of individuals who complete Drug Court are not re-arrested.

* 93% of 55th District Court Sobriety Court graduates are not re-arrested for alcohol or drug related offenses.

* According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Drug Courts save up to $13,000 for every individual they serve and return as much as $27 for every $1 invested.

* With this ceremony, there are now 237 successful graduates of the 55th District Court Sobriety Court.

Like the other 2,500 operational Drug Courts in the United States, the 55th District Court Sobriety Court is a judicially-supervised court docket that reduces correctional costs, protects community safety, and improves public welfare.

In Drug Courts, seriously drug-addicted individuals remain in treatment for long periods of time while under close supervision. Drug Court participants must meet their obligation to themselves, their families, and society. To ensure accountability, they are regularly and randomly tested for drug use, required to appear frequently in court for the judge to review their progress, rewarded for doing well and sanctioned for not living up to their obligations.

Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue, the 18th Director of the Michigan State Police, began her career with the Department of State Police in 1987 as a member of the 101st Trooper Recruit School. Col. Etue holds an associate's degree from Kalamazoo Valley College and is a graduate of the 206th Session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. As Director, Col. Etue also serves as State Director of Emergency Management and as Michigan's Homeland Security Director.

Published: Thu, Dec 15, 2011

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