NORWICH – Monday was the annual ceremony recognizing the graduates of the Drug Treatment Court program at Chenango County Court. The program was originally started in February 2004, by Judge Howard Sullivan. Participants plead guilty and as part of their sentencing are required to complete drug treatment court. It lasts one year and requires them to maintain sober during that time, as well as participate in a variety of educational/rehabilitation programs, in order to combat their drug and alcohol addictions. There is family treatment court, which strives to reconnect parents with their children, and adult criminal treatment court (TC).
“If you deal with drug addictions and deal with your problems then criminal activity will (generally) stop,” said Jim Everard, Drug Treatment Coordinator, when explaining the links between drug/alcohol addiction and crime.
Since its inception there have been 244 referrals to adult felony TC for evaluation. Of those, 226 began the audition process and 148 have been contracted. In total, 118 people successfully graduated. 16 people were arrested for another felony.
Some prior graduates were present at the ceremony and gave an update on their lives. Members of the drug treatment team were also introduced and were followed by the most recent graduates.
“We don't hear enough about people getting clean and sober,” said Everard when speaking to the graduates. “We're proud of you.”
Everard then opened the floor to guest speaker Samuel Pertilla, a graduate of the program who explained he has a long history of court appearances.