On Dec. 16, John Walters, White House Drug Czar, came to Alexandria to recognize the accomplishments of the city’s Family Drug Treatment Court.
“I commend the city of Alexandria and Judge Nolan Dawkins for providing this service to its citizens,” Walters said. “This is a shining example of how the criminal justice system can be used to heal those who have become addicted to drugs, save taxpayer dollars and reunite families who have been devastated by drug addiction and abuse. The graduates of this program are living proof that recovery from substance abuse is possible and makes our families and community stronger.”
One of those graduates has been drug free for nearly two years. “It’s because of Judge Dawkins and everyone here that I have turned my life around,” she said.
A DRUG COURT is a special court given the responsibility to handle cases involving drug-using offenders through comprehensive supervision, drug testing, treatment services and immediate sanctions and incentives. American University’s Drug Court clearinghouse reports that over 300,000 drug using offenders have participated in drug court programs since their inception in 1989. In 1997, the Government Accounting Office reported that 71 percent of all offenders entering drug court since 1989 have either successfully been treated in the Drug Court program or currently actively participate in their program.
In 2001, Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse concluded an updated study of its seminal 1998 review of Drug Court research and evaluations. It found that Drug Courts continue to provide the most comprehensive and effective control of the drug-using offenders’ criminality and drug usage while under the court’s jurisdiction.
ALEXANDRIA’S FAMILY Drug Court began in August 2001. A number of families are involved. “One of our graduates was unable to make it here today because of traffic,” Dawkins said. “He has graduated from the program and has gotten his daughter back. She is with him today because of his participation in Drug Court and all of his hard work. Drug Court is truly making a difference in the lives of many people.”
Mayor William D. Euille came to Thursday’s Drug Court. “We are all your family,” he told Drug Court participants. “You are not alone. We are here to support your efforts to change your lives. We will provide what support we can to make sure that your success continues after you graduate.”
Dawkins, too, commended the Drug Court graduates. “I am proud of all you have accomplished and some day we will be out of your lives because of your hard work,” he said. “Congratulations and good luck.”