THE Adams County Drug Court reached a significant milestone last week with its 20th graduating class since the program was formed in September 2006.
The four graduates bring the total to 102 individuals in Adams County who have been honored for passing frequent drug tests, attending weekly court appearances and taking part in frequent counseling sessions -- steps aimed at turning their lives around.
We not only congratulate the latest graduates, as well as those before them, but the local officials who have worked to help ensure the program's success.
In Drug Court, eligible defendants face felony charges and either have failed probation or want a charge removed from their records.
Defendants who successfully complete the program, which typically lasts about 18 months, remain on probation with regular terms and conditions or have the charge removed from their record.
Most important, however, they are able to overcome their drug addiction and become productive citizens.
The positive results in Adams County continue to mirror those of the more than 3,000 Drug Courts nationally.
According to a 2018 study by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), the courts reduce crime more than any other program because most of those who participate take advantage of the opportunity.
Specifically, the study showed that the abuse of methamphetamine -- a major problem in West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri -- was reduced by more than 50 percent for clients in a Drug Court program compared to clients without Drug Court supervision.
Moreover, parents in a Drug Court program are more likely to attend and complete treatment, meaning reunification rates are 50 percent higher for Drug Court clients and their children.
Furthermore, Drug Court saves taxpayers money, the NADCP says. Studies show the average cost savings are $4,000 to $12,000 per client.
The biggest winners, however, are those who successfully complete the program and position themselves to be happy and productive citizens.
"I needed the structure and the kick in the pants," admitted recent Drug Court graduate Theresa Hill, who over the course of 15 months obtained her GED, completed a certificate course at John Wood Community College, gained a full-time job with benefits and now has a relationship with her son.
Those success stories are what the program is all about.
It's clear that by helping those struggling with drug addiction become better citizens, the Adams County Drug Court continues to make an important contribution to the quality of life in this area.