Just in time for National Drug Court Month, Pulaski County held its fourth drug court graduation Monday evening.
Judge Colin Long officiated the ceremony offering statistics about drug courts and praise for graduating participant, Christina Toney.
Long said, “75 percent of graduates nationwide remain arrest free for at least two years after leaving the program. Long term outcomes have found a reduction in crime of at least three to 14 years and for every $1 invested in drug courts at least $3.36 was saved.”
The cost saving program saves Pulaski County around $10,000 per participant, according to Long.
“Our cost per participant is about $3,500,” Long said, comparing it to an average cost of $13,000 to house inmates in the Pulaski County Jail.
“Drug courts do work,” Long said.
Toney is the fourth participant to graduate from the intensive program which requires a minimum of 18 months of supervision, chemical dependency treatment, 100 percent attendance of court appearances, meetings with a probation officer, and attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, as well as six months of clean drug tests.
Long said that Toney’s life read like a “bad country song” when she entered the program because she didn’t have a job, a home, a car, or a diploma. He applauded the changes she was able to make in her life through the program including getting her GED, finding a good job, getting a car, and making a home for herself.
In addition to fulfilling her requirements for the program, Toney expressed a desire to go above that and give back to the community. During her time in the program, she attempted to organize a charity softball tournament and will part of clean-up efforts in downtown Waynesville.
Toney thanked Long and the other members of the team of people who administrate the drug court program, as well as her family and children.
Long presented Toney with a certificate of graduation from the drug court program, saying he was “sorry to see her go,” but “very proud” of her accomplishments.