Ada County Drug Court celebrates 1000th graduate

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-16 00:45:59-04

Ada County Drug Court achieved a major milestone Friday. The program celebrated its 1000th graduate during its 100th graduation ceremony.

Behind those big numbers are big success stories.

"I just got into trouble young," graduate Sean LeBlanc said. "[It] started with weed and then progressed from there, and ten years down the road I'm in jail with two felonies."

After battling addiction for years and ending up in trouble with the law, LeBlanc is now stepping forward on a new journey

"Tonight they're going to dismiss my felonies, so I'll be able to go forth not a felon, which opens up so many doors for my life," he said.

Amber Young is also one of the night's graduates. She was an addict at the time her daughter was born.

"My daughter wasn't a drug free baby," Young said.

Now, she's pregnant again, and, happily, drug free.

"I'm a better mother than I was before, and I thank Drug Court for that," Young said.

District Judge Richard Greenwood says he sends addicts to Drug Court because of the program's success.

"Statistics nationwide and locally show that for the money we spend on Drug Court... it's cheaper than putting them in prison, by far," Greenwood said. "The rate of relapse, the rate of recidivism... is dramatically and demonstratively better... for people coming out of Drug Court than just throwing them in prison."

After more than 20 weeks of classes, drug testing and counseling, the seven graduates are still in recovery, but, now, they're looking forward to a brighter future as not just a number, but a story of success.

"It's the proudest moment of my life I could say, it changed my life,"  Young said.

Drug Court graduates have performed more than 35,000 hours of community service since the program's inception in 1999.