On December 8, 2022 the Webster County Drug Court hosted their bi-yearly drug court graduation. The drug court graduation is an event hosted by the Drug Court Judge and the team that makes drug court possible for Webster County to recognize and celebrate the hard work of the people who made it through the program.
“We have a Drug Court docket twice a month,” explained Judge Chuck Replogle who is the Drug Court Judge. “Whenever we do that, the beginning part is the Drug Court team. We will meet for a couple hours and discuss how the participants have done over the last couple of weeks.”
During Drug Court, the participants come up one by one to talk to Judge Replogle individually.
“We talk about how things have been going. Sometimes we have to give them sanctions or mis-steps that they’ve made, but more important than that we try to praise them whenever they’ve been doing good,” shared Judge Replogle. “I feel like that’s really fuel for further success. A lot of times they have not had good experiences when they are standing in front of a judge in a court room.”
Most participants are given the opportunity to participate in court when they are facing a non-violent drug offense.
“It can be a myriad of things-it’s not just controlled substances, it can be alcohol as well,” explained Judge Replogle. “Usually it is not their first offense…it’s usually someone who has had multiple encounters with the law as far as their substance abuse disorder.”
Currently there are around 15 participants in Webster County's Drug Court program. While some counties choose to have a larger drug court, the Webster County Drug Court team has intentionally chosen to keep their group small.
“We’ve chosen to remain smaller on purpose…it gives us the opportunity to have a more intimate experience…spend more time individually with each participant,” reflected Judge Replogle. “I preach that we are a family. Keeping it smaller allows us to give more one-on-one attention.”
Drug court gives drug offenders the opportunity to commit to turning their life around by having a solid support system in the courts, as well as focusing on their mental health and teaching life skills that will help them be successful when they graduate. To date, Webster County Drug Court has had 33 graduations with 59 graduates.
“It has saved my life,” shared graduate Lacey Staples. “Mostly Dr. Lawson. It’s been ups and downs, a lot of jail time. In the end it has saved my life…I feel like a completely different person and everything is different. It’s going to be different from here on out.”
Graduate Shane Hoyt shared a similar story. “It’s been hard but it’s been rewarding,” reflected Hoyt. “I feel proud, grateful.” Hoyt expressed he cannot wait to raise his baby girl and hopes to find a job on day shift.
“Treatment court is successful because we all work together,” shared Anita Bardwell, a current Drug Court participant during her opening speech at the graduation. “Members of the treatment court work hard to help us succeed. Those of us that participate work hard to keep up with the demands of the program. Our loved ones support us in our quest. Together we become more than just a team, we become family. When a family works together we become unstoppable.”
“Every opportunity were we can say, ‘Good job, we are proud of you’, we try to do that as much as we can,” explained Judge Replogle.
Three people completed Drug Court and gradated on Dec. 8; Shane Hoyt, Lacy Staples and Adam Haynes.
“I am very proud of myself and I’m a mom again,” shared Lacey.
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