Pubdate: Mon, 05 Nov 2001
Source: Ada Evening News, The (OK)
Copyright: 2001 The Ada Evening News
Author: Jeremy Cantrell
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Youth)


ADA - Pontotoc County established the Pontotoc County Juvenile Drug Court 
Program in August of 2000. Through collaborative efforts, the program is 
proving to be a success.

The first group of participants to complete the program is set to graduate 
in early February of next year. Three of the nine future graduates spoke of 
the program's strengths and weaknesses. All three chose to remain anonymous 
and used pseudonyms. Jim is a 17-year-old senior at a local high school. He 
has been in the program since January after being arrested for possession 
of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. Jerry is an 18-year-old 
senior at a local high school. He has also been in the program since 
January after being arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of 
paraphernalia. Both Jim and Jerry work for a local farm and plan to attend 
college. They are both in Phase Three of the program, which is the final phase.

Janis, 18, has graduated high school and works as a wood crafter. She is 
"the last of her kind," as she says, meaning she's the last and only member 
of the original group that began in August of 2000, set to complete the 
juvenile drug court program. Janis was brought into the program after being 
arrested for public intoxication twice and possession of marijuana. She has 
been a participant in the program longer than Jim and Jerry. She was 
arrested for driving under the influence in a vehicle accident, and had to 
restart the program. "I had to start the program over from the beginning. I 
lost all my points," she said. The points Janis speaks of are used to 
advance each participant to the next phase as treatment progresses. She is 
in Phase Two of the program, and nearing the final phase. All three have 
been sober since early January.

All three members agree that the program has been effective. "It is a good 
program," said Jim. "It works if you work at it."

"It is effective," said Janis. "It's a whole lifestyle change."

"Everything changes," added Jerry.

Funding has been a major concern for Associate District Judge Martha 
Kilgore and members of the drug court team. Since the participants and 
their families pay for all services of the program, all three agree the 
program needs assistance with funding. "We have to pay for drug tests, 
court hearings and counseling," said Jerry. "Counseling is $90 an hour."

"I bet me and my family have spent around $3,000 to $5,000 on this 
program," said Janis.

The program advisors are working hard to receive grants and private 
donations to help program participants pay for the program.

The counselors and program advisors of the drug court program keep a 
watchful eye on the participants, according to Jerry. "We (he and Jim) had 
to take two drug tests in a week. You have to be really, really good to 
make it far in the program," he said.

In reward of good behavior, local merchants have supplied incentives for 
the participants. "There needs to be more incentives donated," said Jim, 
"especially for the movies."

Narcotics Anonymous treatment has been the most helpful for the three 
participants, as they stated. "Narcotics Anonymous works," said Jim, as he 
displayed numerous, multi-colored "NA" key chains. "It works if you work at 
it, and it doesn't if you don't."

The program is proving to be effective for these three and the other 
participants. These three individuals stress the importance of the juvenile 
drug court program and doubly stress the importance of not having to enter 
such a program. "Choose your friends wisely," advised Janis.

"You lose a lot of money and time in this program. It is a good program, 
but you don't want to be in it. Stay out of trouble," said Jerry.

For more information on Pontotoc County Juvenile Drug Court Program, 
contact Paula Hodges at Juvenile Services (580) 436-4102.
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