Last week, Deputy Director Ben Tucker joined proud friends and family members to congratulate eight graduates of the Prince George’s County Juvenile Drug Court (PGCJDC) in Maryland. Overseen by Judge Herman Dawson, the drug court seeks to break the cycle of substance abuse and delinquent behavior among the young men and women participating in the two-year program by providing treatment services to individuals suffering from substance abuse.
In front of friends, family, and state and local leaders, the young men graduated after successfully completing the court’s program. Many of them completed high school or attained their GED, and are employed or attending college in the Fall. Deputy Director Tucker recognized the hard work of each graduate, saying that “for some of you in this room right now, the thought of this day, the day you graduate from drug court, may have seemed impossible.&n bsp; But now you know it is possible to stop habits of drug use and replace them with healthier ones…you have already taken many steps to get where you are, and today is a celebration of how far you've come and how much you can accomplish in your life. Keep your eyes on the prize.”
An important component of the Prince George’s County Juvenile Drug Court is active parent participation. Parents attend all drug court sessions and participate in their children’s treatment plans and recovery. At the ceremony, one parent shared that at first she thought Judge Dawson was too strict, but she came to realize that the drug court saved her son. She was not getting calls from school about her son’s behavior, and he was going to graduate from high school.
There are more than 2,500 adult and juvenile drug courts in operation today, enabling tens of thousands of Americans every year to break the cycle of substance abuse and delinquent or criminal behavior by combining substance abuse treatment and support services with incentives and sanctions. With state and local governments facing serious fiscal issues, these courts are a cost-effective investment that helps individuals on the road to recovery and reduces costs associated with incarceration and recidivism. The President's 2011 National Drug Control Strategy includes adult and juvenile drug courts as critical tools in breaking the cycle of drug use and criminal behavior.