Drug Court

Kelly Jennings, drug court probation officer, stands at the podium and introduces eight gaduates of the Fourth Judicial District Drug Court during a ceremony at Iowa Western Community College on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

The Fourth Judicial District Drug Court offers a chance for offenders to get sober without jail time.

Eight people recently graduated from the program during a ceremony held at Iowa Western Community College.

The drug court class graduates shared their stories of hardship, addiction and redemption during a ceremony attended by friends, family and court officials.

The program, overseen by Pottawattamie County probation officers, local law enforcement and attorneys, is a chance for individuals to get a legal clean slate — but it must be earned.

“Each one was in the program for 18 months or longer, so the ceremony is the culmination of sobriety, treatment, having a job, paying off fines and fees,” said Probation and Drug Court Supervisor Wayne Reed. “It’s a way of saying they are ready to go into the community and start a new life.”

The group of eight, charged with various drug or drug-related crimes, were looking at more than 100 years of incarceration combined, Reed said.

Their criminal histories varied. Some had been in jail multiple times. Others had gone to prison.

Each had to face their past and claim responsibility for what they had done, Reed said.

The program helps clients, who in turn help each other open up and be honest about themselves. The support they give one another has generated a drug court alumni group comprised of graduates who meet together on their own time.

Drug court meets each Wednesday morning at the Pottawattamie County Courthouse.

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Participants must complete concentrated supervision that consists of drug testing, treatment services and continual visits with the drug court team — which is made up of probation and parole officers, representatives from the Pottawattamie County Attorney’s Office, family services organizations, law enforcement officers and a defense attorney.

Clients pay their own way through the program and are given assignments to pay fines, further their education and improve their standards of living as they advance through four stages of the program.

One graduate on Wednesday told the group he had gotten his high school equivalency diploma, and remarked he was not “as stupid as he thought he was,” Reed said.

“Low self-esteem is a factor for many, because they’ve been abused their entire lives and told they aren’t smart or do not matter,” Reed said. “To see them in a happier place is a milestone worth celebrating.”

Reed said another graduation ceremony will likely be held in the spring.

We applaud the Fourth Judicial District and all involved with the drug court for helping area residents avoid jail time while working to right the ship when it comes to substance abuse.

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