Oklahoma County Treatment Courts celebrate recent program graduates

by The Black Wall Street Times
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Oklahoma County Treatment Courts, consisting of Drug Court, DUI Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Treatment Court, will recognize recent graduates at a public ceremony on Tuesday, April 5, at 5:45 p.m. at Frontline Church located at 1104 N. Robinson in downtown Oklahoma City. 

With friends and family in attendance, graduates will celebrate successfully completing their respective treatment court program and having their charges dismissed. Selected individuals will also share their stories of transformation and hope for the future. The public is invited to attend. 

Oklahoma County Drug Court is a comprehensive program that offers support, substance use disorder treatment, supervision, and accountability as an alternative to traditional sentencing. Nationally, drug court is considered the single most successful criminal justice intervention for seriously addicted offenders. On average, individuals who qualify for the program have had 7.6 arrests stemming from addiction, and are facing felony charges which are dismissed upon completion.

“I just want everybody to know that change is what happens when you address people’s needs and you give them the right support, encouragement, and also accountability,” said Judge Kenneth Stoner, the presiding judge over Drug and DUI Court in Oklahoma County. 

Oklahoma County Treatment Courts celebrate transformation

“We follow the evidence-based practices on how to work with somebody and approach them in an informed and supportive way. We have a different focus than other courts. Our multidisciplinary team really focuses on an individual’s needs.”

Since the program first began in Oklahoma County in 1997, 2,356 men and women have successfully completed the drug court program and had their charges dismissed. With a graduation rate of 83%, Oklahoma County drug court is one of the most successful in the state. 

While the courthouse was closed during the onset of COVID-19, 90% of drug court participants continued on a voluntary basis. 

“It was important that we continued to make ourselves available and provided that support system to participants, even if we could only do it virtually and on a voluntary basis,” said Kelly Basey, Oklahoma County Assistant District Attorney. 

“It was inspiring to see how many participants chose to continue to make progress in the program without the threat of sanctions. They kept working, not because they had to, but because they wanted to.” 

Some former offenders have become drug court staff

Drug Court hosts a celebration for graduates twice per year. In November 2021 a graduate, who now works as part of the drug court staff, shared his story and how support through the program helped him on his journey to recovery. He was surprised with an order to have his case expunged by the judge, along with three other former graduates who now also have roles as Treatment Court support staff.

While charges are always dismissed for individuals who complete a treatment court program, there are other benefits. In addition to support for lifelong recovery, graduates are less likely to re-offend. 

Graduates from July 1, 2019 to December 31, 2021 increased their income by 67.9% on average through employment support services. Children also regain a sober and thriving parent as, while only 9% of participants had children living with them when they start the program, 90% are reunited by graduation. The program also saves taxpayer dollars. 

In 2019 alone, the program saved $20,083,000 based on the cost of incarceration for the participants who were instead diverted to Drug Court. 

To help support the ongoing success of drug court in Oklahoma County, donations can be made to the Oklahoma County Drug Court Fiscal Sponsorship Fund held at the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma. Donate at www.cfok.org.

For more information about Oklahoma County Drug Court, please visit www.okcountytc.org

Click here for photos. Photo credit: Abi Ruth Martin.

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