Drug court graduates honored at ceremony

Feb 10, 2015 11:45 PM by Jason Atcho

A ceremony was held Tuesday night for recent graduates of the Tehama County Adult Drug Court Program.

With the overcrowding of prisons, many counties are turning to other methods like drug court to deal with felony offenders who have addictions. "Instead of incarcerating these folks, we bring them into treatment, offer them intensive drug and alcohol treatment, and probation supervision," said Phillip Hernandez, Director of Drug and Alcohol at Tehama county Health Services Agency.

One of those being honored at Tuesday night's graduation ceremony was Shane Cooper. "When I was suffering from the disease of addiction, I was more than grateful when it was offered to me by the Tehama County court system," explained Cooper.

Drug court is an intensive 3 phase program that averages 18 months. It includes treatment groups, meetings with a probation officer, and court dates. "I was a little nervous about it because it is a steep program and there's a lot of responsibilities and stuff to learn," said Cooper. However, he says this accountability was well worth his freedom. "Instead of all the down time from behind bars, I was able to restart my life, get together with my family, plant new roots in the community, and follow up on a career that I was interested in."

If it wasn't for the program, he says things would likely be the same as they were before. "I would still be out there running the same insanity. Trying things the same way and expecting different results. There's no way I'd be celebrating 19 months clean, like I am, without this program," said Cooper.

Officials say this program is not only great for the participants, but great for your taxpayer dollars as well. "We've estimated the treatment cost, providing treatment and supervision for a drug court participant in the community, being about $8,000 for the term of the program as opposed to approximately $100,000 for incarceration," said Hernandez.

Cooper has a message to anyone who gets into a similar situation to his. "If you're given the opportunity to venture into this program, it will seriously change your life for the better. You get out what you put into it. That's for sure."

Since 2007, Tehama County has had 53 graduates from the drug court program and has a success rate of about 75%.


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