Hard work makes graduating from drug court possible
Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 8:02 pm
He’s proud — with good reason — for having completed a lengthy and demanding rehabilitation program. He entered the program in November 2008. His drug of choice was prescription pain pills. But no more.
Truett is humble because he realizes he’s been given a second chance. Were it not for the rehab program, he would probably be doing hard time in a state prison.
Truett, 38, was among seven men and a woman from Obion and Weakley counties who graduated from the 27th Judicial District (Obion and Weakley counties) Drug Court program. An official ceremony was held at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Weakley County Courthouse in Dresden.
It was the 14th graduation ceremony since the drug court program was established in the 27th District in December 2002.
Obion County Circuit Court Judge Bill Acree Jr. presides over drug court. He is assisted by Weakley County General Sessions Judge Tommy Moore and Obion County General Sessions Judge Jimmy Smith.
They and other officials were among a crowd of about 50 attending the graduation ceremony.
Acree made a brief statement of welcome, after which Moore and Smith addressed the crowd. Then each graduate was called forth, one by one, to receive a handsome plaque and congratulations for having successfully completed the program. Verily, a major milestone had been reached.
With a shiny plaque in hand, each graduate stepped to a center-stage podium to say a few words from the heart. Two of them, including Truett, had to pause before their words would come. It was an emotional moment.
And rightfully so. Ponder, please, Truett’s words as expressed in an interview when all was said and done.
“I looked at my wife (Amy) seated back there,” he said. “She’s been through a lot. She’s stuck by me, believed in me. We separated a couple of times. She still stuck by me. That helped a whole lot. And my parents helped.”
Was it difficult for him to toe the line — curfew, weekly drug screening, counseling, getting a job; these requirements, and more?
“For me, the worst part was sharing my feelings in the group,” he said. “Dr. Johnny Welch (drug counselor) led the discussions.”
So how does he feel about being a brand new graduate. More to the point, how does he feel about putting a lot of distance between himself and drugs?
“I feel real good about making it through,” he said. “I wasn’t really worried about finishing. I knew I could do that. But I was always worried about maybe messing up.”
Truett is proud to say he did not receive one sanction — punishment, usually jail time up to 45 days — in the 18 months he was in the program.
“This program was a lifesaver for me,” he said. “Like Judge Moore said, it’s a new beginning. I’ll still have to deal with some of the things I did in the past. And there’ll be temptations and certain jobs I won’t be able to get.”
He uses a few words to summarize the situation and put it in proper perspective. “It’s sure better than being in jail and having somebody come visit you,” he said.
To access the 12-step program, applicants must have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a nonviolent felony and/or misdemeanor offense and face a prison sentence. If for some reason they backslide and commit one too many infractions of the rules, they can be kicked out of the program and dispatched to prison to serve their sentences.
At any given time, there’s a total of 30 enrolled in the drug court program. Thursday’s graduation will thin the ranks, of course, but there are six applications pending from newcomers. A screening committee will review each case and decide yes or no.
You could make an argument that Truett is one of the lucky ones. Not so. Luck had little to do with it. Most likely, it was hard work and a determination to finish what he started.
Whatever the case, we glory in your spunk, Mr. Truett. Congratulations to you and the others who graduated Thursday.
To judges Acree, Moore and Smith, and to all the folks who help administer the drug court program, I say this: Bully for you, Sirs and Madams. I admire your grit. Yours is not an easy task. You are doing great work. Yet you serve free of charge.
I close this missive with an observation: To save even one soul from the awful evil of drug abuse is a lofty accomplishment. Thursday, you gave us eight.
You are earning yourselves a place at the right hand of God.
John Brannon may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.21.10