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Graduates of drug court have records cleared

The 17th Judicial Circuit Drug Court held its first graduation ceremony at the Marengo County Courthouse on Friday.

Six people completed the course, designed to help those who have been arrested on drug charges shake their addiction to drugs. Gabe Buckalew, Andy Cannon, Jamar Jordan, Johnny Ormond, Terrell Powell and Brandy Slocum each got new leases on life through their own need to change and the help the program provides.

“The focus of the program is for these people to graduate drug-free and to give them a second chance,” said program administrator and district attorney Greg Griggers. “All of these people were charged with felonies on the front end, and they all leave here without those felonies. Hopefully, they won’t return to the court system, and the added advantage is that they have the tools to fight drug addiction. It’s a win-win: It’s a win for the community that they are no longer coming back into the court system, and it’s a win for them because they are leaving here drug-free.

Each of the enrolled offenders were subject to random drug testing and paid all monies owed the court system.

“There has been a lot of conditions that they’ve met to get to this day,” Griggers added, saying the program still has room to grow. “We still have a lot of things we can do to improve, but it was a dream, and then it was a reality. This was the first class to go all the way through it. There are a lot of things we have to do to sustain it.”

The graduates were also pleased with the program.

“I had six felonies on my record, being on drugs and not knowing how to stop using,” said Slocum. “Now, since I’ve been in this program and going to treatment, I’ve just learned a new way of life. I am really grateful for this program and everything that it has done for me.

“You have to be willing to change. You have to do something different. You can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results. I am just really grateful for this program. I love this new way of life.”

“I appreciate everything they’ve done for me,” said Buckalew. “If you want to help yourself, there is nothing they won’t do for you.”