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Another Milestone for Local Drug Court: Over 1200 Graduates in 14 years

Ed "Flash" Ferenc
Jun 11, 2012
(Cleveland) – The 40th Graduation Ceremony of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court under the direction of Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Anita Laster Mays and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia will take place Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. at Cleveland City Council Chambers.

Contact:     Ed Ferenc, Public Information Officer                       
                 Cleveland Municipal Court
                 216-664-6787   216-857-7420

(Cleveland) – The 40th Graduation Ceremony of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court under the direction of Cleveland Municipal Court Judge Anita Laster Mays and Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge David Matia took place Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 4:30 p.m. at Cleveland City Council Chambers.

A total of 34 people graduated, 14 from the county program and 20 with the city, which brings the total number of people who successfully completed the program to 1,214 since it began 14 years ago.  Of that number, almost 80% remain sober and drug-free.

Speakers include Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan and the Honorable Larry A. Jones.  Hagan is a longtime supporter of the drug court concept and Judge Jones was responsible for the creation of the Cleveland program.  

                                  
Keynote Speakers (From Left to Right): Former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan and Former Cleveland Municipal Drug Court Judge, now Appeals Court Judge Larry A. Jones

“It’s important for the community to continue to support programs like this that encourage people to get the help they need,” said Hagan, who served as Cuyahoga County Commissioner on three separate occasions since 1982.

“You taught us. You showed us you count.  You made a statement that you mean something to yourself,” Hagan told the graduates.

Judge Jones urged his colleagues on the bench to adopt the program in 1997, after the common pleas judges rejected the federal funding secured by then-prosecutor Stephanie Tubbs Jones.  Judge Jones presided over Drug Court from 1998 until his election to the Eight District Court of Appeals in 2008.  Judge Mays took the position over in 2009 and shortly thereafter, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court became a partner.

“Drug Court was a learning process for me,” remarked Judge Jones.

“At first I thought all you had to do was say no and then I realized addiction was a disease.  Looking back, it’s  been a rewarding experience to see how many people have been willing to confront this problem, get the help they need and move on with their lives to once again become productive citizens,” said Judge Jones.

The Drug Court Program is a sanction-based yearlong program that emphasizes treatment and accountability.  Should a participant fail a drug test, or is otherwise non-compliant, a penalty is imposed.  

                                 
Photo:   Judge Larry A Jones presenting a "Distinguished Alumnus" Award to Valerie Davis, for her years of dedication to the Cleveland Drug Court Program. Jones, now a judge on the Eighth District Court of Appeals, started Drug Court in 1998.  Valerie was one of the first graduates and has attended every ceremony since.  Her recovery was so dramatic, the Court hired her in 2001 and she currently works in the Probation Department.

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