KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — Drug court “saved my life period. I am the most grateful person. By all rights I should have been locked up for a long time,” beamed Kent Holden, the first graduate of Kosciusko County’s Drug Court.
Holden graduated from the program Monday, Aug. 10. He was the first participant and jokingly labeled “the guinea pig.”
“We are proud of him,” said Barry Andrew, drug court director. “He has left footprints for people interested.” The help and financial support of other agencies was also expressed by Andrew.
While some of these individuals have been before Reed in sentencing situations where they experienced the solemness of his comments in regular court, they are experiencing a different side of the court and the judge. Smiling, laughing, joking and evening inquiring about their jobs, family and life, the judge provides a less solemn mood and a sense of caring. Even the participants laugh, smile and joke with Reed.
Holden was described as the best candidate for the start of the program. Not only did he invest in his own recovery, but has helped others along their journeys.
Rene Osborn, probation officer, stated one year was spent planning and preparing for the program when Holden, a resident of Serenity House, was recommended. She stated Holden “stepped up,” giving the “Kent talk” to others in order to get them to classes and offer support to them. “He has impacted everyone,” Osborn said.
As for Holden himself, he has been clean for two years, passed all drug tests and has a perfect record. Holden also helped design the graduation coin which will be given to each graduate of Drug Court.
“I have so much to be thankful today,” said Holden. He explained two years ago he was at the lowest he could be, taking medications, alcohol and any drug. “If it wasn’t for my mom relentlessly harassing me I would not be here today. All of you, Bowen Center, Serenity House, Drug Court combined have helped me do something I could not do the last 30 years.”
“This is the first of many graduates we hope to have here,” said Reed, who stepped down from the bench and presented Holden with a graduation certificate and a congratulatory embrace.
The drug court program is a sentencing alternative to those addicted to or abusing illicit drugs. A multi-disciplinary and collaborative intense rehabilitative program is used. Working through service providers, drug court seeks to reduce the use and demand for drugs and alcohol.
Even the atmosphere in the courtroom is different.
Whispered conversations are the norm on any given day in any Kosciusko County Courtroom. The exception is Monday afternoons in Kosciusko County Circuit Court.
Drug Court is conducted each Monday afternoon in the courtroom and the atmosphere is different from other court hearings. Those sitting in the courtroom for this court are not there awaiting judgment. They are there to receive continued encouragement and praise for their efforts in breaking their drug dependencies and lead a better life. Even a reprimanding for not attending classes are received in a friendly manner.