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Maui Drug Court Celebrates 70th Graduation Ceremony

Posted on Mar 10, 2020 in Featured News, News & Reports

Attendees and special guests marked the 70th Maui Drug Court graduation at Hoapili Hale. From left, back row: Second Circuit Chief Judge Richard T. Bissen, Jr.; front row: Chief Judge Joseph E. Cardoza (ret.), Judge Peter T. Cahill, and Drug Court Substance Abuse Counselor IV George K. Aiwohi, Jr., with graduates.

The Maui Drug Court celebrated another milestone when it convened its 70th graduation ceremony on February 20, 2020 in Chief Judge Richard Bissen’s courtroom. Six participants were recognized for their completion of the court-based treatment program.

Special guests included Josiah Nishita, Deputy Managing Director of the County of Maui, who attended the event to convey Mayor Michael Victorino’s congratulations to the graduates. Lisa Ponichtera, Clinical Director of Malama Family Recovery Center, was the event’s featured speaker. She is a Maui Drug Court graduate and provided words of encouragement to the graduates and current program participants by sharing her own story of addiction, recovery, and eventual attainment of a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Ponichtera went on to earn a a doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and today uses her skills and experience to help people through addiction and recovery.

The Maui/Molokai Drug Court is an intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program for adults. It was established in 2000 to address community problems stemming from substance abuse, while minimizing the societal costs of drug-related crimes and protecting the community.

As an alternative to incarceration, Drug Court helps ease both overcrowding in Hawaii’s jails and prisons, and reduces the impact of incarceration on the children and extended family members of the program’s participants. Since its inception, 646 people have graduated.

For more information on the Maui Drug Court, contact the program administrator at (808) 442-3850.