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Big Island Drug Court Celebrated National Drug Court Month with Two Grad Ceremonies

Posted on Jun 5, 2023 in Featured News, News & Reports, Press Releases
Image of Judge Wendy DeWeese and Kona Drug Court graduates.

Third Circuit Judge Wendy DeWeese, far right, congratulates three of the Kona Drug Court graduates.

HILO, Hawaiʻi — Celebrations in Kona and Hilo occurred last month to recognize individuals who successfully completed the rigorous requirements of Drug Court. The fact that May was also National Drug Court Month made their accomplishments all the more special.

The Kona celebration, on May 15, was for six individuals comprising the 66th graduating class.

“Drug Courts deal with the most troubled, most addicted offenders by providing an alternative to incarceration while saving taxpayer dollars,” said Third Circuit Court Judge Wendy DeWeese. “It utilizes drug treatment, mental health and medical services, frequent drug testing, home visits, curfew monitoring, employment monitoring. educational requirements, frequent hearings with the Drug Court judge, incentives, sanctions, and supervision. This is an extremely tough program and the participants have to work really hard so that they are poised to lead productive, fulfilling lives when they graduate.”

The participants are supported to succeed by Drug Court staff and employers in the community who are willing to give them a chance. One such employer, Sefa Ulu, said,
“Watching the graduates grow is a beautiful thing.”

The sister of a graduate observed, “They have gone through a transformation. Today we break the chains. This program is truly a miracle.”

Image of Judge Jeffrey Hawk and Hilo Drug Court graduate.

Judge Jeffrey Hawk with proud Drug Court graduate.

A few days later, the Hilo celebration was held for two graduates in the 67th class. Judge Jeffrey Hawk congratulated the graduates for their hard work, determination, and for reaching this milestone in their lives. “We are also very grateful to the many community members, including treatment providers, team members, employers, and loved ones, whose support is vital.”

The graduates made heartfelt remarks.

Ann said, “Drug Court gave me hope and strength to succeed. They taught me to keep my head up and never give up. They gave me a new life. I am employed, clean, and sober. I strive to be proud of myself by being a productive member of society again.”

Keahi said, “I have waited for this day for a very long time, the feeling of being at peace, to know who I am, what I want, and where I’m going. Today I am the best version of me that I have ever been. I am alive, healthy, and happy.”

The Big Island Drug Court began 21 years ago and has celebrated the graduations of more than 360 participants from its program.



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