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Big Island Drug Court Celebrates 69th Graduation and National Drug Court Month

Posted on May 24, 2024 in Featured News, News & Reports
Kona Drug Court Presiding Judge Wendy DeWeese (center) and four Big Island Drug Court graduates stand together in front of the Kona courtroom bench, 05/06/2024.

Kona Drug Court Presiding Judge Wendy DeWeese (center) celebrates the success of four graduates who completed the Big Island Drug Court Program.

The Big Island Drug Court (BIDC) celebrated its first graduation of 2024 in a moving way. Four individuals who completed the court treatment program were accompanied by family, friends, employers and supporters in a packed courtroom at the Keahuolῡ Corthouse.

The BIDC team, prosecutors, public defender, court support staff, and Kona Drug Court Judge Wendy DeWeese recognized each for their many accomplishments. Family members, employers, and supporters also took turns speaking about the graduates, noting the significant life changes made during their journey to recovery.

A line of five female hula dancers performing in a courtroom of the Keahuolῡ Corthouse in Kailua-Kona, Hawaiʻi, 05/06/2024.

One graduate showed appreciation for her Drug Court experience with a hula performance, accompanied by an inspired mele and traditional ukulele, alongside her friends.

Lei, congratulatory certificates, and proclamations from members of Congress, state senators and representatives, and members of the Hawaiʻi County Council were presented to the four participants, making their completion of the intensive program official.

“Our communities continue to face increased and, at times, overwhelming challenges related to drugs and mental health issues,” said Drug Court Coordinator Grayson Hashida. “National Drug Court month events, which include our graduations, employer appreciation events, and health walks, give us hope. These projects highlight the ways that, with the support of the public, we can make a positive impact.”

Hashida further acknowledged and thanked all the community partners who help to make Drug Court successful.

BIDC team members Hashida, Anthony Actouka, Emily Ovian-Kwiat, Marly Silvestri and Nicole Tobias were also acknowledged for organizing the inspiring graduation ceremony.

National Drug Court Month is observed annually during May to celebrate the many benefits drug courts bring to communities through the successful treatment of drug offenders. According to national statistics, treatment courts, such as the Kona and Hilo Drug Courts, save thousands of dollars on each participant who would have otherwise been incarcerated or on probation. Moreover, court treatment programs reduce crime and drug use, and program participants are less likely to commit future crimes.

For more about the Big Island Drug Court program, contact the Drug Court Probation office in Hilo at 808-961-7566 or the Drug Court Probation office in Kona at 808-443-2200.