After Two Years Drug Court Participants Graduate

April 13, 2006 -- Posted at 4:00 p.m. CST


POCAHONTAS, AR -- The 3rd Judicial District Drug Court Program in Randolph County held a graduation Thursday morning. Seven people previously convicted of drug crimes in Region 8 are now starting with a clean slate.


Kayla Kelso is one of the seven drug court graduates.  This is a day she has worked hard to reach.


“I had to do it.  I had to do it for myself, my kids, and my freedom,” said Kayla Kelso.


She enrolled in the program two years ago with a felony conviction. Because of drugs, Kelso lost her children, now she has her girls back, and vows to stay clean.


“I’m strong now.  I wasn’t strong then, but I am now.  I can do it,” said Kelso.


Drug court is a two-year program that involves counseling, probation, rehabilitation and community service work.


Billy Thompson is another graduate, and his family is glad this day is here.


“Recovery’s hard.  It’s a hard road, and it doesn’t just affect him.  It affects the whole family.  But, he did it, and we’re very proud of him,” said Jennifer Thompson.


Each graduate has their own motivation.


“We have children.  We have a two-year-old daughter, and she’s a great motivator.  She’s changed him,” said Thompson.


But one of the biggest motivations:  a clean record.


Linda Davenport's son Robbie is graduating.


“His biggest motivation was to get rid of the felony charge.  Kids get into drugs and alcohol, things like that, and they don’t understand how bad, how devastating a felony charge can be against you,” said Linda Davenport.


When they receive their certificate of graduation, Judge Phil Smith also hands over the papers declaring their felony convictions… convictions they are happy to shred.


Now these seven graduates can move forward with their lives drug free and felony free.


Getting into the program is not easy.  The participants must plead guilty to the drug charges, do community service, have periodical drug testing, obtain a G.E.D. if they don’t have a high school diploma, and maintain a full-time job.