Drug Court Graduation Equals New Beginnings

September 17, 2007 - Posted at 9:26 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-"It was an addiction, a viscious, viscious addiction."

You first met Jassen Lawrence in May of 2007, now four months later he has something to celebrate.

"Now I'm going to Phase 3. I'm one of those people that's going to graduate soon," said Lawrence.

Now just months away from a new life, he shares in the success of fellow drug court participants.

On Monday night, three of those graduated into a new start.

"They teach accountability, and they keep you responsible. Yeah, there's a lot to it. There is a lot to do. At first you can easily get overwhelmed, but it can be done," said Rosemary Cavender.

She says while it was a long road, she's now on solid ground.

"I've learned a lot. I think it's a great program. Like I said, it's a marathon, not a sprint," said Cavender.

Judge David Laser is among those that heads up the drug court program, and he remembers many of the participants first days.

"They are physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally beat. You can see it in their faces. You can see it in their bodies," said Laser.

But now, it's a new look, one that looks to the sky.

"They have returned to normal living. They have gotten an idea as to living a life they never dreamed possible, or at least if they knew about it, it's been years and years and years," said Laser.

Now for those who have been using for years and years, they can finally say they are cleaning up their act.

"They instil positiveness in your mind and let you know that you can do this. You don't have to get high no more. Bottom line, you don't have to," said Lawrence.

And not getting high, is the effort of way more than one.

"Without one person, the rest of us would fall. That's where we stand. We trust and believe in each other. We all do. When we get ready to use, all we have to do is pick up that phone, and there's somebody on the other end we can talk to. We don't have to face this alone," said participant Greg Kemper.

Monday, three successfully graduated from the program.

Each paid their own way through, and by Tuesday any trouble they had been in will be erased from court dockets.

Currently more than 20 have graduated since the program's start in 2003.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.