Four individuals took important steps toward recovery Tuesday when they graduated from Lancaster County Drug Court, a specialty court tailored to offenders dealing with substance-abuse issues.
Lancaster County Judge David Ashworth, who has presided over Drug Court since its inception in 2004, handed certificates to the three women and one man who successfully completed the program, which results in expungement or reductions of criminal charges for the graduates.
To date, 186 people have graduated from Lancaster County Drug Court – the 59 graduation ceremonies all filled with emotions and sense of great accomplishment.
In the midst of a still-escalating opioid crisis, the specialty court serves such purpose as it holds participants to a strict regimen that includes regular drug screenings and weekly hearings with Judge Ashworth.
There are 80 participants currently in the program and about two dozen more who have applications pending. Those eligible are typically non-violent, lower-level offenders with substance-abuse issues.
To graduate, participants are also required to pay full restitution accrued as result of their crime. Nearly $125,000 in restitution has been paid by the 186 graduates.
Also, 46 children have been born as their mother or father worked through the Drug Court program. The babies were all born free and clear of any drugs/alcohol as a result of their parents being involved with Drug Court. The reality is, absent the parents’ involvement, the 46 children would, in all likelihood, be born addicted. The cost to society in dealing with such addicted children is immeasurable, not to mention the horrible impact on the children themselves.
Kristin Varner, of The RASE Project, was keynote speaker at Tuesday’s ceremony. Also in attendance were many individuals who collaborate to keep the specialty court effective, including Karen Andreadis (Drug Court Coordinator), Cheryl Ondechek (Assistant District Attorney), Melissa Porter (Assistant Public Defender), several probation/parole officers, and others from agencies and counseling services.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright