Trey Kay Published

Court Of Second Chances?

Court of Second Chances?
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In West Virginia, there are nearly 50 specialized court programs designed to help teens and adults kick their drug addictions. Drug courts divert people away from incarceration into a rigorous, court-monitored treatment program. They are intense experiences, some more than a year long. Participants are drug tested regularly and require monitoring devices.

Graduation rates across the country show success rates from 29 percent to more than 60 percent. There are many supporters within the justice system, but critics say drug courts only work with the easiest, first-time offenders and don’t take violent offenders or sex offenders. Some drug courts require a guilty plea before someone can participate, which can limit a person’s options if they don’t make it through the program.

In this Us & Them episode, host Trey Kay talks with people about this court-designed approach to sobriety that began nearly 50 years ago when the first drug court opened its doors.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the Just Trust, the West Virginia Humanities Council, the CRC Foundation and the Daywood Foundation.

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Joanna Tabit - Headshot

Courtesy
Joanna Tabit is a Circuit Court Judge in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She has been at the helm of a juvenile drug court for the past five years.
Sheila Vakharia

Courtesy
Sheila Vakharia is Deputy Director of the Department of Research and Academic Engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, a national advocacy organization. Vakharia describes the organization’s mission as “working to end the war on drugs.”
Gregory Howard - Photo in Drug Court

Trey Kay
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Gregory Howard is Chief Circuit Judge in Cabell County, West Virginia and oversees the Adult Drug Court.
Adam Fowler graduating from Cabell County Drug Court

Trey Kay
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Adam Fowler speaks to those gathered in Judge Gregory Howard’s courtroom in Cabell County, West Virginia as he graduates from the Drug Court Program. Fowler told Us & Them host Trey Kay, he had tried to recover from substance use disorder many times before with no success. “I was doing it for all the wrong people. I was just doing it to make the judge happy … to make my probation officer happy. This time I did it for myself.” He told Kay his new commitment to turn his life around came after an overdose that left him in a coma. “I had to learn to walk and talk again. And from that moment on, I just knew there’s more to life than death.”
Robin Solomon

Trey Kay
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Robin Solomon works as a support specialist with the people in the Cabell County (WV) Drug Court Program. However, back in 2019, she was the one graduating. She told Us & Them host Trey Kay that she started using drugs when she was 13. “My mom is an addict. She was one of the first people who I started using with. And as a child, we don’t ever think that our parents are going to steer us in the wrong direction. But, you know, sometimes people make a choice. Some people, you know, eventually it does become a choice. Some people are born into it.”
<em></em>Huntington, W.V. Fire Chief Jan Rader is a central figure in the Netflix documentary short <em>Heroin(e)</em>.

Rebecca Kiger
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Netflix
Jan Rader was the former fire chief in Huntington, West Virginia and a central figure in the critically-acclaimed Netflix documentary “Heroin(e).” She now leads Huntington’s Council for Public Health and Drug Control Policy.