Forrest and Perry County Drug Court graduates 20

Forrest and Perry County Adult Drug and DUI Court held their graduation ceremony today at Lake Terrace Convention Center for the program Judge Helfrich says saves lives.

Twenty graduates of the Forrest and Perry County Drug Court sang the praises of the program. Many taking the podium claim drug court saved them. The program requires those with non-violent offenses and substance abuse problems to enroll and spend three years adhering to strict terms. Participants must choose a type of drug or alcohol treatment, attend self-help and support group meetings, continue their education, pass random drug tests, stay out of trouble, along with other conditions.

Judge Robert Helfrich said Monday, "They are rock bottom, most of them are and to see them put their lives back together and their families back together, it's just so rewarding. We've got 260 people in the program. It's like I have 260 children. We celebrate their successes and the failures crush us."

Helfrich said the national rate at which offenders end back up in jail is almost 70%. Only around 15% of drug court graduates end up back in jail.