Each month, the County’s Probation Department—in partnership with Sacramento Superior Court, the District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office—conducts a graduation ceremony for nonviolent felony drug offenders who have received treatment and rehabilitation services through the Sacramento Drug Court Program.
The March 28 graduation ceremony was a special one for the five clients who completed the program, and it was doubly special for two of the clients who were married immediately following the graduation.
Melvin and Caroline successfully completed the 10-12 month intensive drug rehabilitation program after years of homelessness and personal struggles stemming from methamphetamine use. Prior to entering Drug Court, the couple had been living on the street for seven years. Melvin, who had been addicted to methamphetamine since age 15, was in and out of jail for drug possession, serving 11 jail terms and two prison sentences.
While serving his last prison sentence, Melvin’s mother passed away. “Not being able to attend my mother’s funeral and give my final goodbyes was the worst time in my life,” said Melvin.
Since entering Drug Court, the couple has remained drug free for more than 10 months. “I have found a positive power in just saying no to drugs, at least for today, and everything good will follow,” said Melvin. The newlyweds live in an apartment downtown and spend time volunteering at a local animal shelter.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” said Melvin. “I came in homeless. I never thought I could stop using drugs, let alone get off the street. There were so many good people who helped me. Caroline and I are so appreciative of the efforts.”
Drug Court goals focus on increasing awareness of drug abuse and addiction, utilizing community resources and reducing drug-related crime and recidivism. Individuals referred to the program receive a suspended sentence but must remain in compliance with their court orders for the length of the program.
“The Drug Court program offers offenders the best chance of success through treatment, education and training,” said Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale. “Participants learn how to live a stable, drug-free lifestyle and can make a fresh start in society.”
Graduation from the program results in dismissal of criminal charges.
For more information about the Sacramento Drug Court Program, visit the website.. For more information about the Sacramento County Probation Department’s mission and services, visit the homepage.