Kamas woman graduates from drug court
Two years ago, Jordan Hannay was addicted to meth and heroin.
At the time, County Attorney David Brickey had seen her come in and out of his courtroom and jail for repeated drug violations. He and his staffers had just begun the county’s Drug Court progam, but he resisted recommending the Kamas woman for it.
"I am one who thought she wouldn’t be a good candidate," Brickey. "I didn’t think she could knuckle down. I am so thrilled to be able to eat my words."
Brickey is happy because Hannay, 23, became the fourth graduate of the Drug Court on Monday, celebrated in an outdoor ceremony attended by members of the community and the Summit County Judiciary.
After two years of thrice-weekly drug tests and hundreds of hours of counseling, Hannay said it is still a "bittersweet" experience no longer having to endure the program’s requirements. "When I started, I was ready to be done with it," she said in an interview before the ceremony. "But those people grew on me."
Hannay is so thankful for the experience that she plans on becoming a mentor to the other participants in the drug court program, which now has more than a dozen members.
Drug court was created two years ago as a different approach to what Brickey called "the increasing number of people who come in with their addiction issues" to jail and court.
Certain individuals with addiction problems are given the choice of going to jail to serve jail sentences or, alternately, submitting to three drug tests a week and as many as four addiction meetings a week while holding down a job, going to school, or performing community service. After between 18 months to two years in the program, participants who have kicked their habits, cleared the drug tests and completed all of the requirements are eligible to graduate and not have to serve jail time.
"It’s one of the best things we can do in the county," said Summit County Councilman Roger Armstrong. "Addiction is very difficult. I love the approach they’re taking."
It is a group effort, Brickey said, between agencies that include the County Attorney’s office, Valley Behavioral Health, probation and parole officers, the Summit County Judiciary, and public defenders — many whom work without additional pay — to ensure the success of the program.
Not every participant is a success story. The third person to enter the drug court program died from an overdose about a year ago. "That hits home," Brickey said.
But the success stories are what keep the drug court growing, with rehabilitation the goal rather than punishment. "Jordan and other grads are proof that with diligence and a positive attitude you can overcome addiction," Brickey said.
Hannay said she has been sober since Nov. 2, 2012 after several months of struggling with the constraints of the drug court program. But she is grateful that the County Attorney and others didn’t give up on her, and now she is working full-time in property management after seasonal jobs at local resorts. "[The agencies] saw me go through the court system, and go in and go out, and go in and out," she said. "I owe a lot of gratitude. They kept on giving me chances. They believed in me."
Other than the graduation ceremony, which she said should motivate other participants in the program, Hannay doesn’t plan on celebrating lavishly. "I don’t plan on having a big party that would be detrimental to my recovery," she said, bittersweetly.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.