Drug Court: A second chance for Lubbock citizens

Drug Court: A second chance for Lubbock citizens

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

A second chance at life for drug offenders, the Lubbock County Drug Court has had hundreds of success stories in the last decade.

It is a concept that has been in Lubbock for the last 15 years as a sentencing alternative for offenders.

"It diverts people who are breaking the law due to their addiction from prison because we know that if they go to prison, they generally don't come out as better citizens," Judge Ruben Reyes, who presides over the Lubbock County Drug Court, said.

He said this program is an opportunity for addicts to change their life, but at the same time, if they miss a meeting or fail a drug test, jail time is back on the table.

"The accountability adds the missing piece to just treatment. Treatment without accountability, we have found, is not as successful as treatment with accountability," Reyes said.

Judge Reyes said he emphasizes that when someone enters drug court, they become part of a family -- a family of people who know what they are struggling with and working to fight it together.

"This helps bring that to the forefront to say -- let's talk about it. You can't run away from it. You can't just think this is a problem that happens in certain parts of a city, or affects certain members of our community. It affects us all, one way or another," Reyes said.

He said more than 480 people have graduated, and only about 12 percent have been reported to re-offend in the years to follow.

One of the graduates of the Lubbock County Drug Court, Crystal Evans, said she was consumed by her addiction before this program.

"I lost everything. I lost my kids. I was homeless. I was just being a criminal doing things to stay high," Evans said.

Evans said she was arrested and then had two choices: Go to prison, or go to drug court and get clean.

She said she always wanted to get rid of her addiction, but never knew how, until she walked into Judge Reyes' courtroom.

"There's something about this program that shows people a new way of life that they want to keep living that life, even after the program is done and you have graduated. It just becomes the norm for you," Evans said.

Now, Evans said she hopes her story can give hope to those who are struggling with their addictions, wanting to get back on track.

"It's shown me a new way of living. I got to be held accountable, I got a job, and I got my family back," Evans said.

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