OGLE COUNTY (WREX) - An option in Ogle County gives drug addicts and criminals a second chance. Its drug court and some people who've been through it say, it's helped change their lives. Winnebago County has a similar program. Basically drug addicts who commit non-violent crimes are eligible for it.
We spoke to a woman, going through drug court, she asked us to call her "Jill". She doesn't want us to reveal her real identity, but says she started using drugs with she was just 13. It started with alcohol and marijuana. By her late teens "Jill" moved to harder drugs like LSD and cocaine. Things got worse in her 30's, when she added heroine to the mix. Jill had been in trouble with the law several times before. An arrest for DUI and cocaine possession in late 2009 in Ogle County is the one she says helped turn her life around. "I honestly believe that I was rescued and not arrested because all that 10 years that I was begging and pleading to stop, something was just different this time."
Jill decided to go into drug court and has been clean for the last 11 months. "I was on drugs and alcohol for 32 years and it's the first time that I could say, this is the first month clean, two months clean, three months clean and here I'm 11 months clean I've never done that in my life."
Ogle County State's Attorney Ben Roe says the program helps users get clean and dismisses criminal charges against them. It also helps get them back on their feet. "The whole idea is they'll leave our court with the tools to be self sufficient."
Supporters, like 15th Judicial District Associate Circuit Judge Kathleen Kauffmann, say the program helps taxpayers too because it cuts down on crime and minimizes the number of times people re-offend. "You sentence the person to prison, they serve their time but then they get out and come back to your community their behavior hasn't changed,"
If you're kicked out of the program, you are sent to prison to serve the sentence you were given for the crime committed. This program is relatively new to Ogle County, it just started in 2009. The first graduates are expected to finish in August.
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