- 86% of graduates used drugs daily or multiple times per week when they entered Drug Court. Now, all are 100% drug free.
- 48% of graduates had no income when they entered Drug Court. Now 52% percent are employed and 100% have legal sources of income.
- 43% of graduates are enrolled in educational programs or vocational training, and another 29% are planning to enroll.
- 48% of graduates have reconnected or reunified with their children.
|Judge Angela Bradstreet, left, and Demarris Evans, right, from the public defender's office, cheer at the end of the drug court graduation in San Francisco, Calif., Monday, October 22, 2012. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle / SF|
By Marisa Lagos
Elley Fore could have been serving a life sentence in state prison. But instead, on a recent weekday, he found himself inside a packed San Francisco courtroom with tears in his eyes as he received a standing ovation.
He could see the police chief and public defender in the crowd, several deputy district attorneys and Superior Court Judge Angela Bradstreet. But it was the sight of his children, grandchild, fiancee and ex-wife that got to him.
For three decades Fore was addicted to crack cocaine, and he did a lot of things he wasn't proud of. But in 2010, police picked him up on a charge, drug possession with intent to sell, that was one too many under California's "three strikes and you're out" law. If convicted, he could be looking at 25 years to life behind bars.
Instead, the San Francisco district attorney's office threw him a lifesaver: drug court. The idea behind the 17-year-old program, for Fore and others like him, is to get clean in exchange for having charges dropped.
"I was not ready to stop using drugs," Fore, 50, admits now. "I wanted a 'Get out of jail free' card."
Fore underwent two months of treatment at the drug court's center, then completed a three-month residential program at one of dozens of private treatment centers that partner with the city. He relapsed but returned for help. It took him two years, instead of the typical one year, to complete the program, but he says it worked: He's been off drugs since Jan. 6, and the city was drug-testing him to be sure.
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