Treatment Court finds success one choice at a time

Only those people closely associated with the Clinton County Treatment Court know of the real life successes and the failures of this program.

They don’t just include those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol; their families and friends can tell you some stories, we’re sure.

In this program, as in life, success is measured by choices … choices made by those who are lucky enough to earn enrollment.

The reality is, their choices either keep them alive, or kill them.

Yes. Kill them.

When it comes to drugs and alcohol, choices can kill.

We continue to be very impressed by this program, about which presiding Judge Michael Salisbury spoke at a Kiwanis Club of Lock Haven meeting on Thursday.

Here’s some of what he said:

r Honesty by program enrollees is Rule No. 1.

r “All you do must be based on honesty,” he tells enrollees.

r That rule is from all of the lies those addicted to drugs tell their family and friends so that they can continue to feed their addiction.

r And so court officials play a chess game with some of the defendants, whose “tricks we were not savvy to … but we’re learning.”

r Enrollees must stay away from people the court deems a danger of relapse to them.

r Officials thought they’d cap the program at 15 people; they’ve gone well beyond that because, as Salisbury said, “I just don’t have the heart to say ‘no.'”

r A graduate recently gave birth to a “clean” child … that is, one not affected by the mother’s drug habit. That is contrary to another case he mentioned whereby a newborn remained in the hospital for days due to the mother’s drug habits.

Graduates must, among other things:

r Demonstrate a commitment to treatment.

r Earn a GED (general equivolency diploma) if they don’t have a high school diploma.

r Volunteer to work at least 90 days for a service group or charity.

r Have no unexcused absences for any court or treatment appointments, including NA or AA meetings.

r Have no program or criminal violations for at least six months.

r Be sober or drug free for at least six months, and remain in what the judge called an “after-care program” for at least one year after graduation.

The judge talked about how four people had been removed from the program recently and three more removals are pending.

In the last year, the program has conducted 348 urinalysis, with 19 being “positive” for drugs.

“That’s just 5 percent,” he noted.

Five clients have relapsed.

Program enrollees contributed 1,310 hours of community service.

The judge said Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd just visited the county to learn more about the Veterans Court program — pretty much identical to the Treatment Court program, but it’s for military veterans who struggle with drugs or alcohol.

“She said she wants to come to the first Veterans Court graduation,” he relayed.

Finally, Judge Salisbury emphasized that he has no respect for any participants who show no respect. For those who are booted from the program, “I owe it (that decision) to the people who do what they have to do” to stay drug or alcohol free, to graduate and to live productive lives.

Bravo, Judge Salisbury, and all court employees who go above and beyond to help people realize that their lives do matter.