Drug Court success leads to recovery
Kim Herrington’s recovery and sobriety through the Madison County Drug Court was nothing more than miraculous, she says.
Herrington was indicted on drug charges in January 2018 and sentenced to two years of house arrest. She served a year and then transferred to the Drug Court in 2019 that includes Madison and Rankin counties. She graduated from the Drug Court in August 2021.
“I worked for two years to get sober,” Herrington said. “During that process, I went through many steps, and I thought it was crazy since so many recovery hours are required. They suggested I go back to school, and I enrolled at Belhaven University in 2020. I would’ve never had that seed planted if not for the Drug Court, and Candance, my caseworker, gave me a future.”
“I also not only went to my recovery meetings, but I am a recovery meeting leader,” she said. “I’ve been clean for four years, and I also do jail ministry. All of that would not have happened without Drug Court. It’s been miraculous.”
Herrington recently graduated from Belhaven University with a bachelor’s degree and has a six-year-old son named Levi, and a two-month-old daughter named Oliva.
She also works full-time at an eye doctor clinic in Rankin County and does Rankin County Jail Ministry.
“Being able to successfully graduate from Drug Court without a sanction was one of the biggest accomplishments for me,” Herrington said. “Give the Drug Court a chance. It seems like a lot, but if you do the work, you come out with so many tools for the world you never would’ve thought you needed. If you do the program, prison does not have to be your future.”
Circuit Judge Judge Dewey Arthur said watching people graduate from the court and get their lives back on track is the most positive thing he has seen in his 20 years of work in the courts.
“These people are changing their lives,” Arthur said. “I remember one guy coming in. He was homeless and had been on meth for almost 20 years. After going through the Drug Court, he got sober and has been for three and a half years. He has a job and is taking other people to drug court.
Arthur, who has been a judge and involved with the Drug Court since December 2021, said that it is completely life-changing for people who make it to graduation.
Deanna Germany, a casemanager of Madison County’s Drug Court, said sobriety is not something addicts achieve and then put on a shelf.
“Sobriety is something you work for every day for the rest of your life,” Germany said. “These are strong men and women, not weak like some think. Because of drug court, we get to offer them the chance at treatment instead of incarceration.”
This May, Madison’s 20th Circuit Drug Court will join courts throughout Mississippi as well as nearly 4,000 programs nationwide to celebrate National Drug Court Month.
The Madison County Drug Court is located at the circuit courthouse in Canton and covers Madison and Rankin County.
“It is an honor to serve as a case manager in drug court,” Germany said. “I am in awe of the people I serve. Our team focuses on long-term recovery by establishing stable employment, reunifying them with their family, and re-emerging into society.”
“From the moment someone enters our doors, we try to treat them with the three foundations of drug court: humanity, compassion, and treatment,” she said.
Germany said the drug court sends a powerful message that the justice system believes a combination of accountability and compassion saves lives while saving valuable resources and reducing exorbitant criminal justice costs.
“While in the program, we helped a young woman enroll in college and find full-time work,” Germany said. “She gave birth to a beautiful drug-free baby. She completed the treatment court program and went on to get her bachelor’s degree. Today, she has no criminal record holding her back. She is happy, healthy, employed, and contributing to our community.”
Arthur said people who are placed in the drug court are given an initial assessment. They have heightened probation and must show a willingness to get off the drug.
He noted they must come to the court twice a week and take drug tests, such as urine tests, oral tests, or hair tests. Once they complete their inpatient treatment, they go through several phases of treatment leading to sobriety.”
“If they graduate, their drug charges are dismissed and wiped from their record, as if they never existed,” Arthur said. “The fastest you can reach graduation is two and a half years, and the longest we keep people here is five years.”
“People going into drug court have more supervision and guard rails than anyone on probation,” he said. “If someone graduates from the drug court, they have worked very hard. It’s amazing to watch it all happen. I also have a great staff that provides counseling with the participants, and they all work hard.”
For more information about the Madison County Drug Court, call the Madison County Justice Court at 601-859-6337.