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It was one year ago last month when Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis introduced drug treatment court to Brunswick County.
Last week, the program’s first participant graduated from drug treatment court. Scott Milligan graduated last week—marking the court’s one-year anniversary and Milligan’s one-year anniversary in recovery.
“I think that he had it in him all the time,” Lewis said about Milligan. It was the structure drug treatment court provides, Lewis said, that gave Milligan “the opportunity to be able to live clean and sober.”
Lewis hopes for the same for all the court’s participants. But not all participants make it through the program or even qualify for it.
“We have had those who have been terminated unsuccessfully from the program for various situations. Those situations certainly do exist, but we don’t count them as failures, just as learning experiences” she said.
“In terms of what we are doing as a team, it is really a labor of love,” Lewis said. “All of what is happening is because we really believe there is an alternative to prison and that treatment works.”
At the Milligan’s graduation ceremony last week, Lewis thanked county commissioners for their financial support of the court, and hopes their support will continue.
“In terms of the county commissioners, they have been so very supportive. I have been to them before and I think that seeing Scott’s success will certainly help them understand,” Lewis said.
Drug treatment court is aimed at repeat drug offenders, or defendants who commit property crimes fueled by their drug addictions. Drug treatment court is voluntary—the participant must want to participate and beat his or her addiction.
Participants plead guilty to their charges, and in turn, are ordered to an intensive probation focused on treatment and recovery.