Jackson County drug courts commended for success with offenders

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Jackson County celebrated the work it does through drug treatment courts on Monday. Drug courts in Jackson County were among the first set up in the nation 20 years ago. Graduates say they're grateful for the chance to turn their lives around.

Jackson County has five treatment courts, including drug courts for veterans and families.

On Monday, drug court graduates were honored for successfully completing the treatment program. Some women ended up in drug court after giving birth to babies that were found to have drugs in their system.

Although participants usually end up with criminal records for child neglect, the treatment program allows parents to regain custody of their children.

Megan Crisp graduated from the program three years ago. She's now a successful graphic designer and proud mother of two young children.

"I was never meant to be on drugs," Crisp said.  "I come from a family with a long history of drug use. Everybody in my family uses drugs. I just needed a chance to get back on my feet, somebody to believe in me. That's all I needed was that little push."

Nationwide, drug courts like the one in Jackson County serve more than 135,000 addicted people a year. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals says studies show the more serious a person's addiction and the longer his or her criminal record, the better drug courts work in reducing crime and saving money for taxpayers.

While only three out of 10 people released from prison never break the law again, it's a much better story for drug court graduates. Nationwide, three out of four remain arrest free after completing a court-ordered drug treatment program.

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