Federal Drug Court Welcomes First Graduates

Federal Drug Court Welcomes First Graduates
YAKIMA -- Janelle Cingle wants to be a drug rehab counselor. She's a year away from getting her degree in psychology, and a world away from a life that should have killed her.

"You would be amazed at how many people want to get out of the lifestyle that we're in."

A drug addict, a regular at the county jail, a mom denied custody, and her crowning achievement; a Federal Prison term for counterfeiting.

"Janelle, you're a federal ex-con who was in prison for counterfeiting u-s currency. Why do I care about whether you get back into society successfully? Because it's that thinking and that mentality that keeps us out there."

But what's happening in there, in federal court right now is what offenders like Janelle have been begging for... A chance to prove to the system, many of these federal ex-cons are worth saving.

This is the first graduation ceremony for our federal district court's new Sobriety Treatment and Education Program, STEP for short.

Every participant; an addict, an ex-con, a lost cause in the eyes of employers, landlords, society. However not in the eyes of Federal Judge, James Hutton.

"It's always interesting to see how well people can do when they're given a chance, even though when you look at it in the four corners of the paper you might say there's no chance."

Membership has its challenges; sobriety, a job, stable housing for at least a year. And mistakes have their consequences.

"We're going to give you a curfew of 6pm to 6am..."

Danny Nash faced his demons and turned it around.

"It'll work for anybody. It's a great, great program. I couldn't believe it helped me and it did. It did."

And graduation was Janelle's finest hour.

"I am proud to be a part of this program and I hope you're proud of me."

Janelle has her kids, a job and her future back because someone offered her what she could never have gotten on her own.

"It's the mentality of people slamming the door on our faces say that I don't think I can trust you. I don't think you can change, that keeps the cycle going."