Almost 200 graduated Benton County Drug Court

Almost 200 graduated Benton County Drug Court »Play Video
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Benton Franklin Drug Court helps people that have addiction problems and ran into legal trouble. The program is selective in who they accept but it could keep them out of jail. The drug court has a better recidivism rate compared to the national average. KEPR took a look at the program to see how it's working.

John Allstead is a carpenter by trade and started his own home improvement business a couple years ago. He remembers it wasn't always like this.

"I was a meth addict I would be up three 3 or 4 or 5 days at a time, out all night long," said Allstead.

In three years, John lost everything.

"I had a family, a wife and kids, and all of that and drugs have lost all of that," he said.

John hit rock bottom and got busted for drugs. Facing jail time, he applied for the Benton County Drug Court program.

Our local programs are on par with the national average for recidivism, meaning those who re-offend after graduating from drug court. Those who complete the program successfully will see their felony charges dropped. Judge Carrie Runge credits her staff.

"Drug court is more than just a judge, it really is a team approach and a team concept," said Runge.

She says it's not an easy route to graduation.

"Court on a weekly basis, they are required to meet with a case manager on a weekly basis, they are required to be in treatment and complete treatment, treatment can be generally 2 to 3 times a week," she said.

Drug Court has been around for a little over a decade. In that time, 179 have graduated, 61 were kicked out of the program, and another 18 dropped out.

John remembers the challenge and he's how drug court helped turn his life around.

"Be able to go out play baseball play at the park, enjoy normal things that drug addicts don't do."

Offering an option outside of jail, on the path to getting clean.

If a participant is kicked out of drug court, they will go back into regular court and face charges.