PULASKI (WSLS 10) - The first drug court in the New River Valley now has its first two graduates.
The men were recognized at a ceremony on Thursday after completing the nearly two-year rehab program.
Drug courts are an alternative to prison for low-level drug offenders. They have a 15 percent recidivism rate nationwide, compared to a nearly 60 percent rate among traditional inmates.
The Pulaski County Drug Court launched in 2014, and it's estimated to have saved the county $200,000 in jail costs so far.
One of the first graduates, Leroy Robinson, started using drugs when he was 15 and dealing when he was 18. He was in and out of jail and homeless for a time. His addiction got so desperate, the husband and father began manufacturing methamphetamine in his home with his family present. Robinson is now paralyzed from the waist down, after being shot during a drug deal gone bad. He said he was never sober on his own for more than three days at a time.
Now, thanks to the drug court program, he has been sober for 22 months.
"It breaks the cycle, and that's what we want," said drug and circuit court judge Marcus Long. "We want to keep people out of prison, and we don't want them on drugs. It just gives them their life back."
The drug court has expanded into Floyd and Giles counties and is expected to launch in Montgomery County soon.