Articles Written about Champaign County Drug Court

Click on any of the following links to read News-Gazette articles written about Champaign County Drug Court.

October 13, 2013
You could call Vanessa Askew the prodigal daughter. Even though she frequently saw the mother who raised her and the older brothers she looked up to, she was essentially gone from them for about 10 years because of drug use. And from early 2010 to the middle of 2012, she was in the special hell reserved for heroin addicts.
September 15, 2013
It's 7 a.m. on a Friday and Jom Golaszewski starts to check on as many Champaign County drug court clients as he can before calls for service pick up in the area of the County he's assigned to patrol.
June 15, 2013
Cortez Epinger, a graduate of the 28th Drug Court class, is just one of the 194 success stories in the 13 year history of the Champaign County Drug Court program.
December 8, 2012
More than a year ago, Roscoe Brown Jr. found himself in jail for theft after spending 40 years of his life abusing drugs.  Now he works as assistant program coordinator for Restoration Urban Ministries in Champaign.
June 16, 2012
25th drug court class yields 8 more successes - Six men and two women who have a total of 22 sentences to prison in their past are on track to graduate from Champaign County Drug Court.
Dec. 17, 2011
Drug court hoping grads prove savings - The 14 men and women graduating from Champaign County’s drug court Monday have pretty much worn out their welcome at the courthouse.
Nov. 6, 2011
It's about Rebuilding Lives - Del Ryan sees parallels between his former career as an educator and his new job working with convicted drug addicts.
June 11, 2011
Collectively, they've been high a really long time. And they've spent a whole lot of time in jail or prison and at the Probation Office because of it.  But hopefully after Monday, another 15 people won't find themselves back in the criminal justice system because of their addictions.
June 8, 2011
In 18 days in jail, Ashley Mabry hated that she was cut off from her heroin habit. Now she sees that as a life saver. At 7:30 PM tonight in the Parkland Theater, the 21 year old Champaign woman will be one of the three top GED student speakers out of a 71 member graduating class.
March 24, 2011
3 area residents who have "made great strides" set to graduate today
The three graduates, who range in age from 35 to 51, all started using alcohol and marijuana in their teens.
Two of the graduates have been in drug court since September 2008, and the other started in January 2009, Ford said.
“These three have had their ups and downs, but they have really made great strides,” Ford said. “When you talk about long-term addiction, sometimes it is hard to overcome something a person has been using for over 20 years.”
December 11,2010
Tired of jail, woman cleans up her act
Mary Jo Holmes doesn’t blame anyone but herself for the 18 years of her life she’s lost to drug addiction.
While Holmes was preoccupied with crack cocaine, her friends took care of her daughter. Her daughter’s father provided financial support.
“I hate that she suffered like that. That’s my one regret — that I didn’t raise my daughter right. I’m so sorry for what I put her through.”
June 21, 2010
The Long Road to Sobriety
Kristi Keller is having a ball experiencing a jillion things she missed out on during her 20s and early 30s.
“I feel very free, happier than I can recall any other previous moment in my life. It’s every day. (Without drug court) I would be dead.”
December 19, 2009
Couples Counseling
Anthony and Melissa Lackey are celebrating a very different kind of Christmas this year. They're clean and sober, together, for the first time in the nine years they've been a couple.
A husband-and-wife set of graduates is a first for the program which has graduated 125 people in its 10-year history.
June 21, 2009
You gotta fight it the rest of your life
For the last several Father's Days, John Darnall hasn't felt whole.
On June 27, 2004, his daughters, Jessica, 18, and Jenae, 16, were killed in a traffic accident in Florida. All too willing to drink anyway, the loss of two of his three children sent Darnall into a tailspin fueled by Busch Light.
December 22, 2008
Graduate of Drug Court reaching out
“I was a crippled man at the edge of a river, and drug court picked me up and took me over the river. I´ve been so blessed. I have a home where I was homeless. I have a car which I´m not trying to sell to a drug dealer. I have a good job and my education. My children are back in my life,” he said.
June 14, 2008
Drug Court Class Thrills Judge
Champaign County Judge Jeff Ford had a pleasant surprise as he was researching the current class of drug court clients set to graduate on Monday.
He couldn't find any new criminal cases that any of them had picked up while under his supervision.
December 15, 2007
Five are just days away from making the grade
Barring any last-minute falls from the wagon, the group will walk out the door of the Champaign County courthouse as the 16th class to complete the program overseen by Judge Jeff Ford since its inception in March 1999. Assuming all five make it, it will bring to 77 the total number to have completed the program.
June 16, 2007
Program graduates picked up habits as teens
Four women and one man graduating from Champaign County's drug court Monday have a sad fact in common. They started their drug and alcohol use as budding teens.
December 16, 2006
3 to graduate from Drug Court
While a year may not sound long to some people who haven't struggled with drug addiction or the criminal activity frequently associated with it, Ford points out that it's a major accomplishment for these three men.
June 17, 2006
Largest class set to graduate
It took Jeanine Wright a little longer than her teachers had hoped, but on Monday she will graduate from one of the toughest schools in the world – Champaign County's drug court.
Wright, 30, of Urbana is among seven – the largest class ever– to have completed the program designed to get people whose crimes are linked to their drug addiction back on the straight and narrow.
December 17, 2005
Drug court prepares for 5 more graduates on Monday
Another five men are on deck to graduate from Champaign County's drug court program on Monday.
The men represent the 12th class to stay drug-free and crime-free for a year since the county began the drug court program six years ago.
June 18, 2005
Five to 'graduate' Monday from drug court
There are few causes for celebration inside the felony courtrooms at the Champaign County Courthouse.
But one is planned for Monday afternoon when another five drug addicts are expected to graduate from drug court.
December 14, 2004
Drug court graduates largest class ever
There were no caps and gowns, no Pomp and Circumstance playing in the background.
But Monday's graduation from Champaign County's drug court program was no less momentous for the five men and three women who were in the class.
December 13, 2003
Graduating from drug use
The cake has been ordered and the punch is chilling. Now all that's needed for another successful Champaign County drug court graduation is for its graduates not to fall off the wagon this weekend.
June 4, 2000
Drug court Class of drug-, crime-free 'grads' a first for county
Most school administrators would be loathe to admit they have a 45 percent graduation rate.
But administrators in Champaign County's drug court program are ecstatic to have five out of 11 people who have been sentenced to the program for a year graduating tomorrow.
June 4, 2000
Drug court Program helps put Urbana man on 'right track'
At the age of 51, James Winston walked across the stage at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts last month to receive his associate's degree from Parkland College.