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Macon County Hybrid Court Offers a Second Chance

Posted on Apr 21, 2014

A Hybrid Court in Macon County is proving to be a positive development for individuals who have been charged in alcohol and drug abuse cases. Hybrid Courts have been slowly popping up across the country as a way to manage drug and alcohol abuse cases and to save money in legal fees and incarceration costs. The Macon County Hybrid Court is funded by grants from the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Traffic Safety and the Bureau of Justice Assistance Office of Justice Programs.

Macon County had its first Hybrid Court graduation recently, and it was easy to see the positive effect the program had on the 12 participants. To graduate, participants must have attained sobriety for at least one year, complete substance abuse and/or alcohol abuse treatment, work full time or perform community service, and be involved in sobriety-based self-help groups. They are managed through comprehensive supervision, drug and alcohol testing, treatment, and a menu of sanctions and incentives.

Judge Thomas Little oversaw the graduation proceedings and said it was wonderful to see so many people turn their lives around. "You really feel like you're making a difference in their lives," Little told the Herald Review.

The graduates were invited to speak at the podium to reflect on how far they have come. After that, they were given their degree and a photo of themselves when they first entered the program. In one reflection, graduate Shannon Coefield spoke about how she's changed after more than a decade of substance abuse: "Look at me now: I got pride, and I got respect for myself. Today, I know I am somebody."

Although the effect this program has on the participants is immeasurable, savings for those who complete Hybrid Court can range from $3,000 to $13,000 per person.

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