MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- The Madison County Drug Court is one of the oldest in the state. On Monday another group of participants graduated from the program after completing three phases.
The Madison County Adult Drug Court identifies non-violent, chemical dependent offenders, and gives them another option.
"You're trying to get them to the point they're living for themselves. Then the point of realizing that 'I can be fruitful to myself, to my community and to my family, if I just redirect my activities'," said Judge Claude Hundley, who presides over the court.
Judge Hundley himself wasn't always a believer in the drug court system until he started working with those who attend it.
"I had to realize that there are people who need help in a lot of ways. The whole system is doing that. We have a mental health court, we have a veterans court, we realize that some people have other reasons," he explained.
In a program that takes roughly 52 weeks to complete, Antonio Jones is on his second year. He strayed from it at times, but he said that's what makes graduation so special.
"It's unbelievable for real. It's been a long time really. Two years doesn't seem like a lot, but when you're on a program it really is a long time, so it's a good day," Jones said.
Judge Hundley said there are multiple reasons the program is beneficial. It avoids costly incarceration, it provides what is considered to be effective substance abuse treatment. But Judge Hundley said it also shows him that what they're doing is having some success.
"There used to be an old song that said if I could just help somebody then my living will not be in vain. And when I see these individuals, I've got my somebody," he said.
This is the fourteenth year of the Madison County Adult Drug Court.