Graduation

Five men graduated from the Floyd County Drug Court program Thursday afternoon, completing a rigorous nearly two-year program to get their lives back. Celebrating were Josh Dillard (from left), Bobby Brock, Brad Hall, Jamie Cooper, Ronald Brownlow, Drug Court Coordinator Erin Young and Judge Billy Sparks.

Floyd County Drug Court graduate Josh Dillard summed up his emotions when he told a room full of supporters that he had never felt such “structure, stability and love” anywhere else in his life.

His feelings were shared by his four fellow graduates of the 18- to-24-month program — Bobby Brock, Ronald “Brother” Brownlow, Jamie Cooper and Brad Hall — during ceremonies in the Floyd County Administration Building.

County Commissioner Allison Watters, an early supporter of the accountability court concept, told attendees that the comprehensive approach to criminal justice focused on rehabilitation has proven its value all over the country.

“This is a good thing for our economy and good for our citizens,” Watters said.

Drug Court Coordinator Erin Young said that all of the participants had been able to find and hold jobs throughout the program. She pointed specifically to Hall who, she explained, had helped about 10 other participants get jobs while going through the program.

“It is not an easy program. It is not meant to be an easy program,” Young said.

As a group, the five Thursday night graduates had been randomly drug-screened 961 times, had achieved more than 4,500 hours of sobriety and had given more than 320 hours of community service on their road to recovery.

Each of the graduates was given the opportunity to make remarks. Brownlow said the program had provided him “the greatest gift ever: I am able to spend time with my family,” as he fought off tears that welled up in his eyes.

“I feel so blessed,” Bobby Brock said, as he looked out into the audience to see his tiny daughter.

Jamie Cooper was recognized by Young as coming into the program as focused as any individual she had ever worked with.

“Yeah, I did set my own boundaries,” Cooper said. But he turned to the drug court team seated behind the podium and said he could not have completed the program without the tools they had taught him along the way.

Hall said he had been through other programs to battle his addictions but nothing worked until he was allowed to enter the Superior Court drug court program. It was initiated under Senior Judge Tami Colston before she retired as chief judge in 2018 and is now led by Judge Billy Sparks.

Young said that Dillard, who entered the program at the age of 23, is the perfect example of why the system should try to intervene on behalf of drug offenders early on.

“This is definitely the happiest day of my life,” Dillard said.

Sparks concluded the ceremony by telling each of the graduates that the court would always be there for them going forward and saluted their willingness to act as mentors for others who are in the program now.

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