It took a lot of strength, a lot of focus and a positive, self-motivated spirit to successfully complete the Clay County Misdemeanor Drug Court Program, and these are the very qualities Andrew Smith and Dantun Fair possessed throughout the entire program.
And those attributes along with support from the Misdemeanor Drug Court team earned Smith and Fair the titles of the first graduates of the Misdemeanor Drug Court, where they were honored Friday during a graduation ceremony held for them.
It was “a special day,” as Clay County Justice Court Judge Thomas Hampton called it, and now that these two graduates have successfully completed the program they have the opportunity of walking freely out into the world with a second chance at a productive life without any drug of alcohol charges on their records.
“I’m elated for (the graduates),” Hampton said. “Drug Court is an intensive, highly-structured program designed to identify and treat offenders whose criminal activities are generally related to substance abuse...Our goal in this Justice Court is to provide early intervention to misdemeanor offenders that will prevent them from committing crimes in the future and also enable them to become more responsible, law-abiding and productive citizens of Clay County. I just want to tell the two graduates that this is the first step that you have made to become anything you want to be in life. I’m proud of you.”
Guest speakers for Friday’s graduation ceremony was West Point Attorney Bennie Jones, who gave encouraging remarks to the graduates before taking their next steps on the path leading to great careers and happiness.
“If you have faith in God and stay in the Word all things are possible,” Jones said. “Take responsibility for your past and your actions. If you take responsibility for your actions and you take responsibility for the choices that you make. If you make a bad choice it’s going to lead to negativity. If you make a good choice it will lead to positivity.”
Drug Court Director Edward Houston said Fair has not had a driver’s license in eight years and was able to receive his driver’s license two weeks ago after paying all court fines and Drug Court fees and completing the program.
“In the beginning it was kind of difficult for him and Andrew and some of the others, but he got on board and started doing what he needed to do to finish,” Houston said.
Smith, a native of Columbus, also received his driver’s license upon completing the program.
Houston said four more Drug Court participants are expected to graduate next month, and the Drug Court team hopes to see a graduation trend as the program continues in Clay County.