Drug Court offers offenders second chances

Friends, family and supporters showed up at Circuit Court yesterday to attend the most recent Drug Court graduation.

“You are shining examples of hard work,” said Drug Court Administrator Alton Amimoto.

Drug Court is a diversion program for people who have felony drug charges or related charges. If they complete the program, they can have the charges dismissed, said Amimoto.

He said another way to enter Drug Court is through probation. If offenders fail in probation, instead of having it revoked or being sentenced to additional probation or going to jail, they can enter the program.

“If you complete our program, you can have your probation dismissed,” said Amimoto.

Drug Court Judge Calvin Murashige presided over the graduation.

He said he and the court’s staff saw the graduates change their bad habits over time.

“We wish them success in the years ahead,” said Murashige.

Cresanto Tangonan is self-employed, and said he has a history of drinking and drug use.

“I want to thank the people who started this program. I was in need of it,” he said.

Jeremy Foster was looking at charges that could have sent him to prison for 36 years.

He thanked Deputy Public Defender John Calma for never giving up on him.

“He’s been there for me since day one,” said Foster.

Shanlynn Hammond was in an abusive relationship. She got rid of the boyfriend and is now a clean and sober mother of four.

“Life is good sober. I love my boys. I thank my mom, my family, and Judge Murashige,” she said.

Rhonda Freitas was among the first to be accepted into Drug Court.

At the graduation ceremony, she thanked the court’s staff.

“You just wanted what was best for me,” she said.

Analyn Manzano could not look at herself in the mirror while she was addicted to drugs.

She had tears in her eyes during the graduation ceremony. She said the tears were from happiness.

“It was not easy, but I got through it. I could not have done it alone,” she said.

“I thank my mom and dad,” said Manzano. “My mind is clear, and I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am ready to take that journey.”

After the ceremony, a party was held for the graduates at the courthouse.

Yesterday’s graduation was the fifth since Drug Court started on Kaua‘i in 2002.

The state and the county declared May to be Drug Court month. The program started up 10 years ago to combat the war on drugs.

• Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or ckaneshiro@kauaipubco.com.


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