LIHUE — The Kauai Drug Court graduated its 22nd class on Friday, with five candidates who completed the jail diversionary program.
Judge Kathleen Watanabe presided over the graduation. She said that 142 individuals have completed the program in the past decade. Only 10 were charged for re-offending with a new drug charge, she said.
“That is an astounding success rate,” Watanabe said.
The graduates included Debra Numazawa, who said her 2011 arrest for drugs was a blessing in disguise. Her one hope is that her sobriety will have a positive effect on her family.
Numazawa said it was a difficult and long road to regain control of her life. She thanked the judges and Drug Court staff for believing in her when she could not believe in herself.
“Drug Court gave me the tools I needed to live a clean and sober life,” Numazawa said. “I now enjoy watching my grandchildren grow up and making lasting memories for them.”
Tori Ann Laranio, a senior probation officer in the Drug Court program, described Michael Montapert as a model candidate who remained 100 percent compliant throughout the program.
Montapert’s 2011 case involved methamphetamine and other drug charges. He thanked his family for unwavering support and the staff for allowing him to learn how to look at the problem.
“This was a second chance at life,” Montapert said.
Mario Rosa had a 2010 case involving theft and forgery to feed a drug habit. He said that his drug use sent his life into a downward spiral in a short time and that he obsessed with feeding the addiction.
Drug Court got off to a rough start, but he said the sanctions were well deserved and the additional time to complete the program helped him remain sober more than 700 days and counting.
“Thanks for not putting up with it,” Rosa said.
He credits NA and AA with providing the support that he needs to reinforce his desire to stay clean. He also thanked Love The Journey, the Salvation Army and the people he shares a half-way house with in his transition to a bright future.
“I also want to thank my family for having hope in me when I had lost all hope in myself,” he added.
James Kelly Deslondes said the time in jail related to arrests in two cases, dating back to 2010 for forgery and drug charges, allowed him to reflect on a life that said “was not much of a life at all.”
After trying to quit on his own several times, he said the pain of drug use became his “normal” way of life. He hadn’t seen the lifestyle he led as a problem until his arrest and the start of his sobriety behind bars.
Drug Court and the probation department got him to a place where he could begin, he said. After his son was born he said that changed him from someone who could not imagine himself with that responsibility to a person who has dedicated his life to being a good father.
“It was not an easy transition but I did learn,” Deslondes said.
April Rita, who had a 2008 case on dangerous drug charges, said her father’s love and support led to her choosing sobriety and that the Drug Court program supported her with his passing. She thanked her probation officer and the Women in Need program for believing in her and to God for continuing strength.
“I am truly grateful to all of you for staying with me in this journey,” Rita said.
Watanabe said it is significant to note that keeping nonviolent offenders out of prison will save taxpayers more than $50,000 a year. She said it is more important to note the program helps people find sobriety and begin working on re-building trust with families.
“Good luck and enjoy living clean and sober lives,” she said. “You have worked very hard to get to this point.
County Manager Nadine Nakamura said that it took commitment for the graduates to turn their lives around. She urged them to continue making positive changes with a collaboration of support and to strengthen ties to family and community.
‘Remember that you deserve to have a good life and to be an inspiration to others,” Nakamura said.