Upon being screened for employment, Roxanne Byrd realized it was the first time she had ever provided her fingerprints without having been charged with a crime.
There have been numerous other "firsts" for the 56-year-old York City woman since she entered York County Drug Treatment Court.
On Monday, she bought her first car in 10 years and didn't spend the $3,000 in cash "around the corner." She also recently opened her first bank account in 13 years.
The ex-convict and former crack addict said she had been arrested 10 times. She is now 18 months sober, and her appearance before several judges Tuesday didn't result in a sentence.
Byrd was speaking on behalf of the treatment court, which she said helped her save her own life after decades of addiction. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus P. McCaffery presented accreditations for the treatment court to Common Pleas President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh and Common Pleas Judge Penny Blackwell during a ceremony at the York County Administrative Center.
Blackwell oversees the court, which was only the second in the state when it was established in 1997. Under the program, drug offenders are given a chance to participate in an intensive substance abuse treatment program instead of incarceration. About 150 offenders are enrolled at any time.
The goals: The court was formed to decrease the prevalence of drug addiction and drug-related crime in the county, and to treat and rehabilitate addicted offenders. Proponents say the data shows that it does, in addition to saving money.
From January through August of this year, the 66 graduates of the program cost the county about $744,000 in treatment, compared to the $1.38 million it would have cost to imprison them, according to county reports.
Byrd said she joined after her 17-year-old son, whom she hadn't seen in seven years, said he wished she could be in his life, but she always goes to prison.
McCaffery said drug treatment courts like York's help people overcome addiction, increase their self-esteem, and return to the families they lost because of drugs.
"You're on the cutting edge, you really are," he told a room of county judges and officials. "At the end of the day, you're doing the right thing."
York is one of three counties in the state to receive accreditation from the Supreme Court, with the other two programs in Lancaster and Wyoming.
The criteria are based on best practices and components such as identifying eligible participants early and promptly placing them in drug court and monitoring abstinence by frequent drug testing, said Collen Igo, a court spokeswoman.
- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.