PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX)- "It was a nightmare when I got arrested," said Debra Tiglia Singh. "I went to jail. Got down on my knees, and asked God to help me."
That help came in the form of Jackson County Drug Court. She is one of seven people who just finished the program and are now free from addiction.
"It's wonderful that we're given a second chance," she said. "And I feel like I'm better than I ever was even before I ever did a drug."
Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs led these graduates through a tough two years of drug testing, community service, meetings, and court appearances. Anyone who fell short of the requirements could have gone straight to jail. Singh was the only person in this graduating class who never once slipped. Krebs said that while the program doesn't have a one hundred percent success rate, its graduates are much more likely to live a sober lifestyle than those who are sent to jail.
"At this point appears to be an affective program to deal the with drug problem in our society," said Krebs. "And to keep the first time offenders especially out of jail."
These graduates have paid a total of $23, 395.50 in fines and drug court fees. It's a lot of money, but it doesn't even compare to the amount of money they would have cost taxpayers had they gone to jail. It would have cost a whopping $232,402.80 to jail all seven of them.
But the economics behind the program isn't the main reason Drug Court exists. Father and son Kenny and Wayne Ladnier both transformed their lives in Drug Court. Kenny graduated in July, and watched his son receive his own certificate Tuesday.
"For so long, I had always wanted for us to be close again," said Kenny Ladnier. "Once we started doing drugs, we got so far apart, we actually thought we hated each other. So we got clean and sober, and we found that love again."
Other participants have similar success stories.