Hollywood loves good drama; and nothing delivers quite as superior a punch as broken, but lovable characters overcoming great obstacles. Movies are plagued with these archetypical prodigal sons or daughters who strayed a little too far down the wrong path. We sit in tense anticipation as we witness the ups and downs, the twists and turns; knowing all along, before the credits role there will be a moment of redemption and ultimately, salvation. We will stand and applaud as we ferociously gorge on all this vicariously.
Unfortunately for millions of individuals across the nation, there is no script, no cameras and no director. However, they as well, strayed a little too far down the wrong path and their existences are plagued with incredible obstacles. Their lives have components of the best movies; excessive and problematic drug and alcohol use and a life of chronic criminal activity. The only audiences witnessing their drama however are concerned loved ones, judges, probation officers and a jury of twelve of their peers.
Kim knows how this narrative plays out all too well. She cycled through the judicial system for 17 years of her life. A highly unlikely candidate for a street walker, Kim recalls a happy childhood filled with loving support and encouragement from her grandmother. She was a bright kid and people took notice. She remembers family frequently discussing her potential and showering her with praises.
However, living in New York and being unable to find work while on summer break of sophomore year can lead even the most unlikely candidates to make an unfortunate detour. Kim began stripping. The cash was incredible, addictive actually. Crack cocaine was soon introduced by a boyfriend. This was also addictive. As the story typically goes, things just got worse. Kim began prostituting, developed a highly expensive crack addiction, neglected her children and became very familiar with local police. She would be arrested 14 times for walking the streets.
Kim could have experienced the same fate as many others in similar predicaments; jail stints, followed by more jail stints. However, she was fortunate enough to experience courts amidst a revolutionary change. These were drug courts. For these courts, the focus was on community services and getting individuals into treatment. Although it did take Kim several attempts, she now credits these courts for saving her life. She is now off the streets, off crack and en route to a career in advertising. (Good Courts, 2005, Pp 131-137).
This real life story of overcoming incredible obstacles has many protagonists who are worthy of credit; mainly, Kim. She, after all is the one who had to purposely choose to do things differently. Also, her family and friends deserve some credit for all the continuous support. Thirdly, there are the drug courts. Their unique sentencing approach made it possible for Kim to actually get out of the system by targeting what put her in the system in the first place....