Some Muskingum County offenders are getting a second chance to show they can change their ways.
"I don’t lie anymore, I don’t try to do everything I can to get money to buy drugs which is what I was doing all day everyday when I was using, I was a mess," said Megan Lewis.
Lewis is one of dozens of misdemeanor offenders enrolled in Hope Court, a rehabilitation program ran by Judge Eric Martin through the Muskingum County Court System. It provides medical treatment for those with mental health and substance abuse issues.
"A lot of these people don’t have that positive support at home and that’s what the treatment team provides," said Program Coordinator Tracie Brailer, "It helps give them direction, helps with basic necessities like finding housing, jobs, getting stabilized on medications, for a lot of them that’s the biggest thing."
The two year program provides an alternate sentencing for those who qualify. Each offender goes through a mental health and substance abuse assessment and must complete five phases in order to graduate.
"We’re helping people, it’s not just holding people accountable and punishing them in jail, but we’re also helping them so they are not coming back into the system again," said Brailer.
Many of the Hope Court offenders said their lives have changed for the better.
"I’m not into the same behaviors that I use to. I learn everyday, I grow everyday as a person so it gives me something to work hard on and strive for and shows me what is important," said Erin Webb.
"They really understand that us here in the program we’re at that fork in the road I guess where you can either go into recovery and embrace that people can help you and that you can have a future, or the other road is just death, jails, or institutions," said Megan Lewis.
None of the graduates from the program have returned to the courts with any new offenses.