Clatsop County’s treatment court honored a record graduating class of eight people during a gathering Monday morning in the county circuit court.
Treatment court — not to be confused with drug court for people charged with felony drug-related crimes — was created in 2009 for nonviolent offenders who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or substance abuse disorders.
Circuit Court Judge Cindee Matyas, who acts as the treatment court judge, said 108 people have participated in treatment court with now 42 graduating. Each person’s requirements and journey to graduation are different. Basic requirements are attending the treatment court every week, meeting with treatment providers, and staying away from drugs and alcohol.
Treatment court is a required with conditions of probation. Most participants are referred following a sentence and given the option of jail time or going to treatment court, according to the county.
“We measure success in a lot of different ways.” Matyas said.
Brittany Ferguson, who has participated in both drug and treatment courts, spoke to the class about how the programs have helped turn her life around.
“Life has not gotten easier, but I have gotten stronger,” she said.
Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn and State Rep. Deborah Boone also addressed the class.
Judge Matyas handed each graduate a certificate with a quote from Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, that said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
The quote sums up what treatment court is about and what the graduates are about, Matyas said.
Matyas described the graduating class as having a cheerleader, a traveler, a veteran, an ambassador, a comedian, a communicator, a caretaker and a student.
One of the graduates said completing treatment court was the hardest two years of her life. Another graduate thanked the treatment court team — Judge Matyas, probation officers and treatment professionals — for caring. If they did not care, the graduate said, she would not have made it.
One other graduate simply said, “treatment court saved my life.”