‘I don’t believe incarceration is the solution,’ how Vigo County Drug Court transforms lives

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VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Vigo County Drug Court has worked since 1996 to give those struggling with addiction a chance to improve their lives.

Rather than sending them to jail on non-violent charges, some offenders are given the option to complete the 18-month-program.

A case manager with the program knows the process very well.

Kathy Lewis, Terre Haute native, was a mother of four and addicted to drugs. She said it was hard for her to care for herself and her children during that time.

In 2000, Lewis found herself in front of a judge on a felony charge. But instead of jail, she was ordered to drug court.

“I don’t believe incarceration is the solution, especially when it comes to drug addiction,” Lewis said.

Lewis went through self-help meetings, drug screenings, treatment and other measures to overcome her addiction. When she graduated from the court, with her charge gone Lewis found herself in a full circle moment.

“I decided that I should go back to school. Because I want to do this. I want to work with people. I want to work for Drug Court,” she said.

Lewis earned two degrees, now working with the court as a case manager.

She will be alongside Judge Matthew Sheehan. He said problem-solving courts is a passion of his and working with drug court was a perfect fit.

“The value can’t be understated on how important it is,” Judge Sheehan said.

He adds there is on important thing for people to note about the program.

“It might be easy to think it’s a get out of jail free card of sorts. It’s not,” he said.

Those who are chosen for the program are often referred and go through an Indiana Risk Assessment.

The program is completed in five phases.

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