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May was National Drug Court month. We are fortunate in St. Mary’s County to have two effective programs, one for juveniles and one for adults. This year the juvenile program is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Reflective of the program’s success, program graduate Anneleise Stein was the first juvenile drug court graduate from the state of Maryland to ever be interviewed and selected to speak at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif., from May 28 to 31. This year was extra special as the NADCP was celebrating the 25th anniversary of drug courts.

Ms. Stein, along with her mother, was one of just five graduates nationwide, and the only juvenile drug court graduate to be so honored. Annaleise took the stage in Anaheim before several thousand conference attendees and shared her drug court experience and how it helped turn her life around from one of despair to one of hope. She was poised, elegant and passionate in her remarks. We all can be proud at her personal accomplishments as she continues to move forward in her life. As a community, was can also be proud of the fact that we have dedicated judges who are willing to contribute their time to these programs.

There are more than 2,800 drug courts in America. Drug courts are the most cost-effective means to reduce drug abuse and recidivism within the high-risk, high-needs population which finds its way into the criminal justice system.

Neither treatment nor supervision alone has been able to demonstrate the results that drug courts continually do. The research is quite clear that treatment and supervision, under the umbrella of the court, combined with the team approach of drug court, offers the best hope for these offenders.

In St. Mary’s, Judge Karen H. Abrams oversees the adult program and Judge Michael Stamm the juvenile program. St. Mary’s drug courts are recognized statewide and now, because of Anneleise, we have been recognized nationally. She is but one of many success stories that have resulted from both programs.

To those in the community of St. Mary’s who have supported these programs, including individuals, agencies, commissioners or private business; you are to be applauded as you are instrumental in the success of drug court.

Pete Cucinotta, Leonardtown

The writer is coordinator for drug court in St. Mary’s.