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Tallahassee woman gives back to those in recovery after drug treatment court graduation

Posted at 6:27 PM, May 30, 2024
  • Drug treatment courts in Leon Co are seeing results in our neighborhoods and it's reducing drug use and crime.
  • One judge says that improved outcomes, more job opportunities, housing opportunities, and funding for the treatment court program could help meet the growing needs.
  • Watch the video to hear the story of Crystal, a graduate of the Second Judicial Circuit's treatment court.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

Drug treatment courts in Leon Co are seeing results in our neighborhoods and it's reducing drug use and crime.

Paper windmills—on the front lawn of the Leon County courthouse—represent a story.

One of those stories is Crystal Cromartie’s.

"Pretty much my entire life, I have been a risk taker and rule breaker," Crystal Cromartie, a graduate of the treatment court in the Second Judicial Circuit Court. "And I think you know, when I was younger, I definitely did a lot of partying, and I kind of never grew out of that. And eventually, it led me down a really dark road."

Crystal is a graduate of the Second Judicial Circuit's treatment court.

"The treatment court team sometimes believes in us when we fail to believe in ourselves," Cromartie said.

 The judge who helped change her life, with the help of the treatment court program, is Judge Nina Ashenafi Richardson.

"They devote one year of their life to treatment and in exchange for a successful completion, then they have the felony dismissed and they can have the charge expunged or sealed from their record," Ashenafi Richardson, the Second Judicial Circuit Felony Treatment Court Judge said.

Florida drug court programs have been successful in their main goals of reducing drug use and recidivism among its participants and increasing public safety

 In our area—of 82 graduates 91% did not re-offend one year after graduation. Of those tracked for four years, 87% did not re-offend.

"We have that we have people who left out program, businessmen who have been very successful in the businesses, people who go back as public servants, professionals, nonprofessionals," Judge Augustus D. Aikens, Jr., the Second Judicial Circuit Veterans Treatment Court Judge said.

This success is why Judge Aikens, Jr.—who founded and presides over the veterans’ treatment court—said the community needs to pour more into it.

"One of the things that I think will be beneficial is if employees out there, if they have jobs and opportunities if that to be made known to our participants," Aikens, Jr. said.

Crystal is one of our neighborhood success stories.

"I get to help people that suffer from food insecurity," Cromartie said. "I'm also chapter chair for Oxford House in Tallahassee, which is a recovery home sober living. And just on Thursday, I start school at TCC to hopefully get a degree in social work. So it's kind of like the beginning of the rest of my life is starting now."

And it’s also starting for dozens of others represented on this lawn.

I asked Judge Aikens what else the court could use to improve outcomes and he told me housing opportunities for veterans and more funding to meet the growing needs.