RIVERSIDE– Two people whose lives hung in the balance as they battled addiction and gang activity each found their respective lifeline in a Riverside County Drug Treatment Court.
Christina Ruppert was arrested by Riverside County Sheriffs on October 15, 2016, she had no idea that she had reached a turning point in her life which, to that point, had been consumed by alcoholism, homelessness and injection drug use.
By her own admission, she had reached a state of being mentally, physically and spiritually broken.
Lawrence Walker grew up surrounded by gangs in South Central Los Angeles and was incarcerated for the first time at age 13. He was shot six times when he was 22 and nearly died. He spent the next 17 years in and out of institutions for various crimes.
Both of these individuals found their way to Riverside County Drug Court, a rigorous two-year program that helps offenders recover from substance abuse and rehabilitate their lives. Christina and Lawrence are two recent graduates of Riverside County Drug Court who began the next phase of their lives with a commitment to their ongoing recovery and a promise to give back to the community that has provided support, encouragement and mentorship.
The stories of Christina and Lawrence are examples of the successes that were part of the graduation ceremony that took place on May 23 at Riverside County Drug Court, where another class of graduates joined more than 1,540 others in Riverside County who have successfully completed the program since its inception in 1995.
“The judges of the Riverside County Superior Court are proud of the work done by the collaborative team and our graduates to improve and save lives,” Judge John Monterosso said in a prepared statment. “It is our privilege to support those efforts and play a small part in the process.”
Riverside County Drug Court operates in partnership with Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health, the Superior Court, District Attorney, Public Defender, Probation, and Department of Public Social Services, along with a number of community partners and organizations, and is part of 13 Collaborative Treatment Courts countywide. The Adult Drug Courts provide opportunities for healing and life transformation for hundreds of consumers every year and send a positive ripple effect through our communities by reuniting families, redirecting lives, and breaking the cycle of incarceration and addiction for future generations.
Riverside County Drug Court is part of a nationwide movement that uses the involvement of the court system to provide a pathway for people living with substance use and mental health disorders to move out of the justice system and into lives of recovery and stability. Recognizing 30 years of success in 2019, treatment courts nationwide follow a model of supervision, structure and evidence-based treatment in place of incarceration to help offenders recapture their lives. There are more than 2,700 Drug Courts operating in the United States, serving more than 150,000 people annually.
Caption: County staff display a proclamation from the Board of Supervisors recognizing accomplishments of Riverside County Drug Court at a Drug Court graduation ceremony on May 23. Pictured from left, Supervising Behavioral Health Specialists Gabe Kason, Kami Winston and Heidi Gomez. From Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health, April Marier, Rhyan Miller, and Zachary Tucker.
- Drug court grads: Riverside University Health System
- Drug Court: Shutterstock