The 11th annual Jackson County Drug Court Graduation is set for Tuesday, Nov. 26, beginning at 6 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Scottsboro.

Twenty-six participants will graduate, including 10 females and 16 males, wiping away a felony conviction and giving a fresh start in life, according to Circuit Judge John Graham, who presides over drug court.

Jackson County’s drug court program began in 2007. Graham has said he came into it reluctantly, but has since realized it is the most rewarding, satisfying and important thing he’s done in his professional life.

To graduate the program, a person has to complete 18 months, which includes five phases. A participant must attend meetings and group sessions, pay all fees, obtain a high school diploma or GED, if applicable, be drug free a minimum of 270 days, have a job or participate in a job search or perform community service and much more.

A participant also is required to pay $200 per month, which comes to $3,600.

“Drug court does not cost the public a thing,” said Drug Court Coordinator Wendy Trott. “The participants pay for it monthly. In fact, drug court saves taxpayers money. If we were to send these people to prison, the annual cost to house each Alabama prisoner is $17,285.”

Trott said the drug court program currently has 68 participants, including the 26 set to graduate, and 10 more participants waiting to enter the program.

“Graduation ceremony is open to the public,” said Trott. “Family and friends are welcome. The graduation ceremony is followed by dinner, which is free to all.”

For those who cannot attend, the graduation will be streamed live via the Internet at www.fbcscottsboro.org.

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