Drug court participants team up with police to spruce up departm - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Drug court participants team up with police to spruce up department

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(L-R) Jessica Varney, Madyson Spears and Stacey Vaughn spent Saturday afternoon working with police as part of the Boyd County Drug Court's long-term treatment program (L-R) Jessica Varney, Madyson Spears and Stacey Vaughn spent Saturday afternoon working with police as part of the Boyd County Drug Court's long-term treatment program
ASHLAND, KY - About forty participants in Boyd County Drug Court put in a long afternoon's work at the Ashland Police Department's downtown headquarters.

They scrubbed walls, washed the department's cruisers and landscaped around the building.

It was not meant to punish or embarrass. It was a learning experience for both the recovering addicts and police.

13 News's Ben Nandy spent time with Jessica Varney, Madyson Spears and Stacey Vaughn, who were all once arrested by Ashland Police for separate crimes relating to their drug addictions.

Ms. Varney was hooked on Oxycontin and Morphine, which led her to write thousands of dollars worth of bad checks. She was eventually arrested by an APD officer that was also her grade school D.A.R.E. instructor.

Ms. Spears was charged with fraud, after she began stealing to support her addiction to Oxycontin.

For Ms. Vaughn, it was an addiction to painkillers as well as Xanax that led her to steal. She was arrested in 2010 for shoplifting.

The women, who are at different levels in their recovery, all say they made several attempts to get clean, before joining the drug court.

"The rehabs obviously didn't work," says Spears, who went through several programs. "I kept going right back out and using drugs again."

All three women praise Boyd County's Drug Court for being the one option that got them out of the cycle of drug abuse, crime and incarceration.

Vaughn says learning structure through drug court, instead of sitting in jail, saved her life.

"I could have served 53 days in jail and been home," recalls Vaughn, who was recently promoted at her restaurant job. "But I knew that I would be right back doing the same thing again, and that I would end up dead, or back in jail or in an institution."

Varney says when she completed enough of the program to legally leave it, she decided to stay.

"I had chosen to sign for more probation, and since then I've gotten my child back, I've held a job for almost two years, and I have my own place now," says Varney.

The participants like the community service element of the drug court program. So do police.

"They (police officers) are so used to just arresting them and putting them in jail, so they're just used to dealing with the same people over and over," says Ashland Police Chief Robert Ratliff. "We're trying to prevent that from happening here."

The drug court, which has graduated 72 participants since it began in 2005, aims to put the law and recovering addicts on the same side with a common goal of improving communities and families.

"This works," says Vaughn. "If we have a chance like drug court, and if we really want to change our lives, then they're there to help us learn how to live life on life's terms."