It’s graduation week at the King County Juvenile Drug Court. Four teenagers made it through a tough program that’s drawn attention from around the nation. Instead of incarceration, they got help.
Rachel Yost still remembers when she got the call.
Yost: “It was one of the worst calls you can get to learn that your child has hurt someone in that way.”
Her son stood accused of felony assault. But the King County Court was able to look past the crime and see her son’s drug problem. He entered a difficult treatment program under the close supervision of Judge Wesley Saint Clair.
Saint Clair said during treatment the kids get to live in their own communities.
Saint Clair: “Now sometimes it’s not a very healthy community around them, but it is their community.”
That made all the difference to graduate Nika Nellum. At the ceremony, she handed her newborn daughter to a fellow graduate and stepped up to the microphone.
Nellum: “Now that I’ve accomplished this, I feel so good because my mom is so proud of me. Mom, I love you and I’m going to continue to do good and continue to do everything I need to do to make you proud and to make my daughter proud.”
Judge Saint Clair is proud of the program. But he wishes these kids could have had access to help before they got involved with the courts.
As for Yost, she’s relieved.
Yost: “But I also know that this may not be the end of the journey.”
Her son is still a teenager. But from now on, she’ll be watching him like a judge.