Run to benefit DUI/Drug Treatment Court
by Rebecca Johnston
rjohnston@cherokeetribune.com
October 24, 2012 12:00 AM | 1560 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A 5K run Saturday to bring awareness to the dangers of driving under the influence also marks a long career by the local State Court judge who started a successful program to rehabilitate those arrested on drinking and driving charges.

The Twilight Run F.O.R. Cherokee is sponsored by Cherokee Friends of Recovery Foundation and is at Hobgood Park in Woodstock with registration at 6 p.m. and the 5K race set to start at 7:30 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit the Cherokee DUI/Drug Treatment Court which was founded in 2005 by Senior Cherokee County State Court Judge C.J. Gober, who is set to retire at the end of 2012.

“We are working on this to let people know about the dangers of driving under the influence, especially with the holiday season, we are trying to bring awareness to not drink and drive and to promote the program,” said Vickie Benefield, one of the event coordinators.

Since the program began seven years ago, 321 participants have completed the program out of about 600 who were enrolled.

Drug courts are designed to provide an option other than jail time for those who are convicted of a criminal offense of drinking and driving or are involved in delinquent behavior of neglect and abuse of children from drug or alcohol abuse.

For Cherokee County, the average recidivism rate for those who have completed the program since 2005 is about 5 percent, Benefield said. The treatment court has held 18 graduations since it was formed in Cherokee County.

“This is an awareness event, and we want to have a good event this year since Judge Gober is retiring,” Benefield said. “Money raised is going to help pay for drug testing and other things that are not in budget.”

Gober, along with fellow State Court Judge Alan Jordan, will serve as emcees at the event, which also features a costume contest for children 12 and under, and teens and adults ages 13 and up. Gober will help judge the costume contest.

One of the benefits of the treatment program, Benefield said, is to free up needed jail space for more serious criminals. Drug Court typically costs between $2,500 and $4,000 per person, while incarceration is about $20,000 to $50,000 per year.

Participant entry into the DUI/Drug Court is voluntary and charges are not reduced or dismissed upon completion. However, it does work to help those who finish the program to get back their driver’s licenses.

The DUI/Drug Treatment Court in Cherokee County is a joint effort between the courts, the Cherokee County Solicitor’s Office, local attorneys, law enforcement, probation services and substance abuse treatment providers.

To participate in the Twilight Run is $30 for adults and $15 for children and all participants will receive a T-shirt designed with a glow in the dark logo.

A 1K fun run starts at 7 p.m.

For information contact Benefield at (770) 841-8530 or register online at cherokeeFOR.com
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