LAWTON, Ok (RNN Texoma) -Getting a second chance at life instead of serving time in prison is what nearly 125 people are getting through the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Program. It's an alternative to imprisonment with the Department of Corrections and it's designed to treat those with a substance abuse problems. The program takes two years to complete and some of it's first participants graduated out of the program.
Julie Faries was extremely happy! She said life hasn't always been easy because she's been in and out of jail, but she was given a second chance through the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Program and could not be more proud. Her message to others is simply never give up!
"These two years have been...at first it was a struggle for me, after I submitted to the program and learned what was best for me it was easy, it was just easy," said Faries.
Julie Faries said she was introduced to drugs when she was a teen.
"I started using Meth when I was 19, and I was in and out of prison for 30 years until 2 years ago I got clean," said Faries.
She credits her recovery to the Oklahoma Community Sentencing Program. It was enacted by the legislature in 1999, but it was not utilized in Comanche County until January of 2016.
"I'm so grateful for it. It gave me a life, it gave me everything that I've been missing for 30 years. My family life and me a life," said Faries.
The man behind the program in Comanche County is the honorable District Judge Emmit Tayloe.
"I could not be more proud of them. They've taken not only sobriety seriously, they've taken this program seriously, and they've made this program in Comanche County something to be proud of," said Judge Tayloe.
Judge Tayloe says the participants are required to get counseling, obtain a job, and pay a monthly fee to defray the cost of the program as well as any fines and court costs. They must also meet monthly with Judge Tayloe at the courthouse.
He said it gives them a fresh start
"This is an opportunity rather than going to prison to try rehabilitation and we've needed this program for a long time," said Judge Tayloe.
Judge Tayloe said the program is being funded through the Department of Corrections. On average it would cost $19,000 dollars a year for each person incarcerated. But through the program it costs $2,000 to $5,000 dollars a year.
"By not sending them to prison we are saving Comanche County anywhere from $1.7 to 2 million dollars and that's in Comanche County per year," said Tayloe.
"It's the best thing you could ever do for yourself its just wonderful just stay strong and stick with it," said Faries.
Faries said she's going to continue to stay clean, work at her job, and inspire others. Each person that graduates gets to celebrate with cake and punch.
So far, Besides Faries, one other person graduated today and one person graduated last month.