Big Island Drug Court clients, graduates and staff spent Saturday morning giving back to the community by sprucing up Makaeo Walking/Jogging Path in Kailua-Kona.
More than two dozen people took part in the effort, which included a cleanup, landscaping work, mulch spreading and fixing and polyurethane staining the path’s Japanese pagoda that was built in 2010 and donated by Carol Jean Nagrodsky Tamburo to the Friends of Fitness. A tree planting also took place.
Also present assisting Friends of Fitness were Judge Ronald Ibarra, Judge Melvin Fujino, representatives from the Hawaii County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Hawaii Police Department community policing officers, and drug treatment and probation officers.
Grayson Hashida, drug court coordinator, said the project is intended to “allow all of those involved with drug court to give back to the community, to say, ‘thank you’ to the community for supporting drug court, and to help bring awareness to the Old A Makaeo Jogging Path and how it is important for everyone in the community to get involved in making our community a better place.”
He added that drug court community service projects “help participants and graduates realize that they not only need to work on their recovery and themselves, but that they need to make this right with the families, loved ones and the community they live in.
“Most importantly it helps them realize they are of value to this community.”
Drug courts trace their roots to a 1989 experiment by Florida’s Dade County Circuit Court to reduce recidivism rates among drug abusers through a judge-monitored, intensive, community-based treatment, rehabilitation, and supervision for felony drug convicts, according to the National Institute of Justice. Nationwide, there are more 2,600 drug courts.
Hawaii’s first drug court was established on Oahu in 1996 and today the state boasts drug court programs on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai. The Big Island established East and West Hawaii programs and began accepting clients in 2003.
The National Institute of Justice reports a recidivism rate of 17 percent to 26 percent for drug court graduates. Without treatment, according to the federal government institute, half of those sentenced to traditional jail or prison followed by probation will be convicted of a subsequent crime.
West Hawaii Today was unable to reach Big Island Drug Court Administrator Warren Kitaoka for drug court data statistics and information as of press time.