// BREAKING NEWS //
Applause, not a sound you typically hear in a court room, but court room eight in the Kootenai County Justice Building was full of it this morning. Applause not for a ruling of any kind, but for the 10 year anniversary of the Kootenai County Mental Health Drug court.
"Without this program I wouldn't be here," says Jordan Fox, the 84th, and most recent program graduate. "I can guarantee you that."
Jordan Fox was awarded a graduation certificate today in front of a crowded court room full of program participants and family members. He says the program was a literal life saver.
"This program was a good portion, I'd say about seventy percent of the reason I stayed clean, out of trouble, and on the right track to get my life together," says Fox.
Having a criminal record that includes batter and a number of drug charges, Fox was given the choice after he'd been diagnosed with a mental illness, attend the program or go to jail. The choice was easy. The program has been aimed at helping treat people with mental illness rather than punish them.
"Mental illness is a problem, there are a lot of people who are convicted felons who do have co-occurring disorders of mental illness and addiction , and we're trying to treat the person instead of simply sending them to prison," says Mary Wolfinger the Mental Health Drug Court Coordinator.
For actress and mental health advocate Patty Duke, this program is something she's been waiting for.
"When I read about this program ten years ago I was thrilled because they were going to start listening," says Patty Duke.
She says she can relate with the people going through this program as she shared with them her story of living with bi-polar disorder, an illness she masked with alcohol.
She provided words of wisdom for newcomers to the program as well as congratulate those like FOX, who have graduated.
"To watch him take control of his life, it's very moving to me," says Duke.