Judge Roger Dive, Senior Judge of the Drug Court of NSW, recalls a story of redemption that has stayed with him for 13 years.
Why do I still remember Jason? I have heard hundreds of tragic stories at the Drug Court. He didn’t graduate, and his overwhelming anxiety made it hard for him to even enter the crowded courtroom. Yet his Drug Court program was memorable and remarkably successful.
On the last day of his Drug Court program, Jason wrote an amazing speech, gripping the lectern to deliver it:
“… from living under the Harbour Bridge, sleeping rough on wood chips for four years, my favourite part of my whole life began at Drug Court. Drug Court has given me, my Mum, my Dad, my brother, my sister, a son, a daughter, a fiancé, many assets, hobbies, some day soon a recognised business, true friends, almost beating a concerning phobia, a car, a permanent roof over my head, bills, my licence back, a drug-free life, savings, and, lastly, the courage to wake up and face the world without hiding behind heroin.”
It was 2005. I had only recently been appointed as Senior Judge of the Drug Court, which is certainly a very different courtroom environment.