Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Yolo drug court gives onetime addicts a second chance

Yolo Superior Court Judge David W. Reed and Leanna Libolt, felony drug court coordinator and probation officer, present a certificate of completion to Leandro Escarsega on Monday at the drug court graduation ceremony. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | December 11, 2012 |

WOODLAND — Leandro Escarsega got hooked on drugs at the age of 13. He quit when he was 18, only to abuse alcohol as a substitute.

One drunken-driving arrest led to a second, then a third. By the time he got into it with a UC Davis police officer at The Graduate last year, he also had a felony warrant out for his arrest.

Escarsega was looking at state prison time when Yolo Superior Court officials accepted him into the felony probation drug court program. He showed up drunk for his first court hearing, earning himself three days in the county slammer.

“My second day in jail I realized all the pain I had caused,” said Escarsega, a 29-year-old Woodland resident. “I realized that it was time for a change.”

On Monday, Escarsega was one of six people to graduate from drug court, a program in which defendants convicted of nonviolent offenses receive intensive treatment for their addictions — ones that often served as the basis for their crimes.

Joining him were Joseph Armstrong, Alberto Arroyo, Steve Botello, Raul Corrales and Janaya Helm.

“You are here today because you have shown us something. We believe you have potential,” said Judge David Reed, who has presided over the program for the past two years. “You are here because you have translated potential into change.”

By completing the program — kicking their addictions, gaining employment and repairing fractured relationships in the process — the six graduates have saved taxpayers an estimated $810,000, the amount it would have cost to house them in state prison for the 18 years they collectively faced.

“It gives people their lives back,” Deputy Public Defender Bret Bandley said of drug court, which got its start in Yolo County in 1999. “It provides hope when sometimes hope is gone.”

After receiving their certificates, the six graduates each rose to address the standing-room-only audience, thanking the relatives, friends, treatment providers and fellow drug-court participants who backed them on the long road to sobriety.

Many of the graduates also credited Florence Gainor, Yolo’s longtime drug-court coordinator — affectionately known as “the whip” behind the program — who retired Oct. 1 after 11 1/2 years on the job. The program is now headed by Leanna Libolt, a county probation officer.

“I can hear your voice in everything I do, and it’s an honor,” Helm told Gainor. “I’ve grown up in this program. I’ve got real, true friends, and that’s something never had before.”

Gainor estimates she’s seen 100 people graduate from drug court since the program got its start.

“It’s hard to let go of them. I feel like they’re my kids,” Gainor said in between hugs from current and past graduates. “It’s a real big deal that people are willing to put effort into changing people’s lives instead of sending them to prison. We’re fortunate the courts have supported it.”

Escarsega said he plans to make the most of his new life, spending more time with his young daughter and the other family members he once pushed away. He also has new motto: What can I do for you, instead of for myself?

“I’ve become the father that I was meant to be,” he said. “I’m going to try to become a better role model instead of the criminal I once was.”

— Reach Lauren Keene at lkeene@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter @laurenkeene

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Courageous Thompson tapped for cycling shrine

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    UC researchers: How low-water can our landscapes go?

    By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Testimony begins in Winters murder trial

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    A-Z: Downtown Davis is the place to celebrate

    By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: C1

     
    Hong Kong protesters to vote on staying in streets

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

    By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Host families needed for students and teachers from Mexico

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Halloween Dance set Friday for teens

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Yoga and chanting workshop planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Downtown menu: coffee, boba tea, dessert

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: C3

     
    Day of the Dead folk art class set

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Flea Market planned Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Enjoy A Taste of Capay at historic ranch

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Red-hot tunes set at Blues Harvest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Learn how to fill a cornucopia with flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Video highlights Props. 1 and 2

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    ‘Homeopathy at Home’ program planned

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Celebrate origami at Davis library

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Garden sale and open house features water-wise demos

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C4

    Meet Poppenga at dog park Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Bay Bridge art project needs $4 million to keep shining

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Weir honored, a year early

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Explorit: Poison-proof your home with free lecture

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6

    For a good cause

    By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A6

     
    Americans, internationals make connections

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    Sutter auxiliary seeks volunteers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    School board hopefuls discuss homework policy

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

    Project Linus seeks donations

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    The magic is long gone

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    What’s next with Ebola?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    More theories on the abstention

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Rights beget responsibilities

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Water returns to its source

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    A solution to the drought

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Experience nature’s treasures

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Subs have other concerns

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    Bump, set, playoffs: Blue Devil girls clinch spot in postseason

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggies expect a bonny meeting in Sacramento

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    DHS footballers take on Pleasant Grove

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Bye No. 2 comes at perfect time for nicked-up UCD

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Shhh. Are Aggie women BWC’s best-kept secret?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    UCD roundup: Preseason awards roll in for Aggie hoopster Hawkins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sharks suffer from road woes

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘St. Vincent:’ Quite a character

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Rumpledethumps to play at Village Homes Performers’ Circle

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Calling all artists for upcoming show

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Business

     
    Car Care: Five things to ask yourself when shopping for a new vehicle

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

    .

    Obituaries

    Lewis Melvin Dudman

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Ann Foley Scheuring

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, October 24, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B3