Sunday, March 29, 2015
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 [email protected] 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

    Davis sewage to get new digs

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

     
    Where do Davis recyclables go?

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    UCD faculty receive lowest pay in the system

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1

     
    Motive for murder-suicide remains a mystery

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

    Human Relations Commission hosts Chávez celebration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A2

     
     
    Davis Flower Arrangers meet Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    ‘Music as Medicine’ is radio show topic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Friendship the topic on radio program

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Forum

    Milt Prigee cartoon

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    Some ‘survey’ …

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    These results were meaningless

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

     
    Survey not representative

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B4

    Answers on the green waste program

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

     
    A phone call could have fixed this

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B4

    Universities need more funding

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

     
    Mayor’s corner: Looking ahead to spring

    By Dan Wolk | From Page: B5 | Gallery

    A Little Respect for Dr. Foster

    By Nicholas Kristof | From Page: B5

     
    Father of the bride snubbed

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Which experiences count as ‘once in a lifetime’?

    By Marion Franck | From Page: A8

     
    After a month of no TV news, I’m feeling much better

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A8

    Take a hike for your heart

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    Aggie softball splits doubleheader

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Republic stun Galaxy with repeated history

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Bad fourth quarter sinks boys lacrosse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Aggies’ walkoff win clinches series against Riverside

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Burns scores shootout winner to lift Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    UCD women’s tennis dominates at home

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B10 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    Millennials are changing our community

    By Rob White | From Page: A9

     
    With new owner, DAC will Get Fit

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Grant writing for non-profits workshop set

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, March 29, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8