“You’re going to have a lot of people who hate your recovery,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner told the state’s largest ever drug court graduation class. “Don’t let anyone steal your recovery from you.”
Tuesday marked the end of court oversight for 77 participants in the county’s court that has officially been renamed Recovery Court.
In his brief tenure as a Superior Court judge, Tyner said he got a unique look at what addiction does. He also found that those getting help will often face intentional temptations from those not ready.
He urged the graduates to continue the battle they began in the formerly named Drug Court.
The program allows those with non-violent crimes and struggling with addiction get help and structure with a chance to expunge their records upon completion.
They now have the offer of jobs as well.
The soon-to-open Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City was honored as Partner of the Year for becoming the first casino-hotel to offer jobs to those attending the court.
Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson also announced the first MVP of the Year in the program.
The MVP not only fought her addiction during her 4½ years in the program, she also fought the state — and made changes.
During her time in the court, she gained custody of her granddaughter. The woman’s son also is an addict.
Treated differently in Family Court due to her own addiction and record, she called the state and pointed out that inconsistencies of having a program that shows understanding of addiction while having those working in the system judging it.
The woman on the phone told her to hold her head up high and they would handle the rest. The woman soon had custody.
The graduation capped off a day at Atlantic Cape Community College that focused on the opioid crisis and talked of the work being done to help in the battle.
Tyner announced work on a LEAD program, or law-enforcement assisted diversion, that will allow those caught with drugs to get help instead of criminal charges.
It’s something Atlantic County Sheriff Eric Scheffler said he would work toward when he ran for election.
Tyner has been supportive, Scheffler said.
AtlantiCare also used the day to announce it will consider qualified Recovery Court participants for employment.
“Working with our community to prevent and treat addiction and to support those in recovery is one of the ways we work to build healthy communities,” said Samantha Kiley, executive director of the AtlantiCare Foundation. “Supporting those in recovery includes ensuring they have the necessary resources, and the ability to overcome barriers to sustain sobriety.”
The participants would follow the same hiring process as all candidates, and must continue to meet their Recovery Court requirements while employed.
“We know Recovery Court participants can face obstacles in their search for meaningful employment,” said Richard Lovering, AtlantiCare’s senior vice president for administration and chief human resources. “Our goal is that AtlantiCare and other employers partnering with Recovery Court can help participants overcome these barriers.”