Collier County Adult Drug Court Celebrates 20 Years


On Tuesday, October 15, Courtroom 2A was filled to capacity with hope and gratitude. Dozens of community leaders joined judges, lawyers, counselors, probation officers and citizens in a rousing celebration of the power of recovery.

Founded in 1999 by the Honorable William L. Blackwell, then chief judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit, Collier County Adult Drug Court has had a singular mission and focus for all of these 20 years: to create an opportunity for persons suffering from addiction to get help, restore their lives and their families, and avoid prison in favor of a return to the community.

Judge Blackwell shared his story, both personally and professionally, as to why he insisted on the establishment of a drug court in the 20th Circuit. After years on the felony bench, he knew without a doubt that some of those men and women before him needed help, not prison.

As proof that his vision for drug court was well taken, a succession of five former participants in drug court, from throughout its 20-year history, took to the podium to share their stories of experience, strength, and hope. Their courage in sharing about felony charges, jails and prison cells, shame and hopelessness were met with applause and standing ovations from all in attendance, as those stories all shared one theme: drug court was the spark that put them on a path to a beautiful life as part of a community.

In my concluding remarks as the current Presiding Judge, I was elated to share that Collier County Adult Drug Court has recently been invited to serve as one of eight mentor courts working to assist other drug courts from around the country to establish and sustain their own programs. With that, Court was adjourned with a renewed commitment by all to carry on this important work.

Pictured below are Circuit Judge (formerly County Judge) Christine Greider, Retired Circuit Judge (seated) William Blackwell, Retired Circuit Judge (formerly County Judge, also my father) Lawrence Martin, and me.

Submitted by: Judge Janeice T. Martin, Collier County Mental Health Court, Veterans Treatment Court, and Drug Court Judge