For Drug Court Month, One Family Shares a Story of Resilience
Paul and Leanne spent years worrying about their son and wondering if he was OK.
Dakota — Cody to his parents — spent more than 5 years on the streets and in places like Echo Glen, where juveniles are incarcerated. In March 2021, with advocacy from his defense attorney, Dakota transferred into King County Adult Drug Diversion Court on residential and other burglary charges. Thirteen months later, with his parents, defense attorney, and drug court team cheering him on, Dakota graduated the program with his life remarkably transformed.
Upon entering Drug Diversion Court, Dakota, now 23, returned to his family’s home.
At the April 13 KDDC Graduation celebration Dakota’s dad, Paul, spoke of how proud he was of his son’s success, and how happy he was to be reunited with him: “For me, personally, to have a grown man under my roof for the time that I did, that I can count on, that I can depend on, means the world to me.”
Paul said he was grateful for Drug Diversion Court for bringing court staff, prosecution, and community together to support his son.
“It’s encouraging to me to see what happens when the two sides of the legal system stop being adversarial, when people can work with a common goal to get somebody back into society and have a life and be productive and be happy,” Paul said.
“We hear so much about this side of the law and that side of law,” Paul said. Instead, of taking sides, Drug Court brings people together in support of participants.
Paul thanked program staff for helping participants stay focused and supporting them in accomplishing what they need to do.
“We don’t see that on the outside. It’s super encouraging to me. You guys mean something to the world,” Paul said. “You sure mean something to mine.
Dakota’s mom, Leanne, said living with him allowed them to see the work he put into building a new life.
“There were times when we could see him struggle and he was pushing against the walls and he would figure out how to deal with it himself,” she said.
After getting his own apartment, Dakota called to say he had a weed whacker and was preparing to mow the lawn and get it ready for summer. Leanne laughed, recounting this, because in previous years, “he would’ve been casing the joint.”
Rather than give in to impulses, Dakota made decisions that were different than those he’d made in the past. He got a job, then a better job, and put a gym in the basement.
“It was fitness 24–7,” Leanne said, laughing.
Dakota started cooking in the kitchen, making “amazing meals and actually cleaned up after himself, Leanne said. “I would come upstairs and there was no hint of him being in the kitchen and a very neatly folded towel that broke my heart.”
As the ceremony was coming to a close, Paul jumped in one last time to recognize not only his own son but the five other individuals graduating with him. “I wanted to say to everybody on this page, you guys are my heroes. You guys picked up something from a hole so deep, most of us can’t even imagine it. We take for granted the choices we get to make. You guys dug it out. . . You all got my love. You got my respect.”
“Cody, we love you” Leanne shouted, beaming, “See you at dinner!”
A program managed by the King County Department of Judicial Administration at the Superior Court, in conjunction with the King County Prosecuting Attorney and King County Department of Public Defense, King County Drug Diversion Court seeks to ensure community safety and empower participants to rebuild their lives by combining the resources of the criminal justice system, substance use treatment and other community service providers.
About Drug Court Month
Governor Inslee has proclaimed May “Drug Court Month” in Washington. This proclamation recognizes and celebrate the lives, families, and communities that are transformed by participation in a therapeutic court process.