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Judge Dave Nelson has worked with the Mendocino County Friends of Drug Court fund since 2005. In his own words:
Our local organization, the Friends of Drug Court (FDC), provides another tool in the tool kit we use to help the participants in our drug courts achieve success. The grants provided by the FDC to help clients are not incentives as such, and are not handed out by the drug court judges. But they are an integral part of a system of rewards and encouragement that helps people overcome barriers and change their negative self -image. So many of the recipients are awed by the fact that the drug court community cares about them enough to provide help with clothes for kids, car maintenance or college books. They slowly accept the fact that they have value because others value them in spite of their record of substance abuse and crime. The referrals to FDC come from the treatment staff, probation and the court drug court staff. The judge is also aware of the opportunity and often reminds the participants of the availability of the grants. The FDC is a non-profit that functions separately from the court process but it exists to support the drug courts — the FDC Advisory Board has historically included a judge and a therapeutic courts administrator to foster cooperation between the two entities. The FDC has been successful in enriching the drug court experience and increasing the chances that participants will succeed in drug court and life. dn