Women graduate from special "Change Court"

Women graduate from special "Change Court" (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - The third class of women graduated from Hamilton County's Change Court Wednesday. The court helps women who are addicted to heroin and have been charged with prostitution.

"Today you are being recognized for your hard work and dedication to getting your life back on track," said a woman representing Governor John Kasich's office.

Amy Kennedy was one of the women who stuck with the program for two years. It took a few arrests, but she stayed with it.

"I was just tired of being out there. I was tired of shooting up everyday, wondering where I'm going to get money to get my next fix," Kennedy said.

Kennedy was one of the inspirations for the program. A Cincinnati police officer met her in Over-the-Rhine when she was wondering the streets and using heroin. The officer approached Judge Heather Russell about starting the program.

Amanda Taylor and Christine Love also celebrated graduation Wednesday.

"It's a lot easier now. You know now that my mind is cleared and I see all of the blessings that come from being clean," Taylor said.

Love became emotional when discussing her recovery from addiction.

"This last two years hasn't been easy but I did it. I want to say how proud I am of my sisters that are graduating with me today," Love said.

Change Court offers the women support. They meet weekly with Judge Heather Russell. Participants have access to counseling and medical care. Once they complete the program, their records are expunged so they can more easily get a job.

"I expect you all to go to a meeting tonight. I couldn't be more serious because tiaras and tv's will not keep you in recovery," Judge Russell told the graduates.

Not everyone makes it through Change Court. But they're always welcome back. Amy Kennedy said she'll never leave.

Not everyone makes it but they're always welcome back. Amy Kennedy says she'll never leave the Change Court. She plans to get her GED and study to become a chemical dependency counselor.

"I'm still coming to court every week even though I'm graduating," Kennedy said. "I'm still welcome to come and I'm still going to do that."

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