Drug court has first graduate
Ceremony held at courthouse
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca County Drug Court graduated its first participant Wednesday, Feb. 6.
“I am overwhelmed with my progress,” said Courtland Fritz, who entered the program in November 2017.
Fritz said the program helped him achieve “a stable environment, an honest heart, peace of mind and reflection of 35 years lost.”
A year ago, Fritz spoke with the Waupaca County Post about his experience as a drug addict.
He said he began drinking and smoking pot at age 13, using heroin when he was about 25 and began using methamphetamine about six years before entering the program. He is now 54 years old.
In December 2013, Fritz was convicted of the manufacture and delivery of methamphetamines. He was placed on three years of probation, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and undergo any counseling recommended by his probation agent.
On May 30, 2017, Fritz was charged with possession of meth and possession of narcotics. He remained in custody for six months because his probation was revoked.
Convicted of both counts, Fritz was placed on two years probation and sentenced to nine months in jail.
On Nov. 22, 2017, Fritz appeared before Judge Vicki Clussman and began participating in drug court.
The remainder of his nine-month sentence was stayed, and Courtland began appearing in court every week.
“When Courtland first got out of jail and started this program he was homeless,” according to Aaron Holt, who spoke at Fritz’s graduation. “He spent the first 45 days homeless. He walked out with only the clothes on his back.”
Holt, the drug court coordinator, said Fritz stayed at a homeless shelter, walked to all his appointments, counseling sessions, weekly court hearings and meetings.
During the 440 days Fritz was in the drug court program, he passed 127 drug tests, became self-supporting, had no arrests, found a job and moved into a stable environment.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony in Branch 2 at the courthouse, Judge Vicki Clussman said drug court “is not a get-out-of-jail free card.”
“It requires their commitment to the recovery and requires their participation in treatment groups,” Clussman said. “It requires them to undergo, two and three times a week, having their urine tested.”
In the first phase of the drug court program, participants are randomly tested for drugs multiple times each week, meet with group counseling sessions every day, meet with the drug court coordinator two times a week, meet with their probation officer once per week, work with a recovery coach weekly and go before a judge for a progress evaluation once every week.
“They have really stepped up to the plate,” Clussman said, regarding the 18 participants. “We are really proud of all the people that we have in our drug court program.”
Clussman described drug court as “money well spent.”
“We know that incarcerating someone who has an addiction is not going to reduce recidivism,” she said. “It’s more cost effective to have them in treatment than it is to have them incarcerated.”
Clussman said Fritz has put his life back on track since starting the program.
“Cortland has a good job, he has stable housing, he has a driver’s license,” Clussman said. “He is a good, productive member of our community.”
Fritz said drug court taught him how to deal with life instead of using drugs.
“How grateful can a person actually be for a life-saving event,” Fritz said.