9/18/2013 8:04:00 AM Drug, alchohol abusers turning around lives in Drug Court
The last time Cody Maznio's face appeared in the Cottonwood County Citizen was in May 2012. His mugshot accompanied charges that he sold cocaine to a confidential informant nine months earlier.
You could say the now 21-year-old Windom man had hit rock bottom.
Now, 16 months later, Maznio is back on the front page of the Citizen, still connected to drugs, but in a much more positive way. Maznio is making great strides to turn his life around thanks to a one-year-old program in Cottonwood County called "Minnesota Cornerstone Drug Court."
"I'm actually glad I'm in the program. It saved my life," Maznio said recently in a voluntary and very candid interview with the Citizen. "I want a good life for myself. The life I was living wasn't a very good one and I realize that."
And without drug court?
"I'd be dead or in prison. I was pretty bad into what I was in," Maznio confesses.
Cottonwood County is one of 34 counties in the state implementing a Drug Court program. It is part of a five-county drug court, but presently stands alone. The five-county program received a $350,000 federal grant to implement drug court. In this area, Rock and Nobles counties also have a joint drug court program that accepts individuals from Pipestone and Murray counties.
However, the program requires sometimes off-hours work from a cross-section of court-related professionals - from Cottonwood County Fifth Judicial Judge Christina Wietzema to Department of Corrections agent Carey Klingenberg to Minnesota Cornerstone Drug Court Coordinator Sherri Smith. The time these and a number of others invest in the lives of the program's participants is sometimes thankless, but unquestionably tangible.
"Drug court is a team concept," Smith explains. "It involves prosecutor, public defender, judge, treatment provider, law enforcement, county probation and jail staff. "They (the participants) can do prison time standing on their head, but this is work. This is not an easy way out."
Currently, Cottonwood County has five individuals in the Cornerstone Drug Court program ranging in ages from 19 to 63. There are four phases to the program, each lasting about four to six months, and participants must apply to move to the next phase. None of the five have completed all four phases yet, but all are working toward that goal.
For much more on this story, see the Sept. 18 issue of the Cottonwood County Citizen on newsstands today.