Collier County drug court setting example for country while saving lives in SWFL

Reporter: Lauren Leslie Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
mentor court honor

There are only 10 mentor courts in America, and one of them is right here in Southwest Florida. The Adult Felony Drug Court in Collier County is changing lives here at home. But it’s also serving as an example for courts across the country.

WINK News would like you to meet Judge Martin, the Honorable Janeice Martin, that is. “A person is so much more than the sum of their bad decisions,” Judge Martin said.

Usually, bad decisions are what land people in Judge Martin’s courtroom. She presides over the county’s Adult Felony Court.

Cory Webster met the Hon. Janeice Martin after her third DUI. “At the time, I thought my life was over when I entered the drug court program, but, to be honest, that was just the beginning,” Webster said.

A new beginning is a transformation or trusting a new way of life. Justin Benfield also made his way to Judge Martin’s court. “The judge tells you inside of drug court that if you relapse, to be honest, that they won’t send you to jail,” Benfield said.

So it may sound like a setup, but the basic premise is – either lie or tell the whole truth. “I made the decision right there to get honest, so I called the case manager at that time and got honest. And, when I came to court that following Tuesday, Judge Martin kept to her word, and I didn’t go to jail, and it was at that moment in time that I chose to surrender to my old way of life,” said Benfield.

That change of heart was found through this court in Collier County. And it could be why the program serves as an example across the country.

On Tuesday, the Adult Felony Drug court received its second consecutive appointment as a Mentor Court. This is one of only 10 across the nation.

“It’s such a nice affirmation that your hard work is being recognized just like the men and women who go through our program and work hard, and we try and recognize that it’s nice for the team,” said Judge Martin.

Benfield actually owns two companies now, and Webster teaches Yoga and helps others in their journies to recovery. The Mentor Court appointment is for three more years.

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