An Interview with Chester Williams, Court Liaison – Transportation Coordinator
As Transportation Coordinator, Chester is often one of the first Promises team members that patients meet. He picks patients up and drops them off at the airport, escorts them to appointments, and assists them in making a smooth transition home.
On the day patients enter Promises’ southern California drug rehab program, they are typically brimming with emotion. Some are nervous and edgy, others are angry and scared. Most have taken one last drink or gotten high before bidding farewell to drugs and alcohol forever.
Whatever condition they arrive in, Chester approaches them with a blend of empathy, respect and lighthearted humor.
“Dogs chase cats, cats chase mice, and alcoholics drink,” he says. “It’s the nature of the disease, so there is no shame or judgment here. When I greet a patient for the first time, it is a celebration of their decision to get help. We establish their ‘clean date’ and I tell them that mine has never changed and theirs doesn’t have to, either.”
Advocating for Patients in Drug Court
Supremely relatable and well-versed in addiction treatment, Chester uses his skills in the courtroom as well. In his role as Court Liaison at Promises, Chester accompanies patients to drug court and appears before judges and district attorneys to explain the benefits of drug rehab treatment in lieu of incarceration.
Over the years, Chester’s knowledge and passion have won over judges throughout the country. He has established a strong rapport with judges in California, Texas, New York, Colorado, and many other states, helping patients who have committed nonviolent drug offenses (such as drunk driving or drug possession) get treatment rather than a jail term.
The statistics are on his side. According to a 2001 report by The Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project at the American University in Washington, DC, drug courts have:
- A high overall participant retention rates (67 percent)
- Saved an average of 9,980 prison days
- Saved an average of $697,652 in costs
Reports also show that treatment in lieu of incarceration reduces crime (an estimated 10,000 crimes annually per drug court), improves compliance rates and reduces recidivism.
As he speaks to drug court officials, Chester highlights these facts and advocates on behalf of the individual seeking treatment.
“Addiction is a disease. Treating it with incarceration won’t change the underlying behavior or thought patterns – it’s just doing time,” says Chester. “At Promises, the individual is in a private, secure facility getting the therapy, education and support they need to stop the relapse cycle and become a productive citizen.”
Drug rehab treatment in lieu of incarceration is a win-win. For patients, treatment at Promises is highly preferable to jail time. What they may not realize is that more than a get-out-of-jail-free card, it’s an opportunity to discover how rewarding life can be without drugs or alcohol.
For the courts, drug treatment means lower costs, greater productivity and fewer addicts back on the court docket. It also means having another set of eyes – Chester’s – holding patients accountable. After the judge passes down the consequences of noncompliance, Chester signs a sworn statement to report any violations of the judge’s orders.
“The judge and I are on the same team,” says Chester. “Individuals struggling with addiction have been committing suicide on the installment plan – we’re here to save lives and introduce this lifelong process called recovery.”
Chester takes pride in ensuring smooth transitions. Whether a patient is just arriving for drug rehab, making an appearance in drug court, or returning to Promises after a family visit or outside therapy appointment, Chester is there to offer a warm greeting and a sympathetic ear. At a time when emotions may be running high, Chester has the personal and professional experience to help patients keep it all in perspective.
Excellence is the standard in all of Chester’s interactions with patients. The service he provides is an extension of the care individuals receive throughout their time at Promises.
“My goal isn’t to simply get patients to and from where they need to be,” Chester explains. “My goal is to get them there feeling safe and supported, knowing they have an advocate who is looking out for them.”