Commissioner Barbara Peebles, who presides over drug court in the city of St. Louis: "I absolutely think drug courts work. Oftentimes in the criminal-justice system, you do not
see the results of what you do as making a difference in the lives of people."
The progress isn't as dramatic for others. Laura, a tiny, pale woman in her early 20s who shows up an hour late, keeps her arms folded tight for most of the meeting. She appears distracted. At one point, she looks ready to fall asleep. Janzen asks her what she's gotten out of drug court. The response is halting -- she's only been in drug court for a few weeks and says she's still detoxing. "I was really in a bad situation, and it's gotten me back on track a little bit," she offers. "Now, I can actually deal with things with a clear head. Before, on heroin, it was too easy to get high and not deal with things. Before, I thought there was no point in trying. Now I can try and see what becomes of things." She falls silent, as if in her own world. A few minutes later, her cell phone rings. She leaves the room to take the call and returns with tears in her eyes. She's wiping her cheeks with a tissue when Janzen makes eye contact and silently mouths the words "Need to talk?" Laura replies, "Afterward."
The meeting breaks up a few minutes early. While everyone else heads to the parking lot, Laura walks into Janzen's office and leans against a wall, alone, waiting for the counselor and whatever help she can offer.