An emotional Gov. Jeb Bush spoke yesterday at a statewide Florida drug court graduation ceremony, saying he hoped to watch his daughter complete the program soon, says the Associated Press. Noelle Bush, 25, has been a drug court participant in Orlando since her arrest last year for trying to use a fraudulent prescription to obtain the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
“I’m going to be sitting soon I hope, as a loving and proud father, with you,” Bush said from an Escambia County courtroom. “This is an emotional thing for me,” he added, his voice cracking. “God, I hate doing that.”
The Florida program has grown from 34 drug courts when he took office in 1999 to 82 now, with a 63 percent funding increase, and is expected to grow to 93 courts by the end of the year. About 10,000 defendants are expected this year to graduate from Florida drug courts, which allow them to avoid criminal sanctions if they stick to their rehabilitation. Judge Terry Terrell, who presides over Escambia’s drug court, said fewer than 13 percent of his graduates become repeat offenders. Drug offenders who go through a regular court have a rearrest rate of 60 percent or more, he said.