Ms. Davis graduates from Addiction Intervention Court
For immediate release
Head of Public Information
(Woodland, CA) – On October 27, 2022, a 24-year-old Davis woman successfully graduated from Addiction Intervention Court (AIC) in Yolo County. While she felt it was important for her story to be told, she asked to remain anonymous because of the stigma attached to people living with substance use disorders. She will be known as Barbara Fermin. Fermin had been attending AIC for almost three years before graduating. Members of the AIC team, along with Fermín’s mother, were present for the graduation.
The Addiction Intervention Court (AIC) is a specialized court program that serves up to 30 people who struggle with substance use disorders and are involved in the criminal justice system as a result of their addiction. The program is a collaborative effort made up of the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Yolo County Superior Court, the Probation Department and the Agency for Human and Health (HHSA). The program provides intensive support and supervision services aimed at increasing a participant’s overall quality of life while reducing recidivism. AIC is an 18-24 month program.
In September 2019, Fermin was in prison for possession of heroin. The judge agreed to release her for a doctor’s appointment if she promised to return to prison after the appointment. Fermí agreed but never returned to prison. After a warrant was issued for her arrest, she was arrested again in mid-October, facing a new charge of “Felony Escape from Jail.” Supervising Assistant District Attorney Chris Bulkeley had numerous lengthy conversations with Fermin’s mother about what could be done to help Fermin, then 21 years old. In late October 2019, Bulkeley had discussions with HHSA staff and Fermin’s attorney to refer Fermin to AIC. They all agreed and, at the beginning of November, Fermín was referred to the AIC.
On January 21, 2020, Fermin was in court for his first AIC appearance. For the next 13 months, Fermin struggled with his addiction and relapsed on numerous occasions. The team was very close to sending her off the show and the members were not optimistic about her success. But Fermin kept trying and on April 15, 2021, Fermin was placed in a residential treatment facility in El Dorado County called Progress House. For the first time in a long time, Fermí got sober and began to flourish. AIC’s progress notes over the next 16 months included statements such as ‘doing very well’, ‘doing very well’ and ‘always amazing and fantastic’.
Prior to AIC graduation, participants are required to write an essay about their AIC experience. At Fermin’s, he stated, “I hear a lot of people say until you’re really ready, you’re never going to get clean, and maybe that’s true for some people, but honestly, I don’t know if I’d ever feel that way. 100% ready, thankfully for me the courts in Yolo County and the AIC gave me no choice.”
At the graduation, the members of the AIC team congratulated Fermín and told her how proud they were of her. Speakers included AIC Judge Tom Dyer, Assistant Public Defender Bret Bandley, Assistant Probation Officer Guillaume Denoix, HHSA Case Managers Terri Lipelt and Amanda Narvaez, and representatives of the prosecutors of district Chris Bulkeley and Jonathan Raven. The last speaker before Fermí was Fermí’s mother, who described Fermí’s inner strength and praised her for her ability to persevere and achieve this success. Finally, Fermí spoke and thanked the team for all their support and effort. The AIC team and participants celebrated on the court with a pizza and cake party. Fermin declared: “I’m lucky to be alive. If I used it today, I’d be dead. People don’t use heroin anymore; now it’s about the fentanyl that kills you.”
Currently, Fermin is on staff at Progress House, where she helps those who, like her, live with substance use disorders. When asked if she was going to celebrate her graduation tonight, she said: “No, I’m working. I did a shift change because the Progress House staff needed help.” For the next year, Fermin will participate in the AIC alumni program, where he will support current AIC participants and attend events with other AIC graduates. Judge Dyer scheduled a court date for October 20, 2023, at which time all charges against Fermin will be dismissed and he will have a clean record.
Source: Press releases | Yolo County