HOPE for families shattered by drugs

When parents are addicts, an innovative family drug court program under Judge Bode Uale lets those parents put their families back together again - if they work at it and follow the rules. Pictured with the judge are children whose parents are in the program

Jade Moon
Wednesday - June 08, 2011
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Judge Bode Uale with Hoku and David McAngus and their 3-month-old daughter Alexis. Nathalie Walker photo .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The young woman is sobbing. She looks down at the shred of paper in her hand and starts to read aloud.

It’s an apology.

“Dear Judge,” she mumbles, “I apologize for violating the order. I know I was wrong. Please give me another chance.”

As the “clients” awaiting their turn before the judge watch in silence, presiding Judge Bode Uale speaks.

“We want to continue to work with you,” he tells her. “But the only way we can help you is if you follow the rules.”

Just another Friday morning at Family Drug Court.

The consequences of failure are high, and she knows it. She recently regained custody of her daughter and is terrified she will be taken away again. Family Drug Court’s mission is to ensure child safety by providing the opportunity to help family members become healthy, sober and positive parents.

Everyone here is an addict.

The women in the gallery (there were only a couple of men there that morning) know this is a last resort. Booze or drugs, or both, have wrecked and controlled and ruined them. Their families are broken. Family Drug Court offers them a way to try to glue the pieces back together.

They all want their children back, and that is a strong motivator. But sometimes even that’s not enough to ensure success.

“Once you’re an addict,” says Judge Uale, “it’s very hard to rein yourself in and follow the program.

“We don’t force people in. If they agree to come in, then basically we tell them you have to follow our rules. And our rules are not necessarily real difficult rules, but it’s hard for an addict to follow a program that is basically step one, step two, step three, step four. But a lot of them do it.”

And some of them don’t. David McAngus and his wife Hoku were failures at Drug Court the first time around.

“The first time we went through it,” says David, who is 42 and started smoking crystal meth when he was 19, “both her and I were angry and we fought the process constantly.”

Hoku is just 22. She’s got a family history that is almost unbelievably sad. Addiction was all she knew growing up.

“I was taken away when I was a little girl, when I was 9,” she says. “My mom was doing ice. She lost all her kids and she’s still on ice. And (the addiction) went down to me and I lost my first daughter. Now I have two kids, and I plan on keeping them.”

The first time around, they got through the residential treatment part of the program. But Family Drug Court coordinator James Lutte says that’s just the beginning.

“While they’re in treatment, they can play the game real well,” he says, “but when they leave treatment ... That’s the real test for them.”

David and Hoku failed the test.

“One thing I learned through this program is you cannot fight the process,” he says now. “You have to live life the way they tell you. You have to have structure, you have to have responsibilities, and for us that was just ... that was alien to us.”

Keeping families on the path is a team effort. Uale works with coordinator Lutte as well as staff from Child Welfare Services and court-appointed case managers. Every recovering addict in the program is supervised, guided and supported.

After residential treatment, they are required to find a job or go to school, and find a safe place to live. They must make - and keep - their appointments with

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Most Recent Comment(s):


I have read the article.  I am pleased to hear that in the courtroom is HOPE for the helpless/hopeless.  I am in tribulation with my own daughter on the streets chasing the wind.  My grandchildren are sensitively an adult in baby body. Word came to be a week ago that my grandchildren were dropped off to people they don’t even know.  I’m afraid for them and they look afraid.  Both parents are doing dope.  The children are sad and finds no hope. 

As I was captured by the photo of the judge and title of this story…my heart in crying for the day of victory for my Lord that the chain of addiction over my daughter and the kids father would be released and broken through. 

In the meantime I fear the safety of my grandchildren the most.  My daughter hates me, lies alot, and blames me for her failures today.  That don’t hurt me…but her games are affecting the children everyday. 

I personally dealt with CPS, and honestly would not want to go that path again.  However, this case of my daughter has been known to the system already and they are still on the streets…the children are happy to see the parents but the parents didn’t seem happy to see them…PLEASE ADVISE YOUR HONOR…...

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