"The program takes nine months to a year and a half," Stowers said. "It is voluntary, but they are under charges. They have to do what's harder than juvenile probation or a stint at juvenile corrections."
Juvenile detention, while still necessary for many delinquent youths, is an experience than can also alter their lives forever.
"They are never the same after than," he said. "Once you've done the worst thing you can to them, you've lost them. There's no more you can do. You can't undo that juvenile detention."
Instead, drug court celebrates their small victories and rewards them with small gifts - the "carrot and the stick approach" according to Stowers.
Some of Stowers' graduates have gone into the military or on to college.
He estimates the program has saved the state $2 million on inpatient drug treatment costs.
"The moment I sign an order to put a kid at Riverpark or another drug rehab facility, I commit the state to spending $50,000 to $60,000," he said. Juvenile drug court costs about $5,000 per participant.
Thursday's ceremony will take place at 4 p.m. in Stowers' courtroom. During the ceremony, the Putnam Bar Association will donate $500 to the program.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cher...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.