Following her appointment to the family court on September 1, 1999, Debra Hembree Lamber, Circuit Judge with the Family Court in Frankfort, Kentucky, became interested in establishing a juvenile drug court program. Attending both state and national drug court conferences, Judge Lambert educated local, regional, and state stakeholders concerning drug courts and the benefits to the community. With limited resources, but yet a passion and commitment to the drug court field, Judge Lambert officially conducted her first drug court session on October 1, 2000; twelve months later, on October 9th, 2001, a drug court graduation was held.

Judge Lambert has shown that drug courts can work in areas that have few resources available. By incorporating the family into the drug court program and being very createive, rural drug courts are flourishing in Kentucky. Judge Lambert’s involvement with the drug court movement has also allowed her to develop a truancy diversion program in four middle schools. These dockets are conducted on a volunteer basis and before her regular court day begins.

Prior to Judge Lambert’s efforts in a multi-judisdictional, rural circuit, other judges had not tried to plan for or implement a drug court. Today, more than half of Kentucky’s counties are planning for or are operating a drug court. This widespread state support is directly related to a true trailblazer in her field, active with local schools and social service agencies, and an asset to her community and the entire court system.