HOPE graduates find second chances in life

Michael Deaman spent 14 years living on the streets, until crimes he’d committed caught up to him.

Deaman was one of five graduates from Las Vegas Municipal Court’s Habitual Offender Prevention and Education (HOPE) Court program Jan. 19 at the Las Vegas City Hall Council Chambers. The alternative-sentencing, recovery-based program aims to give a second chance to high-need offenders suffering from drug addiction and related issues.

“It saved my life,” Deaman said. “I’d probably be dead if I was still out there.”

About 16 years ago, Deaman said, he lived with the mother of his daughter, trying to make a difficult relationship work. He described himself as a functioning alcoholic, but when he discovered his girlfriend was being unfaithful, he lost control and dropped out. Police picked him up one morning along with several of his friends who were sleeping behind a vacant restaurant.

“I was still asleep and the officer woke me up by kicking my leg,” Deaman said. “My friends had already gone across the street and got some beers and were drinking. The officer asked me if the beer next to me was mine. I told him it must be, but that it wasn’t open, so I didn’t get cited for drinking alcohol in public. I might still be in jail if I’d been cited for that.”

Deaman said he’d sleep outside in the elements and drink cold beer first thing in the morning. He stepped outside for a moment after the ceremony and the cold air brought it all back to him.

“It was freezing out there just now, and I used to be in that all the time,” Deaman said. “When I was in Cedar City (Utah), I’d wake up under a half-foot of snow sometimes. The snow will actually insulate you and keep you warm while you’re sleeping, but when you get up to use the restroom, that all goes away and you’re chilled to the bone.”

Judge Heidi Almase, who has overseen the program since 2011, said it was created for people like Deaman, who were homeless for years and repeatedly came in and out of the justice system.

“The goal of the program is the same as most specialty courts, and that is to pull you out of the system,” Almase said. “That costs first responder hours, emergency room hours and jail time. A day in the city jail is $160, $220 at county. Our goal is to stop the cycle. That’s how we measure our success.”

Participants in the voluntary program undergo regular court status checks with Almase and random drug tests, as well as receive case management, substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment. HOPE Court also provides housing, employment, transportation, family support and after-care assistance.

Almase took over the program started by Judge Cedric Kerns in 2004. The scope has shifted to include other addicts the court staff felt benefited from HOPE Court. The other graduates at the event were much younger, including Aaron Carter, Edward Dzienkowski, Jessica Swartz and Jewell Alfasso.

The ceremony included the screening of a short film put together by Deputy City Attorney Matt Walker featuring the graduates’ mugshots and footage of their early appearances in front of Almase.

The film highlighted how far they had come. In the film, Alfasso gave nearly incomprehensible answers to questions that weren’t asked. At the graduation, she smiled and was surrounded by friends and family members, nearly unrecognizable from the woman in the film.

“I’ve struggled with addiction throughout my life,” Alfasso said. “I’d had some recovery previously, but I’d never made two years. The program helped me to learn to love myself again and to give back to others and pay it forward. I’ll never forget where I came from.”

Deaman has been paying back daily, advising clients at a transitional living program home near North Las Vegas Airport.

“I let them know what it was like and what it’s like now,” Deaman said. “I get to help them with the 12-step program. I get to spread the message and show them there’s a better way.”

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nye County detectives pursue suspects
A swarm of Nye County deputies, at the request of Las Vegas police, surrounded a hotel room in Pahrump last week to take two fugitives into custody. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like