From prison to podium: Marquis Reynolds graduates Ottawa County Drug Court

Mar 26, 2024 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 1 comment

Ottawa County Common Pleas Court Judge Bruce Winters, right, congratulates Marquis Reynolds during his graduation from Drug Court. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)


Drug use brought Marquis Reynolds to a place of desperation, and he begged God to do whatever it took to free him from the grasp of addiction. Shortly afterward, Reynolds was convicted on a drug charge and sentenced to jail.

“I lost my freedom, and I almost lost my mind,” he said.

Jail led to Reynolds’ acceptance into the DATA Program, a specialized docket of Ottawa County Common Pleas Court that is commonly referred to as Drug Court. The DATA Program is led by Judge Bruce Winters and DATA Program Coordinator Leah Brookins.

Through Drug Court, Reynolds found the support and resources he needed to move past addiction and into the freedom he so desperately craved.

A packed courtroom of friends, family and professional supporters celebrated Marquis Reynolds’ graduation from Drug Court. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

“Without trouble, change wouldn’t have happened. Change started in jail,” he said.

On March 21, Reynolds graduated from Drug Court before Winters, Brookins, his treatment team, and a courtroom packed with friends and family who celebrated the new life he worked hard to achieve.

Brookins talked about Reynolds’ need to work through his thoughts by saying them out loud. In the end, that became an important tool in his recovery.

“The old me would hold it in until I exploded, and then I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces,” Reynolds said. “Now I talk it out.”

He talks, and he listens.

“It says a lot about a person when he is willing to talk it out and hear other people’s perspectives,” Brookins said. “He’s worked hard and makes the best of every situation he’s in.”

Brookins was proud of Reynolds’ accomplishments.

“You’ve proven to everyone here that when you set your mind to something, you’re going to achieve it with a lot of kindness and positivity,” Brookins said.

Marquis Reynolds happily listens to friends and family congratulate him on his graduation from Drug Court. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Winters, too, was proud of the change he witnessed in Reynolds throughout the program.

“He’s been an inspiration to me because of his positivity and gratitude,” Winters said.

There were many people who helped Reynolds through the program, including his friend Damion Tall.

“When you put yourself in the position to learn and you’re humble, you get this,” Tall said of Reynolds’ success in recovery. “We were the underdogs. We weren’t supposed to make it, but hard work pays off.”

Reynolds also thanked his friend, Jeff Schill, who has become an engaged and impactful leader in the local recovery community.

“I really appreciate Jeff for all he does for me and for everyone else. I don’t even live here, but you help people far out,” Reynolds said.

Schill was grateful that Reynolds had found such success in recovery.

“My order is: God, family, others, then self, and you’re putting that into practice,” Schill said. “Now, make it a point to show people how good this life is. I love to see this – from prison to podium.”

No one in the room was more grateful than Reynolds.

“I thank God. I thought drugs were my life forever,” he said. “Now, I’m comfortable being uncomfortable. I hated change. Now I accept change and look forward to the next step in the journey, wherever God takes me.”

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Gresser

    Congratulations to Marquis and ALL of the past graduates.


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