Graduation for a ‘rock star’

Hickman first person to pass Enhanced Supervision Court program, has been sober more than 500 days

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS Lisa Hickman was all smiles Friday as she celebrated her graduation from the Enhanced Supervision Court led by District Court Judge John Haney. It was another step in a long journey since Hickman began the program in the summer of 2016, after she had several drug-related run-ins with the law.

Lisa Hickman’s 9-year-old daughter, Samantha, beamed at her mother as she strode confidently across the grand courtroom to shake the hand of District Court Judge John Haney Friday afternoon at the Marshall County Courthouse; Hickman had just graduated from the Enhanced Supervision Court program.

“When I met her, she was scattered; she was insecure, she was fragile, unstable, she could not problem-solve,” Haney said of the Marshalltown native prior to handing her a certificate of completion. “I am just so proud of the progress you’ve made and the progress that I anticipate you will continue to make.”

The program, led by Haney, began in early 2016 and continues to rely on volunteers in from the criminal justice system, the mental health care field and more. Hickman’s journey in the program began in the summer of 2016.

“She was probably at the worst part of her life; I issued a warrant for her arrest and we didn’t revoke her, we put her in this program, and it still didn’t go well,” Haney said. “She was in the depths of a bad period of her life at that time … then she started her upward climb.”

He put her in the program after several positive drug tests for marijuana and methamphetamine, as well as failing to meet with her parole officer.

“I’m actually astonished, because I didn’t think I’d ever make it through the program when I first got in here,” Hickman said upon graduating. “To be able to make it through this program means the world to me, because it’s changed so much for me.”

While the five-phase program isn’t “all butterflies and rainbows,” as Haney put it, Hickman was able to overcome several challenges early on in the process.

One major challenge she faced and passed was her mother’s diagnosis of cancer around Thanksgiving this year. She said her father had also been diagnosed with cancer and died, and she responded by going back to drugs; that didn’t happen with her mother’s news.

“I made it through finding out my mom finding out she had cancer and her going through chemotherapy, and now she’s in remission,” Hickman said.

“I didn’t have to get high over it, I didn’t have to get out and steal anything.”

Haney said Hickman had earned a moniker some program volunteers had given her.

“She has really been a rock star with this program,” he said. “It hasn’t been without bumps, it hasn’t been without difficulties … these programs are successful.”

Along with her daughter, several of Hickman’s friends and loved ones were able to attend the ceremony.

Haney said he would like to see state legislative funding for a true drug court program in Marshall County.

“They’re important, community-based programs that divert offenders who would otherwise be in prison,” he said, adding the program could help more people with more funding, and that putting an offender through such a program costs far less than sending them to prison.

For more information on drug courts, visit the National Drug Court Institute at


Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or