A New Dawn
This multi-chaptered Lexington Herald-Leader (Kentucky.com) narrated slideshow depicts a Kentucky mother’s struggle through drug court. At 21, Dawn Nicole Smith, the married mother of three sons, has been abusing prescription painkillers for two years. She is one of 1700 Kentuckians sentenced to treatment instead of jail. More will join her as every Kentucky county gets a drug court by the end of 2007.
Through anguish-inducing images, we follow her ups and downs, through court, rehab, classes, drug tests, even her baptism. Her abusive husband leaves her while she is pregnant with their fourth child, a daughter. It is a rough road — one step forward, two steps back — as even the prospect of being taken away from her children is not enough apparently to keep her away from her illicit pills. The drama heightens as she becomes pregnant again, this time by her stepfather, and is court-ordered to leave her mother’s home and move to a Salvation Army shelter. After a relapse, and a positive drug test, she is ordered to prison — the images of the police taking her as her kids watch are heartbreaking — where she serves four months. After being reunited with her 5 children (including the infant fathered by her stepfather, who is arrested for incest), she loses custody of them until she is able to stay clean, get a job and apartment, and take parenting classes.
Pictures of the Year International Competition Winner, First Place, Best Multimedia Project.