Barbour Community Corrections program changes lives

A Barbour County couple arrested on drug charges several years ago said they have made a major change in their lives with the help and dedication of the staff at the Barbour County Community Corrections program.

Anthony and Marie Ware were married while they were enrolled in the Community Corrections program. They battled obstacles in their lives which had led to them both being arrested. Prior to their arrests, they had been dating for about a year. The two were arrested on similar drug-related charges in 2010. They entered the Community Corrections program in October of that year.

They were incarcerated for nearly a year, and were not permitted to have contact with each other. They didn’t follow Circuit Court Judge Alan D. Moats’ ruling and found ways to communicate. Anthony Ware said that their violation of the ruling eventually caught up with them.

“She actually had got in trouble for accepting my phone calls from the jail,” Anthony Ware said. “We told the judicial system that we wanted to be together. The judge, he was nice enough to give us one more chance after a year.”

They were arrested again in 2011 within two months of each other for violating the terms of the program. Marie Ware said they had written letters to Moats to express that they wanted to be together. They got married on Jan. 9, 2011, only 18 days after their Dec. 21 release date. They are still in the Community Corrections program and expected to meet with Moats today because of their good behavior with the program.

“He (Moats) told us that we could be each other’s strength or each other’s weakness,” Anthony Ware said. “We have been each other’s strength. We got out (together) after a year.

“After that year of incarceration and getting one more chance, we pretty much knew it was our only chance,” Anthony Ware added. “After this year, we actually talked about it, and we wanted to do good. We’d been sober for so long. We realized that that’s not the life to carry on.”

Marie Ware said she lost her children when she went to jail. Her son is now 18 and comes to visit. The foster parents of her daughter permit them to stay in touch. Marie Ware said she goes to events that her daughter participates in, and she has been allowed to talk and visit with her daughter.

“They (my children) always tell me, ‘You better not go back,'” she said. “I was bad off then, and now they like the way that I am.”

“We’ve done a lot with our lives,” Anthony Ware said, adding that both of them got baptized, go to church every Sunday, gained employment, started fishing and hiking and simply kept themselves busy.

Anthony Ware also became the chairman of a Narcotics Anonymous group at Weaver Church.

“We came from a bad-off path to completely changed,” Anthony Ware said. “It’s kind of amazing to myself and her, that we’ve made such a dramatic change in our life.”

Marie Ware said she was formerly addicted to methadone, opiates and marijuana, and had been using drugs since the age of 17. Anthony Ware said he was formerly addicted to cocaine, marijuana and “more or less about anything,” and had started using drugs at age 14, without immediate addiction.

“Our drug addiction was our lifestyle at that time,” Marie Ware said, and Anthony Ware added that their lives formerly revolved around the drugs.

They both say that they are currently living a clean lifestyle, free of those drugs and addictions. Anthony Ware said that in his mindset at the time, addiction was very difficult to overcome.

“Looking back now, it was even harder. It’s almost amazing to see. Now I couldn’t even imagine telling somebody that I did that stuff,” he said. “It’s like we are two different people now.”

They agree that they don’t ever want to go back to their former lifestyles. Anthony Ware said a big part of that change has been thanks to Community Corrections.

“There’s a lot of help here. There’s a lot of classes that can help you,” Anthony Ware said. “There’s great staff here. They do whatever they can to help you.”

Through community service, the couple accrued 4,500 hours of work. Anthony Ware said community service provides a way to give back to the community and to live a normal lifestyle.

“What the program is designed to do is give you a chance, and it’s whether you use that chance to your potential or not. We’ve used it to our potential,” he said.

The current Community Corrections director, Matt Bennett, was working as a corrections officer in transportation at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail when the Wares were first arrested. He was also there when they were released, recommitted and re-released.

He witnessed them change and grow with the program as he transitioned into his new job as the director, a role he took on in March 2011.

“I was there at their lowest point, and since I took this job, I’ve seen them at their highest point,” Bennett said. “I think the program gave them structure, gave them the tools to be able to withstand their addiction to drugs and has shown them that they could return to society as productive members.”

The Wares say that when they leave the program, they’re confident they won’t fall back into their former lifestyle.

“I’m ready to carry on and do things with my life,” Anthony Ware said, adding that they are more ambitious now. He looks forward to finding a better job and taking his wife on the honeymoon they have not yet had.