STAR PROGRAM: Judge Gives Former Gang Member a Second Chance

Spectrum News 1 article discussing Demond Lagway, an FPD-CDCA client and graduate of the Substance Abuse Treatment and Reentry Program (STAR). View the full article here.

LOS ANGELES – Demond Lagway has come a long way from the South Central neighborhood where he grew up and joined the 87 Street Gangster Crips at the age of 12.

Lagway says it started at a park, as a place he would escape to, looking for community while his parents struggled with drug addiction.

“I grew up with parents with drugs in the house. I ended up going to jail for gang banging. Just being out there and thinking that was the way to go,” Lagway said.

After having been incarcerated for several federal offenses including drug possession and bank robbery, Lagway looks back at the home he grew up in and says life is completely different now.

“It was rough. I learned a lot. Been through a lot. A lot of people left me who I thought were supposed to be there. So it hurt. But it motivated me to want to get out more, and stay focused, and get better,” said Lagway.

After serving 10 years in federal prison, he says he fell in love with reading, but still struggled with substance addiction. Soon after his release, Lagway failed a drug test. However, instead of being sent back to prison, his judge recommended the STAR program.

“So every week they check on you. It’s like a family thing and it felt real good to know that I’m going to court and not going away. Going to STAR and Judge Otis. They really support you. My probation officer. The support was just different. I wasn’t scared like they’ll book you or something. They were here to really help. I could talk to them if I need them. It’s a real real good program,” Lagway said.

STAR, which stands for Substance Abuse Treatment and Re-Entry has given Lagway a new found motivation, which has shifted his way of thinking, and instilled a sense of trust between him and his probation officer.

“It feels good. Feels like I’m accomplished.  One of the things I wanted to do is get off paper. It’s been four and a half long years. Now its time to continue my journey, and try to continue learning and develop and I want to do real estate and start a real estate company and just continue to push,” said Lagway.

With the right support, he says anything is possible.