(KCCR) — The Sixth Circuit Hughes/Stanley County D-U-I Drug Court celebrated six new graduates Wednesday in Fort Pierre. Circuit Judge Bridget Mayer says it’s an honor to preside over her first “problem solving” court graduation….
“While we have all been off working in our daily lives, our graduates have been busy working behind the scenes for almost a year and a half to two years and have come to this stage where they are celebrating their society and their sobriety. Instead of just throwing people away and sending them into custody and then coming back out, a program was started to say ‘Lets really deal with our additions.’ And get our lives back, get ourselves back, get our families back, get our communities back. Because sober…we are strong.”
Judge John Brown presided over the Sixth Circuit’s DUI/Drug Court since 2011. He returned after retiring as keynote speaker and says the six graduates need to be embraced by the community to be successful…
“It’s simply wrong to label them as addicts or put them apart. They are in our community. They are part of what we are. We are all in this together and it takes community and it takes all of the entities there, the employers, the family, the friend support to understand that if there is a problem here, we need to address it and we need to continue working for those ways to most effectively address it.”
Brown addressed each member of the Court specifically, before each got up to speak to a court room packed with family and friends. One of the graduates, Thad S. has been sober and in the program for 499 days…
“Being in the DUI Court program has helped me in almost every aspect of my life. It has made me stay sober long enough to let me see all the great people and things in my life. And now that I can see it clearly, I can appreciate everything to the fullest instead of feeling sorry for myself for what I don’t have. A lot of people say to me ‘You won’t keep coming to A-A or how long do you have left on paper?’ Well, it’s not like that for me. I have had to say no to people offering me alcohol long enough that it has gotten to be easy for me to say ‘no’ because I don’t need it nor want it.”
Arby’s was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation for working with the Drug and DUI Court Program. Among those in the gallery celebrating the graduation was South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.