PINE BELT (WDAM) - A dozen graduates of the 12th judicial drug court program walked the stage Monday, defining a new chapter of their lives.
The Forrest/Perry County Adult Drug-DUI-Veteran's Court participants walked the stage to receive their certificate of completion of the program.
It is an alternative route for drug offenders who face jail time and a way to change the course of their lives for the better.
The program takes about three years to complete and in most cases, it clears the offenders' records.
Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich said that the drug court family is a big part of the participants' success. Family and friends were also in attendance to show support for their journey to sobriety.
"It requires them to complete treatment, to be employed, to be a contributing member of society, it reunites their families, they get their children back, their parents accept them back," Helfrich said. "It's the most rewarding thing I've ever done is to see the transformation in these individuals."
The 12th Circuit Drug Court program was founded in October 2003. It is one of the largest drug courts in the state.
Helfrich said the national rate at which offenders return to jail is almost 70 percent. Only around 15 percent of those who go through drug court end up in jail.