Janesville75.6°

Rock County drug court honors first five graduates

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Mike DuPre'
February 22, 2008
— The courtroom was packed.

Judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, county officials and top cops joined those scheduled to appear Thursday morning in Judge Richard Werner’s court.


But the activity at the Rock County Courthouse was not a high-profile criminal trial.


It was the first graduation from drug court. Five offenders had successfully completed a program of rehabilitation, counseling and education.


They had gone through drug and alcohol assessment group meetings, paid their fees, looked for work, got on with their educations and, most important, showed they had stopped using drugs.


Each of the five young men had negative results from many random drug screens over many months. In the process, they made successes not only of themselves but also of one of Rock County’s new programs that serve as alternatives to incarceration.


Retired Judge John Roethe, who first presided over drug court, addressed the graduates:


“It was an honor for me to preside over drug court. I remember all of you. We’ve been through ups and downs. I hope you apply the lessons you’ve learned.


“I think you’ve learned the lesson of honesty—honesty with the judge and treatment providers and, most importantly, honesty with yourselves.”


Werner reiterated the three principles that Roethe made the cornerstones of drug court: abstinence, honesty and responsibility.


Werner stepped down from the bench to present a certificate to and shake the hand of each graduate. He congratulated and encouraged them.


“I want to thank the people from drug court, you and Judge Roethe for helping me and helping me overcome my addiction,” a young man named William told Werner.


The judge smiled at William and said: “You’ve got a nice sparkle to you now, William. Keep up the good work.”


The people William referred to were the assistant district attorney, public defender, program coordinator and caseworkers who review, discuss and make recommendations on each offender sentenced to drug court.


The offenders will return to the Rock County courts that sentenced them for finalization of their cases. Each pleaded guilty, and each has his own plea agreement, which could include dismissal or reduction of charges or reduction of penalties.


“I hope I see you some time,” Werner told the grads. “Please, come up and talk to me.


“But I hope,” the judge said, “I don’t see you when I’m working.”



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