Judge Linda Bell told graduates,

Judge Linda Bell told graduates, “you inspire me.”

Two big screens projecting a mug shot served as the backdrop for 42 Eighth Judicial District specialty court graduates in Las Vegas as they celebrated their drug-free, crime–free life after an intensive treatment program. A packed room filled with friends, family, counselors and even the judges who sentenced the participants, looked on and applauded, as one-by-one the graduates faced friendly heckles on their mug shots, collected their certificates, thanked their judge and counselors and shared their emotional road to recovery. Standing before the audience, a nervous graduate named Armando said he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep the night before. Barbara, who was chosen to speak on behalf of the mental health court graduates, said that the program helped her to overcome a 35-year drug addiction. A DUI graduate named Jason just said that he was happy to have his family back. Many of the graduates brought prepared letters to read, including Marcus who said, “thank you to the program that saved my life.” He read a heart-wrenching letter that recounted his despair during his addiction and ended saying “I hope to make the world a better place.” One 20-year-old said that it was good he caught “it” when he was young because he didn’t think that he would make it to be old. The audience laughed, applauded and echoed the thought.
Judge Linda Marie Bell who presides over the specialty courts commended the graduates and said, “I know how hard you’ve worked and what you put into the program. You inspire me.”