This Friday, specialty court graduates who have evolved over years of intensive treatment and rehabilitation programs will get a fresh start for spring. The 67 grads from the Eighth Judicial District specialty courts will shed their old lives and begin their new lives. They leave behind the revolving door of repeated incarcerations due to substance abuse offenses and crime, to forge a life of responsibility and productivity. On Friday, Apr. 3 at 2 p.m., in the Regional Justice Center jury services room at 200 Lewis Ave., the specialty court grads celebrate their accomplishments. A special certificate will mark the launch of the grads’ new lives, and they will get applause and encouragement from judges, family, friends, counselors and each other for successful completion of years of treatment.

Arrest mug shots will be projected behind the grads to remind them how far they’ve come and to serve as a stark reminder to stay the course. The pomp and circumstance of the graduation marks a big occasion for the families of those who have successfully completed years of treatment in the drug, mental health, DUI, veterans’ and OPEN court. The community reaps benefits from the program in terms of tax dollars saved, social services spared and crime averted.