A total of 61 defendants graduated from Tulsa County's Drug/DUI and veterans' treatment court programs this morning.
The alternative program to keep people out of prison and in treatment lasts a minimum of 18 months. Participants move through five phases of increasing responsibility, ultimately leaving at least six months sober and with their GEDs or better.
Erik Eldorado told his fellow graduates during the ceremony at OSU-Tulsa that he's learned discipline and made amends with his family.
"Most importantly, I've been sober for more than two years now," Eldorado said. "All the lessons I've learned in this program would have not taken hold unless I was sober."
Special Judge Dawn Moody praised the graduates, telling them many people don't realize the difficult choices they've had to make.
"One of the things that we fail to take into consideration, though, is food," Moody said. "A lot of our participants have to sometimes choose between, 'Do I feed my family, or do I UA and potentially go to jail today?'"
UA is short for urine analysis. Participants are tested several times a week during the program.
The program's recidivism rate is estimated between 20 and 30 percent, about half the relapse rate for rehab alone.