Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Thursday is a big day for a drug treatment program in Rochester.  And a special day for a Rochester man who has fought addiction for years.

Olmsted County’s Drug Court is holding a public event to mark the first graduation of the program that began in June last year.

The graduate is 58-year-old Darrell Luce, who has a criminal record dating back to 1993. Luce narrowly avoided a prison sentence two years ago for a drug conviction. The judge in the case was Kathleen Wallace, who helps oversee the drug court and will be at Thursday’s event.

Darrell Luce, 2014 Olmsted County ADC photo

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem says Luce’s rebound from a life of addiction is a “true success story.” He says Luce was “a royal pain in the butt” for law enforcement and corrections officials over the years. Ostrem says Luce enrolled in numerous treatment programs only to suffer a relapse. Now he is enrolled in college and drug-free.

Ostrem and others spent years trying to get a drug court in Olmsted County. There are 25 people currently in the program and a few more are in line to graduate soon.

The drug court is described as a collaborative effort of criminal justice stakeholders working together to break the cycle of substance abuse.  It offers participants the opportunity to change life circumstances and become alcohol and drug free. The program runs a minimum of 15 months. Upon graduation, participants remain on supervision.

For many of the participants, the program is offered as a final chance to avoid being sent to prison for an extended period.

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