Remarks as prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Chief Judge Wolf, for your kind introduction.
Thank you, Magistrate Judge Sorokin, Probation Officers, Assistant United States Attorneys, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, and substance abuse counselors, for your selfless dedication to this outstanding program.
Graduates, it is my pleasure to join you for this momentous day in your lives. We are here to honor you – your willpower, your dedication, and your courage.
Each of you has had your share of dark days, when hope seemed faint and the future uncertain. That is not what makes you special – after all, plenty of Americans are seeing, and have seen, difficult times.
What sets you apart – and what binds you together – is how you chose to respond. Each and every day, you kept faith that the future could be brighter. Each and every day, you committed yourselves anew to the goal of staying sober and contributing to our society.
We know that this journey has not been easy or without setbacks. There were times when some of you were tempted to quit. You weren’t sure you could meet the demands of the program. But you always summoned the strength to keep going.
At every step, you were helped by the CARE team – Probation, the US Attorney’s Office, the Federal Defenders, and your treatment partners. You have also been supported by the love of your friends and family. Many of them sit behind you here today, but throughout this process they have stood beside you. Today we celebrate them, as well.
The paramount goal of the CARE program is to help you achieve and maintain sobriety. But there is more to it than that. You are graduating not just free of drugs and alcohol, but with very bright futures ahead of you. You are in school. One of you is studying human services; two more of you are enrolled in college. You are employed. You work for businesses, for charities and for organizations that help others overcome the challenges that you have faced. And just as important, many of you are repairing your relationships with children, parents, siblings, and friends.
While this graduation honors your success in the CARE Program, you know that you will never be cured of your addiction. Each new day will require you to summon the strength to stay sober and law-abiding. But through your accomplishments, which we celebrate today, you have demonstrated that you have the required strength and capacity to do just that. Always remember that.
You also have the treatment, sponsors, and experience you need to stay on the right path and make good choices. Your futures hold both opportunities and obligations. You must stay vigilant. When difficulties arise, you must reach out to your sponsors, counselors, families, and the CARE program. The support system you had at CARE doesn’t end today. It will always be there for you but you must access that support system.
Across our nation, communities face the question, “What will make our neighborhoods safer?” As we all know, drug addiction wreaks havoc -- destroying families, lives, and communities. Drug addiction breeds negative consequences, and the statistics reflect the magnitude of this problem: more than sixty percent of people arrested are regular drug users; about half of incarcerated people are drug dependent. Yet, less than 10 percent of those in need of treatment while incarcerated actually receive it. Every person with a drug dependency who leaves incarceration without treatment represents an opportunity lost. We must change this.
This is why Reentry Courts are so important. By combining strict oversight with hands-on assistance in maintaining sobriety and seeking employment upon the completion of a treatment program, Reentry Courts help break the cycle of drug use, crime, imprisonment and release without rehabilitation. Both your experience and scientific research points to the effectiveness of blending judicial oversight with assistance in Reentry Courts.
You have proven to those of us in the justice system that redemption and rehabilitation are always possible. Indeed, your success is America’s success. In your found potential we see hope for so many others in our country. You make your families, your counselors, your community and your nation very proud.
Congratulations on reaching this hopeful day. Your immediate past now demonstrates that your long future can and should be bright. I wish you great success in all your future endeavors. Good luck and godspeed.