Terry R. Harris Judicial Building, Colorado Springs courts

Fifteen people will celebrate their successful completion of the Fourth Judicial District’s Recovery Court during a graduation ceremony Thursday, officials announced this week.

Recovery Court, a voluntary program allowing an alternative to incarceration for people who have been charged with a criminal offense, requires defendants to complete at least two years of substance use disorder treatment, maintain sobriety, comply with community service and employment requirements, make frequent court appearances, and pay fines and costs, according to a news release issued Monday by the Colorado Judicial Department.

Including the 15 set to graduate Thursday, 48 people have successfully completed these requirements in 2019, the news release stated.

The ceremony — set for 5 p.m. at the El Paso County District Combined Courts Terry R. Harris Building, 270 S. Tejon St. — will celebrate a milestone not only in the participants’ recovery, but in their lives, said District Court Magistrate Daphne Burlingame.

“This graduation reaffirms our community’s commitment to working together to help individuals successfully leave drugs and crime behind to become contributing members to society,” said Burlingame, who presides over Recovery Court. “We are so proud of the hard work our graduates have endured to make it to this day.”

According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, problem-solving courts such as Recovery Court provide the single most successful criminal-justice intervention for addicted offenders. Such courts treat substance use disorders and can connect offenders with resources such as housing and employment while keeping them out of prison and accountable for their offenses, according to the release.

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Nearly 80 such courts are in operation around Colorado, including adult and juvenile drug courts, family/dependency and neglect drug courts, DUI courts, adult and juvenile mental health courts, veteran trauma courts and truancy courts, the release stated.