Seven Graduate Drug Treatment Court

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ROME- Seven men and women completed their Oneida County Drug Treatment Court programs and were recognized in Rome on Friday.

The ceremony – along with their final court appearances – took place at the Oneida County Supreme Court on North James Street.

Drug Treatment Court is a multi-year program where defendants who have pleaded guilty to a drug or alcohol-related crime can seek treatment instead of being sentenced to prison State. Upon graduating, defendants see their pleas reduced and their sentences turned to fines and probation — or sometimes dismissed altogether.

“It’s a very nice day for us. It’s the perfect time to recognize how hard the participants have worked and the changes they have made,” said Rome City Court Judge Gregory J. Amoroso, who oversees the treatment court program.

“It’s a tough program,” Amoroso noted, adding that participants showed “tremendous change.”

Program requirements include long periods of abstinence, completion of treatment, community service, obtaining employment and being free from public assistance, officials said. Not everyone makes it through the program – and participants who fail are given an agreed jail term.

Friday’s court appearance graduation session involved comments from their case managers and a handshake from Amoroso. The participants did not wish to be published in the media, so their identities were not disclosed. “It’s a disease, not a choice,” Amoroso assured attendees, admitting it took him a while to personally understand the idea. “I fully understand that now.”

The District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office are involved in the treatment program, along with several other county agencies. Drug Court is also undergoing a major overhaul to a multi-track program thanks to a grant by Helio Health.

“One of the things I’ve always strived for is helping people get on the right path. Nobody’s perfect,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert M. Maciol, who spoke at the graduation ceremony.

Added newly appointed Chief Public Defender Tina Hartwell, who served as her office’s liaison with drug court for more than 16 years, “This is not your last accomplishment. You have much more to accomplish.

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