SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — On Thursday, Lackawanna County Court officials recognized nearly 50 graduates from its various treatment court and veterans treatment court programs.

A graduation ceremony was held at Lackawanna County College for the men and women from the Lackawanna County Treatment Court and Veterans Treatment Court Programs.

Lackawanna County Court officials along with Madame Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Debra Todd held a graduation ceremony recognizing multiple groups of treatment court graduates and veteran treatment court graduates.

“Well you have many people that are dealing with whether it be addiction, substance use disorder, or mental health problems and what we do is give them the structure in place. We have external pressure from the courts to bring upon internal change,” said Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barasse.

The ceremony honored graduates who completed intensive court treatment programs for, DUIs, drugs and alcohol, and mental health. These programs have been around for veterans for the past 23 years, and for the others, 24.

“It offers them the chance to often get the charges dismissed get the charges expunged, but more importantly, it gives them the ability to reclaim their lives, to live a good life with their families, be productive in regard to their work, and also to help the others,” Judge Barasse stated.

Officials say veterans are typically more at risk of these issues.

“Particularly veterans who have encountered the criminal justice system largely due to post-traumatic stress syndrome or other mental illnesses and drug addictions alcohol addictions coming back from the service trying to reintegrate into society,” said Chief Justice Todd.

Officials say the program isn’t easy and can take years to complete, but for the graduates, it’s all worth it in the end.

“There are many people that say just give me the jail time, I don’t wanna do the treatment court because of all the hard work that’s involved with it so it’s really for each one of these graduates it’s a lot of work and they deserve the credit,” said Judge Barasse.

Officials say a new regional vet court serving seven central PA counties is set to begin in 2024 to change even more lives.