MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County Drug Court and Truancy Prevention Programs held graduation in Montgomery County Circuit Court on Wednesday, May 18. In total, 53 people graduated; four from Drug Court and 49 from truancy prevention.

Drug Court held the ceremony first. The program requires that individuals spend at least 22 months completing four phases, showing commitment to recovery and sobriety. During the program time, people must be employed and show maintained sobriety as well. The ultimate goal is to connect people with life-changing help, in order to keep them from being incarcerated.

After completing Drug Court, people are released from probation. Currently, there are about 60 participants going through the program in the county. The State’s Attorney’s Office works with the Office of Problem Solving Courts to enroll repeat offenders into the program. Those individuals are identified as people whose criminal conduct is motivated by their drug addictions.

The Truancy Prevention Program targets middle schoolers who are missing 18-36 days of school per year. Students are recommended to the program, and if their parents accept, they are paired with a volunteer mentor for a semester. The goal of the program is to determine the cause of truancy and keep kids out of trouble and in school.

49 students graduated from the program this semester, which means they had no more than four unexcused absences. There were 137 total students in the program this semester. Though all of those students did not make it to graduation with the program, the court noted that 30 percent vastly improved their attendance.

State Attorney John McCarthy said the programs have an intense focus on education and how that can change people’s lives. He said the programs are an example of ways Montgomery County works to rebuild lives rather than just lock people up.