The Joshua Tree Drug Court held its 19th semi-annual graduation at the Yucca Valley Community Center. Reporter Dan Stork observed the celebration…
Before a packed room of well over 100 family, friends, and well-wishers at the Yucca Valley Community Center, Judge Rod Cortez handed out diplomas to the latest graduates of the Joshua Tree Drug Court program.


Judge Rod Cortez addresses graduates of the Joshua Tree Drug Court, and their families and friends.

Joshua Tree Drug Court is an 18-month outpatient treatment program, with counseling and close monitoring. As is his practice, Cortez began by citing statistics about the money that the program has saved taxpayers by way of not sending people to prison, the number of babies born drug-free because of the program, and children returned to their homes. He made clear his opinion of the notion that drug use is not a violent crime: “Every case I had as a prosecutor—in every one of my murder trials—there was one similar theme: Drugs.” Each of the graduates spoke upon receipt of a completion certificate, with thanks to the Judge, the Drug Court staff, and to friends and family—with joy and tears and laughter and hope for their futures. Cortez closed the presentations with a request to the graduates: “I believe that each of you have shown that you are stronger than your addiction, and you can continue the rest of your lives drug free, and nothing can make me happier than you proving me right.”

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