RED WING -- Judge Douglas Bayley welcomed participants to a Zoom session of the Goodhue County Treatment Court to celebrate Jamie Tri, the program’s first graduate, on June 23.

“This is not what we expected, for our first Treatment Court graduation to be on the computer and not be in person,” Bayley said. “We are not able to get together, and I can’t be the only one with a sweet tooth, disappointed that we are not getting cake, ice cream and lemonade to celebrate.”

Bayley told Tri that the program had a certificate for him as well as several gift cards and other items donated by local businesses and organizations.

“I want to say from my own perspective that I’ve known you for years, and I could not be prouder of you than I am today for your sobriety, for successfully completing the Goodhue County treatment program,” Bayley said. “This is a difficult program to go through. There are all the requirements, the meetings, the sponsorship, all these things that you had to do, and you did it.”

Tri responded, “I would like to thank everyone that has been involved from the beginning. It’s been a journey.”

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Praising Tri for his efforts to improve his life and the life of his family, Bayley said, “Jamie wrote that he is now not held back by his addiction. He has made giant strides toward overcoming that, and now he will be able to go wherever he can take himself and his family in our society. That’s the most fantastic thing.”

There are currently 17 participants and 53 referrals waiting to get into the Goodhue County Treatment Court, which started in April 2019, according to coordinator Kait Olmsted.

“It is nationally proven that drug courts work,” Olmsted said. “They help save the county a ton of money, because we are not just getting drug users sober, we are making them into healthy and stable members of our society. They’ve got to be productive. They’ve got to get jobs.”

While in the program, participants must complete two random drug tests per week, write a set of goals and work toward them, find a job and work, stay sober, and attend support meetings.

“They can’t get any new charges,” Olmsted explained, “and they have to keep in touch with us at all times. If I do not hear from them within two hours, I can send a police officer over there.”

After repeated efforts by many people, Goodhue County secured a four-year, $499,469 federal grant the fall of 2018 to establish the treatment court.

The program is built on five phases, and depending on which phase a participant is in, he or she must attend the Tuesday court sessions once a week, every other week, or once a month.

“How can you tell somebody to get sober who doesn’t have a support network?” Olmsted asked. “That is exactly what drug court does. We help them get their driver’s license or apply for assistance. A lot of people don’t even know where to start, so it is easier for them to turn back to drugs or alcohol. Drug court isn’t just about drugs. It’s about all of those other things in life that we are helping them with.”