DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – More than a dozen Miami Valley teens are now hitting reset on their lives. Thursday, 15 teens graduated from the Mongtomery County Treatment Court.

“I think if it wasn’t for this program, I wouldn’t be here right now,” said Shemar Chiromo, a 17-year-old Treatment Court graduate.

Chiromo first entered the court system in middle school. He said he started smoking marijuana at age 14 and committed his first burglary around the same time. Eventually he racked up dozens of criminal charges, ran away from house arrest several times and spent several stints in residential rehabilitation facilities.

He began taking Treament Court seriously after a second friend died from street violence.

“He got shot in the head and I was just thinking… I don’t want that to be me,” Chiromo said.

In his fifteen years overseeing the special docket, Judge Anthony Capizzi explained Montgomery County’s drug court has evolved to meet a growing need for early drug intervention. The program requires participants to take part in comprehensive drug rehabilitiation, in addition to gaining employment and improving family relationships.

“We make them work,” Capizzi said. “And it’s probably the first time in their lives someone has cared enough about them to make them do what they need to do to be successful.”

Thursday’s graduation coincides with National Drug Court Month, coordinated by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Capizzi praises Montgomery County’s program as a cost-effective way of saving lives and preventing future incarceration.

“They have a purpose in life now. And we should all be proud, not just me,” Capizzi said. “We should all as a court and as a community that these young people can e productive members of society and not just be warehoused into jail for the rest of their lives.”

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