Nearly 50 graduate from county’s reentry program after completing drug and alcohol treatment

WILKES-BARRE — It’s not every day that something at the Luzerne County Courthouse ends in hugs and cheers, but that’s what made Tuesday morning so special.

The county, in conjunction with GEO Reentry Services, honored 48 graduates of the county’s reentry program, a rigorous program for offenders whose crimes stem from drug or alcohol addiction.

Mark Rockovich, director of correctional services for Luzerne County, was the keynote speaker for the graduation.

During his speech, he joked that his first thought when being asked to speak was to come up with an excuse.

“The first thought that came to mind was, ‘How do I get out of this?’”

Rockovich said he firmly believes in the program, saying it’s brought down recidivism rates in the county and cut costs, but still, he was tempted to try to get out of it.

But, he said, it’s this temptation that causes so many problems. He congratulated the graduates for overcoming the excuses.

“I’m pretty sure some of the participants were thinking about their excuses on the first day of the program,” he said. “But the difference between you and the people who didn’t finish the program is that you stopped making excuses.”

The Luzerne County Reentry Service Center, opened in 2010, has held 13 such graduations for program participants who successfully completed a long process of reporting to the center, treatment and ongoing drug and alcohol testing.

Rockovich was already looking ahead to what comes next Tuesday morning.
“There will be choices every day that will shape the way you want to live,” he said. “Some will be very easy, some will be agonizingly painful.”

After Rockovich and two graduating participants in the program spoke, those in attendance were handed their certificate as they were congratulated for taking the first step to getting their life back on track.

Tuesday’s ceremony wrapped up with a brief reception with refreshments, and the graduates enjoyed them beneath the Christmas tree under the courthouse’s rotunda.