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First Operation Rio Grande drug court group graduates

FILE PHOTO -- Christine Carlisle hugs her son Adam Carlisle after he graduated during a combined graduation ceremony with all local Drug Courts at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 14, 2018. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The first class Salt Lake County’s Operation Rio Grande drug court is graduating Wednesday.

The 15 people arrested more than a year ago for drug possession and other criminal charges are taking the next step as law-abiding, contributing members of society, according to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

“They’ve shown that they can stick with the program, make the hard choices, and do what it takes to get back on their feet,” says McAdams.

Arrested in the sweeping Operation Rio Grande, the 15 were given the option of drug court, requiring them to enter and complete drug treatment, find a stable place to live, land a job, and become self-reliant. Something of a clean slate is the reward for meeting all the requirements.

“Then the criminal convictions that they were picked up for — kind of depends on a case-by-case basis — but their criminal convictions will be wiped away,” explains McAdams.

McAdams says the road to recovery is hard, some have had setbacks, and not everyone who entered drug court will be graduating with this first group.

“But we hope that they’ll stay with it, and they may have had a relapse, and there are consequences for that relapse, but we are here to help them turn their lives around,” says McAdams.

The graduates will be honored in a ceremony on Wednesday, October 16, 2018, in the Salt Lake County Government Center at 2001 South State Street at 5:30 p.m.