SEATTLE -- If you want to be inspired, perhaps take an hour and a half and attend a drug court graduation.
Every month graduates complete an intense program where they commit to sobriety over prison time. Certain people who commit non-violent offenses and face felony charges are eligible to commit to an intense, possible multi-year program. If they complete it, they can graduate and have their charges dismissed.
This week another class of grads completed the program, but there was one who stole the show.
Shelby Allen, 22, wrote a rap about his experience and performed it for his fellow graduates Wednesday. Allen is a young man who was facing felony charges for stolen vehicles, crimes he says he committed through a drug-fueled addiction. Now, he’s been sober for nearly a year. He’s working, pursuing his GED, and trying to be a good father. That’s why he wanted to write about his experience in a drug court that changed his life.
“It’s definitely provided a lot of help, and now that I’ve had my help, I’ve got my life on the right path,” Allen said. “And I’ve definitely got support, and I’ve got goals.”
King County Superior Court Judge Cheryl Carey spoke passionately about the program and the transformation that she witnesses in the people who commit to changing their lives.
“They come in they’re dark. They’re sad. They’re angry,” Judge Carey said. “And when they leave it’s what you observed. They’ve reconnected with family and friends. They’ve reestablished with children. People trust them. They have work. They’re not living under the bridge anymore.”
Carey said when the program starts she witnesses many who are broken and feel like they have no hope. She maintains that every time she sees that type of person, she sees a person with potential.
“There’s a saying in a bench book that I have read about drug court. There are many who retire hoping to have some sort of monument, if you will, built for them. For those of us in drug court it’s simply about changing someone’s life that’s what this is about,” Judge Carey said. “The folks that you saw graduate today they are our brothers, our sisters, our grandparents, our neighbors, all of the above. And they now enter into the community as a productive citizen. And they have so much to offer us. It’s fantastic.”
Allen was one of more than a dozen graduates from this month’s drug court class. Every one of his fellow graduates also spoke about their experience, but it ended with Allen performing his rap in front of the whole group.
Macklemore is also a graduate of the drug court program, and Allen hopes the famous rapper takes a minute to listen to his song.
If you’d like to hear the whole song he’s posted it on YouTube.