It’s not every day you hear applause in a courtroom, laughter, or even rap.
But things were very different Wednesday in one King County Courtroom, where dozens gathered to celebrate the latest graduates of King County’s groundbreaking drug diversion court.
It’s a day prosecutor Dan Satterberg always looks forward to.
“I’ve never been happier to dismiss a bunch of cases than I’m going to do right now,” Satterberg told the crowded courtroom.
“People sometimes think, for the prosecutor, you dismiss a case that means you lose, right? Not today. I think today we all win,” he said.
Satterberg has been a long-time advocate for the program. The idea is simple, but revolutionary. Rather than getting sent to prison or jail, a handful of felony offenders are given the chance to enroll in a rigorous diversion program. If they fulfill all the requirements, the charges against them are dropped.
Drug courts have been studied extensively and are now in use in over 2,500 jurisdictions nationwide. While it can cost upwards of $25,000 a year to keep a prisoner behind bars, the diversion program returns about $7 to taxpayers for every $1 invested, Satterberg said.
“More than just dollars we reclaim lives that were otherwise lost to drug addiction,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed as graduates shared their personal stories during the ceremony, many detailing reclamation of lost lives, families and jobs.
Alex Cotter was sleeping in an abandoned tow truck in Burien 19 months ago. He was homeless, hopeless, and hungry.
“I had no more fight left in me.

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