- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) - The 20th anniversary celebration of the pioneering King County Drug Court was about half over when a famous participant strolled in and took a seat on the front bench.

The audience of drug court graduates and others buzzed at the arrival of Macklemore but the 31-year-old rapper introduced himself Tuesday simply as “Ben.” The Seattle Times reports (https://is.gd/58lqHZ ) he told the crowd about the days when he was simply Ben Haggerty, a 15-year-old Seattle youth struggling with an alcohol and drug problem who ended up in King County’s juvenile drug court.

He told the crowd that, in his words, “Drug court gives people a way to get sober, to heal.”

The program provides eligible defendants with the opportunity to receive drug treatment rather than incarceration.

King County’s was the nation’s 12th drug court when it opened in 1994. Since then, officials say 2,050 defendants have graduated and had their charges dismissed. That’s a completion rate of about 70 percent.

Officials say drug courts are now a widely accepted model. There are more than 2,800 of them around the country, and they save money by treating people who might otherwise be locked up.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com

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