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'Hard work, dedication' help 2 graduate James Valley Drug and DUI Court

James Shaw said he's happy he got his most recent DUI, because without it, he's not sure if he ever would have gotten treatment.

In April of 2016, Shaw had been released from prison in Nebraska for his fourth DUI. After his release, he came to South Dakota, where he was eventually arrested again.

"The only difference between this and my other DUIs was that for this one, I got treatment and not punished," Shaw said.

Shaw was 199 days sober when he and Ronald Wells graduated from James Valley Drug and DUI Court Thursday afternoon at the Davison County Public Safety Center.

Wells, who said living on a reservation before he went to drug court had contributed to his substance abuse, had been sober since his last relapse 401 days prior. He thanked his girlfriend and his son for helping him through the program.

Wells and Shaw were commended by the ceremony's keynote speaker, retired State Supreme Court Justice Lori Wilbur, who explained why the words "all rise" are symbolic in drug court.

"'All rise' describes how, instead of casting out an addict, drug court helps people change their lives," Wilbur said in reference to the words that are on the coin every participant receives at their first drug or DUI court session and which three new participants got Thursday. "Because of what you've done, all of us here in this room, we all rise."

James Valley Drug Court was opened in August 2013 and accepted its first participant two months later. In 2014, the court added a DUI program.

For Shaw, that program was not easy.

"I love talking, but I hate talking about feelings," he said.

Judge Chris Giles said that although Wells and Shaw have very different demeanors, he was happy to see them both reach the same goal.

"Ronald is a quiet person, a man of few words, but he tells the truth and tells it like it is. James is not a quiet person, and he also tells it like it is," Giles said. "They have both impressed me with their hard work, their dedication, the challenges that life has thrown at them and that they've been able to work through them."

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