By Carl Hessler, Jr.

NORRISTOWN — With the concepts of restorative justice and “second chances” permeating the conversation in a Montgomery County courtroom this week, two young men became the first graduates of an innovative diversionary program aimed at helping non-violent felony drug offenders avoid jail and get their lives back on track.

“I’m sure the shock of the arrest was like, ‘Oh my God what’s going to happen to my life?’ That’s a scary proposition,” county Judge Steven T. O’Neill addressed the men who graduated from the Choice Is Yours program on Monday. “Your futures were not erased. Both of you carry great promise for your futures. It is a proud day.”

O’Neill officially dismissed possession with intent to deliver charges against the men who completed the 13-month diversionary program and who can apply to have their criminal records wiped clean, or expunged, after one year of remaining arrest-free.

“The significance of it is far greater than a piece of paper. The future is bright. The future is yours. Keep making the right choices,” O’Neill addressed the graduates, a 22-year-old N.J. man who was accused of selling marijuana in Collegeville and a 22-year-old Hatboro man accused of selling marijuana to friends in Lower Merion.

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