One North Dakota Judge tells us 90 percent of the cases or more, that he sentences, involve drugs or alcohol.
KX News has the story of how a South Central District Judge took matters into his own hands (well, his feet really).
Five years ago, David Reich started Runners Against Destructive Decisions, or RADD, to give those working on recovery, or through probation, something else positive to work toward. The idea took off, because, when you’re out there running, there’s no telling who is the judge, or police chief, or who is in recovery.
“They’re not addicts, they’re not felons, they’re just people, they’re just runners,” explained Reich.
He and the RADD team meet at the YMCA every Saturday morning, to support each other, run the distance, and even catch a sunrise together.
“I originally started running because my addiction counselor proposed the idea. You know, I was desperate to change, so when you’re desperate to change, you’re willing to try anything, so I took her up on the offer and I showed up and I found out it was a judge and I probably would’ve never shown up if I knew that,” shared two-year member Joseph Jahner.
He says in the end, it’s Judge Reich, or “judge” as they call him on the run, that kept him coming back.
“Going the extra mile to try and make a difference. You don’t have many people in his position doing that, so yeah, the judge is a heck of a guy,” Jahner said.
“It makes everything a little more meaningful when you sentence people. It makes me a better judge, and maybe a better person. You see people as people, and you realize that people with addiction, it’s not a lot of times who that person is. You’re seeing the problems created by the addiction and not really who the person is,” added Reich.
Judge Reich says the main reason so many people with addiction end up back in the system, is they go back to the same environment. He says, sometimes, a change of scene is all you need.
“So it’s a very level playing field, and I think for people who have to deal with the stigma of being labeled their whole life, it’s a big deal,” he shared.
Reich says this is how we break down barriers. This is how we create real change.
“I was introduced to a whole new world where people are so positive and encouraging, and encouraging to others, that they don’t even know it. I didn’t even know people like that existed, you know,” exclaimed Jahner.
RADD is open to everyone. In fact, they put on the Santa Run every year in Bismarck to raise money for the group.
So if you’re in the mood to put on a Santa suit, the run will take off at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 14th from the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum.
Click here to sign up until the 13th. You can sign up the day of, but they may run out of Santa suits.