Drug Offender Turned Defense Attorney

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- One woman from Luzerne County has made quite a comeback after run-ins with the law as a teenager. She went from treatment court to defense attorney.

Defense attorney Jessica Miraglia stood tall as she addressed a courtroom full of participants in Luzerne County's treatment court, a therapeutic program for nonviolent crime offenders to complete instead of jail time.

At the program's August graduation ceremony, Miraglia was asked to give a keynote speech, but said her introduction left out a small detail.

"Let me tell you something not on my resume and what the judge didn't tell you. My name is Jessica and I'm an addict."

Miraglia says she was part of the first graduating class of Luzerne County's treatment court in 2006 and is now a defense attorney in the Luzerne County Department of Conflict Counsel.

"I'm actually the first speaker at a treatment court graduation that's not just a government official. Typically, you are read off a bunch of statistics about how great the people in treatment court have done since graduation. Today's the first time everybody got to see the statistic. I was always the number that they read off and here I am as a person. I think that means a lot to people," Miraglia said.

The graduates were not comfortable going on camera, but when some of them addressed the ceremony, they echoed Jessica's sentiments about the importance of the program.

"I want to give people hope. I want them to know that they can do it, if I can do it they can do it."

Jessica says she owes her success to her defense attorney who pushed for her to get in the program many years ago.

That's why she's decided to do the same for other people who find themselves in the same place she found herself in.

"When I first got arrested, he was the one person that always believed in me and never gave up on me and with that, it got me to where I was today."


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