Problem-solving courts reduce crime, cut costs to taxpayers

The report, “Solving Problems, Saving Lives,” released last Thursday by the Michigan Supreme Court says that graduates of drug, sobriety, and mental health treatment courts are substantially less likely to commit another crime. These “problem-solving” courts divert offenders into special programs that provide the treatment and supervision offenders need to stay out of trouble. Avoiding incarceration also generates substantial savings for taxpayers and participants improve their employment status.

“Problem-solving courts are doing much more than solve problems. They are saving lives and saving money,” said Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr.
“The outcomes prove beyond a reasonable doubt that problem-solving courts work.”

“Problem-solving courts are making a difference in the lives of families statewide,” said Justice Mary Beth Kelly. “Graduate by graduate, these courts are strengthening families and building stronger communities.”

For example, the report details that two years after admission to any type of drug court, graduates were 56 percent less likely to be convicted of any new offense. Other highlights include:

• 50 percent of participants in drug courts improved their employment status.
• Participants in mental health courts were 63 percent less likely to be convicted of any new offense after two years.
• Participants in sobriety courts and adult district drug courts were 75 percent less likely to be convicted of any new offense after two years.
• 97 percent of juvenile drug court participants improved their education level.
• 98 percent of mental health court graduates improved their mental health.

During the two-year period covered in Solving Problems, Saving Lives, Michigan drug courts handled 9,154 cases while there were 1,059 participants in mental health courts. Operational veterans treatment courts doubled from eight programs in FY 2013 to 16 in FY 2014. Currently, Michigan leads the nation in the number of veterans courts with 22.

Michigan’s 164 drug, sobriety, veterans, and mental health courts and other nontraditional courts are accessible to 97 percent of the state population.

The Supreme Court is committed to measuring court performance in order to improve outcomes and service to the public.