Adult Treatment Court celebrates milestone with 50th commencement

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Oakland County Circuit Court Judges Hala Jarbou (far left) and Shalina Kumar (far right) were happy to congratulate the 242nd through the 251st Oakland County Adult Treatment Court (ATC) graduates during the Wednesday, April 5, ATC 50th commencement ceremony and reception held in the Oakland County Commissioners Auditorium at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac.

Photo by John Meiu
 

On Wednesday, April 5, the Oakland County Adult Treatment Court (ATC) commemorated a program milestone with its 50th commencement since its inception in August of 2001. The 242rd through the 251nd graduates were honored with a ceremony and receptionheld in the Oakland County Commissioners Auditorium at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac.

The Adult Treatment Court has served 685 participants to date. The ATC is a four-phase intervention program for non-violent, felony offenders who find it difficult to maintain sobriety.  Without acceptance into the ATC program, these individuals would otherwise be facing a probable sentence of months, if not years, in jail or prison. 

The program’s key elements are: extremely close judicial and community supervision, intense substance-abuse treatment, frequent substance-abuse testing, and a long-term commitment to program requirements. In addition, participants are expected to find and maintain employment, consistently participate in treatment, pay court costs, including restitution to the victims of their crimes, and take responsibility for the support of their children.

Furthermore, if participants are not employed, they are expected to perform a minimum of 20 hours of weekly community service. Some participants have found permanent employment as a direct result of their service to local non-profits. Eight of the ten graduates were unemployed when they entered the program. All are currently gainfully employed on a full-time basis. One actually started his own business.  Additionally, over 2,000 hours of community service have been completed between the ten graduates while in the ATC program. All of the graduates have obtained stable housing and indicated that they have strengthened family relationships.  They have 2,499 combined sobriety days and 2,776 treatment hours, evidence that the program not only engages but maintains the participants in treatment and the recovery process.

The ATC team consists of two judges, Circuit Court?Judge Hala Jarbou, who presides over the male participants, and Circuit Court Judge Shalina Kumar, who presides over the female participants. Additional members of the ATC team include a defense attorney, probation officer, program supervisor, and various treatment providers. While the ATC meets bi-weekly, the team is in daily contact, intensely monitoring and intervening with the program’s participants.

In Michigan it costs on average $35,000 to house an inmate annually in the prison system and over $42,000 to jail them for a year. In contrast, it only costs an average of $5,000 for each ATC participant annually, a cost savings of $29,000 to $37,000 per participant.  

Additionally, according to The National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ website, “Nationwide, for every $1 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone.  When considering other cost offsets, such as savings from reduced victimization and healthcare service utilization, studies have shown benefits range up to $27 for every $1 invested. These cost savings reflect
reduced prison costs, reduced revolving-door arrests and trials, and reduced victimization.”

Further, Nationwide, 75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program. “Rigorous studies examining long-term outcomes of individual Drug Courts have found that reductions in crime last at least 3 years and can endure for over 14 years. The most rigorous and conservative scientific ‘meta-analyses’ have all concluded that Drug Courts significantly reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options.”

More information on the efficacy and cost savings of drug courts can be found at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ website: www.nadcp.org.