Report: 'Problem-solving' courts are working

Graduates of drug, sobriety and mental health treatment courts are substantially less likely to commit another crime, according to a report released recently by the Michigan Supreme Court.

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

These 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, court officials say.

Justice Mary Beth Kelly said the courts are making a difference in the lives of families statewide.”

“Graduate by graduate,” she said, “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 the report “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 fiscal year 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 along with other nontraditional courts are accessible to 97 percent of the state population.

The report noted “the success of Michigan’s problem-solving courts in reducing recidivism is a notable achievement.”

As examples, it cited:

• Two years after admission to any type of drug court, graduates had less than half the recidivism rate for an alcohol or drug offense of comparison group members.

• After two years, adult district court participants had recidivism rates for alcohol or drug offenses more than four times lower than their comparison counterpart. Sobriety court participants had recidivism rates more than three times lower than their comparison counterparts for alcohol or drug offenses.

• Mental health court graduates had nearly three times lower recidivism rates than the comparison group members when evaluated after two years of admission into a program. Further results showed that lower recidivism rates among mental health court participants were still statistically significantly different even after five years of admission to mental health court programs. Moreover, virtually all participants improved their mental health and quality of life, and more than one-third improved their employment status.

Macomb County has adult circuit court and district court drug court programs, a sobriety court program, a juvenile drug treatment court, a veterans treatment court and a mental health court.
 

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