STANDing ovation: Court program helps juveniles overcome substance abuse

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– Photo by John Meiu

Judge Karen Braxton (far right) and 3rd Circuit Court staff were pleased to honor the S.T.A.N.D. graduates at the Sept. 2 ceremony.

By Steve Thorpe
Legal News

The 3rd Circuit Court’s Supervised Treatment for Alcohol and Narcotic Dependency (S.T.A.N.D.) program held their graduation on Sept. 2. The ceremony was held at the Detroit Public Library’s main branch on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Judge Karen Braxton leads the S.T.A.N.D. Program and believes that it provides an important alternative to more conventional approaches to juvenile crime.

“We’re finding that incarceration can create a more harsh and angry youth,” Braxton said before the program. “We don’t think that a system of punishment, rather than treatment, is always the best route to go. This is not only more effective, but often it’s cheaper. We’re saving a lot of money and we’re doing a much better job with the kids.”

Braxton was excited that the program has one of its biggest graduating classes ever, 12 of the 40 current participants adding to the 183 alumni who have completed the program since its inception in 2000. Each graduate has been in the program for approximately one year.  If the juvenile successfully completes the program, the original charge may be dismissed, providing the youngster a clean juvenile record.  For some, participation in the program is a condition of probation. The stated goal is to have participants go forward without drug and substance abuse problems.

Chief Judge Robert Colombo of 3rd Circuit Court, which oversees the program, is a strong supporter of the effort.

“It’s a very important part of our court,” he said. “It works with young men and women with substance abuse problems early on. Then they’ll be able to do important things like get an education, get and maintain a job, and avoid ending up in our criminal court system. I’m very proud of this program and the children who participate.”

Michigan Supreme Court Justice David Viviano was a guest speaker and before the program began said that there was a juvenile justice tradition in his family.

“My father and my sister were very involved in the juvenile court system and the drug court in Macomb County, looking out for children and helping our young people get back on the right path,” he said.

All 15 juvenile drug courts in Michigan develop, coordinate and monitor the juvenile’s treatment. Each participant is assigned to a drug court team of probation officer, treatment provider, jurist, and a probation monitor.

In Wayne County, Judge Braxton, Referee Raeigen Woods, and Referee Viola King preside over weekly hearings for their assigned juveniles and also meet with the other treatment team members to ensure each juvenile attends the required group therapy, receives individual counseling, and completes random drug screenings. 

The 3rd Judicial Circuit is the largest circuit court in Michigan, with 58 judges and three operating divisions. The court has jurisdiction over Civil, Criminal, and Family matters arising in Wayne County.
 

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