Michigan Supreme Court awards more than $12 million to drug/sobriety courts statewide

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Adult Treatment Court

The Oakland County Adult Treatment Court (ATC) conducted its 56th graduation since its inception in August of 2001. The 292nd through the 310th graduates were honored with a ceremony and reception held Wednesday, Oct. 3, in the Oakland County Commissioners’ Auditorium at the Oakland County Courthouse in Pontiac. This ATC class of 19 was additionally honored in that Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement (center) was present to congratulate the graduates on their achievements. On hand to welcome Clement to the ceremony were (left to right) Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Hala Jarbou and Chief Judge Shalina D. Kumar.

The Michigan Supreme Court recently announced that it has awarded more than $12 million in grants to 80 courts statewide to fund the operation of drug and sobriety court programs during Fiscal Year 2019. Extensive follow-up analysis shows that in Fiscal Year 2017, adult drug court graduates were more than three times less likely to commit another crime after two years and unemployment among adult drug court graduates was reduced by 100 percent.

“I could not be prouder of the proven track record of Michigan’s drug and sobriety courts. They are not only drastically reducing recidivism rates and saving taxpayer dollars, but more importantly, they are saving lives and strengthening our communities,” said Justice Elizabeth T. Clement, MSC liaison to problem-solving courts, at an Oct. 3 graduation ceremony at the Oakland County Adult Treatment Court in Pontiac. “Funding these effective and life-changing programs is a huge win for our state.”

Additional drug and sobriety court findings in the FY 2017 MSC report, “Solving Problems, Saving Lives,” include:

• Hybrid (drug/sobriety) court graduates were more than two times less likely to commit another crime after two years.

• Sobriety court graduates were more than five times less likely to commit another crime after two years.

• Family dependency court graduates were more than two times less likely to commit another crime after two years.

• Ninety-one percent of sobriety court graduates who used ignition interlock devices successfully completed a program.

• Sobriety court graduates who used an ignition interlock device were seven times less likely to commit another crime after two years.

• Unemployment was drastically reduced:
   —By more than 75 percent among sobriety court graduates.
   —By more than 60 percent among hybrid (drug/sobriety) court graduates.

In addition to funding, the Supreme Court provides these courts with operational support and resources, including a newly-updated manual on state certification requirements and educational programming.

Problem-solving courts are nontraditional programs that focus on nonviolent offenders whose underlying medical and social problems have contributed to recurring contacts with the criminal justice system.

Performance of problem-solving courts is tracked as part of a broader performance measures initiative to monitor court performance statewide. Data collected is used to identify and share best practices and to target areas that need improvement.

Oakland County’s ATC has served 782 participants to date with its sentencing alternative for non-violent felony offenders with serious substance abuse problems. This program addresses the underlying substance abuse problems that lead many offenders to engage in criminal behavior. Beyond the extremely close judicial and community supervision and the intense substance-abuse treatment, frequent substance abuse testing is required. In addition, the participants are expected to find and maintain employment, pay court costs, including restitution to the victims of their crimes, and take responsibility for the support of their children.

– Photos by John Meiu

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