Adult Treatment Court celebrates its 48th commencement as Judge Young nears retirement

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m., the Oakland County Adult Treatment Court (ATC) will hold its 48th graduation since its inception in August of 2001. The 224th through the 232nd graduates will be honored with a ceremony and reception to be held in the Oakland County Commissioners Auditorium, Oakland County Courthouse, 1200 North Telegraph in Pontiac.

Not only will this ceremony commemorate the program’s 48th commencement, it is the last commencement that Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Joan Young will preside over.  Young will be retiring at the end of 2016 after serving as the Adult Treatment Court judge since 2002.  “Judge Young has been an outstanding leader in the Adult Treatment Court and dedicated so much of her time to helping those suffering from addiction which so often leads them to commit criminal acts,” stated Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Shalina Kumar, who oversees the female participants of the ATC.  “She has been an exceptional colleague and will be greatly missed.  We wish Judge Young a very enjoyable retirement.” Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Hala Jarbou will take over Judge Young’s ATC caseload after the commencement.

The Adult Treatment Court has served 652 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, the participants are expected to find and maintain employment, consistently participate in treatment, pay court costs, including restitution to the victims of their crimes, and, of course, 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 of the participants have found permanent employment as a direct result of their service to local non-profits. All nine graduates were unemployed when they entered the program. Currently, eight have full-time employment and the ninth is completing 40 hours of community service each week. Additionally, the nine graduates have 2,532 combined sobriety days and 6,319 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: Joan E. Young, who presides over the male participants, and 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 incarcerate an inmate annually.  In contrast, it only costs an average of $5,000 for each ATC participant annually, a cost saving of $29,000 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. More information on the efficacy and cost savings of drug courts can be found at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals’ website:

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