Michigan’s Specialty Courts Making a Huge Impact

Michigan's Specialty Courts

“Michigan can’t incarcerate its way out of crimes of addiction.” – Eaton County District Judge Harvey Hoffman as reported by the Detroit Free Press

“Problem-solving courts are making a difference in the lives of families statewide. Graduate by graduate, these courts are strengthening families and building stronger communities.” ~ Justice Mary Beth Kelly as reported by the The Detroit News

It is a great tragedy when someone is in need of help and is not only unable to receive that help but is also punished. The mental health and sobriety needs of our veterans and our community of former offenders is real and present in our justice system.

Michigan has specialty courts and they have been making an impact on our community. According to the Detroit News, the courts are targeted at veterans and former substance abusers.

A recent report found that these specialty court programs are helping ex-offenders get on the right path and keep them out of trouble.

Allow me to make one quick clarification; these specialty court programs are not for violent offenses.

They are targeted at drug, sobriety, and mental health issues. What we have recently learned is that graduates of these programs are less likely to commit another crimes.

The Detroit News reported Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert R. Young Jr. said that these are “problem-solving courts” and that they are “saving lives and saving money”.
Statistics From the Report

The Detroit News wrote an article, which has already been referenced in this article, that details what the report found. The information is vital to those faced criminal charges with mental health or substance abuse needs. Here is what the report found,

  • • “Graduates of drug courts were 56 times less likely to be convicted of a new offense.”
  • • “Those who attended sobriety courts and adult district drug courts were 75 percent less likely to be convicted of a new offense after being in the program after two years of participation.”
  • • “98 percent of mental health court graduates improved their mental health.”
  • • “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.”
  • • “97 percent of juvenile drug court participants improved their education level.”

Over the last 2 years, 9,154 of these types of cases were handled state wide. Mental health courts alone handled 1,059 participants.

According to an article by The Oakland Press, Michigan is leading the nation with 22 specialty veteran courts. The state of Michigan has all together 164 drug, sobriety, veteran, and mental health courts. In additional other nontraditional courts are available and accessible to 97% of Michigan residents.

In the same article by The Oakland Press, one the coming graduates story is told. His story of rehabilitation is amazing. David went from being “miserable, overweight, distrusted, and hopeless.” He will be graduating next month from the opiate court at the 52-1 District Court in Novi.

David has now been sober for 17 months and has lost 70 lbs. He runs 30 miles a week. He regain the trust of his family, has money, goals, a girlfriend, and a baby girl. He is also back in school for physical therapy.

Take Away

If you or someone you know is in need of mental health or substance abuse needs and is facing criminal charges, make sure they get the real help the need.