Definition of Problem Solving Courts –
Problem-solving courts are innovative programs designed to address an offender’s underlying problem. Trial Court Services staff facilitates efficient and comprehensive problem-solving court programs through training, education, planning, evaluation, monitoring, funding opportunities, technical assistance, and establishing operational standards and guidelines.
Source State Court Administrators Office (courts.mi.gov)
Livingston County Specialty Court Programs
Livingston County Courts currently operate seven specialty court programs including Adult Drug Court (est. 1999), Intensive Treatment Mental Health Court (est. 2009), Safe Havens Supervised Visitation & Safe Exchange (est. 2011), Juvenile Drug Treatment Court (est. 2012), Family Treatment Court (est. 2012), Swift & Sure Sanctions Probation Program (est. 2013), and Veterans Treatment Court (est. 2014).Through intensive court supervision, mandatory randomized drug & alcohol testing, access to treatment services, and support from a team of court and treatment professionals, these programs provide participants with the services, resources, and recovery supports in our community that are needed to help participants successfully complete probation, reintegrate as productive members in the community, and avoid new criminal behavior.
Without the support and dedication of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners, the Judges, the Prosecutor’s Office, Michigan Department of Corrections, Livingston County Community Mental Health (CMH), Department of Health and Human Resources, LACASA, the Livingston Family Center, District Court Probation, Livingston County Defense Bar Association, and the many local treatment and service providers that we work with, our specialty court programs would not be possible. This collaborative approach allows for comprehensive process evaluation and performance measurement which ensures the effectiveness of our programs and their ability to positively impact our community.
Why should you care?
Improving Public Safety & Saving County Dollars
Specialty Court Programs improve public safety by closely monitoring participants through intensive probation, enforcing frequent drug and alcohol testing, and requiring participants to attend treatment (substance abuse, mental health, batterer’s intervention, etc). By connecting participants to treatment services, recovery supports, and other human service resources in our community, the court is better able to prepare participants with the tools they need to successfully avoid future criminal behavior and involvement with the criminal justice system. While conducting a program evaluation for Adult Drug Court, we found that 87% of those individuals who successfully graduated from our program between October 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014 did NOT have any new criminal charges since graduation. In looking at what the sentencing guidelines would have been for those individuals had they not successfully completed our program, our County saved an average of $635,400 in jail beds saved when calculated at the average daily rate of $60 per day.
Addressing Disturbing Trends of Drug Use in our Community
According to local statistics published in the Livingston County Human Services Collaborative (HSCB) Spring 2015 Newsletter, heroin overdoses and deaths are on the rise in Livingston County. As of December 5, 2014, Livingston County Law Enforcement has tracked over 31 overdoses and 28 deaths. This is twice the number of deaths from heroin in 2010. The Michigan Automated Prescription System (MAPS), which is used to track prescriptions in the State, shows that Livingston County has one of the highest narcotic prescription rates in the state with an average of between 1-2 narcotic prescriptions per adult in the County, and with approximately 185,596 residents in Livingston County, the number of prescriptions is astronomical. By the time that an individual with a substance abuse disorder comes into contact with the Court, the addiction has already taken over his or her life. The Court can play a significant role in addressing these issues in our community by offering Specialty Court Programs for eligible participants.
Helping Veterans in our Community
Media has recently exposed that it can take an average of 320 days for a veteran to receive an answer after applying for benefits at their VA Hospital (CNN,2014). Our Veterans Treatment Court aims to reduce waiting time and collaborate services. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs (2014), in 2004, one in 10 inmates had served in the military. This means that approximately 200,000 veterans were incarcerated. Our program works to get Veterans in our community the treatment and services they need to avoid life behind bars.
Michigan’s operational veterans’ treatment courts have doubled from eight programs in FY 2013 to 16 in FY 2014 (FY is Fiscal Year). Currently, Michigan leads the nation in the number of veterans’ courts with a total of 22 programs.
Source -The National Council for Behavioral Health (www.thenationalcouncil.org)
“The combination of unemployment, substance abuse and mental health issues and shortage of adequate counseling creates the perfect storm for sending veterans into the criminal justice system”
Source- Dr. Broder, as cited in From PTSD to Prison: Why Veterans Become Criminals The Daily Beast. R. Wolfe, 2013
What have we accomplished?
In 2014, we had a total of 222 individuals and families who participated in our specialty court programs. Looking at our four problem solving courts (Adult Drug Court, Family Treatment Court, IT Mental Health Court, and Juvenile Drug Treatment Court), from October 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014, we see that our programs have a combined successful completion rate of 55.5%, which exceeds the State average. Of those participants who successfully completed these program, 85.7% of them have not reoffended with new criminal charges since discharge.
Michigan’s current 164 problem solving courts are accessible to 97 percent of the state’s population. The Supreme Court is committed to measuring court performance in order to improve outcomes and to service the public.
Livingston County continues to be a leader in specialty court programming and continues to work towards addressing the needs of our community. You may learn more about our successes by visiting the individual program web pages for more information.
Why we need your help
All programs would benefit greatly by receiving additional funding. Although we currently have grant funding from the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) for most of our programs, there are certain expenses that cannot be supported by these state grant funds. Some of those expenses include the following:
Alternative funding would allow us to support participants with these and other services. We would also use additional funding to enhance program operations by increasing program capacity, providing additional treatment options, supporting additional staffing positions, and improving current grant supported services such as transportation for participants and Veteran Mentors, electronic monitoring, individual counseling opportunities, etc.
2016 Michigan Supreme Court Judiciary Budget Cuts
The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) has recently informed us that specialty court programs across the state will be significantly affected by judiciary budget cuts in 2016. Programs may either receive a reduction in grant funding, or elimination of grant funding altogether. Without sufficient grant funding, we may be forced to eliminate key staffing positions, reduce the number of participants that each program can serve, and reduce the services we can provide.
We are grateful for the support we have received from our community and we thank you for helping to make our community a better place through specialty court programming!
Article on the SCAO Website
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Report: Problem-Solving Courts Reduce Crime, Cut Costs to Taxpayers
DETROIT, MI, April 16, 2015 – The report, Solving Problems, Saving Lives, released today by the Michigan Supreme Court says that graduates of drug, sobriety, and mental health treatment courts are substantially less likely to commit another crime. These “problem-solving” 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.