Success story: Event highlights work of drug court program


 Photo 1: Several drug court graduates and their family members attended the October 15 program. Pictured (above, l-r) are Tim R., Jodi R., their granddaughter Khloe, Nathan R., and Jesse B., and Rhett B.

Photo 2: A special proclamation recognizing the importance of the drug court program in Oakland County was presented at Tuesday’s reception. Pictured at right are (l-r) Oakland County Commissioner Marcia 
Gershenson, Circuit Court Judge Colleen O’Brien, and County 
Commissioner Jeff Matis.
Photos by John Meiu
By Tom Kirvan
Legal News
Heightening awareness of the drug court program in Oakland County was the underlying purpose of a breakfast reception sponsored by The RESTORE Foundation October 15 at the Iroquois Club in Bloomfield Hills.
The event coincided with the presentation of a proclamation from the Oakland County Board of Commissioners declaring October the month of “Oakland County Adult Treatment Court and Juvenile Drug Court Awareness.” It also served to launch The RESTORE Foundation’s partnership campaign, a fund-raising initiative to drum up private financial support for the Oakland County drug courts, according to retired Judge Edward Sosnick, executive director of the nonprofit organization that was formed in 2008.

“It (presiding over drug court cases) was the hardest and best thing I did during my 24 years as a Circuit Court judge,” said Sosnick, noting that deaths by drug overdoses are the second leading cause of accidental fatalities in the nation, trailing only traffic accidents. “This program restored the lives of kids and their families.”

Several drug court graduates, as well as their parents, offered testimonials on Tuesday to the program’s success, calling it a “life-saver” in many respects. 

Jesse B., one of the drug court graduates, said, “I don’t know where I’d be without the drug court program. I’d probably be dead.”

His father, Rhett, said he was at his wit’s end with his son’s substance abuse problems, searching “high and low” for help until the drug court treatment option materialized.

“It’s a program built on compassion, caring, and love,” he said of the drug court. “Nothing else was working for my son, but this program did. It has given us hope again.”

Nathan R., another drug court graduate and the father of an infant daughter, also spoke at the event, stating that the program taught him the importance of “reliability” and “accountability,” two qualities that had been missing in his life.

“These people (involved in the drug court) are family,” he said. “I am thankful and grateful for everything they did for me, for having faith in me.”

His parents, Jodi and Tim, expressed their gratitude as well, saying they were “desperate for help” more than a year ago as their 17-year-old son’s life spiraled seemingly out of control, calling it a “hellacious struggle” to steer him in the right direction.

The drug court program in Oakland County was created in 2001 in “response to the tremendous increase in the number of people jailed for drug-related offenses,” according to Judge Sosnick. When funding for the courts was cut as a result of Michigan’s prolonged economic troubles, The RESTORE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, was created to help bridge the funding gap.

Drug court officials note that it costs approximately $35,000 to house a prison or jail inmate for one year. In contrast, drug treatment court costs $5,000, they indicated. Since their inception, the treatment courts have “achieved significant milestones in addition to substantial savings for taxpayers,” Judge Sosnick told the Tuesday gathering, which included Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and County Commissioners Jeff Matis and Marcia Gershenson.

Currently, the Adult Treatment Court has 65 participants in the program, including 37 males and 28 females. The ATC has admitted 485 participants since the program was founded 12 years ago with 144 graduates.

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