Michigan problem-solving courts help lower recidivism, unemployment rates




During a live-streamed virtual news conference, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth T. Clement last Thursday announced the publication of the FY 2020 Problem-Solving Courts Annual Report, highlighting the success of Michigan’s 199 problem-solving courts (PSCs). In particular, the report shows that graduates of adult drug court programs were nearly 2 times less likely to be convicted of a new offense within three years of admission to a program. Also worth noting during Alcohol Awareness Month, Aduates were more than 3 times less likely to be convicted of a new offense within three years of admission.

“Even during the pandemic, Michigan’s problem-solving courts have continued connecting with participants and delivering needed services to solve problems and save lives,” said Clement, who serves as liaison to PSCs. “This new data reinforces the amazing work being conducted in these courts to give people who are struggling a second chance, to strengthen families, and to safeguard communities across the state.”

Clement was joined via Zoom in last Thursday’s announcement by these PSC team members and partners:

  • Judge Shannon Holmes, 36th District Specialty Court, Detroit
  • Chief Judge Jocelyn Fabry, Tribal Court, Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Sault Ste. Marie
  • David Wallace, chief assistant prosecuting attorney, Huron County Prosecutor’s Office, Bad Axe
  • Mark Witte, executive director, Allegan County Community Mental Health, Allegan
  • Anthony Jackson, graduate, 36th District Specialty Court, Detroit

Other key report findings:

  • Drop in unemployment of 96 percent for adult drug court graduates and 86 percent for hybrid (drug/sobriety) court graduates.
  • Mental health court (MHC) graduates on average—among adult circuit, adult district, juvenile—were 2-3 times less likely to commit another crime within three years of admission to a program.
  • Drop in unemployment of 71 percent for adult district MHC graduates.
  • Average of 97 percent improvement in mental health status among adult circuit, adult district, juvenile MHC graduates.
  • Average of 96 percent improvement in quality of life among adult circuit, adult district, juvenile MHC graduates.
  • Drop in unemployment of 81 percent among veterans treatment court (VTC) graduates.
  • Michigan remains a national leader with 27 VTCs.

Problem-solving courts focus on providing treatment and intense supervision to offenders as an alternative to incarceration. These include drug and sobriety, mental health, veterans, and other nontraditional courts. The Supreme Court, through its State Court Administrative Office, assists trial court judges in the management of these courts by providing training, education, operational standards, monitoring, certification requirements, and funding. To find out more about PSCs, visit https://courts.michigan.gov/administration/admin/op/problem-solving-courts/pages/default.aspx.

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