County's Adult Treatment Court continues to make a difference

The June 30, 2009, headline read, "Police: Addiction leads father, son on crime spree." The Springfield Township pair had admitted it was a heroin addiction that had prompted their crimes. They were both facing multiple counts of breaking and entering and larceny. The elder (father) Gregory Baker recalls that this was one of the lowest times of his life and now over 17 months after his sentencing to the Oakland County Adult Treatment Court he is anticipating his successful completion of the program, which cumulates in a commencement ceremony on October 20, 2010. Greg (as he is known to the ATC team) relays his clean date as June 17, 2009, (the day of his arrest) and is verbal of his gratitude in being able to find comfort in completing community service for a local church in an effort to make his amends to the community. Equally important, Greg can now present as a positive role model for his son.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m., the Oakland County Adult Treatment Court will conduct its twenty-sixth graduation since its inception in August of 2001. The eightieth-seventh thru ninety-first graduates will be honored with a ceremony and reception to be held at the Oakland County Commissioners Auditorium attached to the Sixth Circuit Courthouse, located at 1200 North Telegraph Road, Pontiac, Michigan.

The Adult Treatment Court (ATC) has served 315 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.

The ATC team consists of two Oakland County Circuit Court judges. Judge Joan E. Young presides over the male participants and Judge Colleen O'Brien presides over the female participants. Additional members of the ATC team are a defense attorney, a probation officer, a program coordinator, and various treatment providers. While the ATC meets bi-weekly, the team is in daily contact; intensely monitoring and intervening with the programs participants.

The Adult Treatment Court expects participants 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. Notably, the recidivism rates for graduates of the Adult Treatment Court are 37% lower than felons who never participate in the Adult Treatment Court. Additionally, the cost to Oakland County tax payers since inception for ATC has been approximately $100,000. If not for the ATC, potential cost to the county tax payer to incarcerate these offenders would have been $3,500, 000, a cost savings of $3, 400, 000.

An ATC graduate commented that without the Adult Treatment Court "I would have been in prison or dead or killed somebody drunk driving."

O'Brien adds, "The cost associated with alcohol and drug abusing offenders is staggering. The impact on the substances abusers families is profound. Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court is doing its part through the Adult Treatment Court to address these issues and find solutions that will be mutually beneficial to the defendants, their families, victims and the community at large."

To make a donation to either the Adult Treatment Court or the Juvenile Drug Court, the public can do so via the RESTORE Foundation and may contact the chambers of Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Wendy Potts at (248) 858-0365.

Published: Mon, Oct 11, 2010