A report issued by the Michigan Supreme Court shows that problem solving courts in the state have substantially reduced recidivism among offenders.
Problem solving courts were recommended in a 2011 report issued by the State Bar of Michigan Judicial Crossroads Task Force. These courts are designed to innovatively address the root causes that bring offenders to the court system.
In the past few years the state has operated trial courts to give Michigan's judiciary a chance to measure the outcomes of problem courts. Three types of courts have run since 2011, including drug courts, mental health courts and veterans treatment courts.
From Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2013, drug courts handled 8,626 cases; about half of the cases were in a sobriety court program and the other half were in district court, juvenile courts or family dependency programs. Those who participated in sobriety court programs did significantly better than those in other programs. While 65 percent of offenders successfully completed sobriety court programs, less than half successfully completed adult circuit and adult district court programs. Recidivism rates among sobriety court participants were more than three times lower than those of their counterparts.
During the same period, 926 offenders participated in eight mental health courts. The recidivism rate for participants in mental health courts was four percent, compared to a 22 percent recidivism among their comparison group in other courts. This program was so successful the Michigan legislature introduced legislation in May of 2013 to codify and fund mental health courts.
Data gathering on the state's eight veterans treatment courts is still ongoing. They follow the drug court model, and incorporate elements of mental health courts to help veterans find sobriety, recovery and stability.
Posted by Samantha Meinke