Oakland County Adult Treatment Court celebrates the graduation of seven participants

On Wednesday, April 16, 2014, at 2 pm, the Oakland County Adult Treatment Court (ATC) will hold its 38th graduation since its inception in August of 2001. The 160th through the 167th graduates will be honored with a ceremony and reception to be held in the Oakland County Commissioners Auditorium, Oakland County Courthouse, 1200 North Telegraph, Pontiac, Michigan.

Amanda, then 15, feeling abandoned and lacking self-esteem, began using marijuana. By age 16 she was regularly abusing heroin. Six years later, after her boyfriend died of an overdose, Amanda, grief stricken and attempting to yet again numb her emotions, overdosed herself. Found on the streets in Detroit hallucinating, she was in ICU for weeks; luckily she survived. Her overdose occurred on May 30, 2013. Clean since then, Amanda, now 23, has found a home at Grace Centers of Hope, in Pontiac, Michigan, all the while participating in the Adult Treatment Court. She relays that she wants others to know that “No matter what the obstacles, it (recovery) is achievable.” She is not only actively involved in community service work, but she has completed a half marathon and is training for the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October. Amanda is articulate, grateful and giving back to the community. She plans on pursuing an EMT career to help others in crisis. When asked what she would tell others about her experience in ATC, her voice filled with emotion said, “I am grateful ATC did not give up on me.”

Amanda is one of seven of the newest graduates of Oakland County Adult Treatment Court, a program that provides treatment and structure to drug addicts/alcoholics whom jail, prison and probation have failed to help.

The Adult Treatment Court (ATC) has served 508 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. In addition, the participants are expected 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. Furthermore, if participants are not employed they are expected to perform a minimum of 20 hours of community service weekly. In 2013 alone, ATC participants completed 10,320 hours of community service. It should be noted that some of the participants have found permanent employment as a direct result of their service to local non-profits.

The ATC team consists of two judges: The Honorable Joan E. Young, who presides over the male participants, and the Honorable Colleen O’Brien, who presides over the female participants. Additional members of ATC team include a defense attorney, probation officer, a program supervisor and various treatment providers. While the ATC meets bi-weekly, the team is in daily contact, intensely monitoring and intervening with the program’s participants. Notably, the recidivism rates for graduates of the Adult Treatment Court are 37% lower than felons who never participate in the Adult Treatment Court.

According to 2013 figures, in Michigan it costs $34,423 to incarcerate an inmate annually ($94.31 per day). In contrast, it only costs $5,146.00 for each ATC participant annually; a cost saving of $29, 277.00 per participant. Additionally, according to The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) website, “Nationwide, for every $1.00 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone. When considering other cost offsets such as savings from reduced victimization and healthcare service utilization, studies have shown benefits range up to $27 for every $1 invested. These cost savings reflect reduced prison costs, reduced revolving-door arrests and trials and reduced victimization.”

Judge Colleen O’Brien adds: “The cost associated with alcohol and drug abusing offenders is staggering. The impact on the substance abuser’s family 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, the victims and the community at large.”

For further information about this program, please contact Jacqueline Howes-Evanson at (248) 452-2154.  

About Sarah Hovis

Word manipulator, arts appreciator, sports spectator, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at [email protected].

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