Veterans Treatment Court added in eastern U.P.

The drug court program for non-violent offenders in Schoolcraft and Alger Counties has been expanded.

District Judge Mark Luoma, Circuit Judge William Carmody and Probate Judge Charles Nebel have announced the addition of a Veterans’ Treatment Court.  The new component will integrate treatment modalities with criminal case processing.

“Veterans often experience a high level of exposure to traumatic events during their service to our country,” said Judge Luoma, “and that makes the issues faced in sobriety court more difficult to address. Veteran offenders often faces issues, such as PTSD or depression. The treatment programs will be specific to veterans’ needs. The Veterans’ Administration currently offers a multitude of services and the courts will work ‘hand in hand’ with them in fashioning a treatment plan. These services are at no expense to the participant and address addiction, psychological, medical, transportation, and other veterans’ needs.”

The purpose of the new court concept is to reduce the occurrence of repeat offenders. Court officials say individuals who have addictions tend to end up in the criminal justice system on a repeat basis. The drug court addresses the problem with intensive counseling and probation supervision by mandating frequent drug or alcohol testing. National studies have verified drug and alcohol treatment courts’ effectiveness. They indicate that, since its inception 25 years ago, 75% of drug court participants are never arrested again.

Michigan law supports the concept. There are 84 treatment courts in 40 counties.

Schoolcraft and Alger Counties started their own version in 2008 and have been supervising eligible drug and alcohol offenders pursuant to state law requirements ever since.

“Treating the underlying causes of criminal behavior has been our goal,” remarked Judge Carmody.

“Once those issues are addressed, offenders are much less likely to re-offend. Moreover, once that individual has made decisive changes, those changes also positively affect family and friends. Consequently, the participant is transitioned into a new lifestyle and is further self-motivated to avoid relapse. While the decision to abuse substances is an individual one, the drug and alcohol courts provide the participant with the tools to maintain sobriety,” added Judge Nebel. “Now that we have implemented the veterans’ treatment component to the program, eligible veterans will be professionally assessed to identify the services they need in order to identify problems and determine the best course of treatment. “