Michigan Problem-Solving Courts

By Kanika Ferency posted 07-29-2019 10:43


Michigan has more than 188 problem-solving courts, which address drug addiction, mental health treatment, and veterans issues. The purpose of these courts is to “offer an alternative to imprisonment for nonviolent criminal offenders by using a therapeutic jurisprudence model.” PSCs target frequent offenders who are in and out of the criminal justice system largely due to various underlying issues contributing to the initial crime and recidivism. The approach is much more holistic. Eligibility to participate and possible treatment plans in a PSC vary depending on the type and focus of the specialty court. Here are some examples of PSCs:

  • Veterans treatment court

Veterans treatment court serves military veterans and sometimes active duty personnel. The veterans courts promote sobriety, recovery, and stability by involving community and statewide partners. The factors for eligibility are outlined in MCL 600.1206(1). The treatment plan can involve substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and mentorship. In 2018, of the 241 veterans who participated, 71 percent successfully completed the program. Here is a list of the various veterans treatment courts in Michigan.

  • Drug treatment court

Drug treatment court is for individuals who abuse or are dependent on any controlled substance or alcohol. MCL 600.1060(c). The factors for eligibility are outlined in MCL 600.1068(1). These specialty courts promote periods of abstinence and a reduction of relapse, re-arrest, and incarceration. In 2018, of the 2,984 participants in drug treatment courts, 65 percent successfully completed the program. Here is a list of the various drug courts in Michigan.

  • Mental health court

The mental health court provides select defendants with mental illness with judicially supervised, community-based treatment. The factors for eligibility are outlined in MCL 600.1093(1). The types of treatment are dependent on the individual but can involve periodic assessments, periodic and random testing for the presence of any nonprescribed controlled substance or alcohol, and mental health services and education. In 2018, of the 625 participants in the mental health courts, 57 percent successfully completed a program. Here is a list of the various mental health courts in Michigan.

Beyond the statewide problem-solving courts, your city or county may provide other types of specialty courts. Some of these specialty courts deal with issues involving domestic violence, homelessness, human trafficking, sobriety, and truancy. Be sure to look at your local court’s website to see whether any of your clients are eligible to transfer their cases to a specialty court.