“Problem Solving” Courts Have Kinder Justice
According to a recent announcement made by Michigan’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr., a $14 million grant has been awarded for the express purpose of funding “problem solving” courts across the state.
But what is a “problem-solving” court, you may ask? After all, aren’t all courts supposed to solve problems? Well, yes and no. But in this particular case, the “problem-solving” courts that Chief Justice Young was referring to, are the sobriety, mental health and veteran’s affairs courts, of which Michigan is lucky enough to have 122 around the state.
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to discover what Michigan’s “problem solving” courts are all about, then prepare to be amazed. And to have your heart lifted. Because this is what justice actually looks like. Not the “lock you up and throw away the key” type of justice that we are all so accustomed to, but the kinder, more compassionate type of justice. The type that says, “Here, you are obviously struggling, but I can help you up.”
As Chief Justice Young said in his announcement, “These grant programs help problem-solving courts continue to do what they do best: save lives, save money, strengthen families and build stronger communities.”
These court programs focus on rehabilitation, rather than incarceration. Acknowledging the fact that sometimes people make bad choices because they are struggling with substance abuse issues or addiction. And in those situations, what they need is help. A second chance, not a prison cell. An opportunity to find their feet again, discover their dignity, and recover their lives.
Michigan is currently leading the nation in our approach to “problem solving” courts. The last few years have seen great strides in the improvements, efficiency, and results of these courts. Among these results, as listed by Chief Justice Young are things like measuring all court performances in order to adopt the most useful practices. Also, the implementation of technology and the consolidation of court- appointed services that save money and streamline the process.
Problem-solving courts offer counseling, rehabilitation, therapy and a number of other services to those who end up in front of the judges. Instead of incurring the cost of imprisonment, the court monitors and supervises offenders while they participate in programs designed to help them overcome their personal obstacles.
Thus far, it has been shown that offenders who are successfully enrolled in the programs offered through the problem-solving courts have a far lower rate of recidivism. In fact, a study conducted by the state supreme court found that graduates of these court programs are 56% less likely to be arrested again.
For those who are arrested for drunk driving or drugged driving, and are granted the opportunity to enroll in Michigan’s problem solving courts, the outcome can be life-changing. Literally. So we cannot be more glad to know that, going into the next fiscal year, Michigan has once again placed great value on these court programs that are making such a positive impact on people’s lives.