Celebrating May as National Drug Court Month, the 51st District Court continues to work hard to make a difference in Waterford and neighboring communities. Joined by over 2,900 other treatment court programs nationwide, the 51st District Court’s Sobriety Court and Veterans Treatment Court programs remain committed to helping addicted and mentally ill offenders avoid jail, engage in life-saving treatment, find the chance to repair their lives, and travel the road to long-term recovery. Treatment courts are now considered the foundation of criminal justice reform and the most effective strategy to reduce substance abuse, crime and recidivism while saving taxpayers money.
Drug courts return $27 to the community for every $1 spent on the program. An estimated $3.19 is saved for every $1 invested in Driving While Impaired courts, specifically. The Sobriety Court program at the 51st District Court has been in operation since February 14th, 2001, thus saving the community an incredible amount of money in the 15+ years it has been in existence. The idea that it is more effective to hold offenders accountable and keep them engaged in treatment long enough to be successful has reversed the past trend of increasing recidivism.
Waterford Township’s Sobriety and Veterans Court programs not only service individuals who offend in our community, but we accept transfer cases from neighboring communities, as well, who either do not have treatment court programs in place, or whose defendants are not eligible for those programs. Our Veterans Court began accepting transfer cases shortly after its inception on July 31st, 2013. This collaboration with several other communities has resulted in 24 (soon to be 29) successful veteran graduates, several of whom have remained involved as mentors.
The numbers do not lie; treatment courts are making a difference. More than 1.4 million Americans have successfully graduated from a treatment court program, and 150,000 are served by treatment courts annually. Recidivism rates for participants who successfully complete these programs are drastically reduced, which illustrates that treatment courts assist offenders in making the necessary changes to stay out of the system for good, a feat many never thought possible. These innovative, evidence-based treatment programs prove that treatment is far more effective than punishment. The time has come to reap the economic and societal benefits of expanding this proven budget solution to all those in need.