Specialty Court Programs: When Criminal Cases Involve Substance Abuse, Mental Health Disorders

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Specialty courts, or problem-solving courts (PSC), offer judicial programs for nonviolent offenders who have issues with substance abuse and mental health. Specialty courts are exactly what they sound like, specializing in addressing a specific issue with adults and juveniles. Specialty court programs include adult and juvenile mental health courts, adult and juvenile drug courts, and veterans courts. In essence, specialty courts focus on treatment to (a) address an issue and (b) prevent adults and juveniles from reoffending.

There are currently 135 drug and sobriety courts, 42 mental health courts, and 28 veterans courts in Michigan. Trial courts can apply to the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) for different state and federally funded specialty court grants.

Last week the House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on expanding access to specialty courts. Representative Tenisha Yancey, a former prosecuting attorney, from Detroit and Representative David LaGrand, a former defense attorney, from Grand Rapids, co-sponsored a bill that aims to let more participation in specialty courts.

Michigan specialty courts have received $16.7 million for grants for the 2022 fiscal year. In 2020, drug specialty courts saw 68% of participants successfully complete the program. Mental health court participants were two to three times less likely to commit a crime within 3 years after completing the program. And 73% of veterans court participants successfully completed the program.

Specialty courts provide a good vehicle to obtain treatment and to address a crime that has been committed.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, contact Rico Neal of Grewal Law PLLC online or at (888) 211-5798. He can represent you in a criminal case and determine if you’re eligible to participate in a specialty court program. Your consultation is free!

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