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Problem-solving courts making Michigan communities safer and stronger, report says

Brian Turner
Flickr Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan's problem-solving courts substantially cut crime and reduce unemployment among their graduates, according to a report released Thursday by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The sobriety, drug, mental health, and veterans courts offer treatment and supervision to non-violent offenders, instead of sending them to prison.

"It gives them a lot of structure, a lot of accountability," said Justice Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court. "For a lot of the graduates, they say this is the first time that they thought somebody really cared.

"These courts do more than just treat their underlying issues, they really put families back together and save the taxpayers money," Larsen said.

The courts' graduates are much less likely to commit another crime after two years, and much more likely to hold a job, according to data in the report. As a result, the high costs of incarceration are avoided and communities are safer and stronger. 

The report says 97% of Michigan's population has access to Michigan's 179 problem-solving courts. And with 23 veterans treatment courts, Michigan has more than any other state.

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