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Report: Michigan 'problem-solving' courts lowered unemployment and recidivism rates for 2022

Judge's gavel on table in office
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Judge's gavel on table in office

Michigan’s “problem-solving" courts are lowering unemployment and recidivism rates, according to a 2022 annual report.

"Problem-solving" courts remediate non-violent offenders through holistic and targeted treatment plans, instead of jail time.

Eligible individuals undergo long-term physical, mental, and behavioral health monitoring while receiving social support through peer mentorship.

In the last fiscal year, Michigan showed a reported 99% average improvement in mental wellbeing and 95% average improvement in quality of life among program graduates.

"If we are talking about correction, I think it's really helpful to make sure that people are getting the support that they need to be productive citizens,” said Justice Kyra Bolden, the state's Supreme Court liaison to ‘problem-solving’ courts. “I think it helps everyone when we have these types of programs and so people can move on and be productive citizens."

The initiative consists of specialized courts that help offenders with mental illness, substance-use disorders, alcohol dependence, and veterans-specific needs.

Among drug, sobriety, and veterans courts, unemployment rates dropped by over 80% across the board.

Additionally, mental health, sobriety, and veterans court graduates were all found to be less likely to reoffend within three years of joining the program.

"If a veteran has PTSD or someone suffers from addiction, incarcerating them may not be the best path forward,” said Justice Bolden. “Putting these individuals in different programs where they can be supported and avoid incarceration…is what we need."

Bolden says "problem-solving" courts have shown to be a more effective solution than incarceration.

Priya Vijayakumar started her Newsroom Internship in January 2023. She is interested in science/health reporting and making the facts more accessible to all!
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