Problem-Solving/Treatment Courts

Michigan’s problem-solving courts have been extraordinarily successful in solving problems and saving lives. These innovative courts reach 97 percent of our state’s population and help to make communities statewide safer and stronger. Also called treatment courts, they are successful because participants can access treatment and other support needed to address underlying issues affecting persons entering the criminal justice and abuse neglect court systems, specifically, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental illness, and untreated trauma. Unlike traditional courts, problem-solving courts are not adversarial and take a team approach that brings community stakeholders together to reach a “win-win” outcome that prevents further offenses and saves local governments the cost of incarceration. The Cass County Courts have been on the forefront of the problem-solving/treatment court movement and have obtained numerous federal and state grants to provide much-needed services to our Cass County community.

Cass County’s full continuum of problem-solving courts focuses on providing evidence-based responses that work to improve outcomes, restore families, and make our communities safer. For more details about each program, click the links below.

 

ADULT TREATMENT COURT/SOBRIETY COURT

Presiding Judge: Honorable Stacey A. Rentfrow

The Cass County Adult Treatment Court (ATC)/Sobriety Court (SC) has been operational since March 16, 2012. ATC and SC provide an alternative to the traditional court process in criminal cases where substance abuse is a primary presenting factor. ATC and SC are evidence based and trauma informed substance abuse treatment programs.

ATC and SC are committed to improving community safety, transforming lives and changing outcomes for defendants in the criminal justice system who have been diagnosed with drug and/or alcohol dependence, by judicial oversight over the provision of evidence based services through an integrated, court-based collaboration among a diverse group of community service providers, who work as a team, providing individualized, self-directed, and trauma-informed treatment services, holding criminal defendants accountable and providing them with opportunities and skills to live a life of recovery while also keeping the community safe.

For more information, contact Dr. Barb Howes, at 269-313-5094.

CASS MENTAL HEALTH COURT

Presiding Judge: Honorable Mark A. Herman

Mental health courts in Michigan have been established since the late 2000s. Mental health court is modeled after drug court and was developed in response to the overrepresentation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.

In 2014, Berrien County and Cass County collaborated to apply for, and were awarded, a Regional Mental Health Court grant to take the mental health court philosophy more to scale by expanding the mental health court concept into two counties. In 2019, it was unanimously decided by program leadership, including the Chief Judges of Berrien and Cass Counties, to discontinue the Regional Mental Health Court and instead for each county to operate stand-alone mental health courts.

Cass County’s Mental Health Court (CMHC) became operational October 1, 2019. CMHC provides an alternative to the traditional court process in criminal cases where a defendant’s involvement in the criminal system is related to the defendant’s diagnosis with serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, co-occurring disorder, or developmental disability. The CMHC operates pursuant to authority, limitations and requirements set forth in Michigan law, specifically MCL 600.1090-600.1099a.

For more information , contact Dr. Barb Howes, at 269-313-5094.

SWIFT & SURE SANCTIONS PROBATIONS PROGRAM

Presiding Judge: Honorable Mark A. Herman

The Cass County Swift & Sure Sanctions Probation Program (SSSPP) has been operational since 2013. SSSPP is an intensive probation supervision program that targets high-risk felony offenders with a history of probation violations or failures. Governed by MCL 771A.1 et seq., SSSPP is modeled on Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program, which studies have shown to be very successful in improving the rate of successful completion of probation among high-risk probationers.

SSSPP participants are closely monitored, including being subjected to frequent random testing for drug and alcohol use and being required to attend frequent meetings with probation and/or case management staff. SSSPP aims to improve probationer success by promptly imposing graduated sanctions, including small amounts of jail time, for probation violations. Judges in Michigan’s SSSPP courts have reported a reduction in positive drug tests and failures to appear at scheduled meetings with probation officers among their SSSPP participant population.

For more information, contact Dr. Barb Howes, at 269-313-5094.

FAMILY TREATMENT COURT

Presiding Judge: Honorable Susan L. Dobrich

The Cass County Family Treatment Court (FTC) was Cass County’s first problem-solving court. In 2001, Judge Dobrich applied for a federal training grant to bring the family treatment court approach to Cass County. Judge Dobrich was awarded the training grant. Judge Dobrich, Dr. Barbara Howes, and a team of interdisciplinary professionals were trained in “best practices” of the family treatment court model. And as they say, “the rest is history.” FTC has transformed the way we do business in the Courts in Cass County.

FTC provides an alternative to the traditional court process in abuse and neglect cases where parental substance abuse is a primary factor. FTC is an evidence based, family based, and trauma informed substance abuse treatment program.

The traditional court process in abuse and neglect cases, with the traditional prosecutor and defense functions, coupled with standard court procedures and infrequent hearings, often reinforces the participant’s denial of substance abuse issues. The FTC model transforms the roles of those involved in the court process and establishes a coordinated systemic and integrated trauma-informed system of care focusing on sobriety and accountability.

FTC is committed to providing permanency for children who have been abused or neglected through the court system’s identification of and engagement with parents who have been diagnosed with drug and/or alcohol dependence, by judicial oversight over the provision of evidence based services to strengthen the entire family system through an integrated, court-based collaboration among a diverse group of community service providers, who work as a team, providing individualized, self-directed, and trauma-informed treatment services, holding parents accountable and providing parents with opportunities and skills to live a life of recovery while also providing a safe and nurturing environment for their child(ren).

For more information, contact Coordinator, Clarence James, at 517-214-8126.