By Graham Sturgeon, co-editor
Circuit Court Judge Matt Stewart announced during the Shiawassee Community Corrections Advisory Board’s Tuesday, Feb. 16 meeting that the Shiawassee County Drug Court is slated to see its first patients April 13, with the court’s orientation being held at 1:30 p.m. March 3, at the Circuit Court Building in Corunna.
The court will target non-violent offenders who have drug problems, excluding those convicted of manufacturing or delivering. Judge Stewart said the court’s incentive-based program will give drug users the chance to avoid prison time by completing a strict recovery program, which will feature treatment as a substitute for incarceration.
The court recently chose Catholic Charities of Owosso as the treatment provider, and Recovery Pathways of Perry as the provider of non-opiate medication. The court will utilize the drug Vivitrol to treat drug dependence. The drug is used in place of Suboxone and Methadone, which patients often develop addictions to, and the drug is said to prohibit street drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine from having any affect on the patient for up to 30 days.
Drug court patients will be tested regularly, will attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings every day, and will receive therapy to combat addiction.
Judge Stewart and his staff are excited about the upcoming drug court and are anxious to “catch up with the rest of the state” by offering treatment options that could potentially limit felony drug convictions. Stewart hopes the patients “take their sobriety home with them,” and spread the positive effects of the drug court to their friends and family.
In conjunction with the drug court, the community corrections board is also exploring grant funding to enhance the county’s substance abuse treatment options. Shiawassee County Parole/Probation Administrator Kim Eisenbeis outlined programs the county is considering, and briefly explained the grant process. The programs include the Baker College GED/Pathways program and Baker College vocational training programs.
Eisenbeis reported that 2016 grant information is not yet available, but that she believes the deadline for application submission is May 1. The board agreed to reconvene at noon on Tuesday, April 19, at which time Eisenbeis will present the completed grant application for the board to approve.