by Elizabeth Wehman, editor

SEVERAL KEY INDIVIDUALS are responsible for getting the newly formed “Drug Court” up and running at the 35th Circuit Court of Michigan. Along with Judge Matthew J. Stewart and Prosecuting Attorney Deana Finnegan, several people make up the Drug Court team, as shown here, and include: (in no particular order) Drug Court Defense Attorney Matt McKone, several probation/parole officers from the Michigan Department of Corrections, Dr. William Morrone, Counselors Kim Christensen and Janice Eickholt, Greg Love from Community Mental Health, Tamie Wilson from the Shiawassee County Jail, Drug Court Administrator Krissi Lab, Research Attorney Gregory Gietzen, and Drug Court Case Manager Brenda Polk.

   Many of these have given up personal time to review guidelines, go over details, become trained in the new program and initiate the start of Drug Court at the courthouse. (Courtesy Photo)

 

Only seven counties in the State of Michigan do not have drug courts. Now there are only six. On Wednesday, April 13, two young men went from being dependents in jail to participants of a new program now underway at the 35th Circuit Court of Michigan’s Shiawassee County Courthouse. It’s called, “Drug Court,” and the participants in the program have a more positive, hopeful future thanks to the work of many compassionate people wanting to make a difference in lives.

The mission of the program is to, “break generational cycles of regional criminality related to substance abuse and addiction and to enhance the quality of life throughout Shiawassee County.” The Honorable Matthew J. Stewart had this to say about the first session of Shiawassee County Drug Court, “For all of us, this is a good thing. It’s a historic day. There is nothing I hate more than to send a 22 year old to prison.” Chief Prosecuting Attorney Deana Finnegan added, “This is an opportunity of a lifetime. You (speaking of the young men) now have the opportunity to be productive to society.”

For the two young men participating in the program, if they are successful, they may avoid prison sentences, but most importantly, become drug free. Requirements to participate include not being a risk to the public nor violent offenders. After two years in the program, if they are successful, these young men will be able to graduate and along the way earn incentives or if they violate the rules, earn sanctions. One sanction could be termination from the program designed to help them.

Participants in the program have plead guilty as charged, are sentenced, and ordered to probation – with drug court as the largest piece of probation conditions. They will be under the supervision of the local Michigan Department of Corrections Parole and Probation Office. An agent will be assigned to each drug court participant with whom they will have regular scheduled meetings and random home calls. Participants will also be required to submit eight random drug urinalysis tests per month, as requested.

An office for the Recovery Pathways, LLC (the Drug Court treatment provider) will be located across the street from the courthouse and will be opening on Monday, April 18 for the first two participants from Wednesdays first Drug Court. Each participant must pass five stages of treatments.

One of Wednesday’s participants had this to say about his upcoming challenge, “I want to do this. You gotta want to do this. I missed my son’s birthday, I don’t want to miss any more of them.” Judge Stewart added, “This program is going to be tough.” Even adding, “It might be easier for you to just stay in prison.” But Attorney McCone said, “We want you both to move forward. We want to help you. This will take work and you must participate with vigor.” Both men agreed to do their best and profusely thanked everyone for the chance.

First Drug Court for Shiawassee County was last modified: April 18th, 2016 by Karen Elford