Nearly 600 defendants have participated in the drug and alcohol abuse treatment program in the 48th District Court located in Bloomfield Hills and, if the feedback court officials receive from those who go through it is any indication, it’s living up to its goals of getting people the help the need to kick addiction.
“The majority of people that come through the court make it through this program. One of our success measurements is the evaluations we get from the defendants and (treatment) providers,” said James Harkins, administrator of the 48th District Court, which also serves the lakes area communities of West Bloomfield Township and Orchard Lake. “The letters alone define our program as successful.”
One of the three district court judges — Diane D’Agostini, Kimberly Small or Marc Barron — sentence defendants to participate in the program, which requires them to abstain from drug and alcohol use and participate in daily and random drug and alcohol testing.
For the random drug and alcohol testing, defendants — who are assigned a random color — are referred to the Jail Alternative for Michigan Services (JAMS) organization. On a daily basis, they are required to call the local JAMS hotline and “when that color is called, the defendants are required to report for testing,” Harkins said.
Defendents are also required to submit to drug and alcohol testing while traveling.
Participants in the program, which has been in place “for 10 years at least,” Harkins said, are also required to earn a GED if they don’t already have one or a high school diploma; maintain employment; be current in all their financial obligations, including court fees and restitution to victims; have a sponsor in the community; and participate in community service.
Defendants are referred to an outside drug and alcohol treatment facility — either in-patient, intensive out-patient, or out-patient. For out-patient treatment, defendants are typically referred to a program in or near the city in which they live.
Requirements for sponsors in the community include that he or she “should have a long period of abstinence from drug and alcohol use and be engaged in a 12-step program.”
“Sponsors are in daily contact with (defendants) and serve as support” for those going through Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, Harkins said.
Some of the organizations benefiting from the community service requirements for participants in the 48th District Court’s drug and alcohol abuse treatment program include the Salvation Army, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food banks and senior centers.
“In addition, the court has an in-house educational program that it offers,” Harkins said. “The first one, we call it the AAP program, the Alcohol Awareness Program, and it’s basically a first-time offender program. Then we have the MAP program, the Marijuana Awareness Program. Not only does this program target substance abuse cases, it will target retail fraud, theft, (and other crimes) with roots in drug abuse.”
The Minor in Possession Program targets first-time offenders, and the New Education Awareness Training/Significant Other Awareness Programs (NEAT/SOAP) are “intensive” for second or subsequent offenders and/or those whose blood-alcohol content was high at the time of their arrest.
“The other component of the program has to deal with bringing in significant others, wives, children, whoever is in the family unit who may be affected by these individuals,” Harkins said, noting that the court’s program doesn’t use state or federal funds.