Officials are hoping a grant through a new state program geared toward reducing crime and drug use in four Michigan cities will allow the Oakland County Circuit Court to implement a new drug treatment court specifically for substance abusers who commit crimes in Pontiac.
The county’s Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the application for a state grant through the Urban Drug Court Initiative Pilot Program rolled out by Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year.
Circuit Court Administrator Kevin Oeffner said the new proposed drug treatment court would operate much as the existing adult and juvenile drug treatment courts that started about a dozen years ago, but would focus solely on criminals whose crimes were drug-related and committed within the city limits of Pontiac.
“It’s kind of a new drug court, in a sense,” Oeffner said. “Each judge is kind of his or her own drug court judge.”
There would be certain eligibility criteria to participate in the Urban Drug Court Initiative through the Oakland County Circuit Court, including that the triggering offenses cannot be assaultive or violent, as stipulated under state law, said Circuit Court Judge Phyllis McMillen.
“It’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in a long time (for the Circuit Court),” she said. “It’s a pilot program to test a new means of funding the courts. That’s different than anything we’ve done before, to try to get a little bit more permanency to know that they have the money available (for the drug court).”
Snyder in March called for a legislative appropriation of $1.25 million to fund expanded drug court endeavors in Genesee, Wayne, Oakland and Saginaw counties, where four of the top 10 most violent cities, according to the FBI, in America — Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, and Saginaw — are located.
The county expects to hear back within two months after the grant application for about $247,000 from the state is submitted, and McMillen said the hope is that the Urban Drug Court Initiative pilot drug court is up and running by Jan. 1.
Drug and alcohol treatment courts, or similar programs, are also in place at all four district courts overseeing cases from west Oakland County: The 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills, the 51st District Court in Waterford Township, the 52-1 District Court in Novi, and the 52-2 District Court in Clarkston.