Genesee County drug court awaits word about its share of $4.8 million

GENESEE COUNTY — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is funding of up to $4.8 million, over several years, for treatment drug court programs for people who are involved in the criminal justice system with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders in Michigan.

Judge Mark Latchana, of the 67th District Court in Burton and head of the Genesee County Drug Court, said he is awaiting word not only about the federal grant money, but as a grant from the state.

“This gives us a better shot at creating more treatment options,” he said. “Right now, there are only a limited amount of people we can serve.”

Treatment drug courts combine the sanctioning power of courts with effective treatment services to reduce further criminal justice involvement and promote recovery for people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders.

By reducing the health and social costs of substance use disorders for individuals, treatment drug courts improve public safety in communities.

“One of the five key strategies the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has identified for fighting America’s opioid epidemic is expanding access to treatment and recovery services, including the full range of medication-assisted treatments. Drug courts can play an important role in connecting Americans to treatment when they need it,” said HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. “As HHS has carried out a national listening tour on the opioid epidemic—one of our top three clinical priorities—we have heard from many Americans finding recovery through drug courts, and we are pleased to support such work.”

Latchana has headed up the drug court here for five years and he said it works for most people who are sent there by the prosecutor’s office.

“It’s one-quarter the cost of incarceration and twice as effective,” said Latchana. “Those who don’t go through the program are also more likely to re-offend. Jail is not always an effective way.”

Other officials agree.

“Providing needed treatment services for people with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental and substance use disorders who are involved with the criminal justice system benefits everyone,” said Dr. Kim Johnson, Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. “Treatment drug courts improve health and recovery outcomes, reduce the burden on the criminal justice system, and help people recover in their communities.”

In Genesee County, the drug court works with the prosecutor to identify individuals who might benefit from the specialized court.

“It’s a good partnership,” said Latchana.

He said Genesee County will receive some sort of grant money, but he said it isn’t likely he’ll know how much until the end of August.

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