Oakland County Prosecutor Backs out of the Drug Treatment CourtPosted on June 12th, 2009 No comments
In a letter to judges this week, newly elected Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper announced her office will stop participating in the county’s sobriety courts by September 30, 2009. Treatment courts, also called drug courts or sobriety courts, provide an alternative to jail for nonviolent offenders who have committed alcohol- or drug-related crimes such as drunken driving or minor in possession.
State law requires the participation of a prosecutor, and some funding sources also require prosecutor participation. It is unclear whether the programs will be able to continue without the prosecutor’s office.
Oakland County Circuit Court’s Family-Focused Juvenile Drug Court and Adult Treatment Court started in 2001. Cooper cites budget concerns as a basis for backing out of the program. The courts cost more than $730,000 annually.
The Oakland Press wrote a pretty scathing article about Cooper’s decision. You can read it here. I think the Oakland Press is going a bit hard on Ms. Cooper (full disclosure: I did serve on an Inns of Court team with Jessica Cooper when she was a Judge in the Court of Appeals), but I think it would be a shame to lose the drug treatment court.
There may still be hope for the program. This could just be budget posturing by the prosecutor for an increase in her budget. It is budget season after all. Having been in the middle of it during the last budget, I know how brutal it can be.
Michigan radio’s article can be found here.
© 2009, Melinda Deel. All rights reserved.