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Detroit — Specialty courts aimed at veterans and former substance abusers are effective in helping to put former offenders on the right path and keep them out of trouble, according a report released Thursday by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The state's high court found graduates of the specialty court programs aimed at those with drug, sobriety and mental health issues are less likely to commit another crime. The specialized court programs are not for violent offenses.

The specialty courts, which sometimes meet weekly, offer offenders the option to participate in "problem-solving" programs that provide them with treatment and supervision that helps them stay out of trouble. The aim is to help them avoid incarceration. The programs save money and improve employment opportunities for those involved, state officials said.

"Problem-solving courts are ... saving lives and saving money," Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young Jr. said in a press release.

Justice Mary Beth Kelly said: "Problem-solving courts are making a difference in the lives of families statewide. Graduate by graduate, these courts are strengthening families and building stronger communities."

According to the report, graduates of drug courts were 56 times less likely to be convicted of a new offense. Also, those who attended sobriety courts and adult district drug courts were 75 percent less likely to be convicted of a new offense after being in the program after two years of participation.

The report also found:

98 percent of mental health court graduates improved their mental health.

50 percent of participants in drug courts improved their employment status.

Participants in mental health courts were 63 percent less likely to be convicted of any new offense after two years.

Participants in sobriety courts and adult district drug courts were 75 percent less likely to be convicted of any new offense after two years.

97 percent of juvenile drug court participants improved their education level.

98 percent of mental health court graduates improved their mental health.

In the past two years, Michigan drug courts had about 9,154 cases on their dockets and more than 1,000 people in mental health courts.

The state has 164 veterans, drug, sobriety and mental health courts as well as other specialized courts available to 97 percent of the state's residents, say state court officials.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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