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Promoting Justice and Healing: Why Prosecutors Should Embrace Treatment Courts

In the world of criminal justice, there’s a growing recognition that the traditional punitive approach may not always be the most effective way to address certain offenses.  For individuals struggling with addiction or mental health issues, incarceration often exacerbates their problems rather than providing the help they need. This is where treatment courts come into play, offering a more compassionate and constructive alternative. So, why should prosecutors embrace treatment courts? And what benefits do they bring to both the justice system and the individual involved.

Understanding Treatment Courts:

Treatment courts, are specialized courts designed to handle cases involving offenders with substance use disorder or mental health issues.  In Michigan, treatment courts include adult & juvenile drug courts, sobriety courts, hybrid drug/sobriety, adult & juvenile mental health courts, veterans’ treatment courts, family treatment courts, and tribal healing-to-wellness courts. Rather than imposing jail time as part of a sentence for a conviction, these courts focus on rehabilitation, treatment, and support, with a strong emphasis on individualized care.

Here are some reasons why prosecutors should embrace treatment courts:

  1. Reducing Recidivism:  Traditional punitive measures often fail to address the root causes of criminal behavior. Treatment courts, on the other hand, are tailored to tackle the underlying issues, such as addiction or mental illness, which contribute to criminal activity. By addressing these core problems, treatment courts significantly reduce the likelihood of participants re-offending.

  2. Restoring Lives and Families:  Treatment courts aim not only to rehabilitate offenders but also to mend the relationships they have with their families and communities. By providing access to counseling, therapy, and support networks, participants are better equipped to rebuild their lives and become responsible citizens.

  3. Cost-Effective:  Incarceration is expensive for both taxpayers and the criminal justice system. Treatment courts, on the other hand, are a cost-effective alternative.

  4. Enhancing Public Safety: Treatment courts hold participants accountable for their actions while providing the necessary tools to overcome their challenges. By addressing addiction and mental health issues, these courts contribute to safer communities by reducing drug-related crimes and criminal activity linked to substance use disorder and mental health crises.

  5. Prosecutorial Discretion: Embracing treatment courts allows prosecutors to exercise discretion effectively. They can divert offenders into programs that address the root causes of their criminal behavior, ensuring that justice is served while offering a path to rehabilitation.

  6. Community Support:  Treatment courts often involve collaboration with local service providers, community organizations, and volunteers. This community involvement fosters a sense of responsibility and support for individuals in the program, increasing their chances of success.

  7. Humanitarian Approach: Prosecutors have a unique opportunity to support a more compassionate and humanitarian approach to criminal justice. By prioritizing rehabilitation over punishment for offenders, they contribute to a more just and equitable system.


Treatment courts offer a beacon of hope in an often-punitive criminal justice system. By embracing these specialized courts, prosecutors can play a pivotal role in promoting rehabilitation, reducing recidivism, and building stronger, safer communities. It’s time to recognize that treatment courts are not just an alternative, but a more effective and compassionate way to achieve justice while helping individuals overcome the challenges that led them into the criminal justice system in the first place.

About the Author: Andrea Krause is the Montcalm County Prosecuting Attorney and MATCP Board Member

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