$500,000 four-year federal grant awarded to Cass County’s Adult Treatment Court

Published 9:11 am Wednesday, January 9, 2019

CASSOPOLIS — Chief Judge Susan L. Dobrich announced Tuesday that the Cass County Adult Treatment Court received a $500,000 four-year federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance Adult Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program.  The Cass County ATC received one of 49 grants awarded across the nation.

The purpose of the grant is to enhance ATC’s ability to utilize evidence-based practices, said representatives of the Cass County Courts. ATC became operational on March 16, 2012. Since that time, ATC has served 100 participants. This newest grant will allow ATC to serve an additional 118 participants over the term of the four-year grant. 

In 2016, more than 64,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses, an increase from the 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015. The opioid epidemic, a public health crisis, is also a growing public safety crisis. Addressing this crisis requires new resources and efforts that will bring more criminals to justice and, ultimately, will save lives, said court officials.

Chief Judge Susan
L. Dobrich

ATC effectively integrates evidence-based substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, sanctions and incentives, and transitional services in a rigorous judicially supervised court setting with a goal of reducing recidivism and substance abuse as well as preventing overdoses.

Drug courts have been proven to be effective at reducing recidivism and substance abuse among high-risk participants diagnosed with substance abuse, said court representatives. Drug courts are also more successful than other criminal justice interventions as far as the likelihood of successful rehabilitation through referrals based on validated risk and need assessments, early, continuous and intensive treatment, close judicial supervision and involvement (including judicial interaction with participants and frequent status hearings), frequent mandatory and random drug screens, intensive community supervision, swift and certain court responses to participant’s behaviors, and community reintegration and recovery support services/continuing care. 

According to studies conducted by Pew Charitable Trusts in March 2018, higher rates of drug imprisonment did not translate into lower rates of drug use, arrests or overdose deaths. They further state that the most effective response to drug misuse is a combination of law enforcement, alternative sentencing and treatment.

Cass County’s full continuum of problem-solving courts focuses on providing evidence-based responses that work to improve outcomes and make communities safer, said court representatives.

Judge Stacey Rentfrow has presided over Adult Treatment Court and will continue to preside over Adult Treatment Court for this grant award.