Ottawa Co. drug court earns national ‘mentor’ status

The Ottawa County courthouse in Grand Haven.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The special Adult Drug Treatment Court in Ottawa County’s 20th Circuit has earned national recognition, with the Department of Justice saying that it is one of the best in the country.

Out of the more than 3,000 similar courts across the U.S., only nine were selected by the DOJ to be awarded “mentor court” status. The Ottawa County court is the only one in Michigan and the only one in the Midwest.

The court in Grand Haven offers the program to people with substance abuse problems who end up in the system. They go through intensive substance abuse treatment programs and see a judge every two weeks for up to two years.

They also have to complete community service and pay other forms of restitution or court costs, explained Andy Brown, the drug court coordinator for the 20th Circuit Court.

“We have been operating since 2005. We’ve accepted over 250 participants and we have about a 65 percent graduation rate, which is actually higher than the national average,” Brown said. “The goal is to help people overcome their addiction to drug and alcohol abuse and hopefully to keep people from re-entering the criminal justice system.”

He said participants are 73 percent less likely to be arrested again in the three years after going through the program.

Brown said that as a mentor, the Ottawa County court will provide technical assistance and consultation to other courts, and representatives from other courts will visit to learn why the Ottawa County court is so successful.

“We know through research that drug courts are one of the most effect programs in the criminal justice system and that’s been proven resoundingly through research,” Brown said.

The drug court will hold its status as a mentor court for three years.