Court earns national ‘mentor’ status from DOJ


Mark Feyen. Courtesy Ottawa County

The U.S. Department of Justice has recognized a court in the region for its work helping non-violent felony offenders with substance use disorders.

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals, or NADCP, and the DOJ selected Ottawa County’s 20th Circuit Court Adult Drug Treatment Court program as a Mentor Court, a distinction the court will hold for three years.

In this instance, Mentor Courts are high-performing drug courts that demonstrate exemplary practices and operate with fidelity to the drug court model.

The NADCP and DOJ chose nine of 3,000 such courts in the U.S. for this award.

“As a Mentor Court, we will have the opportunity to host other drug court programs from around the United States, provide consulting and technical assistance to drug courts and participate in national drug court planning and policy initiatives,” said Andy Brown, drug court coordinator, 20th Circuit Court.

Ottawa County’s Adult Drug Treatment Court is an alternative to traditional incarceration or probation, and only certain offenders who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol are eligible.

The Michigan Supreme Court, DOJ and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration award annual time-limited grants to fund the drug court.

The program consists of four phases of decreasing intensity during a 16-month period, in which the court requires intensive outpatient treatment, group therapy, random drug and alcohol testing, home checks, community service, curfews, fines or restitution and bi-weekly or monthly review hearings, among other actions.

A study conducted by Grand Valley State University in 2014 demonstrated the Adult Drug Treatment Court significantly reduced new crime and repeated drug and alcohol use among offenders. Drug court participants were 73 percent less likely to commit a new crime within three years of discharge from the drug court, when compared to a similar group of people sentenced to traditional probation.

“With thousands of drug courts in operation across the United States, this honor really speaks to the quality and integrity of the work our drug court is doing,” said Judge Mark Feyen of the 20th Circuit Court Adult Drug Treatment Court.

Ottawa County is inviting the public to a ceremony to celebrate the Mentor Court award at 11 a.m. on April 13 in Courtroom 3B of the Ottawa County Grand Haven Courthouse. 

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