10+ Years of Alternative Sentencing Called a Success by Courts

Programs offer some veterans, mental health patients and those with substance abuse problems a chance to stay out of prison


A series of Michigan court programs is reaching a milestone. They’re designed to help some non-violent mental health patients, juvenile offenders and others with drug and alcohol problems stay out of the state’s prison system.  10 years ago the specialty courts were designed as an alternative to prison sentences.  The courts offer some convicted of crimes the opportunity to work with counselors, parole officers, and others rather than sit in a cell. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Kurtis Wilder tells WDET’s Amy Miller the alternative sentencing courts are proving very successful


“We’re able to provide them that help and structure throughout the program, and the end result is that these graduates from these mental health courts are nearly 2 times less likely to commit another crime 2 years after completing a program than someone who hasn’t gone through a program” -Kurtis Wilder, Michigan Supreme Court Justice

Wilder says the specialty court programs include offenders with mental health issues, drug and alcohol addiction and military veterans. There are 185 alternative sentencing courtrooms in use across the state.

Click on the audio link above to hear the entire conversation between Justice Wilder and WDET’s Amy Miller

Michigan’s drug courts have been around for at least two decades but the mental health courts were originally established in 2007-2008 and the Veterans courts followed in 2009.

The following history is produced by the National Drug Court Institute



  • Amy Miller
    Amy has been working in public and commercial radio for the last 30 yrs. She is an award winning reporter and news anchor, born and raised in Detroit.