COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA September 13, 2019 (LSN) It is happening across the United States. People are arrested multiple times while also struggling with substance use disorder. The cycle of arrest, chemical use and probation makes the possibility to change seem far out of reach. But for some, a new possibility has emerged – treatments courts, also known as “drug courts”, work to provide structure, support and hope. A treatment court called the Shore Substances Use Recovery Court (or “SURC”) provides intervention for substance-abusing criminal offenders in Cook and Lake Counties by requiring increased accountability, empowering people to change their lives, and restoring participants to law-abiding productivity.
The History of Treatment Courts The first treatment court in the United States took shape in Miami, Florida in 1989, as a response to the growing cocaine problem plaguing the city.
Mandatory sentencing for drug related offenses was implemented in 1986 during the Reagan Administration. This legislation increased the number of people who were incarcerated for crimes related to drug use and possession. It soon became clear that incarcerating people who committed crimes and were struggling with substance use disorder did not reduce crime.
In 1982, before anti-drug measures were signed into law, there were approximately 40,000 people serving time for drug offenses. That number skyrocketed throughout the 1980s and 1990s. By 2015, close to 470,000 people were incarcerated for drugs, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit advocacy group that analyzes U.S. Bureau of Justice data.
Today, all 50 US states have treatment courts, with a total of more than 2,400 courts nationwide. These courts have proven to be an effective tool in supporting people to achieve recovery and reduce recidivism while decreasing the cost to the criminal justice system and to society.
Cook County SURC and the “Shore Substance Use Recovery Court” The Cook County Substance Use Recovery Court is a collaborative effort involving several public and private agencies and organizations including the County Attorney’s office, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Arrowhead Regional Corrections, Public Defenders Office, Cook County Public Health and Human Services and Wilderness Outpatient Treatment Services. The Court began as the Cook County Substance Use Recovery Court in 2016. In 2019 it expanded to include Lake County (with their Lake County specific members) and was redesigned as a multi-county treatment court called the “Shore Substance Use Recovery Court.” The Honorable Michael Cuzzo presides over the Shore Recovery Court.
How Can Someone Participate in recovery court?
Individuals facing charges by which they risk at least 365 days in custody are referred to recovery court by the County Attorney or Probation. The target population is a high risk for recidivism and has a high need for treatment as assessed by a chemical health assessment.
What Happens Next? Individuals go through a five-phase process that provides structure including drug testing, curfews and support with recovery resources (such as treatment recommendations, assistance with resources for housing and mental health resources). This process lasts a minimum of 12 months and can extend much longer depending on the pace of the individual’s progress. Participants in SURC meet with the Judge and the treatment team on a frequent basis and are provided with structure, support and accountability.
What Does Success Look Like after Recovery Court? In the spring of 2018, the recovery court team in Cook County had an opportunity to invite all current participants and their support people along with graduates of the court to hear the stories of graduates of the Range Hybrid Court (a combination drug court and DWI treatment court). Successful graduates from the Range Hybrid Court talked about how their lives had changed. They talked about new jobs, new education opportunities, stable relationships with their family and in their community. They talked about sobriety and the power of the treatment court in changing their lives. “Looking at me today, you never would guess I was a drug using felon” stated a young mom who a guest presenter. “My life is completely different now and I have [drug court] to thank.”
Moving Forward The Shore Substance Use Recovery Court is a great model of collaboration and prevention in Cook County. The team continues to grow in its effectiveness and response to the people in the community and all along the north shore.
For more information about recovery court, view the video featuring Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken on the County YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i14hqI2XWQ&t=26s or by visiting the home page of the Cook County website during the month of September which is recognized nationally as Recovery Month.
Learn more about Substance Use Recovery Court and the PHHS department at the September 17th PHHS Board Meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Cook County Commissioners Room. Follow us on Facebook @CookCountyPHHS to learn more about recovery resources in Cook County.
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.
By: Cook County Sheriff’s Office in collaboration with the Cook County Attorney’s Office
Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west. The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake, Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles
Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Cook County include:
Grand Marais Lutsen Mountains
Gunflint Trail Superior Hiking Trail
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