Genesee County Sobriety Court boasts 83 percent pass rate, no re-arrests

Published: Oct. 22, 2018 at 5:18 PM EDT
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(10/22/2018) - "It's a tough program. I tell people that. I say, if you just want to get it over with you're better off going to jail; but if you want to get better and not ever go back to jail, then you stick with our program. And most of them want to do it," Judge Vikki Bayeh Haley said.

Inside her sobriety courtroom in downtown Flint, offenders are given a second chance.

"Traditionally it's drinking and driving/operating under the influence of alcohol; but, it can also include other crimes like shoplifting, where you're shoplifting to get alcohol, or assault or violence cases, or property damage cases, where these types of crimes are occurring when somebody is intoxicated," Judge Bayeh Haley explained.

The goal of the program is to treat the problem, ultimately fixing it.

"Band-aids always fall off. That's the problem with the band-aid," she said.

So Judge Bayeh Haley and her team provide participants the support they need to get sober and stay sober.

"It includes counseling, frequent drug testing, incentives for sobriety and doing well in the program, twelve step meetings and coming to court and being a part of an overall group that supports each other and lifts each other up," she explained.

If someone relapses or violates a program rule, they could face jail time; but, there's also the option of community service or the Sheriff's work detail.

"We are not seeing any drinking and driving re-offenses. So that is good. We've seen relapses, but as far as I know, at least we've taught them not to drive and put other people's lives in danger," Judge Bayeh Haley said.

Of the 32 that graduated this past year, she said none of them have been re-arrested. And, those continuing the program have also stayed out of trouble. The 83-percent successful completion rate this past year is well above the state's average.

Most importantly, she added, those once singled out as criminals are able to put their lives back together.

"They can focus, they can succeed, people are getting promotions, people who are unemployed are now getting jobs," she said. "So, every aspect of their life, from their relationship, their personal view of themselves, their economic status, everything improves when you stick with the program."

The Judge already has hopes to expand the program, so they're not turning away any offenders who qualify.

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