A local judge is being recognized for his efforts in managing criminal cases that result from drug addiction.
97th District Court Judge Mark Wisti has received an annual Treatment Court Hero Award from the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals.
As he reviews cases everyday, Judge Mark Wisti has taken notice of a few things regarding the individuals he encounters.
Wisti says that often times a defendant that appears in his court room has resorted to petty crimes as the result of a greater underlying problem.
“In the United States of America, we lead the world in incarceration. Roughly 75 percent are there because of crimes associated with addiction,” said Wisti.
So rather than a standard jail sentence, Wisti works closely with prosecutors, law enforcement, and several other agencies to treat these citizens and remove drugs and alcohol from their daily habits with the understanding that their legal shortcomings will subside as well.
“I think a lot of it is that people don’t understand addiction. They think it’s a matter of will power. It’s a disease and there’s very specific things you can do to deal with the disease, and that’s what the program does,” said Wisti. “The focus is on treating the addiction as opposed to incarceration and yelling at them which does not work very well.”
Wisti says that the program’s success rate is higher than 75 percent and he attributes the recent award to the team of professionals that are dedicated to the success of the program. Wisti said, “It’s a reflection on our court and its success. It’s a pretty good honor to have.”
Treatment courts were a new concept the 1980’s when Florida’s Miami-Dade County began noticing a rising trend in first time offenders at the height of a cocaine epidemic.