Community, Opinion & Editorial

Treatment courts: Second chances for those in pursuit of recovery

May is National Treatment Court Month, a time to acknowledge the profound impact that specialty courts have on Oregon communities and our justice system. 

Built on principles of compassion and rehabilitation, treatment courts provide a vital lifeline to individuals wrestling with substance use disorders, redirecting them away from incarceration and toward recovery. 

They symbolize a significant paradigm shift, prioritizing healing over punishment and nurturing a society where second chances are not just given but actively pursued. 

During National Treatment Court Month, we honor the resilience of individuals seeking recovery, the dedication of professionals, and the transformative force of empathy in our quest for justice.

Treatment courts are not a well-intentioned experiment; a growing body of research confirms that they are the most effective intervention for justice-involved individuals with substance use and mental health disorders.

 According to the national nonprofit All Rise, participants in treatment courts are up to 35% less likely to commit new crimes compared to individuals who go through traditional justice processes. Treatment courts have also been found to improve employment, housing, family reunification, and financial stability. 

These statistics highlight the significant impact of treatment courts in breaking the cycle of crime and fostering long-term recovery. By providing treatment and support services, these programs empower individuals to address the root causes of their harmful behavior, leading to positive outcomes for both participants and communities.

Each treatment court is composed of an interdisciplinary team of justice and treatment professionals who work together to assess, monitor, and support participants as they receive treatment to address substance use and mental health disorders and wraparound services to address social determinants of health like stable housing, adequate nutrition, and reliable transportation. Participants attend regular status hearings in court to report on their progress, where they receive positive incentives for fulfilling all their obligations and additional support when they are unable to meet expectations.

The City of Springfield was awarded a four-year grant by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in the amount of $900,000 to establish the new Springfield Municipal Adult Rehabilitation and Treatment (SMART) Court, which will partner with the Springfield City Prosecutor’s Office, Springfield Police Department, defense attorney Cathy Ouellette, Quality Research Associates, and Emergence Addiction and Behavioral Therapies.

SMART Court began accepting referrals in late January 2024 and enrolled its first participant on Feb. 15, with over a dozen more now participating in the program. These individuals are accessing treatment for their substance use disorders, as well as recovery housing, stable transportation, and referral for withdrawal management and residential treatment, if needed.

National Treatment Court Month is a time for the Springfield community to celebrate our first treatment court. By addressing substance use — the underlying cause of many criminal behaviors — Springfield is taking steps to save lives, save families, and save our taxpayers money.

Chris Wig is the executive director of Emergence Addiction & Behavioral Therapies, which provides treatment for substance use disorders, mental health, disordered gambling, & interpersonal violence. He is also a director  on the Board for Willamalane Park & Recreation District.



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