Detroit Free Press – How Michigan’s justice system is saving tax dollars

The nonpartisan branch of government is getting its job done, by implementing commonsense reforms and measuring performance, by implementing new technology and working smarter, and by re-engineering courts and increasing efficiency — all to serve the public better and at less cost.

Measuring and reporting on performance is something businesses have been doing for years, but this approach to improving services is a new thought in government. Michigan’s judiciary is leading the way: We have established performance standards for every court and measuring and reporting on that performance on the state Supreme Court’s website.

We are also asking court users how we are doing. Last year, of 21,000 court users surveyed statewide, 94% said they were treated with courtesy and respect, 85% said they were able to do their business in a reasonable amount of time, and 81% thought their case was handled fairly. Just as important, every court has a dashboard and publishes performance measures online showing how well the court is doing in resolving cases on time. Statewide, this measure shows that 96% of cases are resolved within Supreme Court time guidelines.

Keeping people out of jail and engaged in their work and families is a win-win for everyone, including taxpayers. That’s why Michigan is leading the nation with 20 veterans treatment courts that are helping men and women who served our country get the treatment they need and avoid costly incarceration. Vet by vet, these courts are saving lives and strengthening families and communities. Along with courts that focus on mental health, sobriety and drug use, 174 of these “problem-solving” courts are reaching 97% of Michigan’s population. The results are impressive: Participants in drug courts are two times less likely to become re-offenders, while participants in mental health and sobriety courts are three times less likely to re-offend.

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