Hillsdale County’s new drug treatment court program received nearly $500,000 from three grants this fall to help reha­bil­itate “high-risk, high-need” offenders.


The U.S. Justice Department pro­vided most of the funds, awarding the program $400,000 to cover its expenses, according to treatment court admin­is­trator Brian Hansen. The state of Michigan gave two grants totalling $37,200, and the states’ Highway Safety Planning also granted the court $66,000. Hillsdale’s com­munity also donated to the treatment court.

The treatment court now treats eight par­tic­i­pants with alcohol, heroin, and metham­phet­amine addic­tions, Hansen said. He said he expects the court to grow to 25 people and pos­sibly as high as 35 people.

The push to introduce a treatment court was headed by Dis­trict Court Judge Sara Lisznyai, who took her place on the bench in 2014, when drug crimes in Hillsdale County spiked by almost 30 percent. They have only con­tinued to climb, Lisznyai said.

“People would be put in jail that would be addicted to certain drugs or alcohol, and then they would get out of jail and go back to that lifestyle and go back to jail,” Hansen said.

The treatment court attempts to stop that revolving door by tar­geting pre­vention and recovery for addicts, unlike standard courts, which focus pri­marily on pun­ishment. Pro­bation through the treatment court includes mea­sures such as a mon­i­tored curfew, random drug testing, sur­prise house visits, and therapy ses­sions for up to two years.

“It’s more intensive than your typical pro­bation. It’s not as fun,” Hansen said. “It’s actually hard work for them.”

One of the treatment court’s biggest suc­cesses was bringing the drug Viv­itrol, which blocks cravings for opioids, into Hillsdale County, according to Molly Kaser, Viv­itrol provider and CEO of the Center for Family Health in Hillsdale.

Even so, Viv­itrol has only been used to treat two people for heroin addic­tions in Hillsdale County, with mixed results. One of the patients, after receiving her first shot of Viv­itrol, used metham­phet­amine instead, according to Lisznyai. Such “slip-ups” are expected early on in the treatment, however, Hansen said.

“Recovery includes some relapse,” Lisznyai said. “It is not a sit­u­ation where you can expect that somebody will start coun­selling and say, ‘I’m never going to use again,’ and it’s over. It’s going to happen.”

As part of the treatment courts’ efforts to prevent relapses, the Hope House in Jonesville pro­vides therapy and coun­selling for those enrolled in the drug courts, according to Kelly Delaney, program director of the Hope House.

Past program grad­uates’ recidivism was less than half that of com­pa­rable groups who didn’t go through the program, according to Michigan’s Problem Solving Courts’ annual 2016 report.

“Our com­munity does not have a coor­di­nated response to sub­stance abuse,” Dis­trict Court Judge Sara Lisznyai said. “My hope is that this is going to be bigger than just the treatment court, that this is going to to turn into a structure that is available in the com­munity.”

  • Living­In­Hells­dale­County

    The sad thing about this program is that the pros­e­cuting attorney can cus­tomize charges and compete with Judge Liszynai for “cus­tomers”. Neal Brady’s office pardons drug offenders for a $300 fee, and free labor as “com­munity service” which exceeds his authority to “order” people to do via his con­tractual guilt program in diversion in their “Case fixing” program: ‘.…By offering the person a chance to enroll in the program before the warrant is signed and they are arrested, the person can avoid being arrested and that stays off their per­manent record.
    “If we can offer the program and fix the problem before someone is charged with a crime, that means we can help them before they’re picked up and arrested,” said Hillsdale County Pros­e­cutor Neal Brady. “That has some stigma to it that you don’t want.”…’
    Worse? Look at what Rod Has­singer said are their BEST CUSTOMERS: Minor in pos­session.
    ‘.…. What we’re finding is that there are a lot of people out there that really met the para­meters for our program,” Has­singer said. ” A lot of these cases are minor in pos­session and people who’ve made a mistake.“…’
    Around the time Neal Brady’s diversion program started is when the drug problem became hor­rible around here, and many of our local youth died since then.
    Guess minor in pos­session isn’t so minor when you realize that par­doning them didn’t treat them in a whole, pro­fes­sional and legally vetted out manner like Judge Liszynai’s drug court does.
    So why are the com­mis­sioners allowing Brady’s drug encour­agement pay off program to persist?
    Seems VERY costly, since Brady’s pardons have likely cost lives.