Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $851,176)
Purpose Area 3 Abstract
The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (“Tribe”) has identified substance abuse, especially that of opiates and methamphetamine, as a primary cause of involvement with the Tribal Court system and one of the biggest threats to the Tribal community’s safety and well-being. Based on Tribal Court statistics, recidivism amongst addicted offenders occurs often and crimes amongst these offenders is escalating in the community. The Tribe believes that the typical crime and punishment-based court system lacks the focus and resources to address the root causes of criminal behavior and best deal with the all too prevalent controlled substance addiction among offenders. Expansion of the current court system is necessary to rehabilitate offenders and bring about community safety and healing.
The Tribe currently operates a Court of general jurisdiction and uses its probation system as an alternative to incarceration, but the limited nature of the probation services and the small size of the probation department is a known barrier to intensive supervision of probationers. The Tribe believes implementation of an Adult Healing to Wellness Court (“Wellness Court”) which will impose long term intensive supervision and evidence-based treatment will assist Tribal community members to break the cycle of addiction; thereby reducing recidivism and increasing community wellness and safety.
The Wellness Court will implement best practices to bring together the Tribal Court, enhanced probation services, Behavioral Health Department for treatment, Social Services for support services, Law Enforcement for monitoring and enforcement, Tribal Leadership for future planning and resource allocation and the Tribal community for cultural and community healing. Grant funding will be used to hire, equip and train a Wellness Court Coordinator and Wellness Court Probation Officer who will assist the Court, Tribal Leadership and other key stakeholders to design and implement the Wellness Court using a restorative justice model within the first 9 months of receipt of any award. Grant funds will also be used to supply the Behavioral Health Department with materials necessary for evidence-based substance abuse treatment. Probationers involved with the Wellness Court will interact almost daily with the Wellness Court Officer, receive treatment through the Behavioral Health Department, work with the Social Services Department to connect with available daily living support services and resources, and receive mentoring from Tribal Elders and the Tribal community to achieve community wellness and healing. It is anticipated that operation of the Wellness Court will reduce overall recidivism among addicted offender by 33%, increase offenders ordered to treatment by nearly 100%, as well as implement appropriate cultural and traditional practices within the Tribal Court to spur community healing and achieve success. It is anticipated that at least 30 offenders will be eligible to participate in the Healing to Wellness Court during the grant period and that at least 24 will successfully graduate from the program.