So I'm cleaning my gutters while standing on the top of the ladder. Sure I know, bad idea. I didn't fall . . . until I was almost done. I was taken to the hospital by the ambulance for a pretty nasty gash that I got from falling onto the juniper stump that was right under me. It wasn't pretty. At the ER they said that because the fall was my fault, they weren't going to treat me and instead I was to be sent home with a requirement that I go talk to other people who had injured themselves. No medical treatment for me because I was an idiot to fall off the ladder. While I was still confused from this, they released me but also told me they needed me to come back every day for them to look at the wound. They couldn't do anything for it (again because it was my fault) but they wanted to look at it to make sure I didn't mess up my job of healing myself. If I didn't show up to have it checked, or if they didn't like how it looked, they said they would have me committed.
This didn't really happen to me but it may start happening to those charged with a drug related crime in Traverse City because they are being monitored without being treated.
In a recent article by Patrick Sullivan in the Ticker, there is a report of upcoming increased testing and oversight of people awaiting trial in Grand Traverse County. In it Sullivan reports that the court may implement a process by which defendants will have to undergo a schedule of check-ins and testing similar to those who have been convicted of a drug or alcohol-related crime. The idea is that it is both a way to monitor people so they don't disappear before trial as well as being a route towards getting them the services they need sooner in the process.
Even though this brings up a very troubling problem, that of implementing conviction sentencing before a trial or verdict, I am more interested in the practical result of this new policy.
My concern is more about follow-through and resources than it is about the legalities behind the change. The reason for my concern is illuminated by a quote in the article from the community corrections manager: "I want them to want to go to recovery meetings and to start engaging in recovery so they start to do better before they are sentenced". This isn't treatment. To me this is similar to an ER doctor telling a client that is deathly overweight and with diabetes that they must attend Weight Watchers. It avoids responsibility and efficacy for the change.
Instead, why don't we tell these people, who have not been convicted of a crime, that they should connect with a real treatment program, such as Addiction Treatment Services, Munson Behavioral Health, or this fine counseling practice, so they can find peer support, licensed mental health assessment and professional treatment oversight. At least if someone is forced to go to 25 Weight Watchers meetings there is an easy way to see if it has resulted in any change: a bathroom scale. For people with serious addiction and mental health problems, what should be treated as a medical problem treated by professionals with tested methodology is instead treated as a personal choice that should be tested to make sure the person doesn't "screw up."
Part of the Affordable Care Act legislation requires that mental health and drug addiction be treated like other medical problems. Part of that method for treatment is based on treating the problem irregardless of the source. It doesn't matter who is at fault or how your leg became broken or your head concussed; doctors work to heal and treat conditions based on the best scientific methods. Treatment for all people suffering from mental health and addiction problems should be as concerned with healing rather than blaming.