Lake County Specialty Courts

Lake County has three basic types of specialty courts: Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veteran’s Treatment and Assistance Court. The mission of the specialty court program is to reduce crime, enhance public safety and reduce jail populations by providing a comprehensive treatment and supervision plans.

The Nineteenth Judicial Circuit established the first drug court program in Lake County in 2005 after officials became dissatisfied with high recidivism rates. The new court integrated treatment into the criminal justice system and opened the door for offenders with drug problems to get help.

The success of drug court opened the door for the creation of Mental Health Court in 2007, then Veterans Treatment and Assistance Court in 2011. The mission of these courts was designed to reduce crime, enhance public safety and reduce jail populations by providing a comprehensive treatment and supervision plan to offenders who are welcomed into the different programs.

Specialty courts follow the ideas set forth in the initial drug court: to promote community safety by reducing substance abuse and recidivism of high-risk substance abuse disordered offenders through a coordinated program involving treatment, intensive supervision and judicial interaction.

Being sentenced to a Lake County Specialty Court is often more stringent than a short term stay in prison or an extended term in the Lake County Jail. In addition, it costs far less money than housing a person in jail, and often results in more societal benefits.

The specialty court program lasts between 24 and 30 months, and requires offenders to remain sober, stay employed, maintain a residence, and requires them to attend self-help and substance abuse awareness meetings, among many other stringent requirements.

Punishment and retribution remain in place in the specialty courts, but more focus is given to behavior modification and restorative justice than other felony and misdemeanor courts.