Berrien County Board of Commissioners to resume in-person meetings July 1

BERRIEN COUNTY – The Berrien County Board of Commissioners is looking forward into fiscal year 2022 for the county courts and to opening up its board meetings in-person to the public on July 1.

Prior to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announcing the state reopening capacity limits to 100 percent as of June 22 on Thursday, the commissioners agreed to hold off on hosting board meeting of in-person again until July 1.

“Our building has been open. It’s just a matter of holding the meetings virtually,” said Berrien County Executive Assistant to the Administrator Annette Christie. “As of [Thursday afternoon], the next commissioners’ meeting will be virtual.”

Also Thursday, the commissioners voted to approve the application process for three grants for the Berrien County Trial Court.

County Commissioner Jim Curran, who represents southern Niles, introduced the resolution items after they had been discussed at the administration committee meeting.

The court will apply for a grant from the Michigan Mental Health Court Grant program, in a cooperative partnership with Riverwood Center.

The court is applying for a $155,000 grant with an in-kind match from the county of $14,511 to continue the Berrien County Mental Health Court Program.

The county’s mental health court program outlined its goals in the resolution including linking 80 percent of participants within 21 days of screening to mental health services, 100 percent of participants remaining substance free for 60 days prior to graduation, 80 percent of participants “will not be convicted of a new offense” while in the program, establishing stable living arrangements for all participants 90 days prior to graduation and achieving 80 percent compliance with the mental health treatment services offered through the program.

A second grant was approved for the Berrien County Trial Court to seek for its Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program. The county trial court will apply for a grant of $185,000, with an in-kind match of $6,733, through the State Court Administrator Office for the Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program.

The program is based on the “Swift and Certain” probation program that began in 2011 in Hawaii, according to the resolution.

“[The] program goals include reducing the number and frequency of missed appointments with felony probation offices, reducing the number and frequency of positive drug and alcohol tests, reducing recidivism and reducing the number of felony probation revocations,” the resolution reads.

The final grant the commissioners approved for the Berrien County Trial Court to apply for is through the Michigan Drug Court Grant Program in the amount of $105,000, with an in-kind match of $86,309. The grant would continue the Berrien County Drug Treatment Court Program.

The program has been in operation for 11 years.

The resolution said the program generally receives additional funding from the Office of Community Corrections and Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health.

“The emphasis of this program is to effectively combine random drug testing with inpatient and outpatient substance use disorder treatment,” according to the resolution.

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