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Tribal Court delegation delivers presentation at March MATCP 18th Annual Conference
4/27/2017 1:00:00 PM - Court

By Joseph V. Sowmick, Photojournalist


The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Court joined 750 other participants at the March 14-15 Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals (MATCP) in Novi.  The 18th annual conference was held at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi 


The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Court delegation presented an afternoon workshop entitled “Tribal Community Health and Opioid Abuse: An Integrative Approach.”


Joining keynote speaker Judge Patrick Shannon were Magistrate Carol Jackson, Probation Officer Cathy Matthews, Nimkee Memorial Wellness Center Health Administrator Karmen Fox and Program Director Phoebe Goldberg from the Public Health Training Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.


“It was the first opportunity for our Tribal Court to be presenters and to speak on some of the collaborative efforts we have done within the Tribal community.  Many of the other treatment court professional across the state have programs that use an integrative approach in administering their programs,” Judge Shannon said.  “We demonstrated the support we had from the Tribal community to form a healing to wellness program, established a Families Against Narcotics chapter, broaden alternative to pain management and to embrace cultural teachings.”


Fox mentioned some of the ways that Nimkee is using to educate medical alternatives with Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) and to move forward with integrating medical, dental, behavioral health, and spiritual health.


The presentation highlighted the following concerns: 1) increasing overdoses resulting in death (over 50,000 nationally), 2) substance misuse of prescription drugs, 3) increased activity of heroin and fentanyl, 4) lack of a coordinated treatment regiment, 5) lack of provider education, 6) no coordinated effort at local, state, federal or Tribal levels, 7) sole reliance on law enforcement for solution, 8) reliance on abstinence as the primary remedy for opioid abuse and 9) lack of treatment for the dual diagnosed client.


Judge Salomone presides over the 23rd District Sobriety Court in Wayne County and believes that a recent Center of Disease Control article is correct where opioid-related deaths may be underestimated.


“It reflects the conclusion we found in discussions with other judges and drug court probation officers that opiate and heroin abusers are different from any other population like marijuana and alcohol abusers. They just take more time and effort and we have had more success when we changed our procedures,” Judge Salomone said.  “We added peer recovery coaches to our program and Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT), especially vivitrol.  We believe in our program that every opiate addict should at least get a consultation and almost all should qualify for the treatment.”


Judge Salomone firmly believes that those people in the cycle of addiction need support from a strong recovery community and a safe environment.


“If the participant in my program is living with parents or siblings, it invariably means that those family members also are using heroin and/or opiates.  Either that or they are a textbook definition of enablers,” Judge Salomone said.  “A safe drug free environment is a must for any recovery addict and I know I have to get them into some ‘clean’ housing … that, in itself, can be difficult.”


Michigan 41B Judicial District Court Judge Linda Davis from Macomb County joined Judge Salomone as they introduced the most popular workshop of the convention, the Drug and Sobriety Court Participants Panel.


“It has been a great experience being involved with fellow Judge and MATCP President Geno Salomone and we realize many drug court teams need to be revamped to better face the challenges today.  Part of the work we need to do is to reach out to the legislators and get their support of drug courts,” Judge Davis said.  “I know many drug court judges are embracing organizations like Families against Narcotics to make changes in their communities.  We appreciate having Lt. Gov. Brian Calley here to be honored and receive the MATCP President’s Award for his support of drug courts and to meet our panelists in recovery.”


Judge Jocelyn Fabry from the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court spoke on how The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 requires various agencies of the federal government to support tribes in developing and implementing strategic plans.


“Tribal Action Plans (TAP) have been used at our Tribe to combat the severe problems of alcohol and drug abuse in Indian Country.  We provided an overview of the process that the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe underwent in developing a Tribal Action Plan and the tools used in the community assessment,” Judge Fabry said. “A review of the findings from their community assessment and the process the Tribe used to develop TAP goals related to the data were also shared.   We believe a TAP is relevant to practitioners working in all types of treatment courts, and in particular to those participating in community-driven efforts to collaborate and pool resources to address substance abuse issues at the local level.”