Column: Leech Lake Band takes new path with wellness court

"Excessive drinking cost the U.S. economy $223.5 billion in 2006, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2009, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for roughly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the U.S. that year.

Which brings me to Cass County District Judge John Smith and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Tribal Court Associate Judge Korey Wahwassuck.

The jurists, from their upbringing and from handling cases, were long aware of the devastating impact of alcoholism on a good number of county residents, particularly on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.

They realized that business as usual -- locking up DWI offenders only to see them show up in court again and again for another offense -- was not doing anybody any good."

Get the Story:
Ruben Rosario: 'Wellness court' changes lives of DWI offenders (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 8/4)

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