Judge Mark Vandelist, Greg LaMere
Ken Mosier introduced our speaker First Judicial District Court Judge Mark Vandelist.
Judge Vandelist has been a Lakeville resident since 1985, Ken mentioned that he was originally from a small town near Greenbay, WI, a Packers fan and season ticket holder. Judge Vandelist is chambered at Le Center in Le Sueur County. Judge Vandelist is a certified civil trial specialist, serves as an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and volunteers as coach for Lakeville North High School Mock Trial.
Minnesota’s First Judicial District consists of Carver, Dakota, Goodhue, Le Sueur, McLeod, Scott and Sibley Counties.
Judge Vandelist spoke to us about the Adult Drug (Treatment) Court.
Treatment Court strategies include extended probation, frequent appearances before a judge, frequent meetings with probation officers, staggered sentencing that breaks up jail time into segments and allows the participant to "earn" reductions in jail time with good behavior, and regular alcohol and other drug testing.
Research shows that this approach has proven more effective than traditional court strategies at reducing repeat offenses.  This is especially true for certain offenders, such as those having a high recidivism potential.  Treatment Courts result in more defendants turning their lives around and becoming healthy, law-abiding citizens. Research also shows that when these strategies are implemented correctly, they improve public safety and save taxpayer dollars.
The following courts fall under the Treatment Court umbrella: Adult Drug Courts, DWI Courts, Family Dependency Treatment Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Mental Health Court, and Veterans Court.
Judge Vandelist shared one of his stories on the treatment court about Jimmy (31 years old) who was staring at nearly five years in prison. By November 2014, he had 41 convictions over a 12-year period. Many were drug-related, several for methamphetamine possession.  Within one year, he lost his job, crashed his car, lost his license, most importantly, he had lost his family. Through the Drug Court program (18 months) Jimmy was able to turn his life around gain full-time employment, his licenses and girlfriend and children.