The Alternative Service Program was initiated by the 1st Division of the 52nd District Court in 1986, under the direction of Judge Michael Batchik, and is used as a sentencing alternative to jail. This program is for non-violent misdemeanor offenders who would otherwise have been sentenced to jail. The program provides an alternative to incarceration by allowing the offender to complete their obligation to the court by performing unpaid labor for the community through non-profit organizations and/or units of government.
The offenders assigned to perform Alternative Service are supervised by our Community Service Officers. One of our most popular sites, the garden, is located in the Kensington Metropark. Early each spring, the garden is planted and work crews maintain and cultivate it throughout the season. The produce is then harvested and distributed to local charities, including Senior Citizen's Villa, Oakland County Food Bank, Pontiac Lighthouse, and nursing homes. The Community Service Garden produces an excess of 700 bushels of fresh vegetables, and values over $12,175.00. The defendants are prideful in their work and often return at harvest to witness the result of their labor.
Community Service Officers supervise numerous other aspects of the Alternative Service Program. Throughout the entire year, work crews perform labor at participating organizations such as: Lakeland High School, Special Olympic events, local churches, senior community centers, and assists city DPW departments in maintaining the appearance of our community. They work closely with the staff of each organization and perform various maintenance duties. Work crews at DPW Departments rake leaves in parks, maintain flowerbeds, pick up litter and sticks, and often repair and build park benches. The same types of duties are performed by work crews at Lakeland High School, which saves the school district money while utilizing the work skills of the defendants.
The judges of the 1st Division of the 52nd District Court will continue using the Alternative Service Program as an alternative jail sentence for defendants. It offers tremendous benefits to the community by saving taxpayers the cost of incarceration.