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Healing to Wellness Court Celebrates First Graduate

By Joe Morey

News Editor

Jasmine Carillo, left, and LCO Tribal Judge Elaine Smith

The Lac Courte Oreilles Healing to Wellness Court, which started in September of 2018, celebrated its first graduate, Jasmine Carillo, with a special ceremony held for her at the Peter Larson Room of the Tribal Office on Tuesday, Jan. 26.


The Tribe received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to create a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court and according to Susan Aasen, the Healing to Wellness Court Coordinator, the project goal is to enhance the outcomes for youth and families by integrating a problem-solving approach to address the specific, chronic and underlying problems of substance abuse by parties involved with the Tribal Court system.


The Healing to Wellness approach is based upon incentives to assist individuals to make better life choices by becoming drug free, Aasen explained. “The incentive approach can be compared to a regular court system that operates on a punitive approach, which does not effectively work in drug addiction cases.”


“I liked the support I had from the people in the wellness circle that we had before the covid started,” Carillo said of the program. “I believe this is a good program that helps guide people in the right direction and keep them focused on their goals. The support was good but I think it would help participants if they kept more involved, instead of giving them the time to go back to old ways.”


Carillo said she believes it would be even more helpful if forgiveness programs were available to more participants because many of them struggle with housing.


Carillo suggests maybe case workers could help with finding more programs, resources etc. to be able to keep employment or housing.


“I know it really helped a lot when Susan Aasen spoke good for me to get employment. I was having a hard time and struggled for a while and was frequently turned down for jobs because of my background history,” Carillo said. “I just want to thank everyone for their support!”


Aasen said it is anticipated that by the end of year three, the Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Program will have provided at least 30 individuals and their families with wellness court services to deter substance abuse and improve general behavior and lifestyle choices.


Once an individual is a Tribal Healing to Wellness Court participant, a Case Manager will work closely with the individual who has substance abuse issues.


“Perhaps the participant needs inpatient treatment to address addiction. The Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Case Manager will work with medical and treatment providers such as the LCO Clinic and Coordinated Community Services (CCS) to establish funding for treatment,” Aasen explained. “A unique feature of the program is Ojibwe culture, which can include use of the sweat lodge, obtaining an Indian name, learning about Ojibwe culture, and speaking with cultural advisors for personal cultural growth.”


In a previous meeting, court officials explained that statistics show 76.9% of substance-related crimes in jail will end up back in jail but the number drops to 67% after participation in a Healing to Wellness Court.


According to Healing to Wellness Court information, “the Vision of the program is to help empower tribal families to successfully transition to a substance-free life and to prevent involvement with the criminal justice system; to be ground in Ojibwe culture and traditions; and to strengthen, support and respect the roles of family members;


“The Mission of the Lac Courte Oreilles Healing to Wellness Court is to effectively address substance abuse and promote individual and system accountability for family wellness utilizing a therapeutic judicial process while integrating cultural values and collaborative partnerships with service providers.”


Marley Corbine, Wellness Court Clerk, added, “There are four paths to wellness, Tobacco Path-East, Cedar Path-South, Sage Path-West, Sweetgrass Path-North. Once them paths are completed you are able to graduate the program and Jasmine is our first, she has worked very hard and completed so much being with the wellness court and we are so proud of her.”


Pictured from L-R) are Judge Smith, Marley Corbine, Wellness Court Clerk, Robert Thayer, Wellness Court Participant, Susan Aason, Wellness Court Coordinator, Jasmine Carrillo, Rose Barber, Wellness Court Case Manager, and Bill Trepanier, Court Administrator/Magistrate.