MHA salutes Dennis Wittman
May 20, 2010
Dennis Wittman said Tuesday he didn't do anything special in his 25 years of leading the county's Genesee Justice program.
People who attended the Mental Health Association of Genesee County annual meeting heard a different recounting of Witman's career. Wittman received the Constance E. Miller Award, given to a person who shows a strong commitment to mental health treatment in the community.
...."I believe he has gone above and beyond. If you know Dennis Witman, you know that he's excellent," said Kathy France, former board member with the Mental Health Association, the organization that presented Wittman with his award.
....Wittman worked for the county for 36 years. He did an 11-year stint in the probation department before he was hired by the sheriff's office to help establish Genesee Justice.
When he first started Genesee Justice it only supervised community service sentences given to criminal offenders.
"Victims were never attended to," Witman said.
Genesee Justice now oversees initiatives such as alternatives to incarceration, community service, justice for children, victims assistance and restorative justice, a reconciliation program involving victims and offenders.
"We were very, very progressive. I thought we did it quite well," Wittman said.
"Wherever there was a gap in the justice system we tried to fill it," he said.
Genesee Justice was also awarded about $6.2 million in government grants during Wittman's tenure.
Wittman became a sought-after speaker because of the success of his brainchild. One of the economic benefits of it was it helped reduce the number of inmates in the County Jail.
Wittman spoke on the topic in 40 states and six provinces in Canada.