Macomb prosecutor, district court judge settle drug court differences

Michigan is one of the states that has led the way in establishing drug courts, which focus on supervised treatment for drug and alcohol abusers.

A drug court is a diversion program that offers offenders the carrot of treatment, education and employment, backed up with the stick of weekends in jail and other punishments for missteps along the way.

There are many drug courts statewide but the one in Warren headed by 37th District Court Judge Dawnn Gruenberg hasn’t seen much activity in the last year. The judge and Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith haven’t seen eye-to-eye on how the court was being administered, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Smith, concerned that Gruenberg’s drug court was becoming a “revolving door” for repeat offenders who should be jailed through the regular court system, only referred nine offenders to the judge’s drug court last year, compared to 75 in 2006.

Chief Circuit Court Judge Richard Caretti, acutely aware that drug offenders were being denied a chance to turn their lives around, and that $200,000 in state funding might evaporate, was eager for a resolution.

He got one last week when Gruenberg and Smith agreed to a sanction system that spells out the number of chances participants get before they are booted from the drug court and sent back to the regular court system. The judge also agreed to provide the prosecutor with information about participants’ miscues.

Everybody’s happy now.

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