Birmingham, Mich (June 8, 2010) – Due Process, a long-running weekly legal program airing on PBS, has won an Emmy Award for best Public/Current/Community Affairs program for its “Treatment Court” episode. The award was announced at the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences 2010 Michigan Emmy Awards on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.
Due Process is hosted by attorney Henry Baskin and produced by Mitch Jacobs, Jacobs Productions. The program has been on the air for 26 seasons, making it one of the longest running programs in Michigan television history. This is the first Emmy Award for the program as well as the first time Due Process submitted a nomination for the award.
“Everyone involved with Due Process strives to produce quality and informative shows that will provide the public with simple and helpful information about common legal issues, so it is a true honor to receive this award,” said Henry Baskin, host of Due Process. “Many thanks go to Due Process producer Mitch Jacobs, PBS and to our underwriters Meade Lexus and Newsradio WWJ-950.”
“Treatment Court”, the Emmy Award winning episode, was an in-depth look at the adult treatment court and its effectiveness at addressing adult felony offenders. In this powerful program, host Henry Baskin was joined by the Honorable Wendy Potts, Chief Circuit Judge of the 6th Judicial Circuit Court and Shea Pounder, an ex-addict who received assistance through treatment court and is helping others transition to a successful life.
“The Isabella County Drug Court reported as of the end of October a 51 percent graduation rate for its participants since it started in 2002,” reported Central Michigan Life.
“The drug court was created to allow Isabella County residents who have been convicted of drug or alcohol felonies to take time off of their sentences. There have been 200 participants, and 102 have graduated the program.”
Allegan County officials fear the county, which has seen a resurgence in meth-related crimes in 2009, will lose a program that has helped meth addicts if it does not collect about $120,000 by January.
“The meth diversion program requires that amount to run for one year, Community Service Programs Coordinator Lindsay Marshall said,” in a story in the Holland Sentinel. “So far, the county has received about $41,000 to put towards the program — including a $36,000 community corrections grant, and two $2,500 grants from Allegan and Laketown townships.”
A report released by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers claims that drug courts aren’t working as intended.
According to the NACDL, in a statement released along with its report, said “Drug courts — first created 20 years ago as an emergency response to an epidemic of drug-related criminal cases that clogged courts and prisons — have in many places become an obstacle to making cost-efficient drug abuse therapy available to addicts and reducing criminal case loads.”
Part of the problem, the NACDL asserts, is that drug courts frequently bypass the toughest cases.
“Well-intended prosecutors and judges, generally with little input from the defense bar, often limit entry to treatment to offenders most likely to solve their own problems while insisting that ‘harder cases’ go to jail, at considerable taxpayer expense. … Minorities, immigrants and those with few financial resources are often under-represented in drug court programs,” the NACDL continued.
The report recommends:
— Treating substance abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice one
— Opening admission criteria to all those who need, want and request treatment
— Enforcing greater transparency in admission practices and relying on expert assessments, not merely the judgment of prosecutors
— Prohibiting the requirement of guilty pleas as the price of admission
— Urging greater involvement of the defense bar to create programs that preserve the rights of the accused
— Considering the ethical obligations of defense lawyers to their client even if they choose court-directed treatment
— Opening a serious national discussion on decriminalizing low-level drug use
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.