This American Life

Very Tough Love:

This week: A drug court program that we believe is run differently from every other drug court in the country, doing some things that are contrary to the very philosophy of drug court. The result? People with offenses that would get minimal or no sentences elsewhere sometimes end up in the system five to ten years.

  • hulahoop

    Yeah, but she’s “tough on crime and repeat offenders.” That is exactly what most people want to hear at election time even if they don’t know what it really means because they don’t take five minutes to actually do research themselves. The only information they receive about a candidate they vote for is the self promotion made by the candidate themselves.

  • iawoken

    As I’ve always felt, prison or drug court was never a real choice for victimless crime criminals. Now I find the two are becoming closer and closer over time.

  • What appears to be happening all over the country, is that the legal system has found a way to increase the punishment that it gives out using a third party. Especially in victimless crimes with small amounts of drugs. The court gives you a fine and possible jail time that is usually done through probation. Completing probation is also contingent on completing a Substance Abuse Evaluation and any recommended treatment. This is where the problems come in.

    The cost of the Substance Abuse Evaluation and any recommended treatment is paid by the convicted person in addition to any fines. You are lucky to get away with only $1000 (average) for the least possible treatment evaluation and plan. This would be the cost of something like the Evaluation and 90 in 90 days at AA ($1 a meeting, transportation, a BB, etc….) The worst possible case would be a 30-90 day stay in a rehab followed up by 90 in 90 days at AA costing $30,000 or more.

    At first this sounds good because the convicted person is footing the bill instead of the state. What you have to realize is that the state would not be paying these bills anyway. The state is not lowering its cost in cases where there would be limited or no jail time. They are just punishing the offender more through the use of AA and the 12 Step industry. Do the math on both of the cases on the link from this page. The State did not save any money.

    How do we change this? I am not sure of the best way. One way would be to have corporate AA (lets not argue that it is not a corporation, because it is look at your BB) simply change the literature that it puts out to state that they will no longer sign slips because of the liability that it causes. When people sign those slips (I know most of the time they only initial them) they are breaking thier anonymity.

    How do we as individuals do this? We go to the Intergroups and lobby them to not sign slips. Go to the conferences that approve literature printed by corporate AA in New York. Get corporate AA to send a letter to each court saying they disapprove of AA members signing court slips, just like they send letters to every major newspaper asking for thier anonymity to be protected.

  • Katieshrike

    Yay! I’m glad you finally linked this I’ve been waiting for anybody I know to listen so I could finally discuss the content lol

  • Katieshrike

    I brought this up in the Neverending Thread but maybe now on the front page I’ll get a wider response pool- the thing that struck me with this story was the “indefinite sentencing.” how is that legal? I get that if you violate probation or whatever you get jail time (whether the judge made a fair assessment of those violations is a whole other can of worms) but I just don’t understand how you can get sent to jail essentially until the judge remembers you’re there and feels like letting you out. I’m not a lawyer and I know there’s always weird loopholes but I thought part of the reason the legal system in this country was developed to function the way it does was to avoid just that kind of thing, something we usually associate with monarchs and third world dictators?

  • Katie, I’m sorry it took us so long to get this up! People have been emailing me, and finally massiveattack emailed today and said, DO IT NOW.

    So scatterbrained lately.

  • FTG, MA, thanks for putting it up here!!!


    So there are people in Georgia trying to impeach her. They have made these courts so powerful they have more control beyond the scope of any normal law to do what ever they want. This is insane. This is not justice. Now it’s worse then being seen /heard in the old court.
    Something is wrong about this one. There is a red flag for me here. I mean about this Judge. 35 years in AA I can see. There is something…

    When you listen to the whole episode it stinks.

    We should all write the Governor of Georgia. She clearly states that because her husband is 15 years in recovery “she knows all about drugs”! Wow what an arrogant statement.

    Next it’s Hilter time. Throw them in the ovens! I mean it. This is very very scary. Like Quantanimo, where men are sitting for 9 years in a jail without a trial. WHen did drug courts get so powerful. WHy. WHo is benefiting. What are the stats. Unlike AA there must be stats. Does anyone know?

    Betty Ford sure made a big mess. She is responsible for plenty of it. At least Insurance companys paying for treatment. I don’t know the answer. But I’m digging. If we dig together we will find the answers faster.
    that town is afriad of her. Why? Why is she so powerful. What else does she own. WHo is her father. WHat businesses do she & her husband own. Lots & lots of questions here.

    Again as we have discussed on the blog, someone is AA, she’s I guess in al-anon ??? or not we dont know, but because her husband was once a drunk, now sober he is better then everyone and because she as married to a guy who couldn’t handle his beer and stopped for 15 years she is now an expert.

    Run baby run…..Sheryl Crow….I’m dying here.

  • If I were these girls parents I would sue that state.

  • Katieshrike

    Yeah this episode drove me crazy, wanting to know all the answers to those same questions. I figure she must come from one if the citie’s founding families or something, some control somewhere, otherwise i like to think there’d be at least one person willing to take this up to a higher court. I mean, as long as you stay on the right side of the law she shouldn’t have any real influence over you,but clearly she does somehow or people wouldn’t be so terrorized.

    The Guantanimo Bay thing bugs me too. Being in the military, I hear often the argument that boils down to “they’re terrorists, fuck ’em!” Well, no, maybe they are maybe they aren’t, but until they get a trial we won’t know for sure. And if it turns out they aren’t, then we’ve pretty much just ruined their lives. The same applies here. Maybe these people have committed a jailable offense, but locking them up indefinitely hasn’t been the way we run the legal system in this country.

    As I said, I’m not a lawyer, but maybe somebody here is. I genuinely want to know, is there precedent for what this judge is doing? Is there some sort of loophole that allows judges to lock someone up without telling them in a timely manner when their expected trial or release date is, or at least what to expect innthe near future?

  • I just realized I know a lawyer that I can call! Will do. I’ll let you know what he says.

  • Jcal

    This asshole judge has more problems than her intuitive guideline for sentencing, look her up. She also has a son who is a lawyer and has been asking other attorneys to throw some business her sons way. Coming from a judge I think that asking would be more like a subtle demand.

  • AntiDenial

    I have yet to hear this piece,but I think we really need to go after this legally.
    I believe part of the problem is not enough people are complaining about.
    The reason so many people are allowed to be forced to go to AA is because they dont question authority. This is basically an abuse of power. The judge knows that many do not know their rights As long as people dont squawk about it-they continue business as usual.
    I have written to a number of judges who have stated that NO ONE has EVER questioned
    the AA/NA mandate. So by default because with no options offered-people go.

    If we had people standing in the halls of drug court and othe courts related to drugs and alcohol and told people they had choices if they stood up to the system-things would start to change. Many judges stated that if someone ASKED about alternatives they would work with them.But only if they asked. They take advantage of the ignorance and fear of the people before them.

  • AD, why don’t more people complain? Most people in the US and Europe have internet access.

  • There is a PDF file called “Mandated AA Attendance” at the following site that explains the process of Court Mandated AA Attendance. It explains exactly how it is done rather nicely, and who is responsible for what.

  • chris

    “Drug court is a path of meetings, support groups, treatment centers, court and testing. As people move through the program, their supervision lessens. They’re required to meet less and attend court less.”

    “Once we get them clean and sober, then we have to train them.”

    This is from a drug court in Ft. Wayne, IN. (Allen County)

  • AntiDenial

    Primrose-good question. I have thought alot about this.
    I believe it comes down to this.AA is so ingrained as an acceptable
    addiction treatment modality.That the average Joe accepts at face value
    that it most be acceptable if the big powerful judge can mandate that you go.
    Typically the average citizen does not think that the Judge would be infringing
    on their first amendment right-RIGHT? I mean this is AMERICA?
    It boils down to ignorance.This case ignorance is not bliss!
    Also for those that have never attended AA/NA do not know until they have already signed up for the program what it is really about.Then they meet all these other mandated people.So it must be legal right? WRONG!!!!!!!!!

  • AntiDenial

    JR Harris- looked at the court mandated link. Very interesting.
    But with my own homework that I have done, I do not believe there is any legal loophole.
    The courts are doing this illegally-period.It is true what you had stated earlier that third party providers suggest AA-which in turns makes it a mandate.But it is my understanding that at the discretion of the judge he/she and and does make these choices as well. There is not always a third party provider initially. Also just because a third party suggests this treatment does not in anyway create a loophole. The bottom line is the Judge has the
    final say buy MANDATING that you follow the recommendations of third party providers.
    So in my humble opinion-the courts are not off the hook. They just dont have enough people suing them over this stuff. When people have they have won in the higher courts.

    [CITE: 42CFR2.35]

    Sec. 2.35 Disclosures to elements of the criminal justice system which have referred patients.

    (a) A program may disclose information about a patient to those
    persons within the criminal justice system which have made participation
    in the program a condition of the disposition of any criminal
    proceedings against the patient or of the patient’s parole or other
    release from custody if:
    (1) The disclosure is made only to those individuals within the
    criminal justice system who have a need for the information in
    connection with their duty to monitor the patient’s progress (e.g., a
    prosecuting attorney who is withholding charges against the patient, a
    court granting pretrial or posttrial release, probation or parole
    officers responsible for supervision of the patient); and ………..


    If the offender does not sign papers giving the court and probation office access to these records they go to jail. The Probation department determines if you violate probation and suggests to the judge what should be done.

  • chris

    It`s probably only SUGGESTED, you could go to jail if you want. YOUR CHOICE. so to speak, not really though.

  • If you check the State laws which govern the Probation of the offender, they are Mandated to include this in the sentence. Here is one quick link I found from an Attorney in Georgia talking about it. You have to research each state this happens in seperately, which is pretty much all of them.

  • AntiDenial

    FYI-There is a correction and clarification on this interview posted yesterday.
    Check it out.

  • STU

    Please help us! We have been suffering since this woman took office in 1990! Now that her power-mad corruption has finally reached national attention we have a chance to finally get rid of her. Don’t believe there’s real corruption in Brunswick? Our local paper has still yet to print one word about this. Listen to the podcast. Google her name. This doesn’t even address her conduct in civil and criminal court! The story Our site. (UPDATE 3/31/11)Brunswick News finally printed something on this today,but as usual small town corruption had to put its spin on things. She received death threats, likely from her own camp to discredit those trying to oust her. The article comes out six days after the national radio broadcast, six days not a word, then this, corruption in Brunswick? You decide. The “news” article:

  • AntiDenial

    STU- Thanks for your input. We are mad as hell about it! I listened to the American Life interviews today,and I cried. I was shocked about that poor girl who was locked up in solitary and tried to commit suicide. Her parents should sue the hell out of the state for millions.The nice guy 3 months from graduating drug court getting jail time and the other youg lady that was tied up in the sytem over 2 pills!! Please keep us posted of any new developments as there are many on this site that want to help in anyway we can.

  • Drug Court in Georgia seems very harsh. The Judges seem to be having a problem with Drugs also. In October of 2010, US District Judge Jack T. Camp, Jr was arrested for buying and using drugs at the Velvet Room in Sandy Springs Georgia. He was under a long time FBI surveillance sting. He had been buying and using marijuana, cocaine and Roxycodone for a long time. I wonder if he will be prosecuted by Judge Amanda Williams?

    (Comments are open and begging to be filled, since they are empty)

  • Update on Judge Jack T. Camp. On March 11, 2011 he was sentenced to 30 days in jail and one year probation for unlawful possession of controlled substances charges and unlawful conversion of government property. He was NOT charged with any gun charges (he was carrying guns to drug deals with the FBI informant to protect her), was NOT charged with ANY related prostitution payments (the informant was a prostitute he was paying), He was NOT charged with associating with known criminals in illegal acts (he had the prostitute’s criminal record checked by another law/court agency, so he knew).

    Amazing, where is a good drug court in Georgia when they are prosecuting thier own, instead of a teenager?