Drug Courts: The Criminal Justice System Rolls the Rock, Part 2
(Part One of this interview can be found here.)
In this podcast, Judge Brian MacKenzie (Ret) continues his interview with Judge Michael Haley (Ret.) about his upcoming article to be published in the Journal of Public Interest Law entitled “ Drug Courts: The Criminal Justice System Rolls the Rock”. Judge Haley says that his recent retirement as a judge from the 86th District Court in Traverse City, Michigan, provided him an opportunity to step back and take a deep dive into the scientific literature about drug treatment courts and to combine that with his own personal experience in developing a DWI/Drug Court, to create a unique perspective about these courts.
Judge Haley’s interview focuses on his struggle to create a DWI/Drug Court, known in Michigan as a “Sobriety Court,” at a time when Drug Treatment Courts were not well known. The title of the article is a classical reference to the punishment of Sisyphus by the Greek gods, where he was required to roll a rock up a mountain, and every time he neared the peak, the rock rolled back down to the base. Judge Haley argues that at the time he became a judge, the criminal justice system’s approach to sentencing drug dependent defendants was as effective as the efforts of Sisyphus.
Drug Treatment Courts Creating Better Judges
During the course of the interview Judge Haley discusses how Drug Treatment Courts, and specifically his own Sobriety Court, changed his view of sentencing and offered him something he believes is necessary for judges in the criminal justice system — hope. Judge Haley believes that drug treatment courts, not only improve the lives of the individuals who participate, but offer a relief from the cynicism that seems to be a common problem for judges. This is borne out by previous research by JSI President Judge Peggy Hora (Ret.) who found that working therapeutically not only improves participant outcomes but increases judicial satisfaction.
Judge Haley says that he was lucky to be exposed to the drug treatment court model in its early years and that presiding over a Sobriety Court changed how he did judging. This in turn made him a better judge. The interview continued our in-depth discussion about Drug Treatment Courts and a revealing insight into one of the judges who helped change the criminal justice system.