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home : most recent : wayne August 18, 2017

6/18/2017 12:08:00 PM
Wayne County prosecutor offers choice between getting clean and going free or going to prison

Mike Emery, Palladium-Item

The contrast could not be more stark: incarceration or freedom.

And not just freedom from prison's walls, but also freedom from addiction's grasp.

"The keys to prison are in the hands of the people charged with the crime," said Prosecutor Mike Shipman about his Wayne County Drug Diversion Program. "If they want to get clean, they avoid prison; if not, they go to prison."

The year-old program allows offenders accused of low-level drug crimes, such as possession of heroin or of a syringe or low-level crimes rooted in addiction, such as shoplifting to not face charges if they fulfill the program's criteria. Two individuals have now successfully completed the program.

"I think we've reached a point in the program where enough time has elapsed that we're starting to see successes," said Adam McQueen, the assistant chief probation officer for the Wayne County Probation Department, which oversees the program's participants. "We're going to see the fruits of the situation."

The program demands effort and commitment from participants, and it takes time — as long as a year or more — for participants to meet the various requirements necessary. Some immediately choose not to participate; others hope to coast along and avoid incarceration but are removed; about a third, however, work to complete the program.

Shipman provided statistics through May that showed 83 individuals referred to the diversion program with 52 removed, including 36 within 100 days of entering it. Of the 31 others, 19 were compliant and 12 were addressing non-compliance issues.

"I expected more not to be successful than would be successful," he said. "I wasn't sure what to expect, but if it was similar to other programs, more would be unsuccessful than successful."

Related Links:
• Palladium-Item full text

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