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86th District Drug Court Hands Down First Sentence

“Hopefully we can make their lives better. By making their lives better, we’ll make the community better.”

That’s the goal of the new drug court program at the 86th District Court.

Monday, the Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Antrim County court handed down its first sentence for someone with a drug addiction interested in getting help.

9&10’s Caroline Powers continues our coverage of the new opportunities the drug court provides.

“Welcome to the drug court,” says Judge Thomas Phillips.

Anna Blanchard stood in the courtroom Monday thankful for the opportunity to turn her life around.

“This program is what any addict who’s trying to stay clean would need to be doing,” Blanchard says. “Sometimes it’s hard to hold yourself accountable and this program will absolutely help me to do that.”

In September, Blanchard was arrested for having cocaine after she was found passed out in the car while waiting to pick up her son at the bus stop.

“The length of time will hopefully create long-term habits that will help me to not have this ever happen again,” Blanchard says.

With help from court staff, counselors and the prosecutor people like Anna can get the help they need.

“It starts with a person wanting to be in the court,” says Judge Phillips. “So they want to get away from drugs, and then it’s a very long process. It’s a three year court.”

“Twice daily breathalyzers, eight times a month drug tests, or more. We may ask for more,” says Pam Blue, chief probation officer. “So it’s pretty intensive.”

Anna will spend 30 days in jail first, but the recovery process that comes after is set up to be life-changing.

“There is some light at the end of the tunnel for her,” says Gerald Chefalo, defense attorney. “She will be rewarded and that she will not have an ugly conviction on her record that will prevent her from getting jobs and being an active member of the community.”

Even though Monday was the first sentencing, the court says they already have a growing list of people interested in joining the program.

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