The Worst Judge in the U.S.A.

This American Life

This American Life is a radio show that often takes a whimsical look at how that normal guy that lives down your street and seems so boring, well, he actually has an intereseting life, which is great, relaxing, and typically insightful. But then there are the episodes where they flex their journalistic muscles, throw the whimsy out the window, and get you pissed off. This last episode, “Very Tough Love,” is the latter.

It’s about a Judge in Georgia who runs a drug court unlike any other drug court in the country. Here is the summary for Part 1.

Ira reports from Glynn County Georgia on Superior Court Judge Amanda Williams and how she runs the drug courts in Glynn, Camden and Wayne counties. We hear the story of Lindsey Dills, who forges two checks on her parents’ checking account when she’s 17, one for $40 and one for $60, and ends up in drug court for five and a half years, including 14 months behind bars, and then she serves another five years after that—six months of it in Arrendale State Prison, the other four and a half on probation. The average drug court program in the U.S. lasts 15 months. But one main way that Judge Williams’ drug court is different from most is how punitive it is. Such long jail sentences are contrary to the philosophy of drug court, as well as the guidelines of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. For violating drug court rules, Lindsey not only does jail terms of 51 days, 90 days and 104 days, Judge Williams sends her on what she calls an “indefinite sentence,” where she did not specify when Lindsey would get out.

You can listen to the episode for free here. I highly recommend that you do.

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