Michigan Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program Annual Report
Based on the outcomes in this report, while SSSPPs are effective among graduates within three years of admission or sentencing, five-year outcomes for graduates and all participants are not as positive. This might be explained by the population sentenced into SSSPP programs and the program model that SSSPPs use on their population.
Homeless man avoids Shiawassee Co. (Mich.) jail time with treatment program
A homeless Owosso man was initially sentenced to one year in jail for felony meth possession by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart, but Stewart then ordered that sentence to be subject to waiver and instead sentenced the man to inpatient treatment and probation.
Danny Fennel, 45, was given the suspended jail term and ordered to pay court costs and fines. He will also be enrolled in the court’s Swift and Sure probation program when he completes inpatient treatment, which he will begin as soon as a position becomes available at a treatment facility. Fennel was also ordered to pay court costs and fines, and was discharged unsuccessfully from probation.
Fennel was charged by prosecutors with felony meth possession after Owosso police discovered him asleep in his truck, which he was living out of. Fennel had over 11 grams of meth and was arrested at the scene.
Stewart told Fennel before sentencing that he would give him a chance to avoid jail or prison by ordering inpatient treatment instead.
“If there’s a rope and it was 5 feet long, you would be like on the last inch,” Stewart said. “Do you got that imagery? … I’m not sure that you will comply this time either. I don’t like just sending drug users to prison. But I don’t know what else to do. This is your last chance to make something out of yourself and get out of this. It’s up to you. I’ll give you the resources and the tools. It’s up to you to make a decision to take advantage of them. If you don’t, there will only be one person to blame when you go to prison.”
Fennel told Stewart he receives disability benefits, and at the time of his arrest, he had just gotten paid and purchased a large amount of meth with the money.
“I messed up,” Fennel said. “I was out of control pretty bad.”
Shiawassee Co. chief assistant prosecutor Graham Leach noted Fennel has several prior felony convictions, including two meth possession charges. He was on probation and had absconded at the time of his arrest.
“Perhaps the Swift and Sure, zero tolerance, may be setting him up for failure,” Leach said. “I think that 11.8 grams is certainly significant. It’s a significant amount of meth, as the court is well aware, beyond what somebody typically sees for use, which is a much smaller amount.”
Shiawassee Co. Public Defender, who represented Fennel, asked for “zero tolerance” probation.
“You have this repeating cycle that he cannot survive,” Corwin said. “He’s living in a car, homeless … I’d ask the court to give him a chance.”
Stewart agreed, but warned Fennel if he is unsuccessful with treatment and probation, he could count on a prison sentence.
“Okay we’ll try, Mr. Fennel,” Stewart said. “We’ll try. I guess we’ll see.”
Midland Co. (Mich.) probation program gives hope for change
“I was drinking and driving actually, and apparently I hit someone, like side swiped someone’s car. And I had like an altercation with some other people. And someone had called the police and when they tried to pull me over, I didn’t stop. And then I wrecked my car. I had my girlfriend at the time, but she’s my wife now, she was in the car so that’s not good. And I pretty much knew, well I figured I was going to prison. I was like I’m definitely going to prison over this,” Limon said.
Despite his legal troubles, Limon was offered a way out, a chance to turn his life around. It’s called the MiHope-Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program. Brionna Varner is the program coordinator.
“His probation officer that he had in MiHOPE, he has worked with her before in the past. And she said that you know he’s a really good guy and he does very well when he’s in a program. It’s just after the program that’s where he struggles. So, she was really pushing for us to give him a chance and so we did,” Varner said.
“If it wasn’t for the MiHOPE Program who knows? Definitely wouldn’t live in this nice neighborhood. John wouldn’t be having his own business. You know we have a great life,” Tina Limon said.
John Limon added, “I wake up in the morning I feel great, throughout the day I feel great, and when I go to sleep at night I feel great.”
Finding hope in Midland: (Mich.): Limon becomes 26th MiHOPE graduate; gets a second chance at life
Limon’s time in incarceration began when he was 17, and until two years ago, his life was a cycle of addiction and jail time. Just prior to entering MiHOPE, Limon was sentenced to one to three years as a third-time habitual offender fleeing from police officers. When offered the chance to participate in MiHOPE, Limon was skeptical, thinking that he was just going to eventually end up back in prison. He then began thinking about getting out of that cycle and doing something different with his life.
“With the program, there comes a time when I realized this is beneficial to not only my health but my life. You reprogram your mind and start thinking differently, start doing differently,” Limon said.
Twin County (Mich.) man sentenced to probation for stealing golf cart, other items
“You did these offenses less than a year after being released from prison on parole,” the judge said. “You now have 13 felony convictions.”
“Your guidelines are for a minimum of nine and a half years in prison on the breaking and entering charge and a maximum of life in prison because you’re a habitual offender,” he added. “I’m amazed they agreed to let you go on Swift & Sure and that they would let you in.”
“Frankly, you could die in prison. I hope you appreciate that this is your last opportunity for redemption,” the judge said. “You have to change everything about the way you think.”
Saginaw Co. (Mich.) forms specialized DV court
The judge said the docket will function similar to the county’s Swift and Sure Sanctions Probation Program, an intensive supervision program that targets high-risk felony offenders with a history of probation violations or failures.
“What the intent is, when a person is arraigned on a domestic violence charge, the timeframe is going to be shortened between arraignment to pretrial to final disposition,” Frank said.