State bars probation officers on TV drug court | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 2, 2011

State bars probation officers on TV drug court

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:26 AM

JUDGE GUNN: Needs new probation officer actors.
  • JUDGE GUNN: Needs new 'probation officer' actors.
Tuesday, I revealed documents I’d received from a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Community Corrections about a deal in which state probation offices planned to work in off-hours on the reality TV “drug court” planned by Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn, soon to leave the bench.

The documents — and my post — revealed how the reality TV show might broadcast details from case files typically carefully protected in the probation and parole world. My post raised questions about a high degree of public agency cooperation in a private commercial enterprise that has been criticized by a judicial ethics panel for the undue influence it might bring to bear on people nominally seeking rehabilitation and a fresh start through the judicial system. My post noted that a document approving probation officer participation was sent two days BEFORE the DCC told me they knew nothing about it.

Amazing what a little sunlight will do. Late Wednesday, a DCC spokeswoman, Rhonda Sharp, told the Northwest Arkansas version of the Democrat-Gazette (but not me; and the D-G cheesily failed to credit the source of the information on which its questions were raised) that probation officers wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the TV show after all. “Potential for confusion,” she told the newspaper.

Yes, indeedy.

Sharp confirmed to me that the probation officers had been yanked, but said she was simply too busy to talk to me any further on the subject. I get it. As best as I can tell, I’ve been just about the only reporter not ready to give Gunn a trophy for using her public court as a springboard to TV and lining up all manner of public agencies — Washington County, the DCC, the public defender and others — to help her out. Sharp had defended the idea in exchanges with me Tuesday. Glad to see the NWA DOG join the party.

One other thing: I’d been told repeatedly that the plan mentioned in DCC documents of using referrals from other sitting circuit judges in Washington County for “actors” in the TV drama would NOT get approval from Circuit Judge William Storey of Fayetteville. I called him and Judge Michael Fitzhugh of Fort Smith, also mentioned as a potential source of case fodder, about this Tuesday. Neither returned my call. However, the NWA D-G got a terse comment from Storey. “That’s not accurate,” he’s reported to have said about state e-mail stating he'd participate. More bad information from the state. Maybe it should concentrate more on its job than on facilitating a private TV show. Unanswered, still, is the question of where the political heat has been coming from to get DCC to do this.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Eclipse-o-rama underway

    Times photographer Brian Chilson is in Riverfront Park participating in eclipsealypse. Here's a shot of people trying out their safety glasses.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Corporate welfare is a failure. So why does it keep increasing?

    Huge study says corporate welfare is inefficient and unproductive. But politicians keep doing it. Wonder why.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • Police identify three dead in Birchwood

    Police have now released some details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. Court recordx indicate the suspect had a history of domestic violence.
    • Aug 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Two plead in fraud of sheriff's office

    A former employee of the Pulaski County sheriff and a North Little Rock woman who sold goods to the sheriff's office have pleaded guilty to mail fraud in a scheme to steal from the sheriff's office, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office.
    • May 16, 2017
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.
  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.

Most Viewed

  • Police identify three dead in Birchwood

    Police have now released some details about the apparent slaying Sunday of two children and suicide of the man who killed them on Birchwood Drive in West Little Rock. Court recordx indicate the suspect had a history of domestic violence.
  • University of Texas removes Confederate statues

    Confederate statuary was removed overnight from a prominent spot on the University of Texas campus because they symbolize white supremacy and neo-Nazism, the university president said.
  • Eclipse day. Woodstock?

    I was amused by the excitement of a NASA scientist over today's eclipse, as reported by CNN.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation