Firm Believer in Treatment


Deputy Public Defender Susan Green wants to make it very clear: “I don’t agree with drunk driving and I think drunk drivers should be punished. . . . I don’t believe in mollycoddling them.”

That said, Green, a founder of the 321 Club, a court program that seeks to rehabilitate drug addicts and alcoholics convicted of misdemeanors, said she believes some people can and do change.

“Alcoholism is a progressive disease,” Green, 48, said. She should know. She is a recovering alcoholic. She wholeheartedly believes in treatment programs because they have allowed her to “stay sober for a number of years,” she said.


The programs can’t work miracles for all, she said, but they can help many rebuild their lives.

“Some can overcome their obsession to drink, and some can’t. Why that is, I don’t know,” Green said. “But I believe it’s possible if they work a program, commit to fundamental and internal change . . . I believe that they can” be rehabilitated.

To join 321, members must plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge and are given the maximum sentence, which is then suspended if members agree to the following conditions: random drug testing, daily Alcoholic Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings and monthly court appearances. If they miss the monthly appearances, membership is revoked and a judge issues a warrant for their arrest. They must participate in the program for three years.

If potential members are merely interested in reducing jail time, they probably won’t pass Green’s interview. But “if they say to me, ‘I’m tired, I want to change, I will do whatever it takes to change my behavior,’ then I will talk to them about involvement in [321],” she said.

Repeat offenders such as Ronald W. Cram, who faces his dozenth conviction, definitely need help, Green said.

“It’s a lot of work and it takes tremendous courage because they have to face where they’ve been, which oftentimes is not very pleasant.”