Macomb County’s “Scary Mary,” the circuit judge who tries to scare drug addicts straight, was featured Sunday on the NBC News magazine “Dateline.”
Tough-talking Judge Mary Chrzanowski was profiled in the hour-long program, which followed three drug addicts participating in a drug court program that gives them a chance to stay out of jail. They must submit to frequent drug tests, go through counseling and have regular sessions with Scary Mary, who could kick them out.
They included a 15-year-old high school student, 41-year-old musician and a 23-year-old restaurant cook the “Dateline” crew followed for the better part of a year.
How effective are drug courts in helping non-violent offenders turn their lives around and recover from their addictions?
Chzanowski’s volunteer job as a judge in the drug court allows her to show her compassionate side, but she also has to play the role of drill sergeant.
A recovered addict and alcoholic herself, Chrzanowski said her own personal struggle with substances has given her insight into what it takes to go straight. The judge, who said she began drinking heavily after law school, has been sober for a decade.
Drug court participants learn quickly that the iron-fisted Chrzanowski, who earned the “Scary Mary” handle from a prisoner. is in charge.
“I have a difficult time understanding, ‘Well, why can’t they just stop (using substances) like I did?’ “