Emmy-Winning Second Chances Chronicles Struggles, Joys of Drug Court
"I don't think recovering addicts have a better life, but I do think we
get a different view, and that's a beautiful thing."
Stefanie Robinson, executive director of Hope Recovery Community in Medina and
peer support advisor to Medina County Drug Court, is among the Ohioans who
share their story of drug and alcohol addiction and rehabilitation in the Emmy
award-winning documentary, Second Chances: One Year in Ohio's Drug Courts.
Written, produced, directed and edited by Wright State University
communications-TV broadcast alum Anne Fife, Second Chances follows over a
dozen recovering addicts' journey through Ohio drug courts in three counties:
Hocking, Marion and Medina. Fife, producer for Ohio Government Television (OGT)
and Cleveland PBS and NPR affiliate Ideastream, created the hour-long feature
with support from the Ohio Supreme Court. The 2019 release was distributed
through PBS, Court News Ohio and the National Center for State Courts.
Fife took home writer's honors at this week's virtual Ohio Valley Regional Emmy
Awards with a stirring profile of Ohioans struggling to reclaim their lives
from alcohol and addictive drugs.
"People cannot make it through this without help. It's bigger than all of
us," Judge Teresa Ballinger of Marion Municipal Court's drug docket says
in Second Chances, noting many participants experience repeated ups and
downs before graduating from drug court. Not everyone makes it.
"When you get around particular people, particular circumstances, then
there's a tendency to relapse, especially while you're just in the beginning of
treatment," says Ballinger.
Ohio's voluntary drug courts are accustomed to giving participants many opportunities
to restart recovery -- with accountability.
know we're bad as addicts, but we're not terrible people when we're clean,"
says Tiffany, a young woman from Hocking County's Municipal Drug Court. She
says court-monitored drug recovery is the kind of structure many need to get
clean and stay clean. "We need to do something different than throwing us
all in jail."
Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses says that, like everyone else,
recovering addicts must learn to live life on life's terms, as the saying goes;
to deal with success and failure in big and little ways.
"Life isn't easy, whether you're rich, poor, clean or sober," says
Some Ohioans face challenges others don't, even as children. Timi's mom was an
alcoholic and opiate addict who showed her how to crush and snort pills for a
better high. The daughter graduated to heroin but eventually learned, with the
help of drug court, that she had to give up the old "people, places and
things" to stay sober. It is another phrase with which recovering addicts
are well acquainted.
"You definitely have to change everything.… It's hard when it's your
mom," Timi shares during Second Chances. "Addiction either
ends in recovery or death, and recovery is harder than dying."
Robinson, who helped launch Medina County Recovery Center along with her own
recovery community organization (RCO) and now provides regular peer support to
Judge Joyce Kimbler's court, says Timi's sentiment is true of addicts and
"Defining moments … are when life sucks and you continue to do the 'next
right thing,'" Robinson says, quoting another powerful aphorism.
Of the 19 addicted Ohioans profiled by Second Chances, 13 make it to
drug court graduation.
"You can't fix everybody, and that's a very hard part of this job,"
Judge Moses observes, urging one drug court participant in the documentary to
stay on track after her sister died of an overdose.
OGT's contract with the Ohio Supreme Court's Public Information Office has
given Fife and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor an opportunity to view drug court
recovery from differing professional commitments but a common human
“One thing I took away from this process was not to give up on people. There
are many times that people surprised us by making small changes that really
affected their lives in a positive way,” Fife says in the Court's Emmy
“I’m incredibly proud that this documentary received this well-deserved
recognition from the television industry,” O’Connor says. “This film captures
the compassion and dedication of drug court judges and the treatment teams that
help those struggling with addiction. The daily struggle of those suffering
from the disease of addiction is real, and it was accurately portrayed in this
Supreme Court Public Information Director Ed Miller notes Second Chances'
Emmy has come at a time when the public health impacts of drug courts are
somewhat overshadowed by COVID-19.
“That makes the film’s lessons and Anne Fife’s work all the more important to
view today as addiction struggles continue. There are no outside experts
quoted, only those living through the drug crisis who are trying to solve it,”
Second Chances: One Year in Ohio's Drug Courts can be viewed on the Ohio
Channel at www.ohiochannel.org/video/second-chances-one-year-in-ohios-drug-courts.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on October 7, 2020. Copyright 2020 Hannah News Service, Inc.