What happens when impaired driving cases go to court? Are impaired drivers being held accountable for their decision to threaten the innocent lives of others? Are laws that MADD volunteers worked so hard to pass being followed?
MADD’s Court Monitoring Volunteers find out. Now in place in 17 states, including Tennessee, these volunteers go into local courtrooms to ensure drunk and drugged driving cases are prosecuted and adjudicated as the serious crimes they are.
Court monitoring is intended to enhance transparency and accountability within the criminal justice system and reduce the likelihood of repeat impaired driving offenses. Studies show that consistently placing an observer in the courtroom has a positive effect on case disposition. Standardized reporting used by court monitors contributes to an increase in information that can result in higher conviction rates.
MADD’s team of staff and volunteers tracks individual cases, compiles information about each case, and creates reports regarding case disposition. They look for trends and inconsistencies, and when appropriate, our staff presents these findings to prosecutors and judges. This process is a non-adversarial way of letting prosecutors and judges know that MADD is watching and looking for trends in how cases are handled.
Our MADD Tennessee court monitors focus their efforts in areas where there are not specialized DUI courts and DUI prosecutors as other state programs already track efforts in these courtrooms. Court monitors also do not get involved in felony cases that resulted in loss of life or injury. Our Victims Services Specialists are available to offer one-on-one assistance to families and victims in those cases.
MADD’s Court Monitoring Volunteers are dedicated, learn to understand courtroom decorum, and maintain a professional demeanor. They receive training in how to prepare for court, the criminal process, key figures in the courtroom and their roles, and the different types of court systems. Unlike victim specialists/advocates who represent victims and guide them through the process, court monitors must maintain neutrality while gathering, tracking, and reporting information.
MADD Tennessee is looking for Court Monitoring volunteers in the following counties: Bledsoe, Clay, Cocke, Fentress, Grundy, Hancock, Hardeman, Jackson, Lake, Lauderdale, McNairy, Morgan, Perry, Scott, and Van Buren counties. If you are available during daytime hours and interested in learning more, fill-out our Volunteer Sign-up Form and a Program Specialist will contact you with additional information. This opportunity is perfect for retirees, criminal justice and law students, psychology students, human and social service majors, or anyone with an interest in a hands-on way of helping MADD with our mission to eliminate drunk driving, fight drugged driving, prevent underage drinking, and support the victims of these crimes.
These court monitors are MADD’s eyes and ears. They make up a critical piece of MADD’s mission to serve victims of this 100% preventable crime – and to make sure justice is served.