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Points North

Points North, Ep. 29: Innocent until proven guilty

Max Johnston
Interlochen Public Radio
The 86th District Courthouse in Traverse City

This week on Points North, we dive into how the state is trying to help underpaid and overworked court-appointed attorneys. Plus a former employee of the Traverse City State Hospital reflects on 30 years on the job.

Trials and tribulations of court-appointed attorneys in Michigan

Credit Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio
Jason Razavi is a court-appointed attorney in Grand Traverse County.

Court-appointed attorneys defend people who can’t pay for a lawyer of their own. But the state didn’t give those attorneys a fair shot to defend their clients, according to the ACLU.

That means more convictions and harsher sentences that could have been avoided, says the ACLU. Now more funding and training for those lawyers is meant to balance the scales.

Hear how the state is trying to help out underpaid and overworked public defenders.

Unsentenced and behind bars: pastor talks jail overpopulation


The director of Before During After Incarceration Tom Bousamra says the increased population behind bars has created inhumane conditions at the jails, broken up families and led to high recidivism rates. 

An interview with Tom Bousamra, the director of Before During After Incarceration.

The organization is holding an educational event for the public at the Central United Methodist Church on Oct. 3.

Less state hospitals mean more people on the street, former administrator says

Credit The Village at Grand Traverse Commons
The former Traverse City State Hospital.

The Traverse City State Hospital was a psychiatric facility that closed in 1989. Peg Wagner worked as an administrator in the 1940s, and says the world was better off with the asylum in business.

Peg Wagner reflects on 30 years as an administrator at the Traverse City State Hospital.

Red Pine Radio producer Stewart McFerran has been interviewing former employees of the hospital. Find his other interviews here.


Max came to IPR in 2017 as an environmental intern. In 2018, he returned to the station as a reporter and quickly took on leadership roles as Interim News Director and eventually Assignment Editor. Before joining IPR, Max worked as a news director and reporter at Michigan State University's student radio station WDBM. In 2018, he reported on a Title IX dispute with MSU in his story "Prompt, Thorough and Impartial." His work has also been heard on Michigan Radio, WDBM and WKAR in East Lansing and NPR.