Ironwood woman gets jail, probation on drug charge


February 14, 2020


Bessemer — An Ironwood woman avoided a prison sentence on drug charges in Gogebic County Circuit Court Thursday, getting another chance to treat her unhealthy substance use issues.

Carolyn Elizabeth Kauffman, 26, was sentenced to three years of probation, with the first 12 months to be served in the Gogebic County Jail, for possessing methamphetamine.

As part of the sentence, Gogebic County Circuit Judge Michael Pope ordered Kauffman participate in several addiction treatment programs.

“You’ve asked for the opportunity, I’m giving you the opportunity. So it’s your decision what happens with your life from this point,” Gogebic County Circuit Judge Michael Pope told Kauffman. “Because you know what happens if you don’t do this, and you should remind yourself of that every morning when you wake up.”

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As part of the plea agreement Kauffman agreed to in December, a second possession of meth charge was dismissed Thursday.

Kauffman was facing a potential minimum sentence of anywhere from five to 28 months behind bars under the Michigan Department of Correction’s sentencing guidelines in the case, meaning Pope has the option to send her to prison.

Doug Muskett, Kauffman’s attorney, argued Kauffman had a history of struggling with addiction and that any sentence that didn’t include a focus on treatment was failing to address the underlying problems in the case.

“If we simply send her back to prison and she comes out, I think we are basically sentencing her — with her addiction troubles — to continue bouncing back and forth between prison and out of prison until she’s dead,” Muskett said. “We have an opportunity here today … (to) try to get her sober, and in doing that, restore her as a functioning member of society.”

Muskett pointed out there is evidence Kauffman is able to be maintain a job and apartment when she had structure and was not using drugs but struggled with her sobriety. He said prison remained an option if she failed to adhere to the ordered treatment programs.

Prosecutor Nick Jacobs argued Kauffman was on parole at the time of her arrest for a 2016 Gogebic County drug conviction and had only been on parole for roughly one year before being arrested again.

“I’m a firm believer in progressive sanctions, especially when these things happen so close in time,” Jacobs said.

When given the opportunity to address the court prior to sentencing, an emotional Kauffman apologized for appearing in court again. She said her previous experience in prison saved her life, giving her the opportunity to realize she didn’t want to continue using drugs.

She told Pope she relapsed as the result of poor coping mechanisms and asked for help returning to the life she wants to lead.

“I’m really just asking for this opportunity. I will not let you down. I want it so bad,” she told Pope.

In addition to her probation and jail sentence, Kauffman was also ordered to pay various court costs and Pope imposed mandatory drivers license sanctions.


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