Judge Orders Dads to Watch Maury

Check out this unusual way that a Detroit judge has come up with to force men to live up to their responsibilities. He's making wayward fathers watch the "Maury" show. That's right, the show by Maury Povich, the king of baby daddy/baby mama drama. Now, if that move by the judge isn't cruel and unusual punishment, I don't know what is. Of course, I'm having a little fun with the idea of sentencing men who are behind on their child support payments with watching other fathers vehemently deny paternity before learning the results of their DNA tests on national T.V.  (If you've watched "Maury," then you know how sad and appalling this display of irresponsibility can be.) But you've got to at least give it to this judge in Detroit for trying an unconventional approach to make people do what they're supposed to do anyway.     

The Associated Press -- The studio audience isn't alone in cheering for Maury Povich. A Michigan judge, inspired by watching the syndicated talk show "Maury," has sentenced several dozen men so far this year to watch the show as part of their probation for overdue child support. The defendants must watch the show and discuss episodes with their probation officer.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Wade McCree says he took over the "deadbeat dads docket" in January after watching "too much of this terrible daytime TV" over the holidays. Watching episodes of "Maury," he said Monday, "was an eye-opener for me," and inspired him to use the show to help defendants realize the error of their ways.

"They see that people who laugh at that show are laughing at them," he said. "I'm trying to hold up a mirror."

"Maury" often deals with parenthood and child support, including raucous segments featuring men who deny fathering children and undergo testing to determine paternity.

Not every deadbeat dad is sentenced to watch the show, McCree said "some are hopeless and have to go to jail" while others have special circumstances such as job loss that have caused them to fall behind on payments.

"It's that group in the middle: What can I do to impact their lives," he said.

It's too early to tell if the show is making a difference, McCree said.

"At least it did give them a momentary focus, and I'll take what I can get out of these guys," he said.

Word of McCree's unique sentencing practice reached the producers of "Maury," who invited him on the show. An episode featuring McCree was taped April 1 and will air Thursday.

Povich says McCree is "thinking outside the box in terms of punishment," and more importantly, is calling attention to an important social issue.

"The question of whether young women are conducting themselves in a way that they would know who the fathers are, or the men who are going around bedding these women without using protection or any attempt to prevent pregnancy I believe that is an undeniable social issue in this country, and I think Judge McCree has given us more legitimacy than most people would think we have," Povich said.

"I'll endorse anything that works," he added.