Logan County adds drug court program

Logan County’s municipal court transferred $100,000, which it accumulated from OVI offenses, to the common pleas court to cover counseling costs and get the program started, Common Pleas Court Judge Mark O’Connor said.

The court sees about 250 felony cases a year, and O’Connor said about 20 percent of his cases could qualify for the program.

Drug courts usually help non-violent, low-level offenders that are serious about treating their addiction get one-on-one treatment services through the program, O’Connor said.

“Supervision and interaction between defendants and the court is intense, including weekly meetings with the treatment team,” he said.

Right now O’Connor sentences some drug addicts to prison and most to community control, which he says rarely cures the drug addiction.

“If you send an addict to prison, it doesn’t meant they will come out of prison not an addict,” O’Connor said. “We see people on probation nearly die and having to be revived with medications frequently … It’s a significant and serious problem.”

An advisory committee comprised of the court, law enforcement, parole officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community members and mental health service providers has been working on making the drug court a reality for about 10 months, O’Connor said.

Counselors from Consolidated Care in West Liberty will be the case managers for defendants sent through drug court.

“Instead of the court bringing down the hammer, it is more about what we can do to get this person to recover,” Consolidated Care President Jennifer Dempster said.

The drug court will create individualized plans for all the participants and will work very closely with the defendant to get clean, Dempster said. Often when a person is put on community control or probation, parole officers only see the person every six months, he added.

Dempster said probation focuses on preventing people from committing crimes and doesn’t get to the root problem.

“We need to find ways to get people through recovery to reduce crime,” Dempster said. “When we can get someone clean, their chances of recommitting a crime are slim to none.”

Defendants can make a motion for drug court right now in the Logan County Common Pleas Court.

Representatives from the court and Consolidated Care plan to talk to prosecutors and defense attorneys Wednesday about the cases the program will take.

O’Connor’s staff is currently working to file paperwork with the Ohio Supreme Court so Logan County can apply for grant money to continue the program once initial funds are depleted.

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