Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) recently announced funding for drug courts and veterans courts that would seek out treatment options for opioid addicts rather than punishment.
“These courts work,” Portman said in a statement. “I’ve seen that firsthand. That’s why I’m pleased that this funding authorized in Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery (CARA) is now available. Funding to establish or strengthen existing drug courts will help turn the tide of addiction by getting more people the long-term care that they need. These grants will also help our veterans who have sacrificed so much for us to break the cycle of drug abuse through a program of rigorous treatment and personal accountability. These drug courts save lives, and as CARA is implemented, they will be more effective than ever.”
The Herald reached out to Judge P. Randall Knece with Pickaway County Common Pleas Court on whether Pickaway County could benefit from the funding now available for drug and veterans courts.
He explained that drug courts are specialized in providing therapy.
“The thing is, amongst judges anyway, there’s a division of opinion about doing a drug court. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I don’t know if it’s suitable for every county or situation.”
Although Pickaway County does not currently have a specific drug or veterans court, Judge Knece said it does have a program that’s designed with the same philosophy in place.
Pickaway County’s Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) seeks out alternative methods of rehabilitation for addicts. Its goal is to steer addicts away from crowded prisons and off drugs.
The program was recognized in 2015 by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections with the Clifford Skeen Award for excellence in community corrections programming in a non-residential setting.
“(In Pickaway County), we run the ISP,” Knece said. “Ohio came out back in 1996 and basically said they wanted to decrease the population of the prisons. So they came out and offered monies if you’d pick up a diversion program or a treatment program. (The ISP) has kind of originated from that.”
Instead of each court in Pickaway County trying to run their separate program, they decided to put their money together and work as a unit. Today, they get $120,000 in grant money a year from the state to run the program.
“I’m kind of proud of it. In 2015, we won the Cliff Skeen Award as the outstanding program in Ohio for what we’re doing. It’s unique, because we’re using both the municipal court and the Common Pleas court together. The nice thing about it is the continuity,” he said. “What we found is that we could coordinate as one program with those people that are in need of treatment.”
Judge Knece said he liked the idea of drug courts, but felt ultimately the ISP was a strong option for Pickaway County’s courts and addicts. Despite the route, though, Knece said the goal is the same.
“We’re all working towards the same result,” he said. “We’re looking to decrease the number of recidivisms, for people to keep coming back.”