BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The Maumee Municipal Court has implemented early intervention programming to help defendants who are struggling with addiction.
A new $115,000 Justice Reinvestment and Incentive Funding Grant through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) will allow the court to provide substance-abuse assessment pre-trial programming on the day of arraignment for defendants who exhibit symptoms of substance abuse addiction.
Previously, the judge would issue a bond with a drug assessment requirement to be completed at a later date, but in many cases that assessment would not happen, and the individual would not get needed treatment, said Andrea Shrews-berry, Maumee Municipal Court clerk. Helping individuals as soon as possible could provide the necessary tools to become clean.
Midwest/Ohio Treatment Center will provide the assessment services on-site for the Maumee court, then refer individuals to treatment programs for drug and alcohol use, she said.
“We’re trying to get people who are struggling with substance abuse issues the help they need faster, and the early assessments will help us do that,” said Shrewsberry. “The more an individual uses drugs, the more their brain chemistry changes and the harder it is to stop. We want to do as much as we can to help as early as we can.”
To implement the program, the court is working with the probation department, which has experienced an increasing number of cases of crimes committed by individuals who are chemically dependent. Those crimes range from possession of illegal substances to domestic violence, assault and theft. In addition, nearly 50 percent of the 502 individuals placed on probation by the Maumee Municipal Court in 2020 were ordered to perform some type of substance abuse treatment as part of their probation requirement, Shrewsberry said.
“We have consistently seen a rise in drug use, especially with opioid abuse, not just here but throughout Lucas County. We have individuals come into our city committing crime because they have a substance abuse problem,” she said.
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse, 700,000 people have died of drug overdoses in the United States over the past two decades.
The goal of the program is to eliminate the time the offender spends in jail and ultimately change behavior through the successful completion of a drug treatment program, Shrewsberry said.
In a statement, Maumee Municipal Court Judge Dan Hazard said that the grant money would help to combat the growing problem and reduce the risk of repeat offenses.
“This grant will give us the opportunity to create tools to combat this growing epidemic affecting so many of our friends, family and neighbors. We are grateful to the ODRC for the opportunity to make a positive difference in our community,” he said.
Implementation of the drug-assessment programming followed approval and acceptance of the grant money by Maumee City Council on October 11. The grant will be eligible for renewal in 22 months.