WILMINGTON — The You-Turn Recovery Docket — the drug court within Clinton County Common Pleas Court — has been re-certified through the end of 2019 by the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Commission on Specialized Dockets, Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck announced.
In order to receive the certification, the local court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went into effect in January 2014, according to Monica Kagey, manager of the specialized dockets section.
Specialized dockets are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as drugs and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
The standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources.
The local drug docket was established by Judge Rudduck in the fall of 2014 when it received preliminary certification. The docket started proceedings in January of 2015 and received final certification through 2016 shortly thereafter.
David Key, the court’s first enrollee in December 2014, became the docket’s first graduate in July of 2016. Currently, there are 23 participants in the docket which is designed to last a minimum of 18 months. Two current participants in the program are on track to graduate April 28, 2017 and four others are on track to graduate later in 2017.
Successful drug courts have been around for more than a quarter-century and Judge Rudduck appreciates that the Ohio Supreme Court recognizes what he and his treatment team are trying to accomplish locally.
The local drug docket is a highly structured program that requires responsibility and demands accountability from participants, who must be low level offenders not charged with violent or sexual-related offenses. They have to be willing to admit to their addiction and undergo random drug testing and frequent encounters with the treatment team — which includes the judge, local mental health and drug treatment providers and court supervision officers.
“Successful drug courts have been around for more than 25 years and we just started our third year so I think it is far too early to rate our progress,” Rudduck said. “As a treatment team, we are still learning to identify those who are honest with themselves and have the best chance of beating these powerful addictions and can adhere to the lifestyle changes necessary to succeed.”
Still, Rudduck argues, a drug docket is a better option for some instead of prison/jail where positive life-changing programs experiences can be limited. Addicts are typically-released with no reason for their addictive and associated behaviors to have changed, he said.
“Although the docket has not been for everybody, the majority of our current roster has stayed compliant and drug free for extended periods,” Rudduck said. “And though it is tough to hold down a job, particularly in the early phases of the program, more and more of our participants are also working and being productive citizens and not costing the county or state by being incarcerated.”
Since its inception, the local docket has been funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (ODMHAS). Docket data prepared for ODMHAS for 2016 indicate that 15 participants were carried over from 2015, 34 were assessed but not admitted to the docket, 20 were admitted to the program and 10 were unsuccessfully discharged for non-compliance with docket guidelines, not new offenses. All of the latter group were either sentenced to prison/jail or had their community supervision maintained or extended.
Twenty-five participants were carried over from 2016. Since Jan. 1, 2017, six more offenders have been referred to the docket, two have been admitted, and four have been terminated unsuccessfully. Of the latter four, two have been sent to prison for repeated docket violations (not new charges) and one is being held out of the county on new charges.
Unfortunately, the fourth participant died of a drug overdose after being sober for several months and by all indications living a more satisfying life that included a regular job and a renewed relationship with his son.
“There were no visible signs to me or his fellow participants that he was at risk of overdosing and he had just been promoted to one of the final phases of the program,” Rudduck said. “It was just another example of how insidious and powerful these addictive drugs can be.”
There were 14 overdose deaths in Clinton County in 2016, according to the Clinton County coroner’s office.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated Rudduck for receiving final certification.
“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” O’Connor said. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”
The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.
For more information on the local drug docket, go to www.you-turn-drug-docket.org, follow it on Facebook at You-Turn Recovery Docket, like it on Twitter at [email protected], or call 937-382-4276, ext.1141.