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Few drug case referrals to Akron 'Recovery Court' since March

Only two participants since program started -- and one quit

By ERIC MAROTTA Editor Published: July 12, 2017 12:00 AM
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People facing misdemeanor charges in Stow Municipal Court for offenses where drugs are a factor may be eligible for drug treatment and counseling through the Akron Municipal Court's Recovery Court program.

Although the Recovery Court agreed to accept such referrals from Stow Municipal Court in March, the so-called "courtesy probation supervision" program has only one participant.

Another individual who was referred dropped out and was wanted on a warrant at press time.

"The results have been underwhelming," said Stow Municipal Court Judge Kim Hoover.

The Stow Municipal Court handles more than 4,000 criminal cases per year from 16 communities, including Boston Heights, Boston Township, Cuyahoga Falls, Hudson, Macedonia, Munroe Falls, Northfield Village, Northfield Center Township, Peninsula, Reminderville, Sagamore Hills, Silver Lake, Stow, Tallmadge, Twinsburg and Twinsburg Township.

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Even so, court officials say only 15 people have been screened for referral to Recovery Court since the partnership began in March. Only two offenders have thus far volunteered for the program and one of those failed to comply with requirements and dropped out.

Hoover said it is difficult to convince individuals facing conviction for low-level crimes to volunteer for the year-long, Recovery Court program. For example, a typical drug paraphernalia charge is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

"What we find is the people with a serious problem usually do not have the carry-through to get help or to want help," Hoover said.

Participation in Recovery Court among offenders at Akron Municipal Court is also fairly low at around 45 individuals, though the court handles more than 13,000 criminal cases per year.

Recovery Court probation officer Jeff Sturmi said transportation is a "real barrier," to those who may be referred from the Stow court, as they live in communities that are not easy to get to by public transportation.

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"For folks who don't have a driver's license -- and a fair amount of them don't have a license -- we're able to combat that pretty easily by giving them bus passes," he said, referring to those participants from Akron.

For offenders who may be referred from the Stow Municipal Court, "the bus isn't going to take them," he said, explaining most would have to take the bus from outlying communities to the Metro RTA central station in Akron and then transfer to a second bus to get to the Recovery Court office on Market Street in Akron's Highland Square district.

For those who are eligible to enroll, the program is as intensive as the felony level Turning Point program, including weekly meetings with court officials, counselors and drug testing.

"We have never turned somebody away because of numbers," Sturmi said.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433

emarotta@recordpub.com


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