PDT Staff Writer
Scioto County Common Pleas Judge William T. Marshall has operated the county’s drug court for eight years, without one cent in funding and with only one graduate ever relapsing. Now, he is excited about being named one of five drug courts in the state of Ohio to receive a portion of $5 million from House Bill 59 in the state budget.
The Daily Times announced Wednesday that with the upcoming signing of House Bill 59 by Governor John Kasich, $5 million would be made available for an Addiction Treatment Pilot Program for drug courts in Scioto, Crawford, Franklin, Hardin and Mercer counties.
“The ones that are slipping through the cracks are the ones who don’t have a medical card or insurance,” Marshall said. “Second Chance can take a lot of people, but Second Chance is only so big. Some of these people need longer term in-house treatment, which we can’t pay for because we have no money, but that (state funding) would be wonderful. In drug court we try to help 25 or 30 now, we could double it.”
Marshall said he is proud over the fact that one of his former drug court participants made the New York Times Wednesday. In an article titled “Sharp rise in women’s deaths from an overdose of painkillers” Crystal D. Steele was interviewed as a part of the story.
“I thought I was supermom,” said Crystal D. Steele, 42, a recovering addict who said she began to take medicine for back pain she developed working at Kentucky Fried Chicken. “I took one kid to football, the other to baseball. I went to work. I washed the car. I cleaned the house. I didn’t even know I had a problem.”
The article goes on to say - “Ms. Steele, now a patient at the Counseling Center, a rehabilitation center here, remembers getting calls about deaths of high school classmates while working at an answering service for a local funeral home. She counted about 50 women she had known who had drug-related deaths. She believes that had it not been for a 40-day stint in jail for stealing pain pills, she would have been among them.”
“Crystal Steele being in that story makes me feel real good,” Marshall said. “She’s our celebrity now.”
For a long time Marshall thought the answer to the drug problem was to just throw the offenders in jail. Now he realizes that in many cases that does not work. Marshall said the program takes at least 14-15 months to complete.
“They just got out and were better at hiding it,” Marshall said. “I think it’s (drug court) the best thing I’ve ever done. I have been in a lot of programs - I’ve been president of the United Way, Rotary, and all that, but I feel really good about this. I think we’re saving people’s lives. When a drug addict is put in jail, they come out a drug addict, and the reason this program works so well is that it is non-adversarial. They get to talk to me as a person, not just as a judge. I get to talk to them. They talk to me. I find out what they are doing, try to get them jobs, basically getting them structured.”
Rob Nichols, press secretary for Kasich told the Daily Times, which counties get what part of the $5 million has not been determined yet. He said Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services will determine that at some point in the near future.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.