The Elyria Municipal Court will now have a drug recovery court, the first of its kind in Lorain County at the municipal level.
Judge Robert White announced on Thursday that he had received approval from the Ohio Supreme Court for the Elyria Municipal Drug Recovery Court. Currently, Lorain County has a treatment court in Common Pleas that deals with felony cases.
White said the program is designed to help people get off drugs and save their families while also lessening the burden on the courts and law enforcement.
"Whether it's a spouse, family member, neighbor or an acquaintance, very few people can say they don't know someone involved with drugs," White said in a press release. "Incarceration cannot be our only response to his problem."
The program is voluntary, which means that someone has to want to get help. If they choose not to go through the program, they'll remain in the court system.
People who want to go through the recovery court can be referred by an attorney, the prosecutor's office or by either Judge Gary Bennett or White. Submission is determined based on prior offenses, if any, and willingness to go through the program.
White said the recovery program is intensive and people have to understand that and be willing to commit to it. It will usually last about a year, but that varies case-by-case.
The treatment will go through three phases. In the first phase, there will be weekly counseling sessions and meetings with a professional treatment provider and White. There is also more frequent random drug testings. The frequency of the meetings, sessions and drug tests lessens as the phases go on.
By phase three, the person is encouraged to get a job and integrate into society.
If someone fails the program or drops out, they will go back into the court system.
The recovery court will begin in August and it's not open to people accused of drug trafficking. It is offered to people with misdemeanors where drugs are identified as an underlying cause.
White is currently running for election against Paul St. Marie, an Elyria-based attorney, for the November elections.
White was appointed by Gov. John Kasich in 2018 to replace Judge Lisa Locke Graves, who retired.