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Federal Money Approved to Expand Greater Cleveland Drug Court

Oct 02, 2012
(Cleveland) -- The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a $975,000 grant designed to expand the services of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court.

Contact:  Ed "Flash" Ferenc, Public information Officer
              Cleveland Municipal Court                   
              216-664-6787   216-857-7420
              ference@cmcoh.org

(Cleveland) -- The Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded a $975,000 grant designed to expand the services of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court.

The money will be used over a three year period and is projected to serve 200 participants charged with drug possession offenses in the East Cleveland, Euclid, South Euclid, Rocky River and Shaker Heights Municipal Courts.

The idea of expanding into the suburbs came at the request of South Euclid Judge Gayle Williams Byers, a former Drug Court prosecutor who urged community collaboration in dealing with the issue.  The goal of the project is to establish a coordinated, multi-system approach designed to combine the sanctioning power of the Greater Cleveland Drug Court, with evidence-based and trauma-informed treatment and recovery support services for referred defendants.

“We’re a proven system,” said The Honorable Anita Laster Mays, who oversees the Greater Cleveland Drug Court, which has been in operation since 1998.  To date, over 1200 people have graduated from the program and studies have indicated close to 80% remain sober and drug-free. 

Judge Mays says the federal money will be a big help, especially to the Rocky River Municipal Court which does not have the manpower to deal with a recent explosion of opiate addictions coming in from the suburbs they have jurisdiction over, which includes Bay Village, Fairview Park, North Olmsted, Rocky River, Westlake and the Metroparks.

“Often the defendants have substance abuse problems, but appear in court on charges other than traditional drug violations, like petty theft or possession of drug paraphernalia, which are misdemeanors.  In such a case, the defendant does not have access to the Cuyahoga County Drug Court.  Now they can get the help they need,” said Judge Mays.

The grant money will be used to reimburse services for defendants who are not eligible for public health insurance like Medicaid; for those whose coverage has been determined to be unaffordable, or for services not covered in the defendant’s health insurance plan.  The funds can only be used to serve defendants with a substance abuse disorder as their primary condition.

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