WILMINGTON — Everyone on the treatment team as well as the judge had agreed Jason “Jake” Greene was on the right track.
Greene was promoted to the next phase of the You-Turn Recovery Docket (drug court) program on Friday, Jan. 20. But on the next day, police say Greene, 43, was found in his bedroom dead along with a syringe and arguably methamphetamine — the lab results are not back.
At the next You-Turn session Feb. 3, Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck spoke about Greene and the frustrations of trying to figure out how to most effectively deal with a deadly drug scourge. To make sure Greene doesn’t end up only a number on a chart somewhere, there will be a black sash bearing his nickname “Jake” placed upon the jury box chair where he often sat for You-Turn.
Rudduck hopes the sash will be a visual reminder of Jake, but also a signal to others to remain vigilant on their own recovery journeys.
“You can be here one day getting promoted, and people clapping for you [Rudduck clapped to underline his point], and you can be dead the next day,” said Rudduck.
Greene had made advances through the drug court for several months, recounted the judge. There had been ups and downs, including relapses after twice taking part in the STAR Community Justice Center programs. But he had been clean and sober and under control, and was learning to like himself again, said Rudduck.
Greene’s death from drugs raised nagging questions in Rudduck’s mind.
“How am I ever supposed to know that I can honestly say we need to promote this person. I mean we just promoted him the day before. I said [to treatment team], ‘Did we miss something? Did we do something? What should we have done?’ All the treatment team said ‘no’ [didn’t miss something], and I’m hearing it from you guys [other You-Turn participants] who knew him that he was doing well,” remarked the judge.
One of those participants had been scheduled to graduate from You-Turn last summer, but then almost died from an overdose a couple months before. That same participant also worked on the job with Greene.
The participant said Greene’s death really shocked him.
“He [Greene] knew better, but I understand because I’ve done it,” he added.
All You-Turn participants stand in front of the judge during each session of drug court. On Feb. 3, Rudduck asked one woman why she had originally lied to Adult Probation staff about using Suboxone after testing positive.
She said she was scared. After testing positive, she ended up being in custody for 13 days.
Rudduck said, “It’s Russian roulette with the drugs you’re taking.”
In the courtroom gallery sat a judge from Lawrence County who was observing because he will be starting a drug court there. In January, there were 38 overdoses in that county, seven of which were fatal.
After Rudduck heard those numbers, he said, “It takes judges who understand that putting people in cages for using these drugs isn’t going to solve the problem.”
Near the end of the You-Turn session, Dr. Michael Newman, who is the medical coordinator for the You-Turn Recovery Docket, announced that the Narcan some people signed up for a month before is now available.
Narcan (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. It is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose.
Newman said he always recommends that if someone thinks about utilizing Narcan to try to reverse somebody’s overdose, they should call 9-1-1 first.
For the closing part of the session, Rudduck arranged for the playing of a recorded rendition of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Among its lyrics are: “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.”
When the session ended, Rudduck told participants, “Be safe out there.” He also advised them to use the tools they’ve been taught in order to make better decisions in life.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.