WILMINGTON — Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck recently spoke to the Wilmington Rotary Club which meets at noon about the You-Turn Recovery Docket.
Judge Rudduck, who has been a judge since 1985, asked the club, “Why is there a criminal law system?” The criminal law system is used for deterrence, punishment, restitution and rehabilitation. The hard part is not finding someone guilty but what to do after they are found guilty.”
Judge Rudduck’s focus is on rehabilitation and he believes that drug and alcohol addiction is a health issue not a criminal issue. In order to address the steep rise in drug and alcohol abuse in Clinton County, in 2014 Judge Rudduck held an open public forum in his courtroom. There was standing-room only.
After the public forum, Judge Rudduck took steps to establish a drug court.
Drug courts are problem-solving courts that take a public health approach using a specialized model in which the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social service, and treatment communities work together to help addicted offenders into long-term recovery.
The Clinton County You-Turn Recovery Docket began on January 5, 2015. It is a specialized docket within the framework of the Clinton County Court of Common Pleas which serves a target population of those addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
The docket provides defendants with an opportunity to avoid incarceration and address their substance dependency issues with support from the judge, probation officers, substance abuse counselors and other members of a specialized docket treatment team. The docket is highly-structured, requires responsibility and demands accountability from participants in order to avoid incarceration or other sanctions. Participants follow specific rules established by the court in an effort to achieve recovery from addiction.
Its mission is to:
• Enhance public safety by reducing repeat offenses.
• Assist participants in taking responsibility for their behavioral health issues by turning from a path of self-destruction to a path of recovery.
• Create community programs to meet the needs of the participants and others struggling with addiction.
• Use evidence-based practices in intervention and treatment.
• To reduce drug use in the community.
• To create programs or partner with existing programs that help anyone in a life-long battle with addiction.
• To reduce all criminal offenses related to drug use in our community.
How is Clinton County doing? Judge Rudduck cited statistics that report 43 deaths from overdoses in Clinton County in the last 2 ½ years. Narcan/Naloxone use has dramatically increased. In 2015, there were 54 doses of Narcan administered in Clinton County by first responders. So far in 2017, there have been 171 doses administered. That does not include doses administered by other than first responders since Narcan is available over the counter.
There is still a long way to go. Judge Rudduck believes that it will take the joint effort of the courts, the medical community, the college, the chamber and the faith-based community to win the “war.”
The graduation of seven participants from the You-Turn Recovery Docket was held Nov. 17 at the Wilmington Church of Christ.