Clinton County judge aiming for second social worker to aid drug addicts’ recoveries

By Gary Huffenberger -



News Journal file photo

WILMINGTON — A goal of the just re-elected judge of Clinton County Common Pleas Court is to secure another treatment provider for his probation staff.

Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck brought up the prospect Wednesday during a budget meeting with the county commissioners. Though the court’s proposed budget doesn’t presently include a request for a second licensed social worker (LSW), the judge said bringing in a staff member to deal with health issues of people with a drug addiction potentially could come in 2019.

Clinton County Adult Probation staff currently includes James Crafton, LSW, whose title is recovery liaison. The judge called Crafton “one of the greatest additions we’ve had” at the court.

Like many people, Rudduck regards drug addiction as basically a health issue that’s been criminalized.

“As we [proceed to] treat drug addiction as a health issue and not as a criminal issue, but it is [still being] treated in the criminal justice system, one of the things the courts are going to have to evolve and start understanding is you’re going to need service providers on staff,” said Rudduck, who presides over the Clinton County drug court.

Having treatment providers is one of the bigger things that can be done in response to people with substance addiction who also find themselves in the court system, he said.

When there’s a treatment provider such as a licensed social worker on staff, the judge can then meet with his own staff member and talk about the specific health needs of the addicted individual who’s in the criminal justice system.

Rudduck acknowledges this approach calls for a different understanding of what a judge is supposed to do and what the criminal justice system is about, but as long as drug addiction is criminalized, the system will contain these individuals.

“I think we’re ahead of the curve because we got started early on this,” the judge said to commissioners.

Crafton’s pay is funded through a grant, and for him to have a counterpart who is totally funded by a grant like Crafton, may be hard to come by. Rudduck said he doesn’t necessarily think there will be increases on grants.

But, in terms of the grant process, the Clinton County Common Pleas Probation Department is well thought of, said the judge. The workers there were even nominated for a statewide award for their community supervision program, something that bodes well when applying for grants, Rudduck said.

At one juncture during the commissioners appointment, Rudduck said “a lot of people are doing really well in drug court.” He added that in a way, the drug court is what triggered him to seek re-election and be on the bench for one final six-year term.

He said he wants to make sure the drug court, which is about four years old, is on a solid foundation.

The judge said Crafton is so occupied in his role as recovery liaison that he’s getting worn out.

“He gets asked for — they can relate to this guy. It will be hard to find a clone; perhaps maybe a female if I can,” said Rudduck.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

Rudduck News Journal file photo

By Gary Huffenberger