November 1, 2014

Medina
Rain
39°F

County judge wants drug rehab at jail

MEDINA — Medina County Common Pleas Judge James L. Kimbler wants the county to reopen the east pod of the jail to serve as a short-term rehab facility for drug offenders with opiate and heroin addictions.

Kimbler presented the proposal to the county commissioners Tuesday. County officials will meet at 9 a.m. today to discuss the idea.

Kimbler estimated the cost of the program at about $450,000 a year. He said he will consult the county’s Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board for possible funding of the counselors and rehabilitation programs.

He said the Sheriff’s Office also could seek grants through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Kimbler said such a program could help reduce repeat drug and drug-related offenses.

He said most heroin addicts who come through his court physically detox while in jail, but return to the drug or commit additional crimes soon after being released.

“We are already using the jail informally as a detox center,” the judge said. “We are just not following up to help them be psychologically detoxed as well.”

Kimbler said two other Ohio counties use a similar system. Greene County has an in-house rehabilitation center for its felony drug inmates, while Clermont County has a program for misdemeanor offenders bound over from municipal courts.

Kimbler said Medina County’s program would serve misdemeanor and felony cases in both municipal and county courts.

“We think that between municipal and common pleas courts, we could easily have 36 people at a time to go through the program,” he said.

Kimbler said that since June 2012, the county has run nearly 1,700 drug screens on defendants. More than half of those tested positive for opiates.

Of those, 72 cases were morphine positive and 11 were positive for heroin. He said that since heroin metabolizes into morphine in the body, the number of heroin cases is likely much higher.

Kimbler said Alternative Paths, the county’s primary drug treatment facility, already runs some programs at the jail and the county would look to run the clinic through Alternative Paths.

He said that unlike Greene County, which puts inmates through a rehab program of anywhere from 60 to 180 days, Medina would try to run a shorter program of about 30 days before transferring the person to a longer-term program with court supervision.

“What we’re hoping for is that we could transfer them off supervision earlier,” he said. “Maybe within 16 to 18 months instead of three years now.”

Today’s meeting will be held in the grand jury room at the Medina County Courthouse.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.