Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

“Second Chances” Film Details Ohio Courts’ Quest to Help Drug Users Reclaim Their Lives

Image of 'Second Chances' producer and editor Anne Fife

Anne Fife, producer and editor of “Second Chances: One Year In Ohio’s Drug Courts,” followed 19 Ohioans on their treatment journeys.

Image of 'Second Chances' producer and editor Anne Fife

Anne Fife, producer and editor of “Second Chances: One Year In Ohio’s Drug Courts,” followed 19 Ohioans on their treatment journeys.

The work of drug courts is often a life-saving endeavor. A documentary film released today provides a gripping, up-close look at how three courts in one state – Ohio – approach the American epidemic.

Second Chances: One Year in Ohio’s Drug Courts shows the complicated struggle of drug addiction and how courts can play a crucial role in the recovery attempts of users, their families and communities.

The one-hour film was produced and edited by Anne Fife of Ohio Government Telecommunications under contract to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Public Information. It was released through the office’s Court News Ohio website and will be made widely available.

It follows the drug use and adjudication of 19 Ohioans.

“Most Americans are familiar with the tragic data generated by our nation’s drug epidemic. But this film takes a very deep look into the human side of drug use, by the users and from the bench,” Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said.

“The film shows the thoughtful, caring, but firm work of drug courts as they deal on a personal level with the struggles of those trying to ‘get clean,’ ” Chief Justice O’Connor said.

Today’s release coincides with National Drug Court Month, as established for May 2019 by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals: https://www.nadcp.org/advocacy/ndcm/.

Fife and her crews made repeated trips to Medina County, not far from Cleveland; Marion County in the northern part of Central Ohio; and Hocking County, in Appalachia.

“We didn’t know what we were going to encounter each time we met with participants in court or out of court, or when we went to court and heard from the judges,” Fife said.

“One thing I took away from this process was not to give up on people,” Fife said. “There are many times that people surprised us by making small changes that really affected their lives in a positive way.”

“Viewers learn about drug abuse directly from those who are living through it and from judges and court staffers who are invested in the outcomes, making this film unique,” said Edward Miller, the public information director at the Supreme Court and executive director of the film.

The documentary begins with the story of a court participant being interviewed in front of the home where her severe drug use took place.

“It’s where the disaster started,” she said, gesturing toward the house. “It’s where my connection with my kids was lost. It’s where I stopped being a mom.”

Image of Medina County Common Pleas Court Judge Joyce Kimbler on the bench

Judge Joyce Kimbler presides over drug court in Medina County

Image of Medina County Common Pleas Court Judge Joyce Kimbler on the bench

Judge Joyce Kimbler presides over drug court in Medina County

Judge Fred Moses of the Hocking County Municipal Court, who operates two drug courts in his county, observes in the film that: “It’s really easy to judge somebody and say you don’t deserve this second chance. But when it’s you, you want this second chance.”

Judges documented live from the bench, and in interviews from their chambers, also include Marion County Municipal Court Judge Teresa Lyn Ballinger, and Medina County Common Pleas Court Judge Joyce Kimbler.

“One thing that will stick with me is the realization that a person with addiction issues is more than just that label of addiction,” Fife said.

“I met charismatic, funny, down-to-earth wonderful people,” she said. “They were so much more than a point on a data summary, and much more than an addict.”