Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Cuyahoga County to Add Second Drug Court

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas is adding a second drug court in 2015.

Judge Joan Synenberg will oversee the new docket beginning in January, joining Judge David Matia whose drug court has had nearly 250 participants since May 2009. The court’s main goal is to expand the program to include those with substance-use disorder and trauma-related mental health issues.

“Judge Synenberg has been a member of the Mental Health Developmental Disability Court for five years and will bring her expertise in that area to the new docket beginning in January,” Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo said. “I think having Judges Matia and Synenberg working together and sharing their energy and enthusiasm is such a positive for our court and our community.”

The court received funding from a Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and Substance Abused Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Adult Drug Court Grant. The BJA is providing $300,000, while SAMHSA is granting $975,000 over three years. The SAMHSA grant is contingent on showing success as the program moves forward year-to-year.

The addition of a second felony docket will expand availability of treatment for the burgeoning number of defendants with opiate-related diagnoses who require a more intensive treatment. The target is to have 60 participants each year, or 180 for the three-year grant period.

Drug courts, such as the one in Cuyahoga County, are specialized dockets through which court and treatment personnel work collaboratively to assist defendants with treatment, instead of prison, for issues such as drugs, alcohol, and mental health. The success of specialized dockets is measured by reduced recidivism, improved treatment, and cost savings.