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Court News
Local Media Resource October 30, 2008
Intervention Court Brilliant Idea that Would Benefit All
Media Advisory December 21, 2007
Judge Hosts 2007 Leadership Ottawa County
Media Advisory February 14, 2006
Judge Hany Hosts Leadership Ottawa County
Press Release August 27, 2004
Chief Justice Speaks to Ottawa County Bar Association
Press Release May 13, 2004
Judge Hany Hosts Leadership Ottawa County
Press Release May 13, 2004
Ottawa County Municipal Court Releases Annual Report for 2003
Intervention Court Brilliant Idea that Would Benefit All
Reproduced with permission from the Port Clinton News Herald

An individual's mental illness is not a private matter but a community issue.

Confronting those problems head-on is necessary to make communities healthier and safer.

That is the basis for an intervention court program under way in Ottawa County. The program grew out of concerns voiced by Municipal Court Judge Frederick when dealing with domestic cases where mental illnesses ended up being a factor.

It prompted him to team up with Magistrate Lou Wargo last summer to start the intervention court, a specialized program for people with mental disorders and drug and alcohol problems.

Its goal is to connect defendants with counselors, treatment programs and support groups to help treat their mental-health issues and/or drug and alcohol dependence.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the risk of future offenses. With only a year or so in the works, those figures are not available. But the premise seems worthy.

Sandusky County has yet to develop a program, but court officials say they are considering a similar program. It's just been difficult to find the money, staff and space to implement the program.

As we see it, the program is intense. The four-phase program involves misdemeanor offices who go through drug testing, treatment sessions, strict weekly attendance, a dress code and in some cases, a GED program.

And participants, court officials say, seem to be responding,

They're connecting with the program goals as well as with each other.

Wargo stressed the program doesn't replace punishment but offers help in addition to it. Wargo can order defendants serve jail time but also order them to complete counseling programs for substance abuse.

Defendants, the court and prosecutor's office all work together to make this project work. And indications are, it is working. Thankfully.

Hany's concerns were backed up by the results of a 2003 survey undertaken by Case Western researchers at the Ottawa County Detention Facility for mental illness. Researchers surveyed 164 inmates and discovered that 82 percent had some sort of mental illness, he said. Most had bi-polar disorder, and the others suffered from anxiety disorders, major depression and schizophrenia.

Ottawa County took command on a key issue. The effort falls in step with the state.

Under the direction of Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton of the Ohio Supreme Court, Ohio has taken strides in helping the mentally ill.

In fact, Ohio has taken the lead in adding these programs to its courts. Thirty out of the country's 130 mental health courts in the United States -- or 23 percent -- are located in Ohio, according to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The truth is, Stratton and others note, county programs that are implemented are more humane and ultimately save taxpayer money by keeping the people from returning to jail, she said.

The stumbling block may come down to the same old deal breaker -- funding.

The program is running on a two-year grant. Officials are searching for more funding opportunities before the cash runs out.

We see this as one of the programs crucial to keeping a community solid. We hope the funding comes through in both counties.

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