GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis Municipal Judge Eric Mulford recently announced that the Drug and Mental Health Dockets of the Gallipolis Municipal Court have earned final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets.
In order to receive the certification, the municipal court had to submit a detailed application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the Gallipolis Municipal Court and Judge Mulford for receiving final certification.
“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” O’Connor said. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”
Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as drugs and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence and human trafficking.
The standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources.
“The drug court is a critical component of enhancing public safety in our community. The lack of local detox facilities and available in-patient treatment for those who want to get sober makes the intensive support services provided by the drug court necessary,” Mulford said. “In addition, supporting our fellow citizens in their recovery from addiction is an economic development issue as much as a criminal justice issue. If we expect new business to locate in Gallia County, we need a workforce of men and women who are sober and healthy.”
In order to be eligible for placement in the specialized drug docket in municipal court, the offender must be on probation for a misdemeanor; have no history of violence or sexually oriented offenses; be clinically diagnosed with a moderate to severe substance use disorder; and must voluntarily commit to completing the program.
“We don’t force anyone to enter the program. In fact, I have found the program is most successful when all of the participants genuinely want to be here and support one another in recovery,” Mulford said. “In addition to the legal and clinical eligibility requirements of the program, we have two unwritten rules – everyone has to show up and be honest. If the client can follow those rules, we can generally work through any issue that comes up in a way that both holds the individual accountable and supports their continued recovery.”
The certification requirements include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers, law enforcement, court personnel, and is headed by the specialized docket judge.
The treatment team for the Gallipolis Municipal Court drug and mental health dockets currently includes Health Recovery Services, TASC of Southeast Ohio, Wing Haven, Integrated Services, Field of Hope, Spectrum Outreach Services and Woodland Centers.
The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.