Cuyahoga County's drug court serves as model for state - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Cuyahoga County's drug court serves as model for state

Cuyahoga County Judge David Matia Cuyahoga County Judge David Matia

The heroin epidemic is spreading like wildfire in the city and in the suburbs, and it's putting a strain on jails.

On Thursday, lawmakers from around the state came to Cleveland to see a unique way Cuyahoga County deals with drug abuse.

Drug Court is very different from any other court in the Justice Center. An intensive program that uses a team effort toward recovery, not prison as punishment.

Judge David Matia presides over a docket with about 120 cases. 30 or so come in every week for updates.

It is not an adversarial court. Prosecutors, the judge, and a team of support people work with offenders.

Applause and handshakes are rare in most courts, not here. The state representatives saw many success stories, all working toward graduation. As well as stumbles.

"I drank last week that's why I didn't show up for court," said one woman.

Honesty is paramount, as is working an AA program with a sponsor and taking accountability for your actions. Most told the same story, pain killers, doctor and prescription shopping then onto cheaper heroin. For those who fail, it is jail, success means a second chance and no felony record.

Judge Matia told an addict who broke down at the podium that tears and apologies come easy when you're in front of a judge. They're talking the talk. To get serious, they've got to walk the walk.

Copyright 2013 WOIO. All rights reserved.

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