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NOBARS program provides valuable services to 100s of offenders

• Oct 8, 2019 at 10:09 AM

As the judge of Huron County Common Pleas Court general division, I would like to take the opportunity to recognize the strength of the commitment our community is bringing to the ongoing struggle with substance abuse.

I personally want to thank all the folks throughout the county who have helped to create programs to focus on these issues and the individuals who every day provide assistance and encouragement to those in need.

Here at the court we have been fortunate enough to partner with Oriana House to run the NOBARS program, which provides counseling and case management services to many of our probationers. Through various grant programs from the state of Ohio, we have been able to provide these valuable services to hundreds of offenders who have come before the court for drug-related crimes. This program has been essential to both help promote recovery and to lessen the burden of overcrowding in our jails and prisons.

In the last two years we have been able to drastically improve the positive outcomes from the program by providing transportation within the county and by providing pre-trial services. The transportation has been provided by Huron County Transit, operated by the Enrichment Centers for Huron County (formerly Senior Enrichment Services). After opening the NOBARS program, we soon realized that transportation was the No. 1 obstacle in providing effective rehabilitation services in a rural county. The program now provides an opportunity every day for those who need help to get to the folks that can provide it.

The pre-trial service program has made our treatment efforts much more successful by providing treatment options and supervision to folks who have been charged with a crime but not yet been convicted. Many times, in drug-related offenses there is a delay in going through the indictment process as drug testing results may not be available for several months.

Now during this time while they wait for the indictment and while they await a plea or trial on their cases, these individuals have an opportunity to work with our pre-trial services officer, Dave Light, in efforts to get treatment underway before they come to court. Early intervention has the best chance for success and a vast majority of these folks are now engaged in pre-trial services and are actively participating in treatment before their cases are disposed of in the court.

After the state budget passed in July of this year, the court learned that a major portion of the state funding for the NOBARS program will not be available over the next two-year period. Almost immediately our community responded, this time through the generous support of our local Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Working together with Kristen Cardone, the executive director for MHAS, and Jason Varney, from Oriana House, a proposal for funding to continue the program without interruption was initiated. On Sept. 17, the board stepped up to the plate and unanimously approved the funding allowing the court to continue this important piece in the fight to overcome substance abuse in our community.

The list of people, groups and agencies that are striving to help those suffering from addiction is far too lengthy to include here, suffice it to say myself and our court wish to thank you all and encourage you to continue these efforts.

With sincerest thanks,

Judge James W. Conway

Huron County Common Pleas Court

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