Clean and Sober: A New Approach

By: Amanda Lutz
By: Amanda Lutz

It's a vicious cycle that Wood County District Attorney Todd Wolf says he's seen too often: a person commits one or more crimes in order to support a drug or alcohol addiction.

"I've seen some people in our system right now who've come around their third or fourth time because they can't break that cycle," Wolf says.

Now, Wood County authorities are using a new approach to help repeat offenders do just that. It's called drug court, a voluntary program designed to help conquer their addiction.

Participants will go through intense treatment and supervision, including drug testing and court appearances, and they must stay sober for the entire one-year program.

"[We want to] keep them out of the court system, get them employed, get them leading productive lives and let them pass on that lifestyle to future generations," says Wood County Circuit Court Judge William Zappen, Jr.

The drug court team has already visited similar operations around the country. Using that knowledge, they're confident the program will help keep repeat drug offenders out of jail, but it won't be easy.

Drug addictions are hard to conquer, so team members say they won't be surprised if a participant temporarily relapses, but if they keep up a steady stream of support, they hope participants can stay sober for life.

"Not only their criminal behavior now will cease, they can become productive members of our community, not here in jail, and then their future generations can learn from their experiences," says Kurt Heuer, Wood County Sheriff.

The drug court will hold its first session on October 11 with five participants. Team members will make changes to the program as it progresses.