“I was wrongly convicted of murder. I spent nearly 17 years in prison fighting my case. When I finally won a new trial, I chose Greg Robey to be a part of my defense team. He found an FBI agent who had worked on the case in the 1980s, along with critical pieces of evidence that we thought were long lost. After a long and very hard-fought trial, I was found Not Guilty of all charges. I owe my freedom to Greg Robey and my defense team.” -R.R., Ravenna, Ohio
In 1998, the Cleveland Municipal Court started the Greater Cleveland Drug Court with funding from the federal government. Honorable Larry A. Jones presided over the drug court from its inception until November 2008. Honorable Anita Laster Mays took over the position in January 2009.
Drug court's rehab program is a benefit to the community and the taxpayers. Felony offenders charged with a fourth- or fifth-level possession of a controlled substance may be offered the drug court program if they are addicted to drugs and have no more than one non-violent felony conviction on their records. They must plead guilty to a first-degree misdemeanor. Their sentence is suspended until the offender completes the drug court program. Then, the guilty plea is vacated. Finally, the charge is dismissed, and the case is sealed.
More than 1,100 offenders have fulfilled the Greater Cleveland Drug Court Program successfully. Treatment costs about $11,000 less than incarceration. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has approved the program. Honorable David T. Matia is the current director.
Drug court has been heralded as one of the most significant justice initiatives in the past century. Its mission is to stop drug and alcohol abuse and to decrease related crimes. Graduates of the program frequently regain custody of their children, get caught up on their child support payments and turn their lives around. This program gives them a new direction for their life. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reports that every dollar spent on the program reduces crime-related spending and lost production by $7.46.
This type of program is a model that other cities should emulate. Treatment and counseling for drug offenders makes more sense than punishing them. It’s forward thinking, and it converts criminals into taxpaying citizens.