Fresh Start is a program to address the needs of our citizens who are dealing with addiction. Drug addiction is the leading cause of felonious activity in Athens County. Reducing the number of drug users will work to reduce the amount of crime. There is not a single answer to the problem of drugs in our community. Fresh Start seeks to take a comprehensive approach by promoting and enhancing successful community efforts identified by my office and Fresh Start partners. Fresh Start is guided by performance-based assessments to determine what works best, and what is lacking, in our community efforts to combat drugs.
Prosecutor Blackburn’s Vivitrol Program for opiate addicts and Prosecutor Blackburn’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Meth and cocaine are two approaches being used by the office to combat addiction.
Athens County Empowerment (A.C.E.) Program
The Athens County Empowerment (A.C.E.) is a program initiated and run through the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office. A.C.E. is a rehabilitation program offered to certain individuals who have been charged with low-level offences and have no prior felony criminal record. Participants must plead guilty, however the plea is held in abeyance pending successful completion of the A.C.E. Program. If successfully completed, the participant’s case is dismissed, and they have no record, while failure to complete will result in a return to court for sentencing.
The A.C.E. program is a maximum of two years, but can be successfully completed after a minimum of one year. Participants can successfully complete the program by paying all costs, fees and any restitution associated with their case, participating in community service and participating in treatment and/or training programs to deal with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, job training, or other needs. Program Coordinators maintain contact with participants and work with each independently, understanding that every situation may differ from another.
The success of the A.C.E. Program lies with participants, giving them the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions, and for their future. The Athens County Prosecutor’s Office is proud of the success of the A.C.E. Program, as well as all of the participants who have successfully completed it.
There are thousands of Ohioans released from prison every year. My office has a role to play in reducing the barriers to successful reentry in Athens County. Stopping the cycle of incarceration by helping former prisoners rebuild their lives will reduce crime and the costs incurred by taxpayers, while improving our community. My office will be an active participant in the Athens County Reentry Task Force which is engaged in addressing housing, transportation, re-employment and other barriers to reentry. I will also work to promote awareness of existing community programs that can help reduce recidivism. For example, we must recognize and deal with the role addiction plays in recidivism in Ohio and address that challenge through programs like Fresh Start.
Prosecutor Blackburn’s Vivitrol Program
- The Vivitrol Program is administered and run through the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office with the partnership of Health Recovery Services, The Athens County Common Pleas Court, local 317 Board, SEORJ, Athens Adult Parole Authority, and Hopewell Health.
- Participants are opiate based addicts or alcohol dependent.
- Vivitrol (Naltrexone) is indicted for the prevention of relapse to opioid dependence, following opioid detoxification.
- Participants do not have to be adjudicated or convicted of any crimes to take advantage of this program; Prosecutor Blackburn believes all individuals who want help, should get help, and overcome their addiction.
- Potential participants are screened and qualified individuals enter into an agreement to participate with the Prosecutor’s Office. Participants then meet with addiction professionals to determine the best available option to combat their addiction.
- Participants must maintain sober living 10-14 days prior to Vivitrol treatment. This means absolutely no drugs or alcohol of any kind prior to receiving treatment.
- Staff will assist and motivate the participant through this difficult process and can locate detoxification facilities.
- Staff will monitor progress with Health Recovery Services (HRS) or Hopewell while participants navigate the Vivitrol treatment program.
- Through HRS or Hopewell, participants will receive treatment also including individual and group counseling.
“The program is designed to increase treatment opportunities in hopes of reducing the collateral consequences stemming from opiate addiction, including crime, unemployment, brain damage, and death.”
~ Athens County Prosecutor, Keller J. Blackburn