Hilliard City Council next month is expected to establish a “recovery court” that would provide select drug offenders with a path to recovery in lieu of incarceration.

The program would be similar to Franklin County’s recovery court and programs in Upper Arlington and Whitehall.

Dawn Steele, a Hilliard staff attorney and prosecutor in Franklin County Municipal Court, said she would identify and recommend participants for recovery court.

A team that includes Steele, a defendant’s attorney or public defender, representatives of treatment centers, a program coordinator and the magistrate would discuss a person’s eligibility and if necessary, the magistrate would make the final decision, she said.

Steele said the name is “recovery court” to cast away prejudices associated with the “drug” and instead focus on “recovery,” the intent of the program.

“In general, only misdemeanor cases will be accepted,” she said, and those could be cases heard in Hilliard Mayor’s Court or transferred to Franklin County Municipal Court.

Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis, she said.

City Council has been asked to adopt emergency legislation April 8 authorizing the law director to accept matching-fund grants from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County and appropriating $40,000 from the city’s general fund.

The proposal appears to have the support of City Council.

“Good people can make bad mistakes but that doesn’t make them bad people,” council member Nathan Painter said. It’s probably easier to go to jail than enter (recovery court), but unless we change our tactic, the problem won’t change. This is a step forward.”

Read the full story in the March 28 edition of the ThisWeek Hilliard Northwest News.