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Dayton judge launches drug court for women

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — A Dayton judge is starting a drug court targeting female defendants to address larger issues that are bringing more women into the justice system.

Montgomery County judge Gregory Singer proposed the idea after years of seeing female victims of abuse and sex trafficking return to his courtroom as defendants, often addicted to drugs.

"Prostitutes, or as I call them, prostituted women, are more victims than perpetrators inasmuch as they are in sex trafficking, they are the product, a human product," Singer told the Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/1iC05n9) . "Women in our criminal justice system are pretty well under-served."

The Montgomery County court program, modeled after one in Franklin County and set to begin later this year, will require police, court officials and treatment groups to work together to address issues facing women.

Those issues include drug addiction, human trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual abuse and mental health problems.

The program will also address pre-natal care, parenting, education, housing and nutrition.

Drug cases are now evenly split among men and women, a change from past decades when nearly all drug defendants were male, said Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Administrative Judge Michael Tucker.

Women entering the court system are the most challenging population judges will deal with, said Judge Paul Herbert, who runs the Changing Actions to Change Habits, or CATCH Court, in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus.

"Women that come into this program have a tremendous amount of trauma," Herbert said, citing data that nearly three of every four defendants were sexually abused as young children.

Specialty courts have been created in Ohio and around the country in recent years, targeting drug addicts, veterans and the mentally ill, among others. The concept is based on focusing resources on defendants with shared circumstances rather than treating all offenders the same.

Butler County Common Pleas Court in southwest Ohio has specialty dockets addressing drug use, mental health and child non-support.

"You have to have good investment throughout the community and a need for that particular program," said that court's administrator, Rob Menke.

 

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