Montgomery County, Ohio Judges Find Innovative Ways to Make the Criminal Justice System More Effective
Date:  04-03-2014

Using Skype to reach inaccessible defendants (and judges) and creating a drug court for women can cut costs and recidivism
With severe winter weather hitting virtually every part of the country during the past few months, lives were disrupted. Children and teachers were forced to stay home during heavy snow storms and flooding. Workers found themselves stranded in massive traffic jams as icy roads and unplowed highways brought vehicles to a screeching halt.

Reclaiming Futures reports that in Montgomery County Ohio, 41 young people and their families spent Valentine’s Day in juvenile court nervously awaiting their fate, only to be told that their hearings would most likely be canceled, as the presiding judge was stuck in a snow storm in Washington, D.C. The thought of having to inconvenience the defendants and their families by rescheduling the cases did not sit well with Judge Anthony Capizzi. A brainstorming session on what could be done took place. One idea seemed to be the most sensible solution, and although it was as yet untried in the courtroom, Judge Capizzi jumped at the chance to use modern technology to dispense justice from a fair distance away. Read the Montgomery County, Ohio Drug Court Gazette account of how the judge effectively used Skype to keep the wheels of justice moving, an option much appreciated by defendants, their families, and court personnel here.

Meanwhile, in Dayton, another Montgomery County judge, Gregory Singer, is also making news with his plan to provide female defendants with a drug court for women. The Ashland Times-Gazette quotes Judge Singer as stating, “Women in our criminal justice system are pretty well underserved.” Judge Singer is basing his drug court for women on a model already operating in Franklin County, Ohio.

Female defendants, the courts recognizes, are often victims of sexual and physical abuse. Judge Singer seeks to provide female defendants with drug and mental health treatment, as well as prenatal, parenting, and nutrition classes. Participants in the female drug court program will also be helped to find affordable and safe housing.

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