Judge Thomas Teodosio runs a compassionate drug court in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas called The Turning Point. He discusses how the special court was founded and the success the court has experienced. Judge Teodosio has been running Summit County’s drug court for the past 8 years.
He says the court was renamed The Turning Point because of the stigma attached to drug court. He notes how the name of the court explains the court’s mission, “we’re looking to save lives and turn lives around; so we thought Turning Point was a great name,” says Judge Teodosio.
He explains how the court works in detail. The ten judges of the court deal with felony offenders. If a low-level offender or a community control participant violates probation, they are referred to The Turning Point Program. He notes how the program benefits the convicted individuals. “Instead of sending them to prison, we are giving them an opportunity to deal with their substance abuse issue,” says Judge Teodosio.
Upon entering The Turning Point Program, offenders are assessed for mental health issues and substance abuse issues. Individuals are assessed by community specialists like Summit Psychology Associates and Portage Path Behavioral Health. Judge Teodosio explains the importance of the assessment. “They may have a traumatic event in their past they’ve suppressed or they may have some other mental health issue. Studies show that if you don’t address the mental health issues and the substance abuse issues of a patient, you won’t succeed,” says Judge Teodosio.
After the assessment is completed, a unique treatment plan is developed for each patient. Judge Teodosio notes that random drug screens are involved in treatment. He says if they are refused, the offenders are back in court for a sanction. Self-help and case manager meetings are also required of participants. He explains why the program is so hard on participants. “Most people with addiction issues are great manipulators. They lie to their parents, to their spouse, and to their boss. So honesty is a huge factor,” says Judge Teodosio.
Currently, there are over 200 participants in the program.