The newest addition to Rochester’s tool box for fighting opioid addiction will start operating next week.
An opioid court, focused on defendants of misdemeanors or non-violent felonies connected with drug abuse and addiction, will give people the opportunity to get clean instead of serving jail time.
If approved, the defendant will report to court daily and work with either an in-patient or out-patient treatment clinic identified by the court.
It’s one of the only courts of its kind in the country, following a similar court that opened in Buffalo last year.
"They’re not getting the help or, in this case, the treatment they need when they need it and tragedies occur," said Craig Doran, an administrative judge. "If we can catch those folks collectively with all our various systems working together, how is that not a community service?"
The court is funded in part by a $1.8 million grant the county secured, which will help defendants who don’t have Medicaid or private insurance to cover the treatment costs.
“In Monroe County, we work together, right? This is a situation where we all know somebody” who struggles with addiction, said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. "These are our sons, daughters, could be our parents, coworkers, neighbors. We all know somebody who has had their life turned upside down by an opioid addiction.”
If the program is successful, the county may expand it into other municipalities.