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New program targets adults who let youths have alcohol

JUDGE-JAMES-RAY-FOR-FILE

Ray: 'That was the catalyst.'

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When two Ottawa Hills mothers supplied beer to teenagers at a party at one of their homes two years ago, Judge James Ray decided it was time to implement an alternative sentencing program believed to be the first of its kind in the state.

Anyone convicted previously in Lucas County Juvenile Court of contributing to the delinquency of a minor by providing alcohol went to jail for several days and paid a fine.

Instead, the women - the mother who supplied the beer and the other who hosted the party - were among the first to participate in a new program for contributing offenders. “That was the catalyst that made this happen,” Judge Ray said.

The three-day program is served at Compass-Comprehensive Addictive Service System, an adult alcohol-treatment facility affiliated with the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board of Lucas County and the Greater Toledo United Way.

Offenders enter the residential three-day Adults Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor program on a Thursday evening and attend educational classes and workshops. Since the program began in January, 13 people have participated in the weekend sessions for adult contributing offenders.

Ross Chabin, executive director of Compass, said the effort is run simultaneously with the treatment facility's program for drunken-driving offenders.

Mr. Chabin said some of the curriculum overlaps what is taught to the DUI offenders, but it has classes and topics geared specifically to those who supply alcohol to youngsters.

“There is a lot of course work and special breakup groups,” Mr. Chabin said.

Judge Ray said he had discussions with Compass officials before the Ottawa Hills case about creating a program specifically tailored for people convicted of furnishing alcohol or drugs to juveniles. He said the program is appropriate for offenders if it does not involve sexual exploitation of juveniles.

“I wanted a program that is effective in changing or rehabilitating behaviors, emphasizing the psychological, social, and health impacts that underage consumption has on youngsters, and how alcohol can be the gateway to other drugs,” Judge Ray said.

Mr. Chabin said the program is believed to be the first of its kind in Ohio designed specifically for adult contributors.

“We did some research on our own and sat down and put a program together. It seems to work very well,” he said.

So far, the reaction from offenders who went through the program has been positive.

“They said they realized what they did was wrong and they were not going to do it again, and that is the whole idea,” Mr. Chabin said.

Only judges in the juvenile court system have sentenced contributing offenders to the program. However, it has been made available to the area's suburban municipal courts, Mr. Chabin said.

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