By Kristin Rover
Clermont County commissioners, Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg, several county judges, and officials with Talbert House gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Clermont County Alternative Sentencing Center Oct. 15.
The alternative sentencing center is located in south wing of the Clermont County Jail and will be used to address drug and alcohol abuse as well as mental health for select individuals in the criminal justice system.
“This project is really a collaborative effort,” Commissioner David Uible said about CASC.
Uible said the Talbert House is leasing space in the jail to use as the alternative sentencing center, and is also using jail services for offenders that are in the program.
In turn, Uible said, offenders who would normally be in jail are getting treatment and assistance through the program, which costs less than incarceration in jail.
Uible said Sheriff Rodenberg should be commended for taking the project on, as well as judges in the Clermont County court system, and officials with the Talbert House, the organization running the center.
Clermont County Municipal Court Judge Anthony Brock said CASC provides judges with a lower-cost alternative to jail, while also keeping offenders away from drugs.
“This program has been working, and working effectively for over two months,” Brock said.
Brock said the program addresses issues that brought offenders to jail in the first place.
Sheriff A.J. “Tim” Rodenberg said “it is about time,” that they have something like this in the county.
Rodenberg said they have been operating the jail the same way for many years, and often times it is a revolving door when it comes to offenders leaving jail only to return a short time later.
“We all hope this program will help stop that,” Rodenberg said.
Neil Tilow, president and CEO of Talbert House, said the organization is thrilled to be a part of the project.
“It’s amazing and encouraging to see how people worked together to make this happen,” Tilow said.
Tilow said their program focuses on treatment and education, while also saving money.
“This is innovation at its best,” Tilow said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better arrangement.”
Tilow said so far they have had a total of 25 women enter the program since it began in August.
Tilow said all of the women are misdemeanor offenders with drug or alcohol abuse problems.
He said the women attend group and individual sessions while they are in the program to address drug abuse, mental health, decision making, and more.
“They are required to stay here, but if they have a job they can go to work,” Tilow said.
Tilow said the program is designed to allow the participants to regain their normal life and jobs while also preventing them from making the decisions that will lead them back to jail.
Tilow said it is remarkable that this is the first program of its kind in the state of Ohio.
Uible said they are already working on opening the center to men and possibly to offenders from other counties.