New prostitution court in development in Hamilton County

A recent editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer describes a bipartisan effort to curb prostitution by addressing some of its underlying causes, currently in development in Hamilton County courts. County and city officials such as Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Heather Russell, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, the Cincinnati Police Department and other elected officials are working on a joint endeavor to create a court specifically for handling prostitution cases, with a focus on providing substance abuse treatment for offenders. The court would provide a robust approach to dealing with these individuals, offering addiction treatment, mental health services and parenting services as needed, administered by a team of individuals from multiple agencies, such as social workers, court officials and medical professionals.

Major Charmaine McGuffey, a Hamilton County jailer, recently stated to WKRC-TV that many women arrested for prostitution are also heroin users, and that this spurs them to engage in this illegal activity to help feed the addiction. Because of overcrowding in the jail, however, these individuals are immediately released, leaving no time for detox from harmful substances. An important aspect of the prostitution court would be the time devoted to detox, which could potentially happen immediately upon arrest, before the offender would go before Judge Russell to begin work on treatment. Although these services can be costly, WKRC-TV reports that some initial funding may be available for a few participants to access inpatient services at Cincinnati's Center for Chemical Addictions Treatment (CCAT) House, which is a "medically monitored detox center."
According to the Enquirer editorial, Russell and the Sheriff's Department want to begin a pilot program from October through December of this year, but may not have access to all the required funding. A similar program is already in place in Franklin County and has been successful in that area. Montgomery County has also recently launched a women's drug court, dealing with related issues.