Judge: Heroin is 'scourge of Huron County'

Conway estimates 30 to 50 percent of the drug-related indictments being filed now are for heroin.
Cary Ashby
Oct 6, 2013


Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway calls heroin "the scourge" of the area and the "leading drug of choice."

During sentencing hearings, the judge continually reminds heroin defendants about the dangers to the community of selling the highly addictive drug.

Conway estimates 30 to 50 percent of the drug-related indictments being filed now are for heroin.

"Out of the cases we see, it's the dominant one," the judge said.

"When I was first (elected) judge, heroin was more than half (the cases). It's not now," Conway said.

When asked why that is, Conway said he didn't have "a real answer for that," but he knows local law enforcement agencies have focused on being proactive about pursuing heroin-related cases since about 2005.

"I'd like to think that's a factor," Conway added.

When Conway was the Norwalk law director, he said he started seeing more heroin-related crimes. He held the mayor-appointed position from August 1997 through January 2000 and again from January 2004 through May 11, 2007.

County officials estimate the rising trend in heroin-related crimes started at least eight years ago.

Conway and Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard said many of the property- and larceny-related crimes in Huron County are directly tied to heroin addictions. They said suspects steal items from someone's home so they can turn around and sell them for cash they can use to buy more drugs.

Howard said his office hasn't steered away from the campaign promise he made about five years ago -- to focus on drug crimes.

"We actively enforce the law. We bring the traffickers and abusers before the court," he said.

"Some people say drug (offenses) are victimless crimes. That's not remotely true," Howard said. "The reality is the vast majority of the victims of larceny-based crimes are victims (of) an addict who is supporting their habit."

When asked why heroin is the drug of choice, Conway gave three reasons: It's readily available, "very addictive" and inexpensive. A local drug investigator estimates a balloon, or dose, of heroin goes for $25-$30 in Huron County.

"It's far less expensive now than what it was," Conway said.


Combating heroin

To combat the heroin problem, Conway said he thinks long-term treatment, education in schools and imprisonment are the most beneficial.

"It either needs to be (a) locked-down facility or prison," the judge said.

However, a change in state law prevents judges from sentencing first-time felons who are charged with drug-related fourth- and fifth-degree felonies to prison. That law went into effect in 2011.

From 2007-2011 -- essentially the first part of Conway's first term, the judge said he had good success in sending defendants to prison for a short time before releasing them early, often into a substance treatment center. The situation is nicknamed "shock probation."

"That's not available to us (now) because of the change in law," Conway said. "Now we have to put them on community control or probation."

Those community control sanctions could include local jail time or four to six months in a community-based corrections facility. A CBCF is a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.

Without defendants getting significant time in prison or a CBCF, Conway said the courts see the same people "come back relatively quickly."

Another problem the judge cited is that without that imprisonment time, a first-time heroin offender usually continues to sell or use the drug after he or she is released.

"It's restricting the ability (of police) to stem the flow because essentially, they have to catch them twice," Conway said.

The judge said the defendants who are the most successful at beating their addiction are "the ones who are interested in their own recovery." Conway said the people who undergo substance abuse treatment only because it's a court order don't have the same level of success.

"Most of the ones who come to us with a heroin addiction come into it when they are 19 or 20 (years old)," the judge said. "It can come at any age, really. We've had 50-year-old heroin addicts."



thats because these people lie and say they want help to stay outta prison and dont really mean it ... but yes i understand where ur comming from but it is stupid to say cbcf dont work .... its not the place .. its the person ..... but im right there with u on believing that these people are getting crazy with drugs but for the few people who wanna get help the small few these other people are gonna ruin it for them

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

After a lengthy debate, the Ohio House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 72-23 to pass legislation that would help local health boards establish syringe exchange programs for drug addicts...allowing drug users to swap used needles for new ones...Rep. Nickie Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat co-sponsoring the bill, said exchange programs are needed more than ever as heroin use has spiked in the state.

Democrats encourage heroin use.


Then I guess that means republicans encourage disease. Wait a minute, I think there are more than 23 republicans in the House.


The junkies will now be on a list the state will keep records of.

Now The Rest of...

The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.-Albert Einstein

Cliff Cannon

Blaming Judge Conway for Huron County's heroin problem, is like blaming the cook for the ' Titanic ' going down. It simply lacks reality.

The reality of the situation is that as the--- guru of conservative's, William Buckley--- noted in the mid 90's. The drug war is lost. Seriously, how many more drug devastated American cities do you need to see to acknowledge that ? So why would, Huron county be any different ?

So blame Judge Conway if you want. Sure, ( wink, wink )it's his "fault" that prisons are over crowded,right ? Even better, blame him for 're-hab' centers that,sadly too often, give the addict better connections to the drug of their choice.

Then let's not forget, that every felony '4' or '5' ( the lowest or least worse of 'felony's) carry ' automatic appeal' when sentenced to over 12 month's in jail. So by sentencing these druggies to 11 months Judge Conway saves the county a ton of tax dollars in legal fee's. Yet, why ruin a 'good hangin' with simple,easy to understand facts like these ?

Truth of the matter is nothing short of a radical solution, will stop a radical problem like this one.So I agree with Buckley. Admit, we've lost the "drug war" then legalize every drug the people want. Then,have the federal government sell it.

This accomplishes many things. It breaks the backs of the drug cartels, who bring civil war to country's like Mexico or Columbia in their desire to feed the American drug habit by giving them a competitor so massive, they can take control,lower prices and stabilize the market like the U.S. Government could.

Further, it goes with out saying these drugs are taxed ---heavily-- so our needs at all levels of government are aided by this largess.That would allow for the hiring of more to cops to add to the some 400,000 American policemen who deal with this epidemic daily.

Further, it would allow them to deal with addicts ( who's numbers, should, if 'average' human behavior is realized shrink)as 'common' everyday 'drunk' type's rather than heavily armed, very dangerous advisary's.

But what does William Buckley know ? So let's keep doing what we are doing, rather trying something radical to solve the problem. After all, it is much easier to find a scapegoat rather than a solution, isn't it ?

P.S. Thank God for people like Judge Conway who deal with the dung our hideous system piles on them