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."



Yes and thanks to your light sentencing tactics much of the blame is on you judge. Too bad you didn't realize this sooner!


And the general public is sick and tired of it too.


Oh My Darling!


What no animal noises. I'm so disappointed.

Now The Rest of...

Conway is prime example, 'There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you're going to be part of the problem.' Slapping them on the hands and giving chance after chance promotes the problem. When they elected Conway the quote "In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve," has been demonstrated as fact.


Why is it if you are on drugs, you are "sick" and need help? But when you are an alcoholic, you are that way because you want to be. No one forces that FIRST hit on you. You make a decision to do drugs. You need to be put away for a couple of years the first time you are caught. Then maybe you won't think it's the cool thing to do.


Everyone KNOWS you will not do "hard time" for drugs. You know there is no consequence if you get caught, so "why not?". There lies the problem. Heck you can lie, steal, and cheat your way thru it and still not do time...so WHY NOT! Numerous TIMES , so WHY NOT. Seems like a perfect way to live. No need to get a job, or be a "productive member of society" just lie, steal and cheat your way thru life! No consequences! Why NOT!


Don't you people read... he can not send first time drug affenders to prison......that's why they wrote this article, so the public understands why theses defendants are getting cbcf, rehab, and probation... it clearly says the law was changed in 2011 and he wishes he could give them prison sentence, but cant.... you all think you could do it better and have no idea what he has to go thru....wake up


YES we READ the article...we are stating that we as the public are NOT HAPPY with the law change. We think it is a load of CRAP. It allows people to have free passes to make BAD decisions and get away with it, KNOWING there are NO consequences. They can lie, steal and cheat their way thru life and have NO jail/prison time. They can just cry about how they have had a hard life and want help and it is all about drugs and get a FREE PASS. Yes we read it. We are AWAKE. YOU MISSED THE POINT. We are just sick and tired of it. WE want those HIGHER UP the food chain to realize we want it changed BACK to where you LEARN a lesson THE FIRST TIME. Then maybe there wouldn't be a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, hell, 8th time!


@ladydye_5: If you are not happy with the statute change in 2011, you will really hate the next change which is likely to be no prison available for non-violent first offenders.


Oh I know


Oh My Darling is in a Uproar!


I can read just fine. Have you not read the same people in the paper week in and week out? Not their first offense but 2nd, 3rd or more and still a slap on the wrist. That is what we are talking about.


Yep, and now it is the law of the land and cannot be changed no matter what....oh, wait, that is ObamaCare.... Sorry I posted in the wrong article.. :-)


I've been saying this over and over IT'S NOT CONWAY'S FAULT!!!! It's sentencing guidelines - and the majority of you still can't read what is in the article!


Sentencing guidelines don't say to give the minimum sentence in all cases. There IS a maximum sentence too. But sadly he never uses it.


Due to the prison population they can not send felony fours and fives to prison on your first offence. Right or wrong its just a reality....so why bash the judge for trying to get theses kids clean and turn their lives around. I don't get it. Its our community, you would think you would want to get them clean and learn how to live in society, instead of becoming life long criminals, because unless you go to a maximum level prison it is a joke.. you are at a criminal school that has drugs and connections that just show you how to become a better criminal and to not get caught next time..you my as well give these kids a shot at rehabilitation....


Ok...can't send the 1st time offenders to jail but what about the ones that have 61 different charges against them? How about the ones that have been caught numerous times for drugs, assaults, thefts and other offenses? What exactly is the excuse for those? Why is the person that robbed my best friend not going back to prison when he was caught selling heroin AGAIN? How about a good answer to that? It is the judge's fault when you have the dredges of society stealing and robbing and you just give them another fine they won't pay. Tired of excuses. After so many times through the system you should be sent to prison for life. Period.


Wasp71 - they CAN be sent to JAIL as a condition of community control - its PRISON they CAN'T be sent to.


Ok..so the 1st timers can't be sent to prison, but what about the ones that are caught 2-19 times? Just curious. The law doesn't seem real clear to me about "judge discretion".


My belief is that the Ohio law is about to become crystal clear that no non-violent offenders will be eligible for prison sentences in Ohio regardless of whether it's a first or 68th offense. The room is needed for violent offenders in prison. Prison is an idea that just hasn't worked for the drug pandemic anyway.


Seriously, AE, you should know better than to post facts and common sense here.


There's just as many drugs in the CBCF as there are on the street. That's why its unsuccessful and they go back to the same crap.


I have heard the same thing. They are happy to go to cbcf because they meet new connections there.


I don't think you folks understand how large this drug pandemic really is and how no one really needs to meet new connections in a CBCF. If you're in school above the grade school level your potential drug and/or pot connections are most of your classmates. If you graduated in the last 15 years your potential drug and/or pot connections are most of the folks you went to school with and the people they have met since graduation. This stuff is everywhere not just in Huron County. One possible step in effectively solving this problem would be to prohibit voting by those who can't pass an on-site drug test which results would be in the public record. It might take 2 or 3 elections but I suspect we would end up with better office holders and a wake up call for many voters.


Wait for the krocidil to rear it's ugly head. I'm not sure if it's in Ohio ,yet.


Well when it does at least we won't have to worry about them for long!


Very true. It works much, much faster.


you people are stupid .... CBCF drug test there people randomly like twice a week and you blame CBCF for not changing people.. well wake up call if some one doesnt wanna change there not going to ... all CBCF does is give u the tools to fix ur self if u dont want to its your own fault .. i should know i went there and really toke the program serious and i havent done pills since .......


Check their records. More are failing then passing. Stupid is as stupid does. We must be stupid because we aren't on drugs and are tired of our homes and vehicles being broken into. We must be stupid because we are tired of a system and judge that keep slapping these addicted criminals on the wrist and release them back into society just to continue the cycle over and over again or we must be stupid to believe that cbcf is actually going to work for these people. Sorry but their track record is failing. Yes a few get helped by it but not enough.