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Monday, April 25, 2016

'60 Minutes' Returns to Ohio for In-Depth Look at Heroin Overdose Epidemic

Posted By on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 at 8:20 AM

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As the criminal justice system wrestles with itself over how to interact with the growing heroin epidemic, the problem is only getting worse. 60 Minutes joined the cavalcade of narratives this weekend with a hard look at the tsunami of heroin addiction statistics in Ohio. The news program focused its work around Columbus — "middle America personified," Bill Whitaker said.

The episode aired Sunday night.

A bulk of the episode focused on the rising tide of Ohio's 91 drug courts, and Whitaker spent time discussing those specialized court dockets with Judge Scott VanDerKarr in Franklin County. (Scene also interviewed VanDerKarr for our March 2016 feature on drug courts in Ohio.) 

Drug courts — an alternative path through the criminal justice system for addicts — favor treatment over punishment. In one 60 Minutes cut, VanDerKarr asks a young lady how long she's been clean. "I've been clean for 84 days," she replies, and VanDerKarr leads the courtroom in hearty applause. In most drug courts, milestones (like the 90-day mark, say) are celebrated as the person graduates to the next "tier" in the docket — one step closer to an independent, sober life.

"Drug courts work," Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told Whitaker.

Still, that's not a unanimously held opinion in this state. 60 Minutes also spent time with Hardin County Prosecutor Bradford Bailey. "We're gonna get them, because they don't have the ability to say no," he said. (The county is "experimenting" with a drug court now.) 


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