Prosecutor Announces Fresh Start Initiative

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Athens Messenger staff reports

Dateline
Updated Mon, Aug 18, 2014 3:40 pm

A program geared at providing addiction services and other community justice efforts in Athens County was announced on Friday by the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office.

In a press release, Prosecutor Keller Blackburn detailed the Fresh Start program, which is a part of the Community Justice Initiative.

“We all know that tough enforcement alone will not solve the problem of drug abuse and addiction,” said Blackburn. “Fresh Start gives everyone in the community the opportunity to come together to confront the problem of addiction in Athens County.”

Funding for Fresh Start will come from the Prosecutor’s Law Enforcement Trust Fund and through donations to the Athens Foundation. A fund was created through the foundation that is able to collect private donations from citizens and groups that wish to support the Fresh Start initiatives.

“The Athens Foundation is pleased to host the Fresh Start Fund,” said Susan Urano, executive director of the Athens Foundation. “Too many of our friends and neighbors are losing the battle to addiction. I hope Fresh Start will help to change that.”

To date, the Fresh Start initiative has provided $2,500 to the Clem House in Athens County to provide scholarships to offset the cost for Athens County residents who can’t afford to receive recovery services at the facility. More information about Clem House can be found at www.clemhouse.org. Additional scholarships are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Other programs as part of the Community Justice Initiative include the Athens County Empowerment Program (ACE) which provides an alternative to prison for certain low-level offenders who may benefit from training, treatment and participation in community service; efforts to prevent recidivism by working to help former prisoners successfully reenter their communities; and the Property Crimes Task Force, which recognizes that addiction frequently leads to property crimes. The task force shares information among law enforcement and educates the public, utilizing former offenders who have been through the system to increase awareness on criminal tactics.

Those interested in contributing to Fresh Start can contact the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office or the Athens Foundation.

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