BUTLER — The state of affairs in this part of Richland County received warm thoughts Saturday at a prayer breakfast at the River of Life Church.
Judge Brent Robinson, of the Richland County Court of Common Pleas, told people at the breakfast there are obvious types of crime going on in the county: criminal, civil and drug related.
But if people who are offenders want help that is “religious based,” the system “will make sure they get it,” Robinson said.
Robinson was the speaker at an event organized by Butler Mayor Ken Kinley. This was the 2017 Village of Butler Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
Robinson said local efforts will do a lot more for problems within a community than could someone from the outside.
He said “people in Washington, D.C. and in Columbus don’t care about our problems.”
He said local people are “invested here in Richland County.”
The issue of drug abuse is a growing one. He called that kind of offense “crime against self.”
He said in drug court, the majority of offenders are women. Of 90 cases recently, 55 to 60 of the offenders were women, he said.
He said males generally are involved in crimes of violence. For some reason “women are causing problems” in drug abuse. If a woman is pregnant and has been found to be abusing drugs, she is going to be locked so she “can’t go out and hurt the baby,” Robinson said.
The higher incidence of women as drug offenders probably comes from the “people out there who are taking advantage of them,” he said. He said some of this could come from people interested in “human trafficking” and those people could be out there trying to find women to “get hooked.”
Robinson said it is common for sellers to give out samples of drugs to potential customers.
The lure of a different sense of self that comes about with drug use usually goes hand in hand with “a lot of people “who have no self worth, said Robinson.
Because they say “my life is ruined already,” they find drug use “gives me a bit of numbness,” he said.
Community work can be done to help a person “try to get back on the right track,” said Robinson.
One person attending, Al Clark of Butler, said people maybe think they don’t have anything to lose.
Robinson said the truth is that there are no old heroin users.
“It’s the prison or the coffin,” he said.
There are some religious based treatment programs available, he said. Some people who go through them, if they are serious about that treatment, move on to become ministers “because that kind of treatment is so profound,” he said
Robinson spent 20 years as a prosecutor before becoming judge. He said he approves of the system where judges are elected. In the appointment system, there is a “ton of politics,” he said.
A person who becomes a judge can end up with something he called “black robe fever,” which means the person wearing the robes can get a bit carried away with the position.
It is the job of a judge to be “fair but firm.”
Kinley said the community has taken advantage of the fact it has gotten help from prisoners, who came to paint the fire house. He said one person, after being fed, asked if he could “lick the plate.”
He told people they should remember that if help “begins with you, so much the better.”