To Save Opioid Addicts, This Experimental Court Is Ditching The Delays

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NPR on October 5, 2017 by Eric Westervelt

There’s about 10 feet between Judge Craig Hannah’s courtroom bench and the place where a defendant stands to be arraigned here in Buffalo City Court.

But for 26-year-old Caitlyn Stein, it has been a long, arduous 10 feet.

“This is your first day back! Good to see you!” Judge Hannah says as he greets her.

“Good to see you,” Stein says, smiling.

“We’ve got to do that after picture. We did the before,” Judge Hannah reminds her.

It’s 10 feet of space where Stein began to walk back 10 years of crippling intravenous heroin addiction and its sordid aftermath: burned bridges with family and friends, and a stream of lies and criminality to support her drug habit.

Today is Stein’s first day back before Hannah after a month of inpatient treatment in Buffalo’s new opioid intervention court.

Stein shows the judge a folder full of awards and certificates earned during her recovery.

“Oh, you’ve also been a positive peer mentor. Wow. You really did your thing down there. Congratulations,” Hannah says, looking Stein in the eyes. “How many days clean?”

“Twenty-nine today, judge.”

“Keep up the good work, that’s awesome.”

“I will.”

“See another Christmas”

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