Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab has seen too many heroin cases in his courtroom. It's not a surprise: Heroin in the suburbs have become a significant problem with awareness moving to the forefront.
Astrab confirms this, saying the majority of heroin cases involve young suburbanites.
“Make no mistake, it’s an epidemic,” Astrab said. “I can do what I can as a judge from the bench, but by the time a user gets to my courtroom, it’s often too late. As a community, we need to do more to prevent people from using heroin in the first place.”
During the 2013-14 school year, Judge Astrab will host a series of “Heroin in the Suburbs” forums. A town hall for Westlake will take place at the Porter Library on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m.
Avon Lake recently held a series of well-attended forums after five residents died from the drug in 12 months.
Astrab’s goal is to help raise awareness of the heroin epidemic, and inform parents how to keep their families safe.
The expert panel will include Dr. Joan Papp, Deborah Naiman of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's office, defense attorney Henry Hilow, Robert Brandt of "Robby's List" and Special Agent Jeff Capretto of the Westshore Enforcement Agency.
The discussion will be moderated by Monica Robins, senior health correspondent at WKYC TV3.
According to the medical examiner, heroin killed 161 people in Cuyahoga County last year. The majority of those deaths were in the suburbs.
“This is an epidemic. For anyone to suggest otherwise,” Astrab said, “is naive.”
“Everyone involved in these forums has one goal – prevent at least one person from being hurt by heroin,” Astrab said. “If we can do that, this effort will absolutely be worth it.”
All Westlake residents – especially parents and students – are encouraged to attend.
Astrab has 2013 forums scheduled in Solon, Broadview Heights, Cleveland Heights and Parma. He is in the process of setting up hearings in 2014 for Lakewood, North Olmsted, Beachwood, Mayfield, Strongsville and Pepper Pike.
For more information, follow Judge Astrab on Twitter @judgeastrab. To RSVP to attend the forum on Facebook, search for “Westlake: Heroin in the Suburbs.”