Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Michael Astrab has seen too many heroin cases in his courtroom. “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, Astrab will host a series of “Heroin in the Suburbs” forums. A town hall for Strongsville and North Royalton will take place on Wednesday, January 29 at 7 PM at the Strongsville Public Library (18700 Westwood Drive).
Astrab’s goal is to help raise awareness of the heroin epidemic, and inform parents how to keep their families safe.
“This is an epidemic. For anyone to suggest otherwise,” Astrab said, “is naive.”
According to the medical examiner, heroin killed approximately 200 people in Cuyahoga County in 2013. The majority of those deaths were in the suburbs. Heroin took more lives in 2013 than homicides or car accidents.
The expert panel will include Assistant County Prosecutor Patrick Lavelle, chemical dependency counselor Robert Garrity and Dr. Stephen Sroka. In addition, Cindy Koumoutzis will share the story of her family’s battle against heroin.
“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 Strongsville and North Royalton residents – especially parents and students – are encouraged to attend.
Additional forums will be held in North Olmsted, Bay Village, Independence, Mayfield, Beachwood and St. Edward High School. Astrab will also participate in a heroin forum at the City Club of Cleveland on January 31st. For more information, follow Judge Astrab on Twitter @judgeastrab. To RSVP to attend the forum on Facebook, search for “Strongsville: Heroin in the Suburbs.”
A resident of Strongsville, Astrab has served on the Common Pleas bench since January 2011.