Addressing Substance Abuse: Aronberg, Broward Judges Speak at Starting Place Breakfast

Carmel Cafiero, Starting Place Board Member Paul Daly, Starting Place Board Member Ray Ferrero, Honoree Dave Aronberg

Carmel Cafiero, Starting Place Board Member Paul Daly, Starting Place Board Member Ray Ferrero, Honoree Dave Aronberg

The Starting Place honored former Florida State Senator Dave Aronberg and celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Broward County Drug Court at its annual fundraising breakfast themed “Unleash Your Potential.”

Aronberg detailed his long-term dedication to establishing a prescription drug data base and Broward County Drug Court Judges Marcia Beach, Melanie May and Gisele Pollack spoke of the importance of Broward County Drug Courts as a diversion program for teens, young adults and adult drug offenders.

Starting Place client Jay Ehrlich, Dr. Joel Kaufman, Debbie Ehrlich

Starting Place client Jay Ehrlich, Dr. Joel Kaufman, Debbie Ehrlich

Judge Melanie May, Dr. Joel Kaufman, Judge Giselle Pollack, Starting Place Board Member Ray Berry

Judge Melanie May, Dr. Joel Kaufman, Judge Giselle Pollack, Starting Place Board Member Ray Berry

The event attracted more than 170 guests and netted $20,000 for The Starting Place, which is committed to providing prevention, intervention and treatment programs and educational counseling to youth and young adults and their families affected by substance abuse and mental health issues so that they may lead more positive, productive lives.

“Mr. Aronberg and Drug Court Judges Beach, May and Pollack are the epitome of what’s ‘right’ in our community,” said Dr. Joel Kaufman, CEO of The Starting Place. “They saw a significant issue that needed to be addressed and worked with others to make positive headway in solving the problem. To their great credit, all of these individuals because of their leadership and their passion to assist people with substance abuse and mental health issues have made this community a better place as a result.”

Honoree Dave Aronberg was appointed by Attorney General Pam Bondi as special counsel to lead a state effort aimed at eliminating pain clinics acting criminally, or “pill mills.” Aronberg served in the Florida Senate from 2002 through 2010 where he sponsored and backed legislation to establish a prescription drug database and to strictly regulate the ownership and operation of pain clinics. His professional experience includes service as an attorney in the economic crimes unit of the Attorney General’s Office and as a White House Fellow. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Over the past 20 years, the Broward County Drug Courts graduated more than 10,000 nonviolent people who bought or possessed small amounts of drugs like marijuana, cocaine or oxycodone. They must stay clean for a year and participate in intensive counseling, treatment, rehabilitation and random urine testing. Completing Drug Court enables them to avoid a conviction and a prison term, or, if already convicted, successfully complete probation. Most drug court graduates have gone on to lead very positive, productive, and successful lives and recover from the ravages of drug abuse and addiction.

When the drug court opened its doors in 1990, it was only one of three in the United States. It has been phenomenally successful in terms of saving lives and taxpayer dollars. It costs taxpayers approximately $1,000 per client for a year of Drug Court, as compared with $24,000 to send a person to county jail. The court graduates about 1,000 people a year.

Sponsors for The Starting Place’s “Unleash Your Potential” breakfast include AutoNation, BankAtlantic, Health Business Solutions, Broward Health, CVS, Cindy Schutt PR, Coventry Health Care, Eli Lily, Florida Substance Abuse Awareness PAC, Hays Companies, Memorial Health Care System, Paul Daly, Priority One Credit Union, Addiction Recovery Legal Services, Atlantic Shores, and Broward Bank of Commerce.

For more information, call (954) 327- 4060.

Back row: Judge Giselle Pollack, Mickey Rocque, Senator Nan Rich, Judge Marcia Beach. Front row: Gary Hilko, Judge Melanie May

Back row: Judge Giselle Pollack, Mickey Rocque, Senator Nan Rich, Judge Marcia Beach. Front row: Gary Hilko, Judge Melanie May

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