Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Eileen Paley plans to continue focusing on court-based social programs to improve lives during her second term.
Paley, who ran for re-election unopposed in November and garnered more than 121,000 votes, told the Columbus Jewish News that her work continues to be informed both by her Jewish values and the knowledge that jail is not the solution to most of the cases she sees each day.
“As a Jew, I recognize that injustice is something that I should strive to change,” said Paley, who had her bat mitzvah and was confirmed at Temple Israel in Columbus. “History is something to critique and learn from. As a judge, I am a public servant tasked with changing injustice and striving to make a difference in people’s lives.”
While she can send defendants to jail, Paley said that will not make a difference in most of the misdemeanor cases she decides.
“Because most of the cases I deal with are misdemeanors, which are low level crimes, jail is usually not an effective tool,” Paley said. “It is more effective to find the reason why people are in court and try to resolve those problems.”
Two of the ways Paley is planning to address problems during this term are through the MARCH and CAP IT programs.
The MARCH Program, or Medical Assisted Treatment, Assessments, Referrals, Collaboration and Hope, is a new full resource center open to community members at the Franklin County Municipal Court, she said. The public walk-in center provides a range of services from referrals to alcohol, drug and mental health treatment providers and access to detox services, to assistance with applying for cash, food and insurance assistance, access to employment readiness programs and linkage to rental, utility and transportation assistance.
Paley said CAP IT, or Comprehensive Abuse Prevention Intervention and Treatment, is a “first-in-the-world domestic violence evidence-based probation program for the LGBTQ+ community.” She said it is an important tool because “traditionally, domestic violence counseling is gender based which is not effective in same sex relationships. I am immensely proud of this program and the fact that our court is the first in the world to provide it.”
Looking ahead, she intends to expand these programs, while changing people’s perspective on the role of the courts, she said.
“My goal is also to make people understand that judges are here to serve, and people should take advantage of the resources available at the courthouse,” Paley said.