The Journal Gazette on 4/8/2018 by Washington Post
Indiana among 18 states to ban it as concerns rise
As part of a routine drug test, Adam Randall handed a vial of yellow liquid to a probation officer.
Although it looked like a urine sample from the 31-year-old – who was required to submit to testing after a previous conviction – authorities in Queensbury, New York, say it was not. They allege that Randall turned over a synthetic liquid he had sneaked into the probation office via a bottle stuffed into his pants, a substance so in demand that states are now taking steps to ban it: fake pee.
With the nation’s opioid crisis raging, rates of cocaine and methamphetamine abuse soaring and recreational marijuana use becoming legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, the concern about clean drug tests, too, has increased.
While people have long tried to cheat drug exams with an array of creative methods – such as providing other people’s urine, attempting to flush their systems with gallons of water or using herbal remedies – authorities say synthetic urine has become the new go-to trick.
So much so that states are enacting laws to ban the sale of fake urine, which retails for about $17 to $40 in head shops, truck stops and on the Internet, and is easy to purchase.
The substance – made from chemicals and, some claim, uric acid – goes by names including “Monkey Whizz” and “UPass.” Authorities say the products give drug users a way to sidestep screening exams administered by police, courts and employers for safety and security.
Laws making it illegal to sell or use synthetic urine or cheat on a drug test are on the books in at least 18 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Indiana and New Hampshire banned synthetic urine last year. Bills to do so were introduced this year in Missouri and Mississippi.
Mississippi’s bill was dubbed the “Urine Trouble Act,” drawing snickers and groans in the State House. But its sponsors and others said that the jokey name belies a real problem: Truck drivers, people who operate heavy machinery and others can use the synthetic liquid to easily thwart a drug test, potentially creating public risks.
“Our employers are reporting to us a concern that more and more of their employees are using synthetic human urine to cheat on a drug test,” said Dan Gibson, executive director of the Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers, which has lobbied for the bill.
Mississippi state Rep. Willie Bailey, speaking at a hearing in Jackson, held a bottle of fake urine that came with instructions suggesting that users could microwave it to achieve body temperature. He said the substance has been a “hot seller” in truck stops statewide.
“They can’t keep it in stock,” he said.
The bill passed the Mississippi House but died in the Senate. Gibson said his members were troubled that the legislation failed; the association plans to lobby for another effort next year.
“Maybe we’ll call it ‘urine trouble again,’” Gibson said.
David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, has heard numerous accounts of people on probation getting caught with fake urine.
They often try to slip it into cups while in the bathroom, where they are supposed to be providing urine samples.
“People can basically use it to avoid consequence with their employers and probation officers,” Powell said. “There’s just no other legitimate purpose for it.”
The Switzerland Democrat
Though a cooperative effort from entities here in Switzerland County and the area, a program that helps people who are incarcerated get their high school equivalency diplomas.
Switzerland County Probation Officer Jeff Theetge says that the county is working in conjunction with River Valley Resources to provide the program.
“We have been working with River Valley Resources at the TEC Center, and they helped us get this started” Theetge said. “What we were doing —before we got our program set up in our jail — was that the sheriff and the jail commander were actually transporting them to the TEC Center at least once a week to attend their program there. Because transportation at times would be an issue, and sometimes we were worried about public safety and the possibility of drugs being trafficked back into the jail, we decided to start up our own program.”
Theetge said that Natalie Williams of the Probation Office contacted the Switzerland County School Corporation, where Matt Levell and John Sieglitz made arrangements to donate six computers to the program that the school was no longer using. From there, Kevin Hayes, the technology person at the detention center, then took over, setting up the computers with the proper software for the classes.
“We probably spent about $1,000 on it to get it all set up, which was covered by some Community Foundation grant money,” Theetge said. “We now have two computers set up in the jail right now for our inmates to work on it. I think at one time, there were at least six to eight people working on their diplomas, in shifts.”
The program began to take shape as an in-house plan about six to seven months ago, but Theetge said that education has been a focus of the Indiana Department of Corrections on a state level. Continue reading →
The Indiana Lawyer on April 9, 2018 by Olivia Covington
The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the adjudication of a New Jersey child as a child in need of services after finding the child’s mother waived her argument that an Indiana trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her child.
After she was dispatched to a Marion County bus station on a report of child neglect, Department of Child Services family case manager Olivia Payne learned K.P. and her son, K.P.G., had missed their connecting bus to their home in New Jersey and had been sitting at the bus stop for almost 18 hours. After observing a hospital band on K.P.G.’s wrist, Payne took him to Riley Children’s Hospital, and K.P. admitted her son had an untreated heart murmur.
K.P. was also admitted to the hospital for mental health treatment and admitted that she had not taken her medication for two months. Thus, DCS filed for K.P.G. to be adjudicated as a child in need of services, and he was placed in foster care.
The Marion Superior Court then granted permission for K.P.G. to undergo the necessary surgery to cure his heart defect, but K.P. filed a memorandum of law claiming the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her son. The trial court never ruled on the memorandum – which was submitted without a motion – but adjudicated K.P.G. as a CHINS and ordered him to remain in foster care.
K.P. appealed and re-asserted her argument that the Marion Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over her and her son as New Jersey residents. The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, found K.P. submitted herself to the Indiana court’s jurisdiction by appearing in the Marion Superior Court after the CHINS petition was filed. Further, 82 days passed between the filing of the petition and the memorandum, which was well outside the 20-day time limit allowed for challenging personal jurisdiction under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B).
Thus, Judge Terry Crone said the issue of personal jurisdiction was waived. He also said there was sufficient evidence to support the CHINS determination, defeating K.P.’s second argument on appeal. Crone specifically pointed to the trial court’s findings regarding K.P.’s mental health issues and her knowledge of and refusal to treat K.P.G.’s heart murmur as sufficient evidence to support the CHINS adjudication.
“In short, her untreated mental illness left her unable to make critical decisions concerning K.P.G.’s care and treatment,” Crone wrote. “FCM Payne’s potentially lifesaving intervention underscores Mothers’ need for the programs and services ordered by the CHIBS court.”
The case is In the Matter of K.P.G. (Minor Child), a Child in Need of Services, K.P. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A05-1709-JC-2053.
The Indiana Lawyer on 4/12/2018 by Olivia Covington
A Tippecanoe County man convicted of incest with his teenage niece will have one of his probation conditions revisited after the Indiana Supreme Court determined the condition requiring him to get permission to access the internet was not reasonably related to his crime.
In Kristopher L. Weida v. State of Indiana, 79S02-1711-CR-687, 34-year-old Kristopher Weida had sex with his 16-year-old niece, K.M., after looking at explicit photos on their cellphones and perusing a website about incest. Weida subsequently pleaded guilty to Level 5 felony incest and left sentencing to the Tippecanoe Superior Court’s discretion.
The trial court sentenced Weida to three years, with one year executed and two years suspended to the probation. Among the probation conditions imposed was Condition 8, which prohibited Weida from access websites “frequented by children,” and Condition 26, which prohibited him from accessing the internet without prior approval from his probation officer. However, Weida was permitted to use the internet to contact his children. Continue reading →
Chicago Tribune on 3/30/2018 by Kate Thayer
State and local health officials have issued a warning about a synthetic pot in Illinois that has caused users to experience severe bleeding.
On Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that 32 people in the past few weeks visited emergency rooms with severe bleeding after using a synthetic cannabinoid product. That’s up from the 22 cases the state reported just the day before.
The department also released a geographic breakdown, reporting eight cases in Chicago, four in suburban Cook County and one each in Will, DuPage, Kane and McLean counties. The hot spot seems to be the Peoria area, with Tazewell County reporting 10 cases and neighboring Peoria County six.
Most of those affected were in the Chicago area, but health officials warned the contaminated products also could be present elsewhere across the state, said department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold.
The health department said Thursday that symptoms have included bleeding from the eyes and ears. On Friday, officials clarified that while this can happen, those affected in Illinois have reported other symptoms, like coughing up blood, blood in urine, bloody noses, bleeding gums and, for women, heavier than usual menstrual flow.
Though synthetic pot has long been considered dangerous, severe bleeding is not a known side effect, said Dr. Melissa Millewich, an emergency room physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
“This bleeding is not expected, at least in such a significant population so quickly,” she said.
Despite a statewide ban, Arnold said manufacturers could be slightly tweaking the molecular makeup of the products as a way to “get around” the law, allowing for them to be sold legally. They are also sold on the street, she said, and those experiencing the bleeding said they obtained the products in convenience stores and from dealers and friends.
Health officials reported 32 people who experienced the symptom since March 7, and they continue to track the situation, Arnold said. So far, there are no deaths reported.
A change in the latest formula could be behind the new, dangerous symptom, Millewich said. Because health officials don’t know the exact makeup of the products, it’s unclear what’s causing the bleeding, she added.
While there have been no such cases at Good Samaritan’s ER, Millewich said, synthetic pot, often called “fake weed,” “K2” or “spice,” has previously displayed life-threatening symptoms like kidney failure, along with psychosis.
“People don’t realize how dangerous this is,” she said.
The man-made substance is a mixture of hundreds of chemicals, often called cannabinoids because they affect the same brain cell receptors as the main ingredient in marijuana. Cannabinoids are sometimes sprayed on plant material for smoking, or are sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices, the health department’s warning said. The products are also sometimes referred to as herbal or liquid incense.
Recent patient reports of severe bleeding led health officials to warn the public not to use any synthetic cannabinoid products.
While those affected by the outbreak admitted using cannabinoids, it’s been difficult to determine their exact source for the substance, Arnold said.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the public health department, says there’s an erroneous perception that synthetic cannabinoids are a safe and legal alternative to marijuana.
Shah says they’re unsafe because it’s difficult to know what chemicals they contain or what an individual’s reaction will be.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found there’s also an association between teens who use synthetic pot and a heightened risk for violent behavior, risky sex and abuse of other drugs.
Anyone who uses these drugs and experiences unexplained bleeding or bruising is advised to call 911 or have someone take them to an emergency room.
More articles on this subject:
Northwest Times on 4/2/18 by Dan Carden
INDIANAPOLIS — Criminal defendants who post a cash bond to be released from jail before trial might not get that money back — even when they show up for trial — if a creditor of any kind obtains a civil court order to garnish the bond.
In a case of first impression, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision that not only are county clerks subject to garnishment proceedings, but state law does not prohibit clerks from transferring bond funds to a lien-holding creditor once the bond no longer is required by the criminal court.
Justice Geoffrey Slaughter, a Crown Point native writing for the majority, said defendants agree upon posting bond that all or part of those funds may be used to pay for the services of a public defender, as well as any fines, court costs, fees and restitution.
Likewise, Slaughter said under Indiana law if a criminal case spurs a parallel civil lawsuit, money from a released criminal bond may be held to pay any judgment in that case.
But, he emphasized, those are not the only circumstances in which a bond may be garnished.
He said if a third party has a legitimate claim to the money, such as a creditor holding a civil judgment, the clerk is required upon request of the creditor to pay the money to the creditor before returning any remainder to the defendant.
“The Legislature has not limited the extent to which a civil court may garnish bail proceeds to satisfy a civil judgment, and we decline to impose any such limits,” Slaughter said.
Justice Steven David and Chief Justice Loretta Rush, a former Munster resident, dissented from the court’s ruling on the grounds that bail bonds are different than other funds held by county clerks.
David writes that because the bail statutes are criminal in nature they must be construed strictly. As such, the few specific purposes for which the law says bond funds may be garnished are all that are allowed.
“Since the bail bond statutes expressly include not one, but several instances when funds need not go to the defendant, we can infer that the Legislature intended no others,” David said. “Today’s decision judicially grafts language onto our bail bond statutes.”
He said Indiana would be wise to follow Illinois in holding that “bail bonds are subject to neither attachment nor garnishment by private persons” without express statutory authority.
“Such an approach aligns with one of the primary purposes of bail bonds — securing the defendant’s presence at hearings — which I’m afraid may be undermined when a defendant realizes he will not recover his bail bond money, despite complying with the terms of his bond,” David said.
“It also guards against the undue delay, excess litigation and collision between judicial tribunals that is caused when unrestricted garnishment of bail bonds is allowed.”
The General Assembly potentially could clarify bail garnishment law at its May special session. But it’s more likely that any legislative remedy won’t be enacted until at least next year.
by IN.gov Newsletter
Save the Date
Statewide Opioid Seminar on MAT Training will be held on July 25, 2018 at the Indiana Convention Center. Every county should send a multi-disciplinary team.
Details in a PDF document.
on 3/28/2018 by Court Services
- Administration of overdose intervention drugs (S.E.A. 13, P.L. 4)
- Civil forfeiture (S.E.A. 99, P.L. 47)
- Scleral tattooing (S.E.A. 158, P.L. 50)
- Uniform business organizations (S.E.A. 180, P.L. 52)
- Emotional support animals (S.E.A. 240, P.L. 162)
- Order to repair tax sale property (S.E.A. 296, P.L. 99)
- Regulation of abortion and newborn safety devices (S.E.A. 340, P.L. 205)
- Notarial acts (S.E.A. 372, P.L.59)
- Action for contribution by railroad entities (S.E.A. 436, P.L. 107)
- Mental health access (H.E.A. 1007, P.L. 195)
- Landowner immunity for trail access (H.E.A. 1115, P.L. 29)
- Delinquent self-storage facility rents (H.E.A. 1194, P.L. 36)
- Duties of corrections and criminal code interim study committee (S.E.A. 4, P.L. 2)
- Sex offenders (S.E.A. 12, P.L. 87)
- Low THC hemp extract (S.E.A. 52, P.L. 153)
- Out of state sex or violent offenders (S.E.A. 60, P.L. 44)
- Sentence modification (S.E.A. 64, P.L. 45)
- Controlled substances (S.E.A. 74, P.L. 89)
- Crimes resulting in the loss of a fetus (S.E.A. 203, P.L. 203)
- Operating while intoxicated (S.E.A. 404, P.L. 63)
- Broadening criminal justice treatment options (H.E.A. 1006, P.L. 65)
- Treatment of out-of-state convictions in sentencing (H.E.A. 1033, P.L. 20)
- Home detention matters (H.E.A. 1034, P.L. 21)
- Pretrial diversion (H.E.A. 1057, P.L. 24)
- Liability for rental car theft (H.E.A. 1060, P.L. 176)
- Qualified egg banks (H.E.A. 1203, P.L. 113)
- Environmental management matters (H.E.A. 1233, P.L. 181)
- Battery offenses (H.E.A. 1250, P.L. 80)
- Criminal law matters (H.E.A. 1270, P.L. 144)
- Health matters (H.E.A. 1317, P.L. 209)
- Bail issues (H.E.A. 1328, P.L. 41)
- Drug dealing resulting in death (H.E.A. 1359, P.L. 198)
Family & Juvenile Law
- Change of placement of a child in need of services (S.E.A. 128, P.L. 119)
- Department of Child Services notifications for schools (S.E.A. 135, P.L. 120)
- Child support (S.E.A. 179, P.L. 94)
- Maximum number of foster children (S.E.A. 184, P.L. 12)
- Foster parent bill of rights (S.E.A. 233, P.L. 13)
- Children in need of services (S.E.A. 381, P.L. 71)
- Juvenile reports (S.E.A. 402, P.L. 62)
- Department of Child Services (S.E.A. 428, P.L. 105)
- Immunity for reports of suspected abuse or neglect (S.E.A. 431, P.L. 106)
- Information for prospective adoptive parent (H.E.A. 1091, P.L. 26)
- Data concerning youth in adult court (H.E.A. 1228, P.L. 142)
- Department of Child Services (H.E.A. 1406, P.L. 150)
Pal-Item Part of the USA Today Network on 3/19/2018 by Mike Emery
WAYNE COUNTY, Ind. — Teenagers are indeed different from adults.
They think differently. Their emotions drive them differently. They act differently.
Therefore, it makes sense to treat them differently than adults.
Three Teaching the Teen Brain training sessions this month taught this to Wayne County educators and education administrators. Sponsored by the Wayne County Probation Department’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and Centerstone, the sessions were conducted at schools in the Centerville, Hagerstown and Northeastern districts.
“The three trainings provided 45 educators and administrators new skills for interacting with youth, gave them an understanding of the teen brain and why youth behave the way they do,” said Kory George, Wayne County’s chief probation officer, in a news release.
Five local trainers have been certified in the Teaching the Teen Brain program that was developed by Butler University’s Brandie Oliver, the release said. Keith Morey of Centerville, Chris Ross of Test Middle School, Kristin Lumpkin of Centerstone, John Engle of Lincoln and Karla Hobson of Hagerstown provided the local instruction.
The training, which was piloted in Tippecanoe County, teaches educators about adolescent brain development, the impact of trauma in a school environment and classroom management strategies to increase compliance and decrease school disruptions, according to the release. The ultimate goal is to increase learning time in schools.
Teaching the Teen Brain follows the Policing the Teen Brain program that has been taught to local police officers. Police officers and teachers, the release said, receive little formal training in youth management strategies. The idea for Teaching the Teen Brain came from Tippecanoe County Judge Faith Graham, and 108 education professionals served as the testing ground for what became a six-hour course.
“The educators and administrators that attended are showing that working effectively with youth is a priority,” George said. “I am hopeful the new approaches and skills help them in their classrooms. We plan to continue to provide supports in our community that have been effective elsewhere in Indiana, and nationally, in reducing the number of youth that are arrested.”
Wayne County Probation Department is a Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative site, the release said. The JDAI system, which teaches that a reduction in secure detention does not sacrifice public safety, promotes reducing the number of youth unnecessarily or inappropriately detained, minimizing the number of youth who fail to appear in court, redirecting public funds toward successful reform strategies and improving the juvenile justice system.
Richmond Police Department’s Youth Services Division, which has been rejuvenated this year, includes Detective Neal VanMiddlesworth, who is trained in JDAI, offering a different perspective on when detention might not be the best avenue for a youth.
Policing the Teen Brain training also exposes police officers to reasons why youth might act as they do in stressful situations or following trauma because of the differences in their brains compared to adults. That understanding can shed a different light on their actions and what might help the youth.
Recently released statistics indicate that Wayne County youth continue to be impacted by poverty, hunger and neglect or abuse at high rates. The Kids Count Data Book from the Indiana Youth Institute indicates that 25.2 percent of Wayne County children live in poverty, the ninth-highest percentage among Indiana’s 92 counties, and that 23.5 percent are food insecure, ranking third in the state for percentage of children who do not have nutritionally sound foods consistently available.
Department of Child Services statistics from 2017 recorded 417 substantiated cases of neglect, sexual abuse or physical abuse for Wayne County children. The number has skyrocketed during the past five years fueled by adult substance abuse and addiction.
Indiana Lawyer on 03/20/2018 by Olivia Covington
The Vigo Superior Court must provide a man convicted of resisting and spitting on local law enforcement officers with a written list of his specific probation conditions after the Indiana Court of Appeals found discrepancies and vagueness in the conditions provided.
In Dustin McCarty v. State of Indiana, 84A04-1707-CR-1599, a Terre Haute police officer encountered Dustin McCarty while responding to another call and arrested him after discovering an outstanding warrant. While being transported to the Vigo County Jail, McCarty spit on the officer, Philip Ralston twice and put up a fight when other officers attempted to remove him from the vehicle and place him in a mobile incarceration unit.
After McCarty was found guilty of Class D felony battery by bodily waste and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, the Vigo Superior Court sentenced him to 2½ years, with credit for 290 days served and the remainder sentenced to probation. The court imposed standard terms of probation, including terms that required him to “avoid persons and places of harmful character,” and to “(not) consume alcohol in a lawful manner unless ordered to abstain …”, with the word “not” handwritten into the term.
McCarty appealed his probation terms, and the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with his argument that the trial court erred in failing to provide him with written probation conditions at his sentencing. Judge Paul Mathias wrote Tuesday that McCarty did not receive written notice of his conditions until a meeting with his probation officer four days after sentencing. Mathias also noted that the conditions McCarty was provided erroneously imposed a complete alcohol ban.
Rather than a complete ban, Mathias said the trial court had orally ordered McCarty to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation, but that condition was not included in the written statement. Considering those discrepancies, the appellate court remanded the case with instructions to correct the altered alcohol-related probation condition and to provide a new listing that explicitly requires McCarty to undergo the evaluation.
“Although the trial court erred when it failed to provide McCarty with written conditions of probation at sentencing, the record does not indicate that McCarty violated, or was arrested and charged with violating, any terms of that probation in the four-day period between sentencing and his first appointment with the probation department,” Mathias wrote. “For this reason, we can find that error to be harmless error.”
McCarty also challenged the relevance of the order for him to undergo the evaluation, but considering his subsequent conviction of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, the appellate panel determined the condition was reasonably related to his rehabilitation. However, the panel agreed that the prohibition on his association with “persons and places of harmful character” was impermissibly vague and, thus, remanded for the trial court to provide clarity.
Indianapolis Star on 03/16/2018 by Shari Rudavsky
Linking people with substance use disorders to the treatment they need to kick their addiction has just become easier in Indiana.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Thursday announced a new partnership with a software platform that can help social workers find openings at treatment facilities. The partnership, funded by money from the 21st Century Cures Act, also includes Indiana 2-1-1, a local non-profit that helps provides referrals for a variety of social services.
In the past 18 months, FSSA has increased residential treatment capacity by 26 percent, spending $10.9 million of federal funds to do so.
“Now our challenge is this: How do we connect people with open beds?” said Dr. Jennifer Walthall, FSSA secretary.
Court Services on 3-28-18
S.E.A. 13, P.L. 4
Effective: July 1, 2018
Provides that community corrections officers and probation officers may administer an overdose intervention drug. Requires community corrections officers and probation officers to report the use of an overdose intervention drug to the emergency ambulance service responsible for reporting the use to the Indiana emergency medical services commission. Requires that persons permitted to administer an overdose intervention drug must receive education and training on drug overdose response and treatment, including the administration of an overdose intervention drug before the person may administer an overdose intervention drug. Provides civil immunity to community corrections officers and probation officers who administer an overdose intervention drug. Provides civil immunity to a person who has an agency relationship with a community corrections officer or probation officer who administers an overdose intervention drug.
Read the bill at: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2018/bills/senate/12
To: Circuit, Superior, and Probate Courts, City and Town Courts, Marion County Small Claims Courts
From: Jeffrey S. Wiese, Deputy Director of Legal Support
Date: March 14, 2018
New Procedure for Courts with Late Quarterly or Annual Statistical Reports
Ind. Administrative Rule 1 and Ind. Administrative Rule 2 require courts and probation departments to file statistical reports with the Indiana Office of Court Services (IOCS). These reports are filed electronically on INcite, using the Indiana Courts Online Reports (ICOR) application.
IOCS can no longer be as lenient with deadlines as we were in the past. We are receiving more requests for this information plus this data is necessary to produce other reports used by the Court, the General Assembly, and the public. A new procedure is being implemented for courts with delinquent reports.
- Two weeks after the report’s due date, one mass email will be sent to judges and report
preparers of all courts with a missing report.
- The email will explain your court has a late report and the missing report must be
submitted within one week.
- If the report is not received by this new deadline, the judges’ names will be sent to the
IOCS Executive Director.
For more information on reports please see “Statistical Reporting: Quarterly & Annual Reports” in the Trial Court Administration Manual for Judges and Clerks available at courts.in.gov/iocs/3151.htm or email IOCS Deputy Director Jeff Wiese Jeffrey.firstname.lastname@example.org
PDF original document
The Justice Services Conference will be held May 9-11, 2018. A block of rooms has been reserved at the Omni Severin Hotel, Indianapolis, IN 46225, at a group rate of $119/night.
This conference is open to probation officers and their supervising judge, court alcohol and drug program judges, program directors, program staff and education facilitators and all team members of certified problem-solving courts or problem-solving courts in the planning stages.
To register for the conference of hotel, please visit the main probation website under “News and Announcements” at: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/probation/index.htm
New York Times on 03/21/2018 by Amy Bach
Criminal justice data in this country is hard to come by. It can be messy and difficult to understand. And in many cases, the data doesn’t exist at all.
How many people are in jail? For what crimes? For how long? Are people in jail mostly awaiting trial? Are they there for being unable to pay bail of $500 or less? You might think we know the answers to these basic questions, but we don’t.
Missing data is at the core of a national crisis. The United States leads the industrialized world in incarceration. With nearly 5 percent of the planet’s population and almost a quarter of its prison population, the country has invested a tremendous amount of money in the corrections system without the statistics necessary to tell us whether that money is actually reducing crime, improving fairness or lessening recidivism. State and federal spending on corrections has grown more than 300 percent over the past 20 years — becoming one of the fastest-growing line items in state budgets.