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Fighting addiction in America: Why we can never settle for the soft bigotry of low expectations

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The Hill on 3/7/2019 by Andrew Burki, Opinion Contributor

This is the 106th year of the drug war since the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act in 1914. It’s fair to say that we’re still losing. Our losses, both in human life and financial costs, are so staggering that they are incomprehensible. To many, it looks like we’ve stopped fighting to win. The latest impotent approach to addressing the addiction crisis here in America is to simply move the goalposts, call it a win, and write off a measurable percentage of the population and their families.

But letting people in desperate need die can never be an acceptable solution to our national health crisis. “Dead addicts” doesn’t mean “the death of addiction” as anyone from the half dozen generations that have lived under the shadow of this war well know. When we fail to help people and communities, we are waging war against ourselves not against drugs. It’s a war we will continue to lose. Our system is now so broken that hospitals kick overdose patients out on the streets to die 90 minutes after being resurrected with naloxone. Unless all our moving parts work together, they won’t work at all—and people will continue being crushed between the gears.

Across America, we don’t have a single community that isn’t actively fighting the effects of addiction. Families, nonprofits, and private organizations contend with it, street by street and house by house. Even tranquil suburbs and small towns that were relatively untouched by the last generation’s inner-city drug war battlefields are being forced to face the reality that the war is in their own bedrooms, too. Addiction is not something that happens to “other people.” It’s not a problem that only affects “them.” The imaginary “them” is now clearly all of us.

As this failed War on Drugs has worn on, it has cannibalized its own best resources. The recovery advocacy movement, fighting for “equitable access to treatment, access to employment, access to education and access to housing,” has been undercut and underfunded to the point of being almost useless. Many groups, which work from the White House to the front lines with people in severe conditions, have been mercilessly beaten into submission or forced to compete with one another for dwindling resources. They’re just begging for the bare-bones minimum to keep people alive, yet they’re told again and again there’s no funding to be found. Continue reading →

Over $3M Worth of Marijuana Found During Indiana Traffic Stop

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NBC Chicago on 3/17/2019

Police also said they found 50,000 vape cartridges in the cargo storage area of the truck

Two men are facing felony charges after being found with $3.5 million worth of marijuana and THC-filled vape cartridges during a traffic stop last week in central Indiana.

Danny J. Luttrell II and Brandon M. Pierson, both 27, were each charged with dealing marijuana, Indiana State Police said.

At 11:33 a.m. March 13, Luttrell and Pierson were traveling on I-70 eastbound, just outside of Indianapolis, when a state trooper pulled them over for “following too closely,” state police said. The trooper smelled an aroma and suspected criminal activity during his conversation with the pair.

During a subsequent search, troopers discovered 250 pounds of marijuana and 50,000 vape cartridges in the cargo storage area of the truck, police said. The street value of the marijuana is estimated at $2.5 million, while the vape cartridges were reportedly worth $1 million.

Luttrell and Pierson were taken into custody and transported to Hendricks County Jail.

Indiana Supreme Court to hear cellphone privacy case

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AP News on 3/23/2019

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court is hearing the case of a woman who refused to unlock her cellphone for police in a stalking investigation.

Attorneys in the case say the court’s decision could undermine privacy interests and constitutional rights, or public safety and law enforcement.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a case involving 37-year-old Katelin Seo of Carmel, who was accused of stalking and harassment in 2017, the Indianapolis Star reported .

Seo bonded out of Hamilton County Jail in July 2017, after being charged with stalking a man she dated, according to court records. She called the man the day she was released, despite an order to never contact him again, court records said.

Later that month, the mother of children who attended the school where Seo worked told police they had received menacing texts from Seo, the documents said.

Police obtained search warrants for Seo’s phone, but she refused to give them the passcode. Her attorney, William Webster, invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, arguing that forcing her to provide the password was essentially forcing her to testify against herself.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in Seo’s favor last August. Stephen Creason, a chief counsel at the state attorney general’s office, questioned this ruling.

“This is no different than if police get a search warrant (to your home) and you lock the doors and refuse to unlock them,” Creason said. “The law has never been nor does it make sense that police couldn’t go into your house.”

In a court filing, the Indiana attorney general said the Fifth Amendment includes a “foregone conclusion” doctrine that says the state can compel someone to do something if it already has knowledge of the information and can prove the facts through other means. The phone belongs to Seo and she used it to speak to the male victim, the state said.

Webster argued that investigators were not specific enough about what they expected to find on the device. Stephen Creason, chief counsel of the state appeals division, disputed that notion.

“We’ve been specific enough that a judge executed a search warrant,” Creason said.

Von Welch, director of Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, said the case has massive implications for law enforcement and what they are able to do to bring criminals to justice.

“We’re wrestling right now with how much security (we want) around our computers — do we want to make that as strong as possible — and realizing when we make security that protects citizens from criminals, that also makes it harder for law enforcement,” Welch said.

Seo has since accepted plea deals in the stalking cases. Webster said that illustrates the phone isn’t needed.

“The state had enough additional evidence that they went ahead and proceeded with their case,” he said. “My client still hasn’t provided her password, and all of her criminal cases have been resolved.”

Records show Seo is serving prison time in an unrelated case.

Indiana teachers were shot with pellets for a drill. Are active-shooting trainings going too far?

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Vox on 3/24/2019 by Amanda Sakuma

‘Active-shooter’ trainings are becoming a remarkable new normal.

Teachers at Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana, were reportedly shot in the back with plastic pellets during an active-shooter training earlier this year. Meadowlawn Elementary School via Facebook

An active-shooter training in Indiana took a gruesome turn earlier this year when sheriff’s deputies shot elementary school teachers in the back with plastic pellets, mock-execution style. The teachers union detailed the incident this week, highlighting the extreme and potentially ineffective measures many schools have undertaken to avert future mass shootings.

Local law enforcement carried out the drill with the teachers of Meadowlawn Elementary School in Monticello, Indiana, in January, the Indiana State Teachers Association said in a meeting with state legislators on Wednesday. The drill involved dividing the teachers into small groups and instructing them to face a classroom wall and kneel. Then, deputies with the White County Sheriff’s Office fired plastic pellets into the backs of more than 20 teachers without warning. Several teachers were injured, a representative for the district’s union said, though none have publicly come forward about the incident.

The teachers union detailed on Twitter how teachers heard their colleagues scream from getting shot.

“The teachers were terrified, but were told not to tell anyone what happened,” the union tweeted. “Teachers waiting outside that heard the screaming were brought into the room four at a time and the shooting process was repeated.” Continue reading →

Man charged in Indiana woman’s 1988 slaying dies in jail

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AP News on 3/24/2019

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to the 1988 beating death of a pregnant mother in South Bend, Indiana, has died in jail.

The St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office says 78-year-old George Kearney was found unresponsive Saturday night in the county jail’s medical unit. He was pronounced dead early Sunday.

Authorities say Kearney had been terminally ill and signed an order with jail medical staff to take no lifesaving measures if he stopped breathing.

His guilty plea in the slaying of 28-year-old Miriam Rice came earlier this month. Kearney was in prison for an unrelated crime when he confessed and said his co-defendant, 56-year-old Barbara Brewster, was also responsible. Both were charged last year.

Kearney faced up to 60 years in prison at his sentencing Friday. An autopsy is expected Monday.

Spat over Lake County probation officers sparks suit

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KPVI on 4/5/2019 by Will Racke

Lake County has sued Indiana in a long-running dispute about who is responsible for defending probation officers accused of wrongdoing in their official capacity.

Filed late March in Porter County Superior Court, the lawsuit names the state of Indiana, the office of the Indiana attorney general and the Lake County Probation Department as defendants.

It asks a trial court to determine whether probation officers ultimately work for the county or the state. The question isn’t merely academic; potentially millions of Lake County taxpayer dollars are at stake.

That’s because, under current practice, the county is on the hook for the expense of defending probation officers and paying out civil damages to their accusers.

It should be the state of Indiana that is liable for damages against probation officers, argues Angela Jones, a Munster-based attorney handling the lawsuit on behalf of the county council and board of commissioners.

“The probation (department) employees are under direct control of the judges, and judges are employees of the state,” Jones told The Times on Wednesday.

The Indiana attorney general’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The county’s lawsuit was motivated by a raft of pending litigation involving the probation department. In one case, a Gary woman sued Lake County in 2015, alleging physical and mental injuries at the hands of her probation officer, Miroslav Radiceski, and department officials. Radiceski had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of official misconduct after being indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and sexual battery against the woman.

In such cases, Lake County is responsible for any compensatory or punitive damages awarded to the plaintiffs. The county aims to change that arrangement by showing that probation officers fall under the Indiana court system for the purposes of official liability. If successful, the case could set a precedent for other counties in the state, Jones said.

“This issue is very ripe — it hasn’t been determined (by the courts),” she said. “We’re the first ones that have asked for a determination.

“This is a proactive move by the county.”

Lake County opted to file its action in Porter County court in anticipation of a change of venue from Lake County Superior Court, according to Jones.

“We were trying to take a step out of the process,” she said.

The county’s lawsuit also names Lake County Superior Court Judges Salvador Vasquez, Clarence Murray, Diane Boswell and Samuel Cappas due to their affiliation with the probation office.

Text Me: How Messaging Is Helping People Avoid Jail

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Law 360 on 03/24/2019 by Michael Phillis

On Feb. 16, Rachael Michelle Olson received a text message telling her that three days later she was expected at Hennepin County, Minnesota, court at 1:30 p.m. She had no idea what was going on.

“I was freaked out,” she said.

Olson described the text as a complete surprise and said she did not know if it was for her or someone in her family. But thanks to the text, she was able to reach a public defender, who told her it was a careless driving charge that Olson said was related to a traffic accident she was in earlier in the year.

Nothing had shown up in the mail about the court date and she would have otherwise missed it, she said. If Olson didn’t appear in court, a warrant would have been issued for her and she may have ended up under arrest and in jail for a short stint, according to Joelle L. Sather, who has represented Olson as a public defender.

Olson had previously been jailed for missing court appearances related to an earlier charge, but this time she benefited from a new initiative aimed at making it easier for defendants to show up to court.

Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, started the program in 2017. It reminds defendants of court dates with a text message: a buzz in their pockets to help get them through the courthouse door.

Similar programs have been spreading across the country. There are programs in Contra Costa County, California; Spokane County, Washington; Monroe County, Indiana; and New York City, among others. In Colorado, Tennessee and Massachusetts, legislation has been introduced to put some kind of text reminder system in place.

The reminders offer an alternative to punishment and address some of the complex reasons that people don’t show up that are not always as simple as a defendant deciding not to go, court officials and advocates say.

In the Hennepin County program’s first year, those who received the optional text and email reminders sent one day and three days before an appearance were about 30 percent more likely to show up, according to court data.

“It literally reminds you the day before,” Olson said. “So, even if you are going to bed and you forget then it is like, ‘oh … I do have court tomorrow.’ Then you know you have to go.”

Continue reading →

It’s Time to Think Globally About Ending Violence in Schools

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Crisis Prevention Blog on 9/13/2019 by Heather Vaughn

Your local perspective on violence in schools reflects a global concern.

When you think about violence in schools, what immediately comes to mind? Maybe you remember an incident of bullying that you or a child you know has experienced, or a school shooting that has devastated a local community. These are certainly two significant kinds of violence in schools that are currently getting significant media coverage in the United States.

But according to a new UNICEF publication, An Everyday Lesson: #ENDviolence in Schools, violence in schools is a global concern that links students across cultures, societies, and economies. Students in both the developing world and industrialized nations cope with a continuum of violence that extends beyond bullying—and both globally and locally, adults can do something to help these students end violence in schools. Continue reading →

7 Tips for Empathic Listening

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Crisis Prevention Institute Blog on 10/12/2016 by Aryn Lietzke

What does it mean to listen? Is it the passive process of taking in sound waves?

What about absorbing the context of words and the feelings behind them?

Listening has layers of meaning that stretch beyond the inert and into the active. Working at the Crisis Prevention Institute, I often hear the term “Empathic Listening.” This touchstone concept in our training is “an active process to discern what a person is saying.”

When you focus on the person and engage with their message, you move from recognizing words to understanding the feelings and motivations behind them. This includes following up with questions if needed. It’s also about knowing when to stay silent.

Empathic Listening is a dynamic and compassionate process that calls for more than taking in someone else’s words. You’re communicating with that person as well. You’re showing that you care about them, their thoughts and feelings, and are willing to take the time to hear them out.

Listening with empathy fosters rapport that keeps Care, Welfare, Safety, and SecuritySM vibrant and sets the stage for problem solving. Knowing the people in your care better helps you to recognize causes of behavior and find solutions. Continue reading →

Study says drug court remakes lives

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The Herald-Times on 4/3/2019 by Laura Lane

Drug court, it pays off.

An Indiana University School of Social Work professor’s evaluation of Monroe County’s 20-year-old Drug Treatment Court found that participants are much less likely to commit other crimes than drug offenders who do not participate in drug court.

While 54 percent of non-drug court participants got arrested again, just 18 percent of those in drug court committed further crimes. What is called the recidivism rate has decreased dramatically in recent years, associate professor John R. Gallagher’s study showed; it was 32 percent in 2014 and 18 percent as of 2019.

More participants are finding success in drug court as well. In 2014, 54 percent graduated. In 2018, the graduation rate was 66 percent.

Women are more likely to succeed than men, he found, and married people are more successful in drug court as well.

The study surveyed 116 drug court participants and 54 other drug offenders who were eligible but chose not to participate in drug court.

A news release about the study from the county probation department said drug court “is an effective program at reducing recidivism and a valuable resource for individuals who have substance use disorders, the community, and other stakeholders.”

The study revealed that drug court personnel, and the judge in particular, play a vital role in helping participants find a way to address and end their addiction to drugs. “Respondents felt that praise from the judge was one of the most helpful incentives they received,” Gallagher wrote in a summary.

Monroe County Chief Probation Officer Linda Brady said the evaluation confirmed some things and provided insights directly from people in the drug court program.

“I was surprised to learn the importance to program participants of receiving praise and positive words from the judge,” Brady said. “If you watch a drug court session, you can see how Judge Diekhoff is able to connect with each participant on a personal level, even when she is delivering a consequence for failure to obey program rules.” Continue reading →

County considers allowing probation officers to carry guns

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Kokomo Perspective on 4/1/2019 by Devin Zimmerman

Probation officers seek safety; sheriff fears introducing firearms into equation
Officials within the Howard County Community Corrections Advisory Board are debating allowing those who make home visits to citizens on probation or in-home detention to carry firearms, and the prospect drew mixed opinions.

The discussion of whether to allow probation officers and field officers within the local community corrections and probation departments to carry firearms has been debated before, most recently about three years ago, before being shelved. That debate again resurfaced last week during a meeting of the Howard County Community Corrections Advisory Board.

On one side of the debate, officials hope that such officers, who do not possess arrest power, will be safer if able to carry a gun into the homes of high-risk offenders who can react violently and unexpectedly to situations. On the other side of the issue, law enforcement officials were concerned that such a policy could introduce firearms into situations where one previously wouldn’t have been present. This, they argued, opens the door to clients disarming the officers of their weapons and creating potentially deadly scenarios.

Howard County Community Supervision Director Dustin Delong broached the subject during this month’s advisory board meeting, hoping to garner approval from the board before moving forward with crafting a policy that would allow probation officers and field officers to carry firearms while conducting in-home visits to clients. Continue reading →

Can High-Potency Pot Make You Crazy?

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HealthDay on 3/19/2019 by Dennis Thompson

The jittery, delusional potheads of the old movie “Reefer Madness” have prompted eye rolls and chuckles over the years, but a new study argues that the cult classic might contain a kernel of truth.

Smoking pot every day could increase your risk of a psychotic break with reality, particularly if you have access to high-potency strains of marijuana, European researchers report.

As many as 1 in 5 newly diagnosed cases of psychosis might be linked to daily cannabis use, according to data gathered from 11 hospitals across Europe.

People who used pot on a daily basis were three times more likely to have a first-time diagnosis of psychosis, and five times more likely if they used high-potency marijuana every day, researchers said.

The new study “raises real concerns about the dangers posed by high-potency marijuana,” said Emily Feinstein, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Center on Addiction.

“Over the past decade, there has been an increase in the availability of high-concentration THC products, for both medical and recreational use,” said Feinstein, who wasn’t involved with the study. “While there may still be questions about the nature of the link between daily use of high-potency marijuana and psychotic disorder, this study suggests that we should be monitoring this issue very closely and taking steps to protect the public’s health.” Continue reading →

Social media linked to rise in mental health disorders in teens, survey finds

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NBC News on 3/14/2019 by Shamard Charles, M.D.

Young adults born after 1995 are experiencing more mental health issues. Researchers point to lack of sleep and the rise of social media.

Mental health issues have risen significantly over the last decade and the rise of digital media may be one reason why, according to a national survey released Thursday.

The research, published by the American Psychological Association, found sharp increases in the number of young adults and adolescents who reported experiencing negative psychological symptoms — specifically in those born in 1995 or later, known as iGen. Coincidentally, the greatest spike in symptoms occurred in 2011, around the same time social media bursts onto the scene.

No corresponding increase was observed in older adults. Continue reading →

Probation officers sent to the hospital after man brings fentanyl into office

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Wave 3 News on 3/26/2019 by Natalia Martinez

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – One of Kentucky’s Probation and Parole offices in Louisville was shut down after an officer came in contact with fentanyl, WAVE 3 News has learned.

According to the Department of Corrections, the suspect, Wade Carr, was reporting to the District 18 Probation and Parole Office on Stephen Drive off Dixie Highway when he emptied his pockets to go through security. The fentanyl was in some type of compact.

One officer started feeling the symptoms from the drug immediately and was rushed to the hospital. Two other officers were also transported as a precaution.

Louisville Metro police were called to take possession of the drugs. The Probation and Parole office was shut down Wednesday to be decontaminated the same day.

Carr was cited for wanton endangerment.

All three probation officers have been released from the hospital.

Philadelphia DA plans to end ‘mass supervision’ by cutting length of probation and parole

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ABA Journal on 3/22/2019 by DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Thursday that his office will seek lower terms of probation and parole when making sentencing recommendations and negotiating plea deals.

Krasner already has sought shorter sentences, charged crimes at a lower level, and reduced reliance on cash bail for low-level offenses. Now he hopes to address “mass supervision” of people on probation and parole, report, the Philadelphia TribuneFox 29 and NBC Philadelphia. A summary is here.