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‘I have a problem with this obituary’: Vermont police chief reacts to family’s candid tribute to woman who struggled with addiction

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Boston Glove on 10/17/2018 by Dialynn Dwyer

“Make no mistake, no matter who you are or what you look like: Maddie’s bell tolls for someone close to you, and maybe someone you love.”

Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir

“Gut wrenching.”


“A beautiful tribute.”

Those are just a few of the words being used on social media to describe the obituary for Madelyn Linsenmeir, whose family wrote with heartrending honesty about the 30-year-old Vermont native’s struggle with opioid addiction.

But a local police chief posted a different kind of reaction on Facebook on Tuesday.

“I have a problem with this obituary,” Chief Brandon del Pozo of the Burlington Police Department wrote.

His problem, he said, is that “it’s a much better obituary than the rest of us deserve.”

“Why did it take a grieving relative with a good literary sense to get people to pay attention for a moment and shed a tear when nearly a quarter of a million people have already died in the same way as Maddie as this epidemic grew?” the law enforcement officer wrote. “Did readers think this was the first time a beautiful, young, beloved mother from a pastoral state got addicted to Oxy and died from the descent it wrought? And what about the rest of the victims, who weren’t as beautiful and lived in downtrodden cities or the rust belt? They too had mothers who cried for them and blamed themselves.”

Maybe, del Pozo suggested, if people had reacted as they are now to Linsenmeir’s obituary and acted “swiftly” and “humanely” earlier on, she and other victims of the epidemic would still be alive.

In 2016, nationwide there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths. In Vermont alone that year, the state saw 101 opioid-related overdose deaths.

“Make no mistake, no matter who you are or what you look like: Maddie’s bell tolls for someone close to you, and maybe someone you love,” del Pozo wrote. “Ask the cops and they will tell you: Maddie’s death was nothing special at all. It happens all the time, to people no less loved and needed and human.”

The police chief said Linsenmeir, through her family’s tribute that is being widely shared, has given the world a final gift — the gift of “focusing our attention for a moment.”

“Thank you, Maddie and family,” he wrote. “This is what I’m tired of: Arguing with sheriffs about their deputies carrying Naloxone at national conferences. Arguing with corrections officials at home about getting all inmates who need it on medication-assisted treatment early on in their sentence and keeping them on it even after they leave. Getting mocked by reactionaries because I won’t arrest desperate people for using non-prescribed addiction treatment meds.”

Del Pozo called for more to be done nationwide to address the epidemic, including supporting and starting needle exchanges, halting the requirement of total abstinence in recovery housing, and distributing buprenorphine — an opioid used to treat opioid addiction — at emergency rooms to anyone who presents with an addiction and requests it.

Linsenmeir is “gone,” he said, but there are others who still need help.

“Some aren’t beautiful,” del Pozo wrote. “Others look nothing like you. Some are like Maddie’s twin, and have little children too. They are all human beings and they need our help. Go. Get to work. We still need to earn the feelings her obituary inspired in us. We should have felt them years ago.”

Read his full post on Facebook

New map helps identify areas of opioid overdoses in Indiana

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13 WTHR on 8/23/2018 by

Approximate locations where naloxone was administered. 2014 – Present

INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse has launched an interactive, online naloxone administration heat map that provides insight into the location of incidents where naloxone was administered and reported by emergency medical services providers.

Also known by the brand name Narcan®, naloxone blocks the effects of an opioid overdose and can save the life of the patient. After administering naloxone, Indiana EMS providers report to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security the locations of incidents when an overdose situation is presumed.

“Naloxone is a proven life-saver,” said Jim McClelland, executive director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement. “This map gives first responders a visual asset to help them deploy resources more efficiently. It’s one more tool we can use to attack the drug epidemic and promote recovery—an important focus of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration.”

Developed through a partnership between the Indiana Management Performance Hub and the IDHS, the map displays naloxone administrations reported by EMS since Jan. 1, 2014.

“As we continue to battle the opioid epidemic from all angles, this new tool will both inform our first responders and help identify general locations that have seen an increase in naloxone delivery,” said Dr. Michael Kaufmann, the state EMS medical director. The mapping tool will help guide the state’s agenda to combat opioid addiction.

Care was taken to protect privacy with the placement of points on the map. In densely populated areas, locations where the naloxone administration occurred are represented within 100 meters of the point on the map. In moderately populated areas, they are within 300 meters, and in rural areas, they are within 500 meters.

See the map on the state’s website


Opioid Task Force Hearing Highlights Solutions

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Indiana Public Media on 10/17/2018 by Jill Sheridan

A national Opioid Task Force held a field hearing in Indianapolis this week and provided a chance for the group to hear how legal interventions aid people with a substance use disorder.

The justice system is often the first point of entry for someone with an addiction.

Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush sits on the Legal Services Corporations opioid task force as well as a federal judicial one. She says people often overlook the intersection of opioids and the law – which makes recovery more difficult.

“Whether it’s getting your license back, whether it’s debt, issues getting your children back, foreclosure, eviction,” says Rush.

The task force is made up of health care professionals, public health experts, business and legal leaders from around the country.

Rush says the justice system often provides treatment referral.

“How do we really increase the likelihood of their success and I think civil legal aid is going to play a big role,” says Rush.

The group heard from three panels. One about the medical-legal partnerships at an Indianapolis hospital, another about an Ohio program that serves youth impacted by the opioid crisis and the last about Indiana’s statewide response.

Judicial officers recognized at annual educational conference

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Indiana Office of Court Services on 10/10/2018 by Kathryn Dolan

Many judges, magistrates, and commissioners were recognized by Chief Justice Loretta Rush for their commitment to higher education and their long-time service. Fourteen judicial officers received an Indiana Judicial College certificate, twenty-nine received an Indiana Graduate Program for Judges certificate, and eleven were honored for Years of Service on the bench. The honors were presented at an annual judicial conference.

Indiana Judicial College:
A judicial officer must complete 120 hours of education presented by the Indiana Office of Court Services to receive this certificate. The program enhances legal knowledge and improves personal and professional development.

Judge David C. Cates (Kosciusko)
Judge Timothy B. Day (Decatur)
Magistrate Mary A. DeBoer (Porter)
Judge Benjamin A. Diener (Carroll)
Magistrate Matthew B. Gruett (Lake)
Magistrate Thomas P. Hallett (Lake)
Judge Larry W. Medlock (Washington)
Magistrate Daniel G. Pappas (Allen)
Judge John M. Plummer III (Lawrence)
Magistrate Jason G. Reyome (Marion)
Judge Angela Warner Sims (Madison)
Magistrate Tammy S. Somers (Hendricks)
Judge James D. Worton (Bartholomew)
Judge Laura W. Zeman (Tippecanoe)

To view and download photographs of the Judicial College graduates, please visit our Flickr page at

Indiana Graduate Program for Judges:
The Graduate Program is for judges who desire an in-depth and intensive learning experience. The Program requires one week of course work and additional assignments for two consecutive summers.

Judge Andrew Adams (Clark)
Judge R. Kent Apsley (Shelby)
Judge Heather L. Barajas (Montgomery)
Judge Michael S. Bergerson (LaPorte)
Magistrate Sally E. Berish (Boone)
Judge Lisa M. Bowen-Slaven (LaGrange)
Judge Teresa L. Cataldo (Elkhart)
Judge David C. Cates (Kosciusko)
Judge Joseph L. Claypool (Harrison)
Magistrate Mary A. DeBoer (Porter)
Magistrate Jennifer Lynne DeGroote (Allen)
Judge Mark K. Dudley (Madison)
Judge Peter R. Foley (Morgan)
Judge Clayton A. Graham (Marion)
Judge Bradley B. Jacobs (Clark)
Magistrate Beth Jansen (Marion)
Magistrate Samuel R. Keirns (Allen)
Judge Dana J. Kenworthy (Grant)
Magistrate John D. Kitch III (Allen)
Judge Jeryl F. Leach (Newton)
Judge Gretchen S. Lund (Elkhart)
Judge Bruce D. Parent (Lake)
Judge Brant J. Parry (Howard)
Judge Lakshmi Reddy (Vigo)
Magistrate Mark F. Renner (Marion)
Judge David N. Riggins (Shelby)
Judge Leslie C. Shively (Vanderburgh)
Magistrate Tammy S. Somers (Hendricks)
Judge Timothy P. Spahr (Miami)

To view and download photographs of Indiana Graduate Program for Judges graduates, please visit our Flickr page at

Years of Service:
This award is typically presented to judicial officers with 24 years of service on the bench. Trial judges are commonly elected to a six-year term; therefore, a judge receiving this certificate has likely been elected more than four times. The following judicial officers were honored for 24 or more years of service.

Judge Robert O. Bowen, 29 years (Marshall)
Magistrate Larry E. Bradley, 29 years (Marion)
Judge Elaine B. Brown, 25 years (Indiana Court of Appeals)
Judge Frances C. Gull, 24 years (Allen)
Judge Michael D. Keele, 29 years (Marion)
Senior Judge Kenneth Lopp, 24 years (formerly Crawford)
Judge William J. Nelson, 24 years (Marion)
Judge Clark H. Rogers, 26 years (Marion)
Judge John M. Sedia, 24 years (Lake)
Commissioner P. Thomas Snow, 26 years (Wayne)
Judge Judith A. Stewart, 24 years (Brown)

To view and download photographs of the Years of Service, please visit our Flickr page at

The Indiana Office of Court Services is part of the Office of Judicial Administration. It serves as the state’s judicial research and continuing judicial education agency. It develops and sponsors educational programming for judges, probation officers, and other court personnel. The Office works to enhance the performance of the judicial system by continuously improving the professional competence of judicial officers.

Revolutionary fingerprint drug test detects chemicals in sweat

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Daily Mail on 10/8/2018 by Tim Collins

Working with three UK coroners, the Reader 1000 was applied to the detection of drugs in the sweat of a fingerprint from 75 dead bodies.
The study showed that there was sufficient sweat present on the fingertips to enable analysis and that the device could detect the presence, or absence, of each drug.
Its accuracy was 99 per cent for cannabis, 95 per cent for cocaine, 96 per cent for opiates and 93 per cent for amphetamines.

A revolutionary fingerprint scanner can deliver drug test results within minutes with up to 99 per cent accuracy.

That’s the finding of a new study that looked at the performance of the Reader 1000 compared to existing urine and blood tests.

The device accurately tests for the four main groups of drugs most commonly abused – cocaine, opiates, cannabis and amphetamine class chemicals.

It’s already in use in coroner mortuaries as well as drug rehabilitation centres, workplaces and schools.

Studies are also underway for its use in airport screening and for monitoring offenders in prisons and probation services.

Experts used the technology, developed by Cambridge firm Intelligent Fingerprinting, to test its effectiveness.

They found that its accuracy ranged from 86 per cent to 92 per cent, when compared to blood and urine.

‘This new research highlights how our [device] can screen rapidly for drug use in individuals using a fingerprint sample with a sample collection time of only five seconds, and a total analysis time of ten minutes,’ said David Russell, Emeritus Professor at the University of East Anglia, UK, a co-author of the research and founder of the firm.

‘Our study also showed how our technology is being used by coroners to assist in gaining early understanding of the possible cause of death, and to inform potential further post-mortem activities or quickly facilitate police investigations.

‘We matched the coroners’ drug test results obtained using our fingerprint drug screen with a second sample tested in laboratory conditions, achieving excellent correlation in terms of accuracy,’ he added.

‘We also compared our results with toxicological analysis of blood and urine samples, with a good correlation of results.’

ITVAP: Indiana is Heavily Involved in Human Trafficking

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Clinton County Daily News on 06/25/2018 by Ken Hartman

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by improper means such as force, abduction, fraud or coercion for an improper purpose including forced labor or sexual exploitation.

However, the really scary thing about human trafficking is the fact that the Midwest, as well as the state of Indiana, are at or near the top of the list for this type of activity in the United States according to Indiana Trafficking Victims Assistance Program (ITVAP) Region 4 Coalition Coordinator Megan Bow.

“Indiana’s considered ‘The Crossroads of America.’ That’s our state motto,” said Bow. “So, when we’re talking about why it is happening here we have to understand that human trafficking itself is a industry that thrives on the ability to mobilize quickly and quietly in the Midwest because of the access to so many different cities and so many difference states just by interstate access.”

Bow was the guest speaker at an event sponsored by Healthy Communities of Clinton County Coalition held Monday at the Community Schools of Frankfort Administration Center.

Bow said Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati and Detroit are all within a half-day drive of each other which allows this industry to thrive at a $150.2 billion rate a year.

Bow added there are 10 industries which are vulnerable to trafficking. They are domestic work, restaurants, sex industry, health and beauty, message parlors, hospitality, construction, forestry, agriculture and door-to-door sales. She also said the biggest trafficker is the immediate family.

Bow said the type of youth populations that are the most vulnerable to trafficking or grooming is runaway and homeless youths; youths in poverty; a family history of abuse, neglect or substance abuse and mental health issues; LGBTQ! youths; along with immigrant and refugee youths. Youths who tell their entire lives on social media are also targeted.

“What we know is that all the work that goes into recruiting and the eventual exploitation, a trafficker can look like anybody,” said Bow. “That someone could be bagging your groceries or it could be someone standing behind you in line at the bank. They are generally not the people portrayed on television or in the media.” Continue reading →

E-filing now mandatory in Warrick County; 4 more courts remain

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The Indiana Lawyer on 10/09/2018 by IL Staff

E-filing is now mandatory in Warrick County, with just four more counties remaining to implement the online filing system.

As of Tuesday, 89 Indiana trial courts have adopted mandatory e-filing for most case types.

Courts that will soon make the switch to mandatory e-filing include Goshen City Court, Lake Circuit and Superior Courts, Wayne Circuit and Superior Courts and Howard Circuit and Superior Courts.

Goshen City Court is up next on December 4, followed by Lake, Wayne and Howard courts in 2019.

The following courts are scheduled to implement the statewide Odyssey case management system in 2018 and 2019. E-filing will be implemented in these counties after the case management system is upgraded:

• Clinton Circuit and Superior Courts

• Miami Circuit and Superior Courts

• Pike Circuit Court

• Putnam Circuit and Superior Courts

• Sullivan Circuit and Superior Courts

More information about e-filing in Indiana trial courts is available here.

Addiction Treatment Gap Is Driving A Black Market For Suboxone

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NPR on 10/5/2018 by Jake Harper

Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids. “Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up, getting high,” he says.

Daryl has used heroin and prescription painkillers for more than a decade. Almost four years ago he became one of more than 200 people who tested positive for HIV in a historic outbreak in Scott County, Ind. After that diagnosis, he says, he went on a bender.

But about a year ago, Daryl had an experience that made him realize he might be able to stay away from heroin and opioids. For several days, he says, he couldn’t find drugs. He spent that time in withdrawal.

“It hurts all over. You puke, you get diarrhea,” Daryl says.

His friend offered him part of a strip of Suboxone, a brand-name version of the addiction medication buprenorphine that is combined with naloxone. Buprenorphine is a long-acting opioid that is generally used to treat opioid addiction. It reduces cravings for the stronger opioids he had been taking, prevents physical withdrawal from those drugs and comes with a significantly lower risk of fatal overdose.

Daryl injected the buprenorphine, and his opioid withdrawal symptoms disappeared. (Daryl is his middle name, which NPR is using to protect his identity because it is illegal to use buprenorphine without a prescription.)

“At first it felt like I was high,” Daryl says. “But I think that’s what normal feels like now. I have not been normal in a long time.”

Weeks later, the grind of chasing heroin had worn on him. Buprenorphine controlled his withdrawal symptoms longer, and Daryl decided to use it to stay away from other drugs.

Monroe County Judge Ken Todd retiring after more than 40 years

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Indiana Lawyer on 10/3/2018 by Olivia Covington

Monroe Circuit Judge Ken Todd is preparing to retire on Oct. 15 after 40 years on the Monroe County bench. (IL Photo/Olivia Covington)

He may be the one wearing the robe, but the rapport Monroe Circuit Judge Kenneth Todd shares with defendants lacks the rigidity commonly found in court hearings. Instead, as defendants approach the bench, there is a sense of familiarity between him and those whose future he holds in his hands.

“How long have you and I been dealing with each other?” Todd asks a returning prisoner before answering the question himself. It’s been 28 years, if memory serves. “I don’t like sending you to prison,” the judge tells him, explaining that the offender’s actions — a long-running criminal enterprise — had left the judge no choice.

But on this day, a little more than one month left before he leaves the bench in Bloomington, Todd is sending the offender home. In what is likely their final exchange, Todd gives the man a judge’s greatest commission: get a job and never come back to my courtroom.

Acknowledging the offender’s family has suffered greatly due to his incarceration, the judge reminds the man that it is up to him to make decisions that will keep him out of court. He seems to take the judge’s directive seriously, promising, as Todd requested, to never come to his courtroom again.

This back-and-forth is typical of Todd’s judicial style, according to his colleagues. And now, as he reflects on his career before his Oct. 15 retirement, Todd says his interactions with litigants and courtroom colleagues has been the best part of his 40-year stint on the bench.

“I intended to do it for one term, but I found that it was a good fit for me,” Todd said of his judicial career. “I enjoyed that role and the process of dealing with people. That’s what prompted me to stay.”

The path to the bench

The desire to work in the law has always been present in Todd’s life, though he jokingly said the popularity of “Perry Mason” solidified his career choice early on. But the Rushville native didn’t take a typical path into the legal field, opting instead to join the Air Force, complete his law degree, then begin active duty trying as many as two cases for the Air Force per week.

Todd’s military service initially took him to the Rocky Mountain West, but he was later reassigned as a chief prosecuting attorney for a judicial district that covered nine southeastern states. Though he dreamed of eventually returning to the West to become a trial lawyer, Todd ultimately chose to go into private practice in Bloomington for what he thought would be a five-year period.

But when the partner he worked for chose to retire earlier than planned, Todd found himself with the unexpected responsibility of running a law practice in 1975. He then received an unexpected commission from then-Circuit Judge Nat Hill, who asked him to step onto the bench for the first time in 1976 and hear mental health cases as a probate commissioner.

Then in 1977, Hill asked Todd to fill in as a judge pro tempore during a three-month absence. It was during that time that senior attorneys who practiced before Todd urged him to consider a permanent judgeship.

Up until then, Todd’s career goals had focused on his dream of becoming a trial attorney. But when he received a call from the local Republican Party chairman asking him to run on the 1978 judicial ballot, Todd made the decision that would launch his 40-year judicial career. According to state court records, Todd is now one of Indiana’s five longest-serving trial court judges.

Decisions and disagreements

During his 40 years on the bench, Todd’s docket has been consistently busy. He’s heard nearly every type of case imaginable, though he has become more specialized over roughly the last decade, when he began hearing an exclusively criminal docket.

Though he is sincere when he says working with litigants is the best part of his job, nothing makes Todd’s face light up as quickly as when he discusses his time serving with now-Indiana Court of Appeals Judge John Baker and Monroe Circuit Judge Marc Kellams, who is also retiring this year. Describing their time together as the best part of his professional career, the Todd-Baker-Kellams trio served on the Monroe County courts at a time of great change in the county and in their careers.

Together, the three judges moved the county forward both figuratively and literally in the late 1970s and 1980s, before Baker joined the appellate court in 1989. Vicki Thevenow, executive director of the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County, remembers working with the judges as a court services director to make changes that, though now commonplace, seemed revolutionary at the time. She gave the example of using local inmates to do maintenance work at the courthouse, rather than using taxpayer money to hire professionals.

But Baker also remembers the bigger decisions, such as advocating for a move from the courthouse to the current Monroe County Justice Building or presenting a unified budget to the county council. Those decisions were all premised on perhaps the biggest change the three judges, along with the other county officers, brought about: the creation of a unified court.

Prior to the unified court, which began operating in the 1980s, Baker said the county court system operated in individual silos that rarely required the judges to consult with one another. But the shift to a unified court required jurists to begin working collaboratively, a transition Todd said led to knock-down-drag-out arguments among him, Baker and Kellams.

But despite what could become vociferous disagreements, Thevenow remembers an expectation of respect among the disagreeing jurists. Baker and Todd agreed with that assessment of their time together, saying that no matter what happened behind closed doors, the three judges would emerge from their meetings as a united force.

“We had disagreements, but we could resolve them without being disagreeable,” Baker said.

Changing perceptions

Though Todd’s experiences have caused him to prize judicial collaboration, Baker also said his colleague and friend has achieved individual success. The appellate judge specifically praised Todd as a compassionate jurist who used his care for others to drive the creation of the county’s first drug treatment court.

Todd presided over the drug court for nearly nine years and described that docket as the best part of his week. The litigants who came into drug court weren’t just any defendants, Todd said — they were people who needed help breaking their addictions and rebuilding their lives. The judge has channeled that passion into service for addiction-related nonprofits, as well, including the organization now known as Centerstone.

“Once I saw the value of how (drug court) functioned … it changed the way I’ve dealt with everybody for the last 10 years,” Todd said.

In the same way that Todd’s perceptions of litigants have changed over the years, so have litigants’ and attorneys’ perceptions of him and the practice of law. The retiring jurist laments the fact that attorneys will appear before him in tennis shoes and open-collared shirts, and he has specific ire for college students who come to court in flip flops and jogging shorts before flagrantly ignoring his orders.

Even so, when Todd contemplated not seeking re-election in 2013, he realized he wasn’t ready to step off the bench just yet. He chose to seek re-election, but his mindset has shifted over the last year as he realized his desire to spend more time with his wife and family.

Though he knows he wants to retire to a family cottage in northern Indiana, the jurist is keeping his options open as he prepares to do something he hasn’t done in 40 years — step off the bench for good.

“It’s a different season of my life,” Todd said, “and one that I’m ready for.”

Find another article about Judge Todd at the IDS.

Here’s How Abolishing Cash Bail Has Worked For Places That Did It Before California

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Daily Caller on 8/29/2018 by Evie Fordham

Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill eliminating cash bail in the state Tuesday
Maryland virtually eliminated cash bail in 2017, but proponents of a reworked justice system are not happy with the results
Several states and cities are moving toward reducing or ending cash bail

California became the first state to end the practice of cash bail for suspects awaiting trial, but it is not the first place in the U.S. to try to reduce the use of cash bail in an attempt to make the justice system more equitable for people who cannot afford to post bail.

Opponents of the cash bail system say it lets people who can afford to post bail walk free before going to trial while others who have committed the same crime remain in jail, unable to work or take care of their families. California now gives judges more power to decide which defendants pose a risk to the community and which defendants can be released on certain conditions pending trial.

The state of Maryland adopted a rule that essentially made cash bail a last resort in February 2017, while Washington, D.C., eliminated cash bail more than twenty years ago.

Other states and cities are moving away from cash bail systems, too. Advocates of risk assessment systems, which offer an alternative to cash bail, say that reducing the number of suspects incarcerated before they are tried saves the state money, according to the Washington Post.

Proponents of doing away with cash bail are still unhappy with Maryland’s new system, which is actually incarcerating more defendants in Baltimore and Prince George’s County.

The number of suspects held on cash bail dropped from 61 to 50 percent in Prince George’s County after the rule went into effect in June 2017. But the number of suspects detained without bond jumped 14.5 percent, according to a June report by anti-cash bail groups Color of Change and Progressive Maryland.

The June report has similar findings to other studies by Princeton University and the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

The increased number of defendants behind held without bond may be driven by the judges themselves.

“In a time where judges are politically accountable, there’s a fear you’re going to release someone who will go on to commit a crime so there’s a lot of public pressure to detain people,” Colin Starger, a law professor and co-director of the University of Baltimore’s Pretrial Justice Clinic, told WaPo.

Washington, D.C., releases about 90 percent of suspects on conditions like undergoing drug testing or reporting to officers, according to a 2016 Washington Post article. That is compared to the approximate national average of 47 percent of felony defendants held on bond because they cannot make bail, according to the WaPo.

But approximately 11 percent of defendants in Washington, D.C., are rearrested for separate violations before trial. Approximately two percent are rearrested for violent crimes, according to D.C. Department of Corrections data.

Examples of that two percent of cases include a man arrested for shooting someone to death in the summer of 2016 between his arrest for another crime and the subsequent trial. Quincy Green avoided being tracked by a court-ordered monitoring device by having it attached to his prosthetic leg and removing the leg.

In another case, a 24-year-old man lost his life when another man was released pending his trial for allegedly assaulting a police officer. Nineteen-year-old Jasper Spires stabbed 24-year-old Kevin Sutherland to death in 2015. (RELATED: Jerry Brown Signs Bill Making California First State To End Cash Bail Before Trial)

In addition to Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and now California, states including New Jersey have taken action against cash bail, as have several cities including Jackson, Mississippi, according to the WaPo.

San Francisco mayor weighs drug injection site, despite veto

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ABC News on 10/2/2018 by Janie Har

File – In this Aug. 29, 2018 file photo, Linda Montel shows off supplies on a check in desk at Safer Inside, a realistic model of a safe injection site in San Francisco. California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation late Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, that would have given San Francisco permission to test-open supervised drug injection sites. San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, has promised to open such a site. Breed, who was elected in June, lost a sibling to drug overdose and acknowledges that she has grappled with the idea. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

Driven in part by family tragedy, San Francisco Mayor London Breed has repeatedly pledged to open what could be the first supervised drug injection site in the country.

However, California Gov. Jerry Brown made the promise tougher to keep when he vetoed legislation over the weekend that would have given San Francisco some legal cover to open a site under a pilot program.

The veto leaves Breed, who was elected in June, in the position of going it alone to deliver on a promise that she says will save lives and taxpayer money, as well as clean up streets littered with used syringes and slumped-over addicts.

“We’re not going to give up, but at the same time, what’s most important is there are other people who are involved,” she said Tuesday. “I want to make sure I’m not putting other folks at risk if I do this.”

The site would provide space for people to inject drugs and a “chill” room where they could recover. Medical care, counseling and treatment services would also be available.

Before moving forward, Breed said, she wants to make sure nonprofits and workers operating such a facility would be protected from federal prosecution. She declined to set a deadline.

San Francisco has an estimated 22,000 intravenous drug users and in recent years has reported about 200 overdose deaths a year, largely from opioids.

Breed grew up around drug users and lost a younger sister, other family and friends to drug overdoses.

The idea of providing a place for addicts to shoot up initially struck her as wrong, but over the years she has come to believe current laws aren’t helping the problem. She championed a task force to study the issue last year.

Injection sites remain illegal under federal law, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to sue any city that opens one. Philadelphia and Seattle have also expressed support for opening such sites.

Breed’s effort in San Francisco comes as the nation is struggling with an opioid epidemic. The painkiller fentanyl is cheap, strong and sometimes mixed into street drugs without buyers’ knowledge, leading to overdose deaths.

In his veto, Brown essentially agreed with the Trump administration, which argues that taxpayers should not be endorsing illegal drug use.

“Enabling illegal and destructive drug use will never work,” Brown said, calling it irresponsible to expose local government and health workers to potential criminal charges from the federal government.

Breed said she was disappointed the governor rejected an option supported by two-thirds of residents surveyed by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

“People want me to get needles off the streets. They don’t want to see people shooting up in public,” she said. “They don’t want people dying.”

San Francisco has defied state and federal law over the years by allowing drug needle exchanges and medical marijuana.

Breed said she once opposed the idea of injection sites.

“I felt really strongly that it wasn’t fair to then, all of a sudden, provide a facility for people, to make it more easy for folks to have a place to be to shoot up,” she said before she was elected in June.

But then she wondered if people she had lost to drugs might have been saved if they had been around trained medical staff.

“I would do anything to have them still alive today,” Breed said.

AB186 would have protected staff and participants from state prosecution related to illegal narcotics. But it gave no legal cover from federal laws, including a “crack house” statute that makes it a felony to knowingly maintain a place for using a controlled substance.

California Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat, said legislators plan to introduce the measure again during the next session. If approved, it could go into effect in January 2020 — if it’s signed by the next governor.

Wiener said he would fully support Breed if she decides to move forward now without state permission.

Other advocates said it will take political bravery and creative thinking.

“It’s not for me to say what she has to do, but I’m hopeful that we can make it happen one way or another,” said Lauren Kahn, a spokeswoman for Healthright 360, which provides substance abuse and mental health services.

Youthful violence discussed

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The Journal Gazette on 10/05/2018 by Dave Gong

Pastor tells how, at 14, his plot to avenge a murder fell apart

The Rev. Charles Harrison’s brother was killed in Louisville, Kentucky, at the age of 21.

“I will never forget that, when my parents received the phone call to inform them that my brother had been killed in Louisville,” Harrison said, speaking to a crowd Thursday at the 29th annual Allen Superior Court Conference on Youth.

“I knew something terrible had happened because I heard my father scream out and my father was screaming, then I heard my mother and my mother was screaming and she was crying.”

Harrison’s brother was shot 10 times and dropped out of a vehicle. He walked a half-mile trying to find help before he died, Harrison said.

Harrison said as a 14-year-old boy, he was rage-filled over his brother’s death.

“I was so angry, I was so infuriated by what I was seeing at 14 … the only thought I had was, ‘How can I get revenge?’” Harrison said. “So at 14, me and my friends had planned to kill them. And either we were going to kill them or they were going to kill us.”

Harrison said a group of men from the community heard of the plan and confronted him and his friends and convinced them not to follow through on their plan.

“Those men invested in my life and in the life of the other young men who were going to carry out this killing,” Harrison said. “And it was on that day that those men kept me and the other five young men from falling off the cliff.”

Harrison later became senior pastor of Barnes United Methodist Church and for last 20 years has worked with TenPoint Coalition to reduce instances of violence in neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.

“Like most people, when I was first in Indianapolis I felt like the violence was not my business, it was not my concern,” Harrison said. “It was not affecting me, and because it was not affecting me, it was not my concern.”

Harrison was invited to an event by two members of his congregation where he heard a story about a group of Boston ministers making an impact on violence in the Dorchester area. Harrison said that story inspired him to get involved and work to curb the violence in his own area. That story, Harrison said, reminded him of the investment someone had made in his life years before.

Harrison is president of the Indianapolis TenPoint Coalition, an organization that strives to end youth violence. Harrison’s group focuses on young men and boys between the ages of 12 and 24.

“Pastor Harrison has been instrumental in us doing this work at TenPoint Coalition, because he is the master, he is the standard, he is the best practice,” said Joe Jordan, Fort Wayne United co-chair and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne.

Thursday’s conference was an opportunity to highlight and hear from those who have been affected by violence and homicide, Fort Wayne United director Iric Headley said. The conference also featured a panel with Harrison and Paige Clingenpeel, a licensed mental health therapist and media personality.

Events like Thursday’s are important, Headley said, because they help educate the community and those who are working to support families and end violence.

“We learned how to support the families better, we learned about the financial impact, we learned about the emotional impact, the physical impact. All those things we learned today from just us putting this forum on,” Headley said.

“There were so many components to it that I didn’t even know that we learned today and learned from just being around the families that lost someone to homicide.”

Fort Wayne United partnered with Allen Superior Court for the conference, which featured keynote speakers including Harrison.

A Fort Wayne TenPoint Coalition is in the works, and officials are planning a comprehensive program launch, Headley said. Fort Wayne United will soon release a strategic plan to hold the organization accountable to its goals and inform the community on how it will measure success.

There is no official launch date for Fort Wayne’s TenPoint Coalition, Headley said.

“Our goal is to launch in a big way. We’re going to have training, we’re going to have some walks, Rev. Harrison is going to come back to town with his team,” Headley said. “There’s so many different components we’re going to be able to do.”

Op-ed: Indiana needs clinics that medically treat opioid addiction

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IndyStar on 10/06/2018

When I relocated to Indiana to assume my role as chief medical officer at Fairbanks three years ago, I witnessed firsthand — on day one — the level of devastation the opioid crisis has inflicted on our communities.

Today, despite physicians’ best efforts, relentless news coverage, and the establishment of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Commission to Combat Drug Abuse, the opioid epidemic is getting worse in Indiana.

This illness does not only afflict those from lower socioeconomic classes. The patients I see range from all walks of life, from Yale to jail. The patients are more medically, psychiatrically and socially compromised than they were just a few years ago. And they are dying at alarming rates.

Drug overdose deaths have surged so dramatically that they now kill more Hoosiers than car crashes and gun homicides combined. They are up 500 percent since 1999. In the three years since I became a Hoosier, opioid overdose deaths have more than doubled.

Monroe County drug treatment program helping addicts behind bars

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Fox 59 on 09/26/2018 by Kelly Reinke

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A drug treatment program called New Beginnings at the Monroe County Jail is helping addicts while they are still behind bars. It started a little more than a year ago and it’s finding success.

New Beginnings is a 90-day re-entry program. Participants in the program take life skills classes for the last 90 days of their incarcerations in separate dorms from the general population. The program continues for another 90 days after they are released.

So far, more than 80 people have enrolled in the program. 68 have been men and 14 have been women. They all have past, current or pending felony charges.

Nine of the 82 participants have reportedly committed new crimes.

On Wednesday, there were 12 male inmates in the program. They are fathers, sons and friends. Jacob Mathis was in an orange jump suit just a few months ago.

“I didn’t do anything productive. I was just stuck in that loop of addiction,” said Mathis.

Mathis said his addiction to meth began in high school and he has been arrested a few times for drug-related charges. His last incarceration lasted 135 days. His probation officer referred him to the New Beginnings program and now he has been sober for five months.

“It seems unreal. Five months ago if you would have told me I could maintain sobriety for this long, I would not have believed you,” he said.

He lived in this dorm for 90 days and took classes ranging from anger management to life skills. He is now continuing the program for 90 days with Centerstone, a recovery support group.

“When they get out, that’s kind of where the rubber meets the road,” said Ashley Collins, a forensic coordinator at Centerstone.

Collins said the last 90 days has been challenging for some participants. However, every client who chose to take the Vivitrol injection remain in recovery.

Clients can receive a free injection prior to their release and then they are connected with a Centerstone psychiatrist to ensure they get their monthly dose on schedule once they are released.

“I actually have a purpose in life now. Never had a purpose before,” said Kimberly Enochs, a graduate.

Enochs is taking the Vivitrol injection every month. She graduated from the program after being in jail for five months for a drug court violation.

“I have never been so happy. I have never loved myself like I love myself now,” she said.

Both Enochs and Mathis credit this treatment for giving them a new beginning.

“Whatever they are doing is helping me and I appreciate it,” said Mathis.

The Division of Mental Health and Addiction gave permission for a 90 day re-entry pilot. Recovery Works helps pay for the 90 days after incarceration since insurance does not pay for these services for incarcerated individuals.

Dangers of rising benzo prescriptions raise alarms of next drug crisis

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NBC News on 7/27/2018 by Avichai Scher

Doctors are prescribing benzodiazepines, like Xanax and Ativan, at skyrocketing rates. But most don’t know about their debilitating, even deadly, effects.



Christy Huff, before and after she developed a debilitating dependence on Xanax.

When Christy Huff developed a painful eye problem that led to insomnia, her doctor had a common solution— Xanax. She took the medication as directed.

One pill at night offered her some relief, but soon she began to experience anxiety, daytime terrors and tremors. Then, Huff had a startling realization. When she was off the Xanax she was going through withdrawal. And when she was on it “all of that just melted away,” she said.

In just three weeks, her body was dependent on Xanax.

“I don’t remember getting any warnings from doctors as far as addiction or dependence,” Huff, who is a cardiologist, told NBC News. “I was completely shocked at how sick I was.”

Xanax is part of a class of drugs called benzodiazepines, sometimes called “benzos” for short. Benzodiazepines are sedatives used primarily to treat anxiety and sleeplessness. The class of drugs also includes Valium, Ativan and Klonopin.

Dr. Anna Lembke, chief of addiction medicine at Stanford University Medical Center, said complications from benzos, such as dependency and addiction, are fueling a hidden epidemic akin to the opioid crisis. Continue reading →