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Chief Justice Rush to lead national Opioid task force

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on September 22, 2017

The misuse of opioids such as heroin, morphine, and prescription pain medicines is not only a devastating public health crisis, it is critically affecting the administration of justice in courthouses throughout the United States. In response to this national crisis, top state court leaders formed a task force to find solutions, examine current efforts, and make recommendations to address the opioid epidemic’s ongoing impact on the justice system. Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush will co-chair the task force.

The announcement was made Wednesday by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) on behalf of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators. The two groups jointly adopted a policy resolution at their recent annual conference to establish the task force.

Chief Justice Rush, who is also on the Conference of Chief Justices Board of Directors, is committed to working with her colleagues across the country to address the issue. She said, “While much attention has deservedly been focused on this epidemic’s health impact, we cannot ignore the significant legal issues it also raises. It has become a recurring theme throughout our nation that this crisis is crippling our communities and overwhelming our courts.”

The work plan for the judicial branch task force includes the following strategies:

  • Convening representatives from state and federal government and key national organizations to share existing strategies and identify unmet needs
  • Creating partnerships with entities addressing the impact of opioids on children with specific emphasis on foster care, assisting state courts in developing opioid task forces, and working with existing state task forces to make recommendations for local response efforts
  • Developing guiding principles that state courts can use for successful collaboration among treatment providers, criminal justice systems, and child welfare agencies
  • Creating a checklist of state legislation, policy, and court rules that aid or inhibit response efforts

Chief Justice Rush is co-chairing the task force with the Tennessee State Court Administrator Deborah Taylor Tate. Other task force members include Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady, New Mexico Chief Justice Judith Nakamura, Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber, Michael Buenger of Ohio, Nancy Dixon of Kansas, and Corey Steel of Nebraska. An initial in-person meeting of the members of the task force will take place in Washington, DC on November 13, 2017.

Financial support for the study group comes from the State Justice Institute. The NCSC will provide additional funding, as well as staffing support. Questions about the task force can also be addressed to Lorri Montgomery, NCSC Director of Communications at 757-259-1525 or






2017 IACCAC Fall Training Institute: Assessments – Keys to the Kingdom of Offender Change

The 2017 IACCAC Fall Training Institute online registration is now available!

This year’s conference theme is “Assessments – Keys to the Kingdom of Offender Change”. The conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis located at One South Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis, Indiana on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 through Friday, November 17, 2017 with Intensive Sessions beginning as early as Tuesday, November 14, 2017.

We are pleased to announce Mark Carey of The Carey Group will be delivering the Wednesday Keynote Session, Assessments – Keys to the Kingdom of Offender Change! Tim Ryan of A Man in Recovery Foundation will be delivering the Thursday Keynote Session, Let’s Deal HOPE, not DOPE!

Additionally, intensive sessions are available at no cost with a Full Conference registration and include: Supervisor’s EBP BriefCASE, Carey Guides & BITS, Data Visualization: Telling You Story, and A Peak Into the Future of Behavior Change.

You may find it helpful to refer to the session descriptions and additional information attached prior to beginning the registration process. The session descriptions outline the intensive and breakout sessions available. Seating is limited for the intensive sessions, however, you may register for the waiting list; in the event of an opening, we will contact you.

Lastly, if you sign up for one of the following intensive sessions: Supervisors EBP BriefCASE, Carey Guides and BITS, or Data Visualization – Telling Your Story, please be sure to select “I am attending an intensive session during this time” from the drop down lists for both Wednesday afternoon breakout sessions.

Please click on the link below to begin your registration and select your conference experience!.

Hotel reservations may be made by following the link:

Here are two more informative documents:

2017 IACCAC FTI Intensive & Workshop Descriptions


Clark County Judge Vicki Carmichael awarded for state, local work

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News and Tribune on 9/25/2017 by Aprile Rickert

CLARK COUNTY — A Clark County judge recently was feted for her work to improve the courts system and to better the community.
Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael was awarded the two distinctions at the annual Indiana Judicial Conference, attended by around 600 judges, magistrates and senior judges from across the state.

The Excellence in Public Information and Education Award was given by the Indiana Judges Association for her special adopt-a-doll event, a Saturday each year where kids can come in and officially adopt their favorite toys, stuffed animals or even pets.

They stand before Carmichael and take an oath to care for their friend, and they are given a certificate of adoption. The program was originally started by former Clark County Judge Buzz Jacobs. Carmichael restarted the program nine years ago after a hiatus.

“It’s just a fun thing,” she said. “An introduction to the courts system that’s positive. I think it’s important for judges to be seen in the community — to be seen as approachable and compassionate and caring about their community and kids and families.”

Carmichael was also recognized for her work the past two years as president of the Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges — an organization that works to improve the efforts of judges and lawyers in relation to families.

The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a program started in the 1990s to reinvest funds for mass incarceration toward juvenile, family and community development, is one major development borne out of the council in recent decades. Continue reading →

Fentanyl Seized In Record NYC Bust Was Enough To Kill 32 Million

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Huffington Post on 9/20/2017 by Dominique Mosbergen

New York City police confiscated almost 200 pounds of the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl last month ? the largest seizure in city history. The cache was enough to kill more than 30 million people from overdoses, police said.

On Aug. 1, more than 140 pounds of pure fentanyl and almost 50 pounds of fentanyl-laced heroin, as well as other drugs, were seized from an apartment in the Kew Gardens neighborhood in Queens, police said Monday. Rogelio Alvarado-Robles and Blanca Flores-Solis were charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.

A total of 213 pounds of narcotics were confiscated from the Kew Gardens apartment, which police said was “associated” with the two men.

“Given that a dose of fentanyl weighing two to three milligrams can be deadly, the [140 pounds] of pure fentanyl alone seized in this case could have yielded approximately 32 million lethal doses,” the NYPD said.

A month after the Kew Gardens bust, a second narcotics raid in New York -this time in the Bronx – resulted in the seizure of 55 pounds of fentanyl and heroin, the NYPD said.

That bust, on Sept. 5, led to 53 pounds of a fentanyl and heroin mixture, as well as about two pounds of pure fentanyl. The drugs were seized from a vehicle near Yankee Stadium. Two men were arrested at the scene.

Officials said the drugs recovered in the two busts had a total street value of over $30 million. The seizures, they noted, illustrated the enormity of the fentanyl crisis in not just New York City, where drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high in 2016, but in the entire region.

“The sheer volume of fentanyl pouring into the city is shocking,” Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor, said in a statement. “It’s not only killing a record number of people in New York City, but the city is used as a hub of regional distribution for a lethal substance that is taking thousands of lives throughout the Northeast.”

Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids surpassed heroin last year as the leading cause of drug overdose deaths in the United States, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 20,000 people in the U.S. died in 2016 from synthetic opioids, the CDC said – more than double the number from the year before.

Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code Meeting Video and Exhibits

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Videos for the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code meetings on September 6 and September 19 are available online.

Exhibits from the September 6 meeting include:

  1. Presentation by Department of Correction
  2. Presentation by Prosecuting Attorneys Council
  3. Presentation by Public Defender Council
  4. Presentation by Office of Judicial Administration Staff
  5. Presentation by Division of Mental Health and Addiction

Mich. doubles capacity to prep inmates for in-demand jobs

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Associated Press on September 3, 2017 by David Eggert

Inside what was once a prison license plate factory, 42-year-old inmate Richard Willett spends his days in a converted robotics lab, learning how to operate computerized machinery in hopes of working a good-paying job when he’s freed.

It’s better than his past two prison stints, when he mostly just waited for parole only to end up back behind bars.

“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get out there and do what I got to do to succeed,” said Willett, who delivered pizzas after his last release. A hernia operation and painkiller prescription began a “downward spiral” into old bad habits in Taylor, he said, ending with a sentence for heroin possession.

Now Willett is among the first prisoners living and studying at a newly opened “vocational village” at the minimum-security Parnall Correctional Facility near Jackson. It’s the second school to be launched in as many years by the Michigan Department of Corrections, more than doubling capacity from about 200 inmates to roughly 550.

Soon-to-be released prisoners who qualify are removed from the general population and assigned to the exclusive village for housing and job training that simulates a regular work day. It offers some of the same options provided at the other program — in Ionia — but also masonry, robotics, truck driving and fork lift operation.

Renovations planned for the former youth detention center

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The Courier-Times on 9/17/ 2017 by Kevin Green

Facility to house victims of human trafficking

Henry County’s former youth detention center, located atop a hill just west of Ind. 3 in Memorial Park, will soon be back in the business of housing juveniles.

However, the facility’s future tenants won’t be there because they ran afoul of the law; rather, it will be because they have been the victims of human trafficking.

Dave Dickerson of YOC (Youth Opportunity Center) of Muncie, the firm that leased the building from the county in mid-May 2016, recently appeared before the Henry County Commissioners with a request to allow them to spend nearly $300,000 to renovate and upgrade the building so it better meets their needs. Continue reading →

A job after prison: Making the case for an under-used workforce

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The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on September 4, 2017 by Neal St. Anthony

Davis Powell works at Pomp’s Tire Service in Savage where he inspects and repairs tires. “Overall, it’s a good job with good benefits,” said Powell, 33, a two-year employee.

Powell has gone from being a penniless inmate in a Minnesota state prison four years ago to a $14-an-hour employee, plus benefits and ample overtime, a shared apartment, a car and a future.

Powell also represents an untapped national workforce of millions of formerly incarcerated people.

“My crime came out of pride and low self-esteem,” said Powell, who was released months early in 2013 for good behavior following a robbery conviction. “I’m not going back to prison.”

Powell, while on probation, went through personal-empowerment and job-skills training provided by Twin Cities Rise, the 25-year nonprofit that helps unemployed and underemployed folks boost their technical and personal skills and advance in careers through jobs that range from office work to mechanics and bus drivers. While enrolled at Rise in north Minneapolis, Powell also worked a temp job that required a three-bus commute.

Jail Survey Results

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Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code

The results of a jail survey recently conducted in cooperation with the Sheriffs’ Association including Abstract of Judgment data was submitted to the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code earlier and provides a snapshot of current jail populations and the impact of Level 6 offenders. Questions, contact Lisa Thompson, Project Manager for Trial Court Technology

DOC cost-saving move disappoints

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The Journal Gazette on 9/20/2017 by Niki Kelly

INDIANAPOLIS – Lawmakers heard Tuesday that efforts to reduce costs at the Indiana Department of Correction and divert offenders to programs such as community corrections and probation haven’t been as successful as hoped.

Chris Johnston of KSM Consulting delivered a report to the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code on the reform that started mid-2014 and its associated cost-savings. It was paid for by the DOC.

Lawmakers worked for five years to reform Indiana’s criminal code in an effort to stem the state’s exploding prison population and transfer savings from there to local communities. Low-level felony offenders were diverted; some sentences were lightened and some stiffened.

The defining legislation was House Bill 1006 and that is the moniker used to describe the effort.

The KSM report revealed that average monthly commitments to the DOC have dropped from 647 offenders to about 125.

But Johnston said there has been little movement on those moving into community corrections and probation. Instead, it’s almost a one-to-one transfer from the state prison cells to local jail cells.

“It’s just more in jail and fewer in prison,” said Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis. “I thought one of our goals was to beef up the percentage of those going to community corrections and probation.”

Indianapolis Republican Sen. Mike Young responded by saying: “You’re right. We didn’t want them necessarily in jail. We wanted to get them into programs.”

The state has funneled millions into more staff in both community corrections – such as work release or home detention – as well as probation and addiction treatment. Caseloads have dropped, several people testified Tuesday, but locals haven’t been able to keep up the shift in sentencing.

KSM also said the state had an estimated operating savings of about $1.88 million plus one-time savings of $2.48 million from closing a facility.

The report indicated, though, that overall costs and obligations are up.

Several lawmakers questioned those results.

Johnston said the state’s fixed costs on buildings and staff don’t drop commensurate with the population – similar to an argument schools make when their student count drops and lawmakers take money away.

Young said he understands if one person leaves a room the cost for lights is the same. But he noted there are 5,400 fewer prisoners and questioned why beds can’t be consolidated to close parts or all of more facilities.

DOC chief of staff Randy Koester reminded the group the state is still paying local jails a $35 per day for the low-level felons. The composition of prisoners – for instance gender and security-level – also makes consolidation difficult.

“1006 in my opinion didn’t work,” said Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis. “We just transferred the liability.”

Remembering Thomas E. Gahl

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The United States Probation Office for the Southern District of Indiana has been dedicated to the memory of U.S. Probation Officer Thomas E. Gahl, who was the first U.S. Probation Officer killed in the line of duty by a parolee. Tom was killed on September 22, 1986, by Michael Wayne Jackson, who had a life-long history of mental illness and random acts of violence. Being pursued after a lengthy crime spree, which included two other murders and several kidnappings, Jackson ended his own life.

Tom took the oath of office as a U.S. Probation Officer on March 14, 1975, after working in the Indiana State Penitentiary, Michigan City, and the U.S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute, Indiana. He was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as a 1st Lieutenant. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, and a master’s degree from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Indiana. During his 11 years as a U.S. Probation Officer, Tom was known as a fair, well-mannered professional who treated everyone equally. He also enjoyed socializing with his colleagues at baseball games over a beer.

Above all, Tom was a dedicated father and husband who enjoyed a full and contented family life with his wife, Nancy, and sons, Christopher and Nicholas. By dedicating the U.S. Probation Office for the Southern District of Indiana to Thomas E. Gahl, we desire to perpetuate his memory — his many significant contributions to the work of this office, his genial personality and exemplary character — and to express again, in a more permanent way, our deep and lasting affection for him.

Video Tribute to Tom Gahl
Tom Gahl, 25 Years Later
Young: Remembering US Probation Officer Tom Gahl

State’s (Massachusetts) high court rules on bail’s impact on poor defendants

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WCVB on 8/25/2017

The case of a Hampden County man locked up for three-and-a-half years awaiting trial because he couldn’t make bail on a charge of armed robbery while masked led to a state high court decision Friday that advocates say will reform a bail system they say punishes poor people.

“Our clients who don’t have the money or the resources to post bail, they’re never given that opportunity to post bail because the bail is being set in an amount that they can’t pay,” Shira Diner, an attorney with the Committee for Public Counsel Services, told 5 Investigates.

“This decision is going to make a big change for our clients for poor people and level the playing field and make things more equal when it comes to the bail system in Massachusetts,” she said.

In its ruling, the state Supreme Judicial Court decision said judges must now take into account defendants’ ability to pay when setting bail.

“A bail that is set without any regard to whether a defendant is a pauper or a plutocrat runs the risk of being excessive and unfair,” the decision said. “A $250 cash bail will have little impact on the well-to-do, for whom it is less than the cost of a night’s stay in a downtown Boston hotel, but it will probably result in detention for a homeless person whose entire earthly belongings can be carried in a cart.”

Judicial reform efforts in Massachusetts and across the country are focused on bail systems for what advocates say are the adverse impact they can have on the poor. The Committee for Public Counsel Services filed a friend of the court brief in the case.

“Our clients who don’t have the money or the resources to post bail, they’re never given that opportunity to post bail because the bail is being set in an amount that they can’t pay,” said Diner. “This decision is going to make a dig change for our clients, for poor people, and level the playing field and make things more equal when it comes to the bail system in Massachusetts.”

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, president of the Massachusetts District Attorney’s Association, is reviewing the case, a spokesperson said.

The SJC ruled in the case that Jahmal Brangan, charged in a 2014 Springfield bank robbery, was entitled to a new hearing to review the $40,000 in bail that has kept him behind bars for the past three-and-a-half years while awaiting trial. Continue reading →

Police: Intruder shot to death after kicking open wrong door

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Indy Star on 09/15/2017 by Vic Ryckaert,

A man thought his child’s mother was inside when he banged on the front door and demanded to enter a northeast-side apartment late Thursday.

But it was the wrong address.

When this angry man kicked in the door to that wrong apartment, he paid with his life.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police said a resident was protecting himself, a woman and two small children who live with him when he fired a gun and killed the intruder.

“Everything at this point in time seems to be pointing toward a homeowner protecting his family and shooting an intruder who made forced entry into their apartment,” Capt. Harold Turner told Fox59.

Just before midnight, the intruder started pounding on the door in the 5700 block of Wiebeck Court, according to an IMPD news release.

He told the people inside he was looking for his girlfriend.

She doesn’t live here, the residents told him.

The man kicked open the door anyway, police said, and he charged toward the man inside.

“The adult male fired his gun striking the decedent multiple times while the remainder of the occupants of the apartment hid,” according to an IMPD news release.

The resident called police and turned over his gun, according to the news release. He cooperated with the investigators.

The front door and door frame were heavily damaged, consistent with being kicked open.

Police did not release the intruder’s name Friday, but they know his identity.

The intruder’s girlfriend, police said, lives in a different building in The Cottages of Fall Creek neat 56th Street and I-465.

A judge had issued his girlfriend a protective order against him. She called police twice on Sept. 2 reporting that he had tried to enter her home, but he was gone before officers arrived.

No one else was injured, even though a bullet passed through a wall into the unit next door.

Indiana law allows citizens to use deadly force if they are protecting themselves or others from death or serious injury. This is the 11th self-defense shooting in Marion County this year.

Probation officer funding issues spark public safety tax discussion

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Herald Times on 9/12/2017 by Ernest Rollins

A request to move the funding of a probation officer position to Monroe County’s public safety local income tax fund sparked discussion about spending priorities for those tax dollars, and the overall condition of user fee funds.

At a county 2018 budget hearing Monday, Chief Probation Officer Linda Brady told the Monroe County Council her department is requesting that one probation officer position be moved from the court, alcohol and drug fees fund — which is supported by fees collected through the county’s alcohol and drug program — and funded using public safety local income tax dollars.

She said revenue in the fund continues to decline, and it is being projected that it will be in the red by July 2018. The fund helps pay for four probation officer positions, with personnel being the lion’s share of its $291,709 budget. Brady said moving one position will help sustain that fund.

“We have a major source of revenue that is evaporating very quickly,” county council member Eric Spoonmore said.

Deputy Chief Probation Officer Troy Hatfield said declining revenue is likely due to a number of factors, including fewer offenders being sent to alcohol and drug programs. Continue reading →