Rush sites growth of problem-solving courts during State of Judiciary

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TheIndianaLawyer.com on 01/13/2016 by Dave Stafford

A Lawrence County schoolteacher who lost her job after she fell victim to heroin addiction is emblematic of Indiana’s problem-solving courts that Chief Justice Loretta Rush said are helping communities statewide deal with a crippling drug crisis.

“We cannot afford to incarcerate or institutionalize our way out of this drug crisis,” Rush said in her State of the Judiciary address Wednesday to the General Assembly. “Our approach must include helping sons, daughters, husbands and wives return to a life after addiction. There are no easy answers, but your courts stand ready to help communities bring productivity back to those who have lost their way.”

Rush saluted guest Lindsay Endris, 28, who was arrested and lost her job as a first-grade teacher after a painkiller prescription led to an addiction to heroin. Endris credits Lawrence County Drug Court with turning her life around.

“She said, ‘Drug court made me accountable. I had structure. This wasn’t just about getting sober, it was about coming to grips with what caused me to use,’” Rush said of Endris’ experience. Rush said Endris said upon graduating drug court that program “can and will restore your crumbling life.”

The scourge of drug abuse is a problem Rush said is seen repeatedly by trial court judges from all corners of the state, particularly heroin and methamphetamine. She noted Wayne County Judge Dave Kolger said that in 20 years as a prosecutor, he handled a total of 20 heroin cases, but now sees cases daily. She said Fayette County Judge Paul Freed “lamented that his county of 23,000 had 30 heroin overdoses in 30 days.”

Meanwhile, Rush said Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura reported a 30 percent increase in children entering the child welfare system, primarily because of parental substance abuse.