Friday News Roundup: May 25, 2018

Friday News Roundup

The House Appropriations Committee greenlights a bill to fund the fight against the opioid epidemic, the governor of Colorado asks lawmakers to participate in an intensive review the state’s juvenile justice system, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court approves a pay increase for court-appointed defense attorneys. These stories and more below in the latest edition of the JPO Friday News Roundup. 

Criminal Justice News

House Appropriations Committee OKs funding to fight opioid epidemic – The House Appropriations Committee approved nearly $450 million Thursday to help fight the opioid epidemic. The funds are included in the FY19 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill. Specifically, the bill provides funding for grant programs to stop opioid misuse, including $380 million for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act’s opioid crisis grants; $75 million for drug courts; $30 million for prescription drug monitoring programs; and $20 million for veterans treatment courts. (The Register-Herald, WV, 5/19/18).

Drug Treatment Courts

Henrico drug court reaches milestone at graduation – A Henrico drug court reached a milestone at its graduation on Friday. The Henrico County Adult Drug Treatment Court’s 200th graduate completed the program, which started in 2003. Henrico Circuit Court judges established the program to look “for ways to break the cycle of individuals with alcohol and drug problems reappearing before the court,” a spokesperson said in a press release. Since the program was implemented, 606 people participated in the program. Ten people graduated on Friday, which brought the total number of graduates to 206. (NBC 12, VA, 5/19/18).

A second chance: Winona drug court grad goes from ‘Felony Fred’ to ‘Fabulous Fred’ – Drug courts are among the most successful national justice reform programs to date, but Winona’s might be the first in the nation to build in a relapse phase to give participants a second chance. It is for sure the first in the state, drug court coordinator Carin Hyter said. All across Minnesota, other counties are looking to Winona’s relapse phase as a model for their own drug program. He’s thankful the relapse phase was there to help set him on a straight path again. “It’s a good program,” he said. “But you have to want it.” And Hahneman did. He wanted a better life with his wife. He wanted to be a responsible citizen and to be there for his newborn twin grandchildren. (Winona Daily News, MN, 5/18/18).

The post drug-court path becomes clearer with help from Buffalo non-profit – The City of Buffalo’s drug court could be a model in the fight against a nationwide overdose epidemic. But for some drug addicts – the path after you leave drug court isn’t always clear. Standton said, “There are only two facilities in Upstate New York that accept your insurance. One is 8.5 hours away, and one is 5.5 hours away. Then we were told, “we have to discharge your son because we can’t transfer him to this facility.” But someone told her to call, “Save The Michaels.” The non profit that helps facilitate what happens after drug court, or just about anyone who wants help. “They stepped in, and they get my son placed in less than 24 hours.” (, NY, 5/16/18).

Juvenile Justice

State to review the juvenile justice system – Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling on state lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges to participate in a comprehensive review of the state’s juvenile justice system. According to the Colorado Department of Youth Services, juveniles who enter the state’s justice system have a “stubbornly” high recidivism rate, which was between 49 percent and 55 percent from 2013 to 2015. Since then, juvenile arrests and incarcerations have fallen, but the cost to deal with them has gone up, from $118.4 million last year to about $125 million this year. The task force is being created with help from the New York-based Council of State Government Justice Center, a nonprofit group that works with state legislators nationwide to enact laws that increase public safety and strengthen communities. (The Daily Sentinel, CO, 5/20/18).

Public Defense

New Mexico considers limits for overworked public defenders – New Mexico could permit overburdened public defenders to refuse new cases rather than provide inadequate legal representation to poor criminal defendants who face jail time, under proposed rules discussed at a hearing Monday. The New Mexico Public Defender Commission gathered testimony from local public defenders, national judicial experts and prosecutors as it considers limitations on how much work individual public defenders can shoulder before it becomes unethical to represent more indigent defendants. Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur reiterated that attorney caseloads often exceed national guidelines, undermining constitutional guarantees to an adequate defense and due process. (San Francisco Chronicle, CA, 5/21/18).

Two weeks in jail without seeing an attorney – These two pregnant mothers were bailed out of the Bexar County Adult Detention Center as part of National Black Mama’s Bail Out Day, which brought focus to the need for bail reform. Prince and Oliver had each spent about two weeks in jail when they finally stepped outside and joined the press conference organized by Texas Organizing Project. They looked sheepish, exhausted, relieved and overwhelmed. It was a pretty impressive political lineup for a sweltering South Texas day, but two important people were missing: The defense attorneys representing Prince and Oliver. Neither woman had ever met or heard from their assigned counsel. Prince said she didn’t even know she had one. (My San Antonio, TX, 5/19/18).

Wisconsin Supreme Court Raises Pay For Court-Appointed Defense Lawyers – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has voted to raise the hourly rate of pay for court-appointed attorneys from $70 to $100 per hour, a move expected to increase costs for county governments throughout the state. The court’s decision granted part of a petition from a coalition of lawyers and judges who say Wisconsin’s current system for public defense attorneys is so underfunded, it’s facing a constitutional crisis. In addition to raising the rate for court-appointed lawyers, Wisconsin Supreme Court spokesman Tom Sheehan said justices denied a proposal to tie future increases to the rate of inflation. Justices also denied a request to deem the current pay rate for public defenders as “unreasonable.” (Wisconsin Public Radio, WI, 5/18/18).

U.S. Attorney Seeks To End Attorney-Client Tapings Scandal At Leavenworth – Federal prosecutors in Kansas have agreed to address issues arising from the furor over their use of recordings of phone conversations between attorneys and clients at the pretrial facility in Leavenworth. Details remain to be worked out, but after a highly charged day-long hearing Tuesday in federal court, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said Wednesday that his office was prepared to work out an agreement with the Federal Public Defender’s Office and the special master appointed to look into the tapings. The disclosure nearly two years ago that attorney-client calls had been recorded triggered an uproar among defense attorneys, who said it struck at bedrock principles of due process and the right to counsel under the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment. (KCUR 89.3, KS, 5/16/18).

L.A. County public defender’s office underserves immigrant community, ACLU report says – Christian, whom Reynolds identified only by his first name to protect client confidentiality, is one of several immigrants highlighted in an American Civil Liberties Union report released Wednesday that criticizes the public defender’s office for its handling of cases involving clients who aren’t U.S. citizens. The report credits the diligence of many attorneys in the office and acknowledges the “enormous complexity” at the intersection of federal immigration law and state criminal law, adding that the problem stems from being “grossly under-resourced.” (Los Angeles Times, CA, 5/16/18).

Veterans Treatment Court

Courts in Ohio can aid veterans, high court justice said – Ohio courts can serve as a bridge to connect veterans with mental health services and other support programs, an Ohio Supreme Court justice said. Justice Sharon Kennedy has devoted much of her time to raising awareness about Veterans Treatment Courts in Ohio, which supervise veterans on probation and help them obtain services. So far, 21 counties in Ohio have such courts. Other counties are setting them up or have established memorandums of understanding, sending veterans in the court system over to neighboring counties, Kennedy explained Wednesday while appearing on Between the Lines Live, the Register’s public affairs show. (Sandusky Register, OH, 5/16/18).