“… You have the right to an attorney…”

Banner and gavel

 

My colleagues here at the Justice Programs Office (JPO) will cringe when they see this, but I sometimes hear clips from the old TV show “Law & Order” when we talk about the right to counsel. Bear with me, please, but for a long time I thought Miranda warnings and the right to counsel were synonymous. And though I now know that not to be true, when we have these conversations I still can’t help but hear the echo of so many detectives in so many episodes saying, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” Law & Order was my grandmother’s favorite show—she loved Lennie Briscoe—and I spent a lot of time watching it with her as a teenager. One of the consequences of hearing law enforcement officers on TV tell every person they arrest that they have the right to an attorney and that one will be provided if need be is that I—and, I suspect, many others—think that’s how the American justice system works. Every person accused of a crime has access to defense counsel.

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It Could be You

Karina Headshot
JPO Student Assistant Karina Rivero

On May 25, the New York Times published an in-depth look at Drug Induced Homicide Laws (DIH), intended to punish people with sentences equivalent to those for manslaughter and murder for providing or purchasing drugs which resulted in an overdose death. Though states started enacting these laws in the 1980s, there has been a gradual increase in their application over the past 15 years. The current opioid crisis has created a trend of legislators and prosecutors passing and utilizing these laws as they search for ways to deter opioid use. After reading the article, I conducted an informal survey on a small group of my friends, family, and significant other. I explained the premise of the laws, which now exist in at least 36 states. Those around me saw the logic, if they were used to punish kingpins of drug trafficking rings. But as the New York Times article pointed out, the sad reality is that these laws are not being used against kingpins. Instead, they are being used to target the family members, friends, and significant others of those who have died from overdoses. I posed the question, “What if I overdosed one Friday night and you got sent to jail for murder?”

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The Wild, Wild West of Addiction Treatment

Screenshot of an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” on rehabilitation centers

Addiction is complex. Addiction treatment is even more so. John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight, provides an intriguing glimpse into some of the complexities of this industry during his May 20, 2018, episode.[1] I recently watched the episode, and even as someone whose work over the past five years has centered on drug treatment courts (including drug treatment), I was shocked. I found it hard to believe that the $34 billion treatment industry, an industry that includes over 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States, is effectively unregulated at the federal level with “no federal standards for counseling practices or rehab programs.”

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From Student to Practitioner: My Time at NADCP 2018

Caroline at GraduationJust four years ago I was sitting with this exact (probably outdated, now) laptop trying to sell myself to American University’s admissions team. In my application, I vowed to engage in every opportunity possible to immerse myself in the criminal justice education I was pursuing. Four years later, I can proudly say that after completing three internships, graduating with University and Latin Honors, getting hired at the Justice Programs Office, and accepting a scholarship to attend the Washington College of Law (WCL), I have done just that. Now, after attending the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Annual Conference in Houston, I know I am ready to pursue my own legal career and advocate for these life-changing specialty dockets.

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Friday News Roundup: June 8, 2018

Friday News Roundup

President Trump commutes the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson following lobbying from Kim Kardashian West, Wisconsin juvenile prison officials agree to end pepper spraying and solitary confinement in response to ACLU lawsuit, and Texas counties are being forced to shore up public defense due to lack of state funds. All of this and much more below in our latest edition of the JPO Friday News Roundup.

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One Person Can Change the World

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Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination has me thinking a lot about our progress since then on the civil rights and social justice issues he championed. I’ve read that RFK spent more time than most politicians visiting areas of the country that faced issues he sought to change—like discrimination, labor rights, and poverty—to gain firsthand experience.

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