Friday News Roundup: September 21, 2018

Friday News Roundup

US leadership works together to tackle the opioid crisis, a Juvenile Court in Ohio implements a diversion program for youth, and Missouri successfully passes legislation for veterans treatment courts . All of these stories and more in this week’s news roundup. 

Criminal Justice News

Cornyn’s ‘Substance Abuse Prevention Act’ gets overwhelming approvalThe Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved a measure aimed at dealing with the U.S. opioid epidemic. The sweeping bipartisan package, which passed 99-1, was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. It would fight the epidemic on multiple fronts, including new steps to stop prescription painkillers from flowing into the U.S. illegally and providing Americans addicted to the drugs with better access to treatment and prevention programs. (Longview News-Journal, D.C., September 17, 2018).

What happens to Brett Kavanaugh now? Here are 3 scenarios. – Kavanaugh denies the allegation; Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in California, stands by her story and has taken a polygraph test and shared therapy notes to corroborate it. Powerful Republicans have lined up behind Kavanaugh, including President Trump. They have set up a hearing Monday and invited both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify. Kavanaugh accepted, but Ford says she wants the FBI to investigate the claims first. (The Washington Post, D.C., September 19, 2018).

For families, and taxpayers, end predatory prison phone fees –  A bipartisan bill (S. 2520) recently introduced in the U.S. Senate has the potential to end these abuses and promote just and reasonable charges for communications between people incarcerated and their loved ones. The Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act  restores the Federal Communications Commission’s jurisdiction so the FCC can regulate rates where needed. (The Hill, D.C., September 19, 2018)

Drug Treatment Courts

‘It’s very good and it’s making a difference’ – “The idea of the TCAP program is to keep people from going to prison and to help them in their rehabilitation. One of the ideas that I had was if we could get people into treatment sooner, then when I see them in court; then that would be good certainly if they get the help in recovery as early as possible,” Judge Jim Conway said. (Norwalk Reflector, OH, September 17, 2018).

700 take steps against stigma in mental illness in Youngstown Judge Robert Rusu of Mahoning County Probate Court also sees a steady stream of people with mental health problems in his court. In May 2018, he launched a Fresh Start program in his court to ensure that people who need mental health services are receiving them. (The Vindicator, OH, September 17, 2018).

Missouri lawmakers pass computer science, drug court bills – The treatment courts bill passed 29-0. Springfield Republican Sen. Bob Dixon, the Senate handler of the bill, said it will allow circuit courts to open treatment courts to give specialized attention to people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and other issues. (Southeast Missourian, MO, September 15, 2018).

Task force will look at establishing special opioid courtsHARTFORD, CONN. Connecticut is considering setting up special courts or processes to deal with defendants who are caught up in the ongoing opioid epidemic. A task force holds its first meeting on Tuesday in at the state courthouse in Torrington to discuss the idea of “Opioid Intervention Courts.” (The Associated Press, CO, September 15, 2018).

Juvenile Justice

‘Carteens’ program in Juvenile Court helps teen driversPortage County Juvenile Court has rolled out a diversion program for youth drivers who commit traffic offenses, which may enable teens to avoid long-term consequences of those incidents. The Carteens Program is conducted once a month. A youth who commits a traffic offense and a parent will attend a 2- to 3-hour class, with the violation put on hold until the end of the program. (Record-Courier, OH, September 17, 2018).

CASA/GAL seeks volunteer advocates for children Executive Director Nikki Sherck said the court advocacy organization has helped 127 children from 47 families so far this year. Of those 127 children, 55 are new cases in the county court system. The organization’s mission is to provide a Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) to each child for whom placement is being determined by Miami County Juvenile Court. (Daily Call, FL, September 17, 2018).

Public Defense

Orleans Parish chief defender: Public defense needs funding, reform On Sept. 11, the Orleans Public Defenders Office and other justice reform advocates hosted NFL Players Coalition members from the New Orleans Saints; Commissioner Roger Goodell; New Orleans Saints President Dennis Lauscha; and Saints owner, Gayle Benson for a listen and learn tour of New Orleans’ criminal justice system. “After a day of listening to frontline advocates and witnessing the New Orleans criminal justice system firsthand, we came away united to make our community more equitable and more just.” (The Advocate, LA, September 19, 2018).

Veterans Treatment Courts

Legislation approved for access to treatment courtsThe legislation would consolidate Missouri’s treatment courts – adult treatment court, DWI court, family treatment court, juvenile treatment court, and veterans’ treatment court – and update state statute to reflect the reality of the treatment court system today. (Daily Journal – Farmington Press, MO, September 19, 2018).