Prosecutors and defenders push to expand veterans treatment courts in Minnesota, the Department of Justice steps in to review a juvenile justice court in Tennessee, and Michigan continues to be recognized for its positive work in drug treatment courts and in tackling the opioid crisis. All of these stories and more in this week’s news roundup.
Criminal Justice News
Dispelling Some Myths About Consular Immunity and the Khashoggi Investigation – That we are now engaged in a discussion of likely Saudi responsibility for the alleged torture, execution, and dismemberment of a journalist on Turkish soil might have seemed unimaginable just weeks ago. […] At the risk of seeming somewhat antiseptic in parsing some of the legal issues involved in this human tragedy, it seems prudent to clarify some basic principles. (Just Security, NY, October 18, 2018)
Criminal justice deal faces steep Senate hurdles despite Trump’s push – Criminal justice reform advocates are escalating their push to shake loose a bipartisan prisons bill backed by President Donald Trump that’s been stalled in the Senate. (Politico, October 17, 2018)
Condemned by antiquated NC capital crime standards – majority on death row convicted before reforms – According to the report, Unequal Justice: How Obsolete Laws and Unfair Trials Created North Carolina’s Outsized Death Row, 73 percent of the state’s death row prisoners were tried before 2001, when the first in a series of criminal justice reforms were enacted. Most of the condemned were sentenced in the 1990s when North Carolina juries sentenced between 25 and 35 people to death annually — and when harsh sentencing laws nationally created a culture of mass incarceration. (The Charlotte Post, NC, October 16, 2018).
Southeast Michigan’s approach to opioids could be a model for others – Southeast Michigan’s use of peer sobriety coaches and collaboration to fight the opioid crisis could become a model for the country, said an official from the U.S. Health and Human Services in Livonia on Monday. (The Detroit News, MI, October 15, 2018).
Drug Treatment Courts
Oakland County drug treatment courts receive over $700,000 in state funding for 2019 – The grant funding will pay for: substance use disorder treatment services, mental health treatment services, cognitive behavioral services and programs, drug testing services, drug testing supplies, transitional housing for participants, and any fees needed to obtain birth certificates in order to get state ID or social security cards and to complete benefits forms and other legal documents. (The Oakland Press, MI, October 15, 2018).
Indiana county gets grant to expand drug court – A southwestern Indiana county has landed a $500,000 federal grant that will allow officials to nearly double the county’s drug court. Knox County’s courts will use the Justice Department funding to hire another full-time case worker, buy portable breathalyzer machines and make other improvements to expand the drug court over the next four years. (The Associated Press, IN, October 13, 2018).
Commentary: Our hard work to reform the Juvenile Justice System in Utah is not yet complete – Defense attorneys play a crucial role in ensuring their youthful clients’ rights are protected and in helping their clients comprehend the long-term collateral consequences of their legal case. It is a common misconception that juvenile court records are sealed and will have no effect on a person’s life after they turn 18. In reality, juvenile records can negatively impact future employment, educational opportunities, immigration status and interactions with the adult justice system. (The Salt Lake Tribune, UT, October 14, 2018).
Federal oversight over Shelby County juvenile court hangs in balance – The Shelby County Commission and Mayor Lee Harris have taken steps to show the U.S. Department of Justice there has been a change in the approach on Shelby County Juvenile Court issues. Commission chairman Van Turner, who co-sponsored the resolution along with Commissioner Tami Sawyer, said DOJ’s visit provides an opportunity to show the court’s progress under federal oversight. Turner said it would be harder for juvenile court to progress without DOJ oversight. “It’s helpful to have another set of eyes on the situation,” he said. “They (the federal government) have the ability to effectuate change in a way we don’t have on the County Commission.” (Daily Memphian, TN, October 14, 2018).
Veterans Treatment Courts
Innovation, Expertise and Experience: Mark Condon Candidacy – In 1999 Condon initiated the Adult Drug Court to give people a second chance. Five years ago the probate court took over the county’s Juvenile Drug Court as well. And realizing that an Adult Mental Health Court was needed, Condon asked Curry to study a similar court in Seattle, Wash., before implementing one here. More recently the court will be instituting a Veterans Treatment Court serving veterans with mental health, drug and/or alcohol issues. “We started to see so many people with various issues so we created strategies to address their needs,” said Associate Probate Court Judge Tamara C. Curry. (The Charleston Chronicle, SC, October 15, 2018).
Twin Cities prosecutors, defenders push to expand Minnesota veteran courts – Prosecutors say expanding vet courts is the right thing to do. “We’re just not close to where we need to be for the wave that’s coming but still hasn’t broken yet,” said Brock Hunter, a Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer. “If this generation continues to fight these wars, we are going to have a major challenge when they come home.” (Star Tribune, MN, October 13, 2018).