The opioid crisis devastates Native American communities, Tennessee awards $4 million in juvenile justice grants, and Michigan appoints a veteran as county public defender. All of these stories and more in this week’s news roundup.
Criminal Justice News
Variety and Rolling Stone Announce Criminal Justice Reform Summit With Van Jones, Kim Kardashian West and Meek Mill – Variety and Rolling Stone will co-host their first-ever Criminal Justice Reform Summit next month in Los Angeles. Featuring CNN host and activist Van Jones, as well as Kim Kardashian West and hip-hop artist Meek Mill, the Nov. 14 event will bring together the entertainment, philanthropic, advocacy and policymaking communities to drive criminal justice reform. (Variety, CA, October 26, 2018).
Addressing opioids requires stakeholders to work together – Legal Services Corp.’s Opioid Task Force met to address the civil legal aid implications of the opioid epidemic. During the meeting, a panel including George, Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush, state drug czar Jim McClelland and Family and Social Services Administration bureau chief Nicholas Svetlauskas discussed Indiana’s response to the opioid crisis, which has been dubbed an early success story in terms of initiatives designed to address the underlying causes of addiction. The theme of Indiana’s initiatives, panelists said, is collaboration across the public and private sector. (The Indiana Lawyer, IN, October 31, 2018).
Lopinto adds JPSO to long list of agencies suing opioid manufacturers – Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto has added his department’s name to the lengthy list of public agencies suing opioid manufacturers to try to recoup some of the surging costs of opioid addiction. An 88-page federal lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, accuses several drug manufacturers of irresponsible corporate practices that contributed to an opioid addiction epidemic and seeks reimbursement for the costs of treating addicts and inmates, providing counseling, and helping children who are born addicted or have other problems related to their parents’ addiction. (The New Orleans Advocate, LA, October 30, 2018).
ND tribes join lawsuit suing opioid distributors – The Spirit Lake, Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain tribes in North Dakota have joined numerous counties and cities across the country in suing pharmaceutical companies that distribute opioids. The opioid epidemic has hit native populations at a disproportionate rate, Purdon said. American Indians suffer the highest per capita rate of opioid overdoses compared to any other race in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The Jamestown Sun, ND, October 30, 2018).
Drug Treatment Courts
Mercer County unveils substance abuse treatment court – Following in the footsteps of Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties in Ohio, Mercer County, Pennsylvania has created a court specializing in substance abuse treatment. The Treatment Court, operating as part of the existing Common Pleas Court system is organized in the same fashion as its Veterans Court and other substance abuse treatment courts throughout Pennsylvania. (NBC 21 WFMJ, PA, October 30, 2018).
Drug court lands grant: Bartholomew County gets $499,000 toward program launch – Bartholomew County had received almost the maximum amount allowable through a federal grant to establish a Problem Solving Adult Drug Court. With a goal of reuniting families and repairing lives, drug courts create a team focused on rebuilding lives so individuals can re-enter the community rather than continue a cycle of repeated arrests and jail time, Bartholomew Circuit Judge Kelly Benjamin said earlier this year. (The Republic, IN, October 29, 2018).
Tennessee Awards $4 Million-Plus in Juvenile Justice Grants – Officials have awarded more than $4 million in juvenile justice reform diversion grants to six recipients.The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services said Tuesday that the grants were focused on areas with limited in-home, community-based alternative placements. The goal of the grants is to provide evidence-based treatment options to reduce out-of-home placements for youth. (U.S. News, TN, October 31, 2018).
Gov. Phil Murphy signs legislation to transform youth justice – The Governor signed an executive order establishing the Task Force for the Continued Transformation of Youth Justice aimed at reviewing policies and evaluating New Jersey’s juvenile justice system. “New Jersey has the shameful distinction of having the largest Black-white youth incarceration gap in the nation,” said Murphy. “We cannot and will not accept these inequities any longer. (Amsterdam News, NY, November 1, 2018)
Juvenile Justice: Life Sentences Without Parole Ruled Unconstitutional in Washington State – A divided Washington Supreme Court on [Thursday, October 18] held that a life sentence for juveniles convicted of aggravated murder constitutes cruel punishment and is unconstitutional. The justices ruled 5-4 that trial courts may not impose a minimum term of life without the possibility of release for 16- and 17-year-olds convicted of aggravated first-degree murder. (Governing, WA, October 19, 2018).
How Does Education in the Juvenile-Justice System Measure Up? It Doesn’t. – This describes the education system experienced by students attending school while incarcerated in juvenile facilities across the country. Data collected by the federal office for civil rights and analyzed by Bellwether Education Partners reveal huge gaps in the information available about education for youths involved with the juvenile-justice system. The available information confirms what many have long believed: These schools are not meeting students’ needs or preparing them for lifelong success. (Education Week, USA, October 25, 2018).
Veterans Treatment Courts
VA to Expand Veterans Treatment Courts – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is preparing to hire an additional 50 Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists to expand the reach of Veteran Treatment Courts and other services for justice-involved veterans. The expansion was authorized by H.R.2147 – Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018. (Open Minds News Report, USA, October 28, 2018).
Congress Mulls Expanding Telehealth to Help Veterans with PTSD – Congress is taking aim at veteran healthcare with a proposal to expand access to telehealth and telemedicine for those dealing with mental health issues like PTSD. The eVETS Act, introduced last week, would create a demonstration project in 10 states with high populations of rural veterans to increase access to telehealth for treatment of PTSD. (Telehealth News, USA, October 8, 2018).