Friday News Roundup: November 16, 2018

Friday News Roundup

Washington D.C. focuses on bipartisan criminal justice legislation, the aftermath of last week’s elections on youth justice, and emotional stories from veteran graduates of treatment court. All of these stories and more in this week’s news roundup.

Criminal Justice News

Trump to announce support for criminal justice overhaul proposal –  President Donald Trump is expected to throw his support behind bipartisan criminal justice legislation during a Wednesday White House event, two sources close to the process tell CNN. Trump is scheduled to announce he is supporting the latest iteration of the First Step Act, a measure his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has been working to craft and build support for alongside a bipartisan group of senators. Supporters of the measure expect that Trump’s explicit backing will help propel the prison and sentencing overhaul bill through Congress, a push White House officials hope to accomplish during the lame duck session of Congress. (CNN, D.C., November 14, 2018)

Opioid News

Eleven Virginia Counties Move to Consolidate Opioid Lawsuits in State Court – The City of Martinsville, Virginia on behalf of ten other Virginia counties and cities, filed a motion today with the Virginia Supreme Court requesting appointment of a panel of circuit court judges to hear their request to consolidate the lawsuits previously filed against opioid manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) for their role in creating the public health emergency caused by prescription opioids. (Globe Newswire, VA, November 13, 2018)

Report: Opioid Epidemic Cost Massachusetts $15.2 Billion In 2017 – That startling tally, a combination of expenses and lost labor, is explained in a report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF). It’s the first to offer a thorough assessment of the economic damage caused by rising opioid use and deaths in Massachusetts. The authors say it’s a conservative estimate because they couldn’t find data to measure some considerable costs. (WBUR, MA, November 14, 2018)

Drug Treatment Courts

Editorial: Moving on from Issue 1 should be legislature’s Job One –  Momentum appears to be gathering in the Ohio Senate to soon introduce new legislation to change how drug crimes are treated, and we encourage lawmakers to follow through. “We hope the Ohio General Assembly does not translate voters’ sound rejection of State Issue 1 on Tuesday to mean that there is no reason to act.” (The Columbus Dispatch, OH, November 11, 2018)

Civics Essential: Specialty courts provide treatment and services instead of jail time – Stark County Honor Court is one of Ohio’s 245 specialty courts (sometimes called “specialized dockets” or “problem-solving courts”) aimed at providing treatment and services rather than jail time for offenders who suffer from mental health and addiction problems. The judge works with a team to develop a case plan for each defendant and to closely supervise and support the defendant’s compliance. Studies show that specialized courts have greater success than traditional courts in keeping repeat offenders out of jail — saving both lives and the higher costs of imprisonment. (Freshwater Cleveland, OH, November 15, 2018)

Juvenile Justice

The results are in: How the nation voted on criminal justice issues that impact our youth –  The 2018 midterm elections have come to an end, and, while the outcomes of some races remain unknown, it is safe to say that the outcome for young people across the country was overwhelmingly positive. While most of the country was glued to the results in competitive U.S. House and Senate races, it was the state and local elections that that will make a huge difference in the lives of young people. (The Hill, D.C., November 12, 2018)

Juvenile Justice System to Benefit from State Grant – The Juvenile Justice Reform Local Diversion Grants will work “toward the overarching goal providing evidence-based treatment options that reduce out of home placements and help to better serve youth in their community,” according to a news release from the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Frontier Health will receive $880,000. (The Greenville Sun, TN, November 12, 2018)

Juvenile Justice Reform Shows Progress in Virginia –  It often takes years for government agencies to make big changes in social programs, but Virginia’s Department of Juvenile Justice reports a major turnaround in just four years.  The improvements have been made without additional state spending. (PRI’s The World, VA, November 8, 2018)

SC Dept. of Juvenile Justice is preparing for a major change – The South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice is preparing for a major change. Director Freddie Pough wants to adjust the way the agency serve children, families and victims. He wants to move underage offenders to facilities closer to home, instead of housing them in a centralized facility. (NBC News 2, SC, November 13, 2018)

Public Defense

New study finds holistic defense effective in reducing mass incarceration – A new study by researchers at RAND and Penn Law School finds that by adopting an innovative holistic approach to defending poor clients in criminal cases, jurisdictions can significantly reduce incarceration and save taxpayer dollars without harming public safety. (UPenn’s Penn Today, PA, November 12, 2018)

The Courts See a Crime. These Lawyers See a Whole Life. – On any given day in this nation’s courtrooms, there’s a parade of defendants struggling with homelessness, mental illness or drug addiction. That is the fundamental insight of “holistic defense,” a form of legal representation pioneered in the Bronx two decades ago. Using this method, public defender’s offices not only help clients with their court cases but also try to address the life circumstances that led them to commit crimes in the first place. (The Marshall Project, NY, November 12, 2018)

Veterans Treatment Courts

Veterans deserve community resources to help them succeed in civilian life – Traditionally, when veterans become involved in the criminal-justice system, they have been scattered throughout our system, making it difficult to coordinate effective treatment interventions. Regional Veterans Court solves this problem by clustering veterans onto a single docket and linking them with individualized treatment and resources designed with their military service in mind. This approach brings together the myriad of local, state and federal resources exclusive to veterans, including representatives from Veterans Affairs, vet centers, veteran-service organizations, volunteer veteran mentors and other support organizations. (The Seattle Times, WA, November 11, 2018)

On 5-year anniversary, veterans share emotional stories of Vet Court success – In five years, Veterans Court has served 108 veterans, has a 91 percent completion rate and thus far has seen all its graduates still housed and employed at 12 months after completing the program. The program has saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in jail costs, reduced recidivism and encouraged hundreds of hours of volunteer service in its participants. (Great Falls Tribune, MT, November 13, 2018)

Nevada Veterans Treatment Courts Approach 10-Year Anniversary – There are more than 200,000 military veterans living in Nevada, according to the latest numbers — of those, nearly 1,100 are incarcerated. Ten years ago, former governor Jim Gibbons signed legislation creating Nevada’s veterans court system to keep those with mental health issues out of jail and put them into treatment instead. (KNPR, NV, November 12, 2018)