Friday News Roundup: March 22, 2019

Friday News Roundup

This week in news: public and private stakeholders discuss what comes next after passage of the First Step Act; the CDC releases the latest report on the opioid crisis; and youth justice issues make headlines at the National Conference on Juvenile Justice.

Criminal Justice News

We’ve taken the “First Step” to reform our criminal justice system. What’s next? – On Wednesday, experts discussed criminal justice reform at a panel moderated by Craig Silliman at the Verizon Technology Policy Center. When discussing what comes next after passage of the First Step Act, the panelists stressed how critically important it is for government to properly fund and quickly implement the bill’s initiatives. Passage of the Act was progress, but we need to be vigilant to ensure that real actions follow its prescriptions. “Last night’s discussion made clear that reforming the system will be a massive undertaking and will require numerous smart policies at the state and federal level coupled with support from the public and private sector.”

A conversation about criminal justice reform in Texas – Each legislative session, the Texas Probation Association (TPA) continues to fight for the continuation of adequate funding and local autonomy in the adult and juvenile probation systems. With a 93 percent success rate, probation in Texas is very effective. That’s due to its unique ability to maintain local control, which ensures individual and community needs are met. However, the system, which is composed of 122 different departments across the state, has limited resources. In this video, TPA Board members discuss the effectiveness and success of probation in Texas; what’s needed to prevent incarceration and overcrowding in prisons; and the positive impact of criminal justice reform on society. (Trib Talk, TX, March 18, 2019)

Drug Courts

In exchange for money, Baton Rouge court employee falsified 100s of drug tests, warrant says –A former employee of the 19th Judicial District Drug Court program is accused of falsifying hundreds of drug tests and alerting program participants ahead of time when they would be tested. Nina Burage, 54, performed drug tests for the program, which allows nonviolent offenders to receive judicial supervision and substance abuse treatment in lieu of incarceration, an arrest warrant filed this week says. (The Advocate, LA, March 19, 2019)

Opioid News

Fentanyl-Linked Deaths: The US Opioid Epidemic’s Third Wave Begins – Men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women in the United States. Overdose deaths are increasing faster among black and Latino Americans than among whites. And there’s an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl. These findings, published Thursday in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlight the start of the third wave of the nation’s opioid epidemic. The first was prescription pain medications, such as OxyContin; then heroin, which replaced pills when they became too expensive; and now fentanyl. (NPR, USA, March 21, 2019)

Juvenile Justice

Juvenile Justice Reform a Key Focus at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Annual Conference – The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) National Conference on Juvenile Justice convened nearly 600 juvenile and family court judges, probation officers, lawyers, law enforcement, and court professionals to improve national initiatives focused on the juvenile justice system. The conference featured cutting edge information, state-of-the-art programs, and current research in juvenile reform and law. Some of the featured topics included: the Nevada statewide juvenile justice reform effort, alternatives to detention, trauma-informed justice, cyberviolence, recidivism, sex trafficking of minors, out of home placement, animal cruelty, special immigrant youth status, military-connected families, homelessness, and LGBTQ issues in the juvenile justice system. (This is Reno, NV, March 21, 2019)

Three SF supervisors pledge to close juvenile hall after Chronicle report – Three San Francisco supervisors have vowed to shut down juvenile hall, an extraordinary move — prompted by a Chronicle investigation — that would end the jailing of youths in the city. Hillary Ronen, Shamann Walton and Matt Haney are drafting legislation that would close the facility, which has 150 beds but typically has fewer than 50 youths held inside, by the end of 2021. The supervisors’ action follows an investigation published online by the Chronicle Thursday that documented a dramatic drop in serious youth crime that has left the state’s juvenile halls nearly empty. The report also shows that spending on juvenile halls and camps remains astonishingly high. (The San Francisco Chronicle, CA, March 21, 2019)

Public Defense

Public defenders and prosecutors agree: Raise pay – The Legal Aid Society is asking New York City to allocate $12 million to $15 million to public advocate organizations in the 2020 budget in order to establish pay parity with attorneys from the city’s Corporation Counsel – salaries for public defenders, as well as prosecutors, trail other government attorneys. Legal Aid said Tuesday that it reviewed employment data from its own criminal defense practice and found that, among attorneys hired between 2007 and 2017, the rate of retention decreases as attorneys gain more experience. A large percentage of attorneys leave the office between their fifth and tenth years, Legal Aid reported. Nearly half of attorneys hired in 2007 had left the office by their tenth year, according to Legal Aid. (The Brooklyn Eagle, NY, March 19, 2019)

New SF Public Defender Mano Raju intends to build on Adachi’s legacy – As public defender, Raju said, his policy priorities will be strengthening the office’s recent achievements, including legal and legislative efforts around bail reform, immigration defense and community engagement. Mayor London Breed appointed him as San Francisco’s new public defender following the sudden death of his boss Jeff Adachi last month. Despite the heavy workload that comes with his new job, Raju, 50, said his focus won’t stray from the people he serves. (The San Francisco Chronicle, CA, March 16, 2019)