Happy summer! As I get ready to go on vacation and summer break with my awesome daughter Claire, I can’t help but think about parenting. I love being a parent. Honestly, I was a little surprised by how natural it felt when I became one, and it remains so to this day. But don’t mistake natural for easy. Parenting is not easy.
Some of the best parenting lessons I’ve learned are actually those I’ve taken from studying and teaching best practices in criminal justice reform. Sound funny? But think about it. A lot of parenting is about teaching children to make good choices and helping them change bad behaviors. As a parent, you teach your kids how to problem solve, be polite, and respect social norms, and you also teach them that choices have consequences.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces plan to retire on July 31, Juvenile justice reforms in Connecticut are making an impact, and a study of New York bail by FiveThirtyEight shows that it may all depend on who your judge is. These stories and much more in the latest edition of the Friday News Roundup. Continue reading “Friday News Roundup: June 29, 2018”
My colleagues here at the Justice Programs Office (JPO) will cringe when they see this, but I sometimes hear clips from the old TV show “Law & Order” when we talk about the right to counsel. Bear with me, please, but for a long time I thought Miranda warnings and the right to counsel were synonymous. And though I now know that not to be true, when we have these conversations I still can’t help but hear the echo of so many detectives in so many episodes saying, “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” Law & Order was my grandmother’s favorite show—she loved Lennie Briscoe—and I spent a lot of time watching it with her as a teenager. One of the consequences of hearing law enforcement officers on TV tell every person they arrest that they have the right to an attorney and that one will be provided if need be is that I—and, I suspect, many others—think that’s how the American justice system works. Every person accused of a crime has access to defense counsel.
Delaware lawmakers race against the legislative clock to pass money bail reform, audit finds increased violence in Louisiana juvenile facilities, and the ACLU is challenging New Hampshire’s debt-collection methods for public defense fees. All these stories and much more in the latest edition of the Friday News Roundup.
On May 25, the New York Times published an in-depth look at Drug Induced Homicide Laws (DIH), intended to punish people with sentences equivalent to those for manslaughter and murder for providing or purchasing drugs which resulted in an overdose death. Though states started enacting these laws in the 1980s, there has been a gradual increase in their application over the past 15 years. The current opioid crisis has created a trend of legislators and prosecutors passing and utilizing these laws as they search for ways to deter opioid use. After reading the article, I conducted an informal survey on a small group of my friends, family, and significant other. I explained the premise of the laws, which now exist in at least 36 states. Those around me saw the logic, if they were used to punish kingpins of drug trafficking rings. But as the New York Times article pointed out, the sad reality is that these laws are not being used against kingpins. Instead, they are being used to target the family members, friends, and significant others of those who have died from overdoses. I posed the question, “What if I overdosed one Friday night and you got sent to jail for murder?”
Major pharmacies attempt to remove themselves from the nationwide opioid lawsuit, a package of bills in Michigan seek to raise the age and improve juvenile justice services, and a lawsuit against Louisiana’s public defense system seeks class-action status. All of these stories and much more in the latest edition of the Friday News Roundup.
Addiction is complex. Addiction treatment is even more so. John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight, provides an intriguing glimpse into some of the complexities of this industry during his May 20, 2018, episode. I recently watched the episode, and even as someone whose work over the past five years has centered on drug treatment courts (including drug treatment), I was shocked. I found it hard to believe that the $34 billion treatment industry, an industry that includes over 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States, is effectively unregulated at the federal level with “no federal standards for counseling practices or rehab programs.”
Just four years ago I was sitting with this exact (probably outdated, now) laptop trying to sell myself to American University’s admissions team. In my application, I vowed to engage in every opportunity possible to immerse myself in the criminal justice education I was pursuing. Four years later, I can proudly say that after completing three internships, graduating with University and Latin Honors, getting hired at the Justice Programs Office, and accepting a scholarship to attend the Washington College of Law (WCL), I have done just that. Now, after attending the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) Annual Conference in Houston, I know I am ready to pursue my own legal career and advocate for these life-changing specialty dockets.
President Trump commutes the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson following lobbying from Kim Kardashian West, Wisconsin juvenile prison officials agree to end pepper spraying and solitary confinement in response to ACLU lawsuit, and Texas counties are being forced to shore up public defense due to lack of state funds. All of this and much more below in our latest edition of the JPO Friday News Roundup.
Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination has me thinking a lot about our progress since then on the civil rights and social justice issues he championed. I’ve read that RFK spent more time than most politicians visiting areas of the country that faced issues he sought to change—like discrimination, labor rights, and poverty—to gain firsthand experience.