Our friend, Lynn, sent me this article. If we really want to reduce crime, WE MUST DO MORE OF THESE PROGRAMS!
Excerpts from the Article:
County leaders will use nearly $665,000 in grant money to reduce gun violence and help ex-prisoners reintegrate. The grants were reviewed and approved Nov. 5 by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. They were spurred in part by a 2018 Safety and Justice Challenge study paid for by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, county Community Development Specialist Aisha Shepherd told commissioners. The foundation’s goal is to reduce jail numbers, address racial disparities and increase community engagement.
“Both violence and the justice system have desperate impacts on Black people living in Buncombe County,” Shepherd said.
Findings showed that of the first nine homicides of 2020, seven victims were Black men, she said.
“In 2019, Black people represented 6.3% of Buncombe County’s population, yet comprised 25% of the jail population and 69% of gun violence victims.”
Asheville Police block Fayetteville Street in West Asheville as a homicide is investigated on Jan. 13, 2020.
Pandemic jail reduction efforts released 40% of those in the county detention facility, or 158 people. That actually increased the racial disparity, with 33% of the remaining population being Black.
Shepherd said the county is now seeking proposals from community organizations for two $225,000 grants to help with the problems. One $50,000 grant would pay for the development of a comprehensive plan that addresses community safety and reduces gun violence.
A second $175,000 grant would be for a program working with communities most affected by gun violence. That work would include creating “intergenerational spaces that empower safety, trust and healing.”
Republican District 3 Commissioner Joe Belcher of Candler said he supported the efforts and felt some of the “root causes” came down to “lack of jobs and other resources,” particularly for those with criminal records.
Democratic Board Chair Brownie Newman of Asheville said that most places people lived in the county were safe. “But you know we have neighborhoods in our community that are not safe. And I think part of the struggle is you know we don’t want to come at this with the approach of, let’s just throw the most law enforcement resources to this as we can,” Newman said.
Police are part of the solution, he said, but a hard enforcement strategy could also increase the jail population, which goes against one of the goals. “We’ve got to think in other ways about this so I’m really glad we’re doing this process, I’m excited about what ideas might emerge from this.”
In Asheville, police have responded to 522 calls for service regarding a gun discharge or an individual who has been shot, from from Jan. 1 to Nov. 5. During that same time, 38 people have been shot in Asheville.
In a separate action, commissioners voted unanimously to accept a $439,883 grant from the Dogwood Health Trust to reduce recidivism and increase access to medical and mental health and substance use care for prisoners leaving the Buncombe Detention Facility and Swannanoa and Craggy Correctional Centers.
Dogwood was formed during the sale of the nonprofit Mission Hospital to the for-profit company HCA. Dogwood received the profits from the hospital sale and is tasked with distributing them to organizations that help increase the region’s health.
Maryland Court of Appeals: Odor of Marijuana Alone Doesn’t Provide Probable Cause to Arrest and Search Person
The Court notes the difference between a vehicle search and the search of a person. Also, the odor of pot alone is not probable cause for a search in the 33 states that have legalized pot.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Court of Appeals of Maryland held that the odor of marijuana emanating from a person alone does not provide police with probable cause to support an arrest and warrantless search incident to the arrest.
Rasherd Lewis was in a convenience store in Baltimore City on February 1, 2017, when officers got a tip that someone matching his description was “potentially armed.” Officers located Lewis, but the tip was not, by itself, sufficient to search or arrest him. Offices ordered the patrons of the store to leave, and when Lewis was passing them, Officer Burch said he smelled the odor of burnt marijuana on him.
Officers searched him and found a non-criminal amount of marijuana, plastic baggies, $367 in cash, and a handgun. Lewis was charged with criminal possession of a firearm. He filed a motion to suppress the firearm on the ground that the search was unconstitutional, but the motion was denied. Lewis was convicted in a bench trial and sentenced to three years’ incarceration with all but 90 days suspended, and three years’ probation. Lewis appealed the results of the suppression hearing.
The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the results of the suppression hearing by relying on Robinson v. State, 152 A.3d 661 (Md. 2017). In Robinson, the Court of Appeals ruled that the odor of marijuana emanating from a vehicle justified a search of the vehicle because “possession of ten grams or more of marijuana, crimes involving the distribution of marijuana, and driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance have not been decriminalized in Maryland.”
On appeal to the Court of Appeals, Lewis argued the search of a person, outside the context of a vehicle, is separate and due greater deference than the search of a vehicle. The Court of Appeals agreed.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Maryland Declaration of Rights, article 26, prohibit unreasonable searches of a person or property. This right is “subject to only a few specifically established exceptions.” Grant v. State, 141 A.3d 138 (Md. 2016). Two of these are the automobile exception and the search incident to arrest exception. Pacheco v. State, 214 A.3d 505 (Md. 2019). “The distinction between the two exceptions is at least in part due to the diminished expectation of privacy that justifies the automobile exception … as compared to the unique, significantly heightened constitutional protections afforded a person to be secure in his or her body.” Id.
The Court of Appeals noted that Pacheco was not available when the Court of Special Appeals decided Lewis’ direct appeal, and thus that court relied solely on Robinson. However, as established in Pacheco, greater protections are attached to searches of a person since Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession. As possession of less than 10 grams and use of marijuana carries only a civil penalty (a fine), the smell of marijuana cannot be used to infer that a person is committing or has committed a felony or misdemeanor. Thus, officers lacked probable cause to arrest Lewis or conduct a search incident to arrest, so both the arrest and subsequent search were in violation of Lewis’ constitutional rights.
Also, in a concurring opinion to Lewis’ direct appeal and noted by the Court of Appeals, Judge Arthur voiced concern that if the odor of marijuana is sufficient to establish probable cause then “it is not difficult to imagine scenarios in which police officers would have probable cause to arrest and search someone whose only exposure to marijuana is from second-hand smoke…. I would have thought that the reform of Maryland’s marijuana laws was intended to reduce rather than facilitate intrusive searches in circumstances such as these.” It is this reason, in combination with greater protections afforded to individuals to be free from unreasonable searches of their person vis-à-vis vehicles, that guided the ruling of the Court of Appeals.
Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Special Appeals and remanded the case with instructions to grant the motion to suppress. See: Lewis v. State, 233 A.3d 86 (Md. 2020).
Oregon Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Heroin and Cocaine, and New Jersey and Arizona Legalize Marijuana
Slowly but surely those in power are seeing the waste, the harm, and the futility of our War on Drugs! 🙂
Drug addicts need treatment, not prison.
Excerpts from the Article:
The march to decriminalize drugs moved further across the nation on Tuesday despite continued federal prohibition.
Oregon became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs. And in New Jersey and Arizona voters decisively passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. Cannabis is now legal across a large bloc of states in the West — from Washington down to the Mexican border — and well beyond.
Cannabis was also on the ballot in Montana, Mississippi and South Dakota. If all of the marijuana measures pass, marijuana will be legal for medical use in three dozen states and recreational use will be allowed in 15.
The Oregon measure would make possession of small amounts of what have long been considered harder drugs a violation, similar to a traffic ticket, and no longer punishable by jail time. The law would also fund drug addiction treatment from marijuana sales taxes.
“This is incredible,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance. “This is like taking a sledgehammer to the cornerstone of the drug war.”
Possession of larger amounts could result in misdemeanor charges, and some cases that rise to what is considered a commercial level could still be charged as felonies.
Ms. Frederique said passage of the measure showed that voters were eager for a new approach on drug policy to handle it as a health issue and prioritize treatment. She said she expected other states to follow suit, mentioning efforts in states such as California, Vermont and Washington.
Separately, Oregon voters also legalized psilocybin, known as magic mushrooms, for people age 21 and older. Proponents said the move would allow the drug to be used to treat depression, anxiety and other conditions.
Even in a year when the number of citizen initiatives in states across the country was sharply down from the last presidential election, the diverse slate of measures offered a chance to gauge the mood of the nation.
The Whole Story:
ALL states should do this. It just makes sense!
Forty million — that’s the number of criminal charges in Pennsylvania that will be eligible for automatic record sealing starting Friday under the state’s Clean Slate law. While law enforcement will still be able to pull up arrests and convictions, the public — including landlords and most employers — will not. They’ll be hidden as if they never happened.
The law applies to non-convictions, summary offenses and most nonviolent misdemeanor convictions, including drunk driving, shoplifting and prostitution.
When Clean Slate first took effect in December, residents with those kinds of records needed to hire lawyers and go to court to get them sealed, as is the case in other states across the country. Starting Friday in Pennsylvania, the automation process can start once a judge signs off on a batch of eligible charges.
“It’s the first day in the history of the United States that records will be sealed by automation. And it is quite possible that in the first week more cases will be sealed by automation than have ever been sealed in the entire history of the United States,” says Sharon Dietrich, litigation director at Community Legal Services, the nonprofit that helped craft Clean Slate, which garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
Non-convictions can be sealed after 60 days and convictions after a decade, as long as another crime has not been committed since. All court fines and fees also have to be paid in full.
“Once this is done, I just feel like a weight will be lifted off my shoulders,” says Nichole, a mother in her early 30s from West Philadelphia. NPR has agreed to withhold her last name so as not to undermine her efforts to put her past behind her.
Nichole has a string of arrests so old she says she barely remembers the incidents, but one of them was for shoplifting about 15 years ago. She says she had just lost her job as a street canvasser to downsizing and had no money for food. “I walked into a Wawa because I was hungry and started eating,” she says. Nichole spent a couple of nights in jail for stealing from the convenience store. The case was later dismissed due to lack of evidence, but the arrest remained on her record — just like the others she racked up over the next two years.
Nichole’s record meant she couldn’t fulfill her dream of becoming a detective with the Philadelphia Police Department. That hurt, but she says the real punch was to her self-esteem. She felt like a second-class citizen, despite the fact she was never convicted of a crime.
“Even though we don’t have caste and social class, we really do. So knowing that my background will be sealed … it’s just like looking at a lens and it’s going to become clear,” she says.
Nichole will be one of the first Pennsylvania residents to have their criminal records automatically sealed. Millions of cases will follow.
Court administrators expect it to take at least the next year to seal the state’s stockpile of eligible criminal records, but more will qualify each month.
Other states have similar measures on the books, but only Pennsylvania’s provides for automatic sealing.
Judge Rejects Trump Appointee’s Attempt To Keep Band Member Jailed Over Photo Shoot – Some Prosecutors are IDIOTS! – KRA
I’ll be sure to email this article to the prosecutor involved tomorrow – personally! I’ll tell him he’s an asshole and a disgrace to his office. I was a prosecutor for 5 years; the job is to be FAIR. I cannot believe this one is so stupid!
A federal judge in Tennessee on Friday rejected a federal prosecutor’s attempt to keep a bassist locked up in jail for months over a photo shoot for his anarcho-punk band, telling an assistant U.S. attorney that the federal government can’t keep someone incarcerated before trial simply because that person exercised his First Amendment rights on Facebook.
It was a deeply embarrassing rebuke for Justice Department prosecutors who decided to charge 29-year-old Justin Coffman under a rarely used federal statute amid President Donald Trump’s campaign against the loosely organized anti-fascism protest movement known as “antifa.”
Coffman, a member of the Jackson-based band The Gunpowder Plot, is facing charges under a federal gun law that makes it illegal for drug users to possess weapons. Coffman was a legal gun owner, but a small baggie of marijuana that law enforcement reportedly found in his home would make gun possession illegal. Federal prosecutors have previously used the charge as a way to lock up alleged white supremacists accused of discussing violent racist plots but whose conduct didn’t offer any clear violation of federal law.
Coffman isn’t anything remotely like those suspects. And Jackson isn’t a hotbed of political unrest, just a few wholly peaceful protests. But law enforcement officials, on edge as rioting and unrest broke out cities across the nation after police officers killed George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, raided Coffman’s home because he had posted three images to his band’s Facebook page that showed him posing in front of a Jackson police transport vehicle with what looked like a Molotov cocktail.
Nobody set fire to a police vehicle in Jackson. The antique liquor bottle that Coffman was holding in the photo, he says, was filled with apple cider vinegar and water, and he later used it as a centerpiece when he made dinner for his girlfriend. The professionally shot images weren’t even taken in reaction to the protests; they were snapped before Floyd’s murder by a “concept-based portrait photographer” working under the name December Rain Conceptual Portraiture.
Federal officials knew this before charging Coffman, who had begun selling T-shirts, magnets and stickers featuring one of the photos before his arrest Oct. 13. But federal officers didn’t reveal any of that critical information when they rolled out the case, obscuring the fact that the photos were snapped for a band’s publicity. Instead, U.S. Attorney Michael Dunavant ― a Republican Trump appointee who has posted images of himself alongside the president and at a Trump campaign rally during his time as the top federal prosecutor for the Western District of Tennessee ― held a press conference and put out a misleading press release to tout the “outstanding investigative work” that led to Coffman’s arrest.
It’s been a rough month for Coffman, who has been locked up in Madison County Jail in the weeks since his arrest. But Friday was a bright spot, with about two dozen supporters coming to Jackson’s federal courthouse to show they had Coffman’s back while a representative of the federal government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hillary Lawler Parham, argued that images from a photo shoot posted on a rock band’s Facebook page made him a danger to the community.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jon A. York, several people in the court said, appeared deeply skeptical of the government’s argument. York ended up setting what’s considered a very low unsecured bond of $10,000 for Coffman, meaning he can be released from federal custody without posting cash or collateral.
“You couldn’t ask for a better result in federal,” Alex Camp, Coffman’s court-appointed attorney, told HuffPost. “That’s probably one of the best bond awards you can get in that forum, so I was definitely happy with it.”
The government called just one witness: Special Agent Josh Lunn of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). (Coffman had been in touch with an FBI special agent in the months between the raid on his home in early June and his Oct. 13 arrest, and its unclear why an agent from the FBI was no longer involved in the case. Coffman has said the FBI special agent didn’t seem to care about the bag of pot.)
“The judge ruled that he’s not going to lock somebody up over utilizing or invoking his First Amendment rights,” Camp said. “And that’s basically what has happened.”
Coffman told HuffPost that the federal government’s argument was “destroyed” in court. On a GoFundMe page set up by his girlfriend, Leah Harris, Coffman called the charges “bullshit” and said they were a product of “obvious political targeting.” A spokesperson for Dunavant said the U.S. attorney’s office had no comment at this time.
The affidavit in the federal case against Coffman was signed the same week that U.S. Attorney General William Barr urged all of the nation’s top federal prosecutors to charge defendants in protest-related cases whenever possible, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Josh Spickler is the executive director of Just City, a Memphis-based criminal justice reform organization that seeks to “create a smaller, fairer, and more humane criminal justice system.” He said he was not surprised that Dunavant apparently was willing to go along with what he called “a charade and an abuse of power in support of Donald Trump’s reelection bid.”
“This man is being targeted because he has views that the president doesn’t like, full stop,” Spickler said. “Michael Dunavant is willing to use the full force and power of the federal government to drag a man into a local jail, and local authorities are going right along with it.”
“It’s just a direct line to the election and Donald Trump, and it’s just appalling that people who are sworn to uphold the law and sworn to protect us believe that this is where our resources should go,” Spickler said.
“He is an awesome individual. He stands for what he believes in, and he does believe in his rights,” Boyd said. “Justin is a good cat, and I stand with him in support.”
Coffman’s next court date in his state case is scheduled for Nov. 9. Camp said there’s a long road ahead on the federal case.
“We won the battle, but we are still fighting a war,” Camp said. That war might get a bit easier, depending on the outcome of the presidential election next week. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who previously pursued a “tough-on-crime” agenda in the 1990s, has since taken a more progressive stance on criminal justice issues. Pursuing a federal case against a musician because of a bag of marijuana found in his home probably wouldn’t line up with the prosecution priorities of a Biden administration.
There are soooooooo many programs which do NOT work, this is great news and should be expanded. I shall write a letter to the editor encouraging that when I get time!
Excerpts from the Article:
Steven Kelty had been addicted to crack cocaine for 32 years when he tried a different kind of treatment last year, one so basic in concept that he was skeptical. He would come to a clinic twice a week to provide a urine sample, and if it was free of drugs, he would get to draw a slip of paper out of a fishbowl. Half contained encouraging messages — typically, “Good job!” — but the other half were vouchers for prizes worth between $1 and $100.
“I’ve been to a lot of rehabs, and there were no incentives except for the idea of being clean after you finished,” said Mr. Kelty, 61, of Winfield, Pa. “Some of us need something to motivate us — even if it’s a small thing — to live a better life.”
The treatment is called contingency management, because the rewards are contingent on staying abstinent. A number of clinical trials have found it highly effective in getting people addicted to stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine to stay in treatment and to stop using the drugs. But outside the research arena and the Department of Veterans Affairs, where Mr. Kelty is a patient, it is nearly impossible to find programs that offer such treatment — even as overdose deaths involving meth, in particular, have soared. There were more than 16,500 such deaths last year, according to preliminary data, more than twice as many as in 2016.
Early data suggests that overdoses have increased even more during the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced most treatment programs to move online.
Researchers say that one of the biggest obstacles to contingency management is a moral objection to the idea of rewarding someone for staying off drugs. That is one reason publicly funded programs like Medicaid, which provides health coverage for the poor, do not cover the treatment.
Some treatment providers are also wary of giving prizes that they say patients could sell or trade for drugs. Greg Delaney, a pastor and the outreach coordinator at Woodhaven, a residential treatment center in Ohio, said, “Until you’re at the point where you can say, ‘I can make a good decision with this $50,’ it’s counterproductive.”
Two medications used to treat opioid addiction, methadone and buprenorphine, have often been viewed with similar suspicion because they are opioids themselves, even though there is abundant research showing they substantially reduce the risk of death and help people stay in treatment. But the federal government has started aggressively promoting such treatment for opioid addiction, and has heavily invested in expanding access to it. As of yet, there are no medicines proven to suppress the intense cravings that come with addiction to meth and cocaine. Instead, there are a raft of behavioral interventions, some of which have very little evidence of effectiveness.
“The most common treatment is to do whatever the hell you feel like,” said Michael McDonell, an associate professor at Washington State University who has conducted a number of studies on contingency management. “We had two statewide meetings about meth recently, and at one, a colleague said, ‘Why aren’t we just doing contingency management? Why would we spend all this money on interventions that won’t work?’”
The fact that no public or private insurer will pay for contingency management, except in a few pilot programs, is a major challenge to expanding it; the biggest obstacle is that offering motivational rewards to patients has been interpreted as violating the federal anti-kickback statute. A group of treatment experts recently asked the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the statute for two years as it pertains to contingency management, but the agency refused, saying programs that provide rewards need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Congress recently told states that they could start spending federal “opioid response” grants on treatment for stimulant addiction, but the agency that distributes the grants allows only $75 per patient, per year to be spent on contingency management — far less than what research has found effective.
“The biggest question is how do we get the payers on board with this,” said Eric Gastfriend, the chief executive of DynamiCare Health, a technology company in Boston that has worked with BrightView and other treatment programs to provide contingency management through a phone app that patients can use to share saliva test results with providers in real time, via video. For rewards, patients can earn up to $600 over the course of a year through DynamiCare, on a debit card that blocks cash withdrawals and purchases at liquor stores and bars based on merchant category codes.
“I was hesitant to try it — like, hey, is this legal?” said Dr. Shawn Ryan, the chief medical officer and president of BrightView Health, an addiction treatment provider with locations throughout Ohio, which started using contingency management last year. But the results have been striking, he said, adding, “I’m talking about significant improvements in attendance to therapy sessions, significant reductions in drug and alcohol use.”
Rewarding people for changing a behavior or adopting a new habit is a familiar concept, used by everyone from parents who are trying to get their children to do chores to companies that are trying to get their employees to stop smoking. Research has found it also helps people who are addicted to opioids, but for them, there are other treatments that are equally or more effective. For addiction to stimulants like meth and cocaine, however, contingency management has the best outcomes — especially when combined with therapy that helps people find healthier ways to meet their social and emotional needs than using drugs.
A 2018 meta-analysis of 50 clinical studies of interventions for cocaine and amphetamine addiction, for example, found contingency management combined with an intervention called the community reinforcement approach was the most effective.
Federal officials say that they want to expand access to contingency management for stimulant addiction, but that finding an effective medication for it would be better. “If we were paying for it, that would help,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said of contingency management for meth addiction. “But we badly need medications to help strengthen the response to behavioral interventions. This is a highly, highly addictive drug.”
One patient at BrightView Health, Jodi Waxler-Malloy, 47, of Toledo, tried contingency management treatment after participating in more than a dozen treatment programs for cocaine, heroin and meth addiction since starting to use drugs in her early 20s. BrightView restarted her on buprenorphine for her heroin addiction and set her up with the DynamiCare app and debit card as an incentive to stay off meth. DynamiCare would add between $1 and $25 to her debit card whenever she went to BrightView for a doctor appointment or therapy, though she never knew the amount ahead of time.
Jodi Waxler-Malloy of Toledo, Ohio, tried contingency management for a few months last year. “Maybe I was going to the appointments and meetings for the wrong reason at that time, but it helped me in the long run,” she said. “Nothing’s for free, so at first I said, ‘Yeah, yeah,’” Ms. Waxler-Malloy said. “But the next day, I looked at the app on my phone and they’d given me $25 for detoxing. Wow, really? I went back the next day and I got $5 more.”
Ms. Waxler-Malloy said the monetary rewards helped her get through the first month of sobriety in particular, a period when her housing was precarious, her cravings were intense and she needed to save whatever money she earned waitressing for rent at a sober living house that she was waiting to move into.
Contingency management has been used the most by the Department of Veterans Affairs, where 110 clinics and hospitals have employed it since 2011 to try to help more than 5,100 veterans stay off drugs.
Dominick DePhilippis, a licensed clinical psychologist who oversees the program at the department, said he had seen new interest in the approach outside the department as meth addiction has surged again over the past few years. He published a paper in 2018 that found that, on average, patients in the department’s contingency management program attended more than half of their scheduled sessions, and that the average percent of urine samples that tested negative for the target drug was 91.1.
“It’s not a panacea — not all patients respond to contingency management,” Dr. DePhilippis said. “But I think of it as a scaffolding. We can’t provide this reinforcement indefinitely, but for a sufficient amount of time that the patient will begin to experience the naturally occurring benefits of recovery.”
For rewards, the department’s treatment programs give vouchers for $1, $20 or $100 donated by the Veterans Canteen Service, which runs cafeterias, coffee shops and retail stores in many of the department’s medical centers. Patients receive an average $200 in coupons over 12 weeks, which they can spend only in those outlets. For now, these programs are suspended at most of the department’s centers because of the pandemic; at those that have resumed, Dr. DePhilippis said, a clinician can make prize draws from the fishbowl on the patients’ behalf.
“In the drawings, I did pretty good,” said Eric Alick, 63, of Philadelphia, who completed a contingency management program for cocaine addition at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz V.A. Medical Center in Pennsylvania. “I might get three ‘good jobs’ in a row, but then, bingo.” Among the things he bought with his rewards were a new drill set for his job as a handyman, perfume for his wife and coffee and meals for homeless veterans whom he had met in the hospital cafeteria.
One problem with contingency management, evidence suggests, is that people have less success staying abstinent after the treatment ends. For that reason, Richard Rawson, a researcher at the University of Vermont who has studied meth addiction for decades, believes it should be used indefinitely, just as medications for opioid addiction often are. “Unfortunately, addiction is a chronic brain disease and treatments need to be designed to accommodate this reality,” he said.
For Ms. Waxler-Malloy, losing the debit card when her four months of contingency management ended in early January was hard, although her therapy sessions and 12-step meetings helped. Then, in May, she lost her waitressing job because of the pandemic and she relapsed, using meth and heroin “full force,” she said, for three weeks before stopping with help from Brightview.
Still, the eight months she went without using drugs was her longest stretch of abstinence in more than two decades. She believes she may not have relapsed if contingency management, with its promise of rewards, had still been part of her treatment regimen.
“That kept me real accountable,” she said recently. “Even just to stop at McDonald’s when you have that little bit of extra money, to get a hamburger and a fries when you’re hungry. That was really big to me.”
This is bullshit. Members of the family owning the company, the Sackler family, should be prosecuted and jailed! JAILED, if convicted. The company is in bankruptcy, and those in charge knew damn well what was going on. One main purpose of incorporating is to protect individuals from personal liability, but in this case there is good reason to “pierce the corporate veil” and hold the Sacklers criminally liable!
Bottom line: what they did killed hundreds of thousands of people!
Excerpts from the Article:
Purdue Pharma LP will plead guilty to three felonies and pay $8.3 billion to settle federal probes of how it marketed OxyContin, the highly addictive painkiller blamed for helping spark the U.S. opioid epidemic.
The agreement calls for Purdue’s owners, members of the billionaire Sackler family, to make an immediate $225 million payment to the government and for the company to pay $250 million after its bankruptcy is concluded, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday. The remaining amount owed by Purdue will be counted toward the company’s payout to its creditors, court records show.
The deal is likely to boost Purdue’s effort to move past claims it helped spark a public-health crisis over opioids with its marketing of OxyContin. Yet the company still faces thousands of civil claims by local and state officials, for which Purdue has previously proposed a $10 billion settlement in bankruptcy court. Governments are seeking reimbursement from Purdue and others for tax dollars spent coping with the crisis, which has led to more than 200,000 U.S. overdose deaths and chronic addiction.
To cope with the tidal wave of claims, Purdue last year filed for Chapter 11 protection in bankruptcy court in New York. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain in White Plains, New York, must approve the settlement with the Department of Justice for it to become final.
Sackler family members who served on Purdue’s board “acted ethically and lawfully” in overseeing the company’s operations, and they reached the government deal “to facilitate a global resolution that directs substantial funding to communities in need, rather than to years of legal proceedings,” a family representative said in an emailed statement.
Read More: How the Sacklers Shifted $10.8 Billion of Their Opioid Fortune
As for the criminal charges, “no member of the Sackler family was involved in that conduct or served in a management role at Purdue” during the period under federal investigation, according to the statement. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, during a press conference Wednesday, said the settlement with members of the Sackler family resolved their individual civil liability for OxyContin’s wrongful market, but doesn’t bar future criminal prosecution.
The government settlements with Purdue and members of the Sackler family involved sizable amounts of money and “gave no one a pass,” said Christina Nolan, the U.S. Attorney for Vermont who was involved in the investigation of the company’s payments to a medical-software provider.
Federal prosecutors and state and local governments say Purdue fueled the opioid epidemic with illegal OxyContin marketing. The company will plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and two counts of conspiracy to violate a federal anti-kickback law. The plea will come at a later date.
Purdue will admit that from May 2007 to March 2017, it conspired to defraud the U.S. by misleading Drug Enforcement Administration officials about the effectiveness of its opioid-monitoring systems, the Justice Department said. The drugmaker also will admit to conspiring to violate federal kickback statutes by paying sham speaker fees to doctors who ramped up OxyContin prescriptions, the government said. And Purdue will acknowledge illegally making payments to Practice Fusion, an electronic health-records company, in exchange for using the firm’s software to sway doctors into prescribing larger amounts of the opioid-based painkiller and other Purdue drugs, the government said. According to media reports earlier this year, those payments amounted to $1 million.
The $225 million civil settlement announced Wednesday resolved allegations that board members including Richard Sackler, David Sackler, Mortimer Sackler and other family members urged Purdue executives find a way to pump up OxyContin sales in 2012 when the legitimate market for opioids had contracted, the Department of Justice said.
Under a plan the family members approved, entitled “Evolve to Excellence,” Purdue sales reps stepped up their OxyContin marketing to high-volume prescribers, which resulted in the addictive pills being used in ways that were “unsafe, ineffective and medically unnecessary,” the government said.
As part of its 2019 bankruptcy case, Purdue is proposing a opioid-settlement deal worth more than $10 billion, calling for Sackler family members to hand over the company and all its assets to a trust controlled by the states, cities and counties suing it. As part of that proposal, members of the Sackler family would contribute $3 billion themselves.
Joe Rice, a lawyer for state and local governments suing Purdue, said the federal deal was a step in the right direction. “This should help us get the most value possible for Purdue’s assets and provide more funds to address this country’s opioid problems,” Rice said in an interview.
But numerous state attorneys general, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and New York Attorney General Letitia James, oppose the Sackler’s bankruptcy offer. They want the family to dig into their own pockets for additional billions, and they pledged to continue their own investigations.
“DOJ failed,” Healey said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election. I am not done with Purdue and the Sacklers.”
A bankruptcy audit last year uncovered $10.4 billion in company transfers engineered by family members since 2008. Some of that money went to offshore trusts and holding companies controlled by the Sacklers. On the eve of the plea’s announcement, Justice Department lawyers urged Drain to limit creditors’ investigations into billions of dollars some members of the Sackler family took out of Purdue.
Prosecutors argued in an Oct. 19 letter that forcing family members to hand over to creditors files produced during the Justice Department’s OxyContin marketing probe would provide a disincentive in future cases for targets to cooperate with the government.
It’s not the first time Purdue agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over OxyContin. In 2007, the drugmaker and three of its top executives pleaded guilty to “misbranding” the painkiller, resulting in more than $630 million in civil and criminal penalties — one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in U.S. history at the time.
As part of that accord, Purdue specifically acknowledged it trained its sales representatives to mislead physicians about OxyContin’s addiction risks. The executives were sentenced to community service and served no jail time.
The bankruptcy case is In RE: Purdue Pharma LP 19-23649, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (White Plains).
This is exactly what must happen to deter these assholes! READ: Why only PROSECUTION and IMPRISONMENT Will Stop Prison Abuse and Police Abuse! Demand It!! How to Avoid the Deaths of More Prison Guards!
Excerpts from the Article:
Convicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine, a former Georgia correctional officer was recently sentenced to 10 years in federal prison. Her convicted-felon boyfriend pleaded guilty to the same charge and was also sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
On April 9, 2018, officers from the Dublin Police Department and Georgia Department of Community Supervision visited the residence of Georgia Department of Corrections officer Lekesia Lashea Harden and her boyfriend, Tremayne Linder, to serve Linder with an arrest warrant for failing to complete the requirements of probation. After searching the residence, officers found 12 small packages, two containing methamphetamine and 10 containing marijuana. As noted in court documents and testimony, the marijuana was wrapped in electrical tape with some of the packages containing rolling papers, evidence that the material was packaged for contraband delivery to prison.
As a correctional officer for the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), Harden worked at Wheeler Correctional Facility, a medium-security, privately owned state prison in Alamo, Georgia. Previously convicted on drug and theft charges, Linder reportedly spent 571 days in the Laurens County jail on four felony counts.
In October 2019, Harden was convicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and methamphetamine. Prior to Harden’s conviction, Linder pleaded guilty to the same charge.
“As a correctional officer, Lakesia Harden knew what she was doing when she engaged in drug trafficking and associated with Tremayne Linder, a convicted felon,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine. “Both of them will now spend substantial time in federal prison for their crimes.”
“Harden’s crime taints every law enforcement officer who takes an oath to uphold the law,” stated Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “She chose her relationship with a convicted felon over her oath and now she, too, is a convicted felon and will be held accountable along with her associate, convicted felon Tremayne Linder.”
“The GDC maintains a zero-tolerance policy for individuals who choose to ignore their oath and jeopardize our non-negotiable mission of public safety. We appreciate the support of our federal partners in our efforts to see that justice is served on this former officer,” noted GDC Commissioner Timothy Ward. “The actions of this individual do not reflect the hundreds of officers who are committed each and every day to ensuring the safety of the public and the safe operations of our facilities.”
On Thursday, Harden was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison with five years of supervised release. Linden was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison with three years of supervised release.
My good friend and excellent attorney, Steve Hampton, sent me this article. I choose to post it nearly in its entirety because it is so important. However, I have omitted several pages detailing gruesome deaths, which appear often in reports like this one. Just click at the end on “The Whole Story” for those tragic details.
Thank God for the diligent and determined team of reporters at Reuters, trying to shed light on the scope of the problems I have been addressing for years!
Excerpts from the Article:
The U.S. government collects detailed data on who’s dying in which jails around the country – but won’t let anyone see it. So, Reuters conducted its own tally of fatalities in America’s biggest jails, pinpointing where suicide, botched healthcare and bad jailkeeping are claiming lives in a system with scant oversight.
Harvey Hill wouldn’t leave John Finnegan’s front yard. He stood in the pouring rain, laughing at the sky, alarming his former boss’ wife. Finnegan dialed 911. “He needs a mental evaluation,” the landscaper recalls telling the arriving officer. Instead, Hill was charged with trespassing and jailed on suspicion of a misdemeanor offense that could bring a $500 fine. It was a death sentence.
The next day, May 6, 2018, Hill’s condition worsened. He flew into a rage at the Madison County Detention Center in Canton, Mississippi, throwing a checkerboard and striking a guard with a lunch tray. Three guards tackled the 36-year-old, pepper sprayed him and kicked him repeatedly in the head. After handcuffing him, two guards slammed Hill into a concrete wall, previously unpublished jail surveillance video shows. They led him to a shower, away from the cameras, and beat him again, still handcuffed, a state investigation found. The guards said Hill was combative, exhibiting surprising strength that required force.
Video showed Hill writhing in pain in the infirmary, where he was assessed by a licensed practical nurse but not given medication. Mississippi law dictates that a doctor or higher credentialed nurse make decisions on medical interventions. But Hill was sent straight to an isolation cell, where a guard pinned him to the floor, removed his handcuffs, and left him lying on the cement. Hill crawled to the toilet. Then he stopped moving.
No one checked him for 46 minutes. When they did, he didn’t have a pulse. Within hours, he was dead. And he had a lot of company.
Hill’s is one of 7,571 inmate deaths Reuters documented in an unprecedented examination of mortality in more than 500 U.S. jails from 2008 to 2019. Death rates have soared in those lockups, rising 35% over the decade ending last year. Casualties like Hill are typical: held on minor charges and dying without ever getting their day in court. At least two-thirds of the dead inmates identified by Reuters, 4,998 people, were never convicted of the charges on which they were being held.
Unlike state and federal prisons, which hold people convicted of serious crimes, jails are locally run lockups meant to detain people awaiting arraignment or trial, or those serving short sentences. The toll of jail inmates who die without a case resolution subverts a fundamental tenet of the U.S. criminal justice system: innocent until proven guilty.
“A lot of people are dying and they’ve never been sentenced, and that’s obviously a huge problem,” said Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture and other inhuman punishment, after reviewing the Reuters findings. “You have to provide due process in all of these cases, you have to provide humane detention conditions in all of these cases and you have to provide medical care in all of these cases.”
The U.S. Constitution grants inmates core rights, but those provisions are hard to enforce. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees fair treatment to pre-trial detainees, but “fair” is open to interpretation by judges and juries. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel punishment forbids “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners,” but proving deliberate negligence is difficult. The Sixth Amendment assures speedy trials, but does not define speedy.
The Reuters analysis revealed a confluence of factors that can turn short jail stays into death sentences. Many jails are not subject to any enforceable standards for their operation or the healthcare they provide. They typically get little if any oversight. And bail requirements trap poorer inmates in pre-trial detention for long periods. Meanwhile, inmate populations have grown sicker, more damaged by mental illness and plagued by addictions.
The 7,571 deaths identified by Reuters reflect those stresses. Most succumbed to illness, sometimes wanting for quality healthcare. More than 2,000 took their own lives amid mental breakdowns, including some 1,500 awaiting trial or indictment. A growing number – more than 1 in 10 last year – died from the acute effects of drugs and alcohol. Nearly 300 died after languishing behind bars, unconvicted, for a year or more.
As with much of the U.S. criminal justice system, the toll behind bars falls disproportionately on Black Americans, such as Hill. White inmates accounted for roughly half the fatalities. African Americans accounted for at least 28%, more than twice their share of the U.S. population, a disparity on par with the high incarceration rate of Blacks. Reuters was not able to identify the race of 9% of inmates who died.
Jail deaths typically draw attention locally but escape scrutiny from outside authorities, a gap in oversight that points to a national problem: America’s system for counting and monitoring jail deaths is broken.
America’s 3,000-plus jails are typically run by county sheriffs or local police. They often are under-equipped and understaffed, starved for funds by local officials who see them as budgetary burdens. A rising share have contracted their healthcare to private companies.
Yet there are no enforceable national standards to ensure jails meet constitutional requirements for inmate health and safety. Only 28 states have adopted their own standards to fill the gap. And much of the oversight that does exist is limited by a curtain of secrecy. The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has collected inmate mortality data for two decades – but statistics for individual jails are withheld from the public, government officials and oversight agencies under a 1984 law limiting the release of BJS data. Agency officials say that discretion is critical because it encourages sheriffs and police to report their deaths data each year.
The secrecy has a cost: Local policy makers can’t learn if their jails’ death rates are higher than those in similar communities. Groups that advocate for inmates’ rights can’t get jail-by-jail mortality data to support court cases. The Justice Department’s own lawyers, charged with taking legal action when corrections facilities violate constitutional standards, can’t readily identify jails where high death counts warrant federal investigation.
“If there’s a high death rate, that means there’s a problem,” said Julie Abbate, former deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, which enforces civil rights in jails. Publicizing those rates “would make it a lot harder to hide a bad jail.”
The Justice Department does issue broad statistical reports on statewide or national trends. But even those fatality numbers don’t always tell the full story. Some jails fail to inform BJS of deaths. Some report them inaccurately, listing homicides or suicides as accidents or illnesses, Reuters found. Justice Department consultant Steve Martin, who has inspected more than 500 U.S. prisons and jails, said that in all the cases he’s investigated, he recalls only one homicide being reported accurately. The others were categorized as “medical, respiratory failure, or whatever,” he said.
Methodology: How Reuters tracked jail deaths
The Data Behind the Deaths
Other jails find other ways to keep deaths off the books, such as “releasing” inmates who have been hospitalized in grave condition, perhaps from a suicide attempt or a medical crisis, so they’re not on the jail’s roster when they die. Sheriffs sometimes characterize these as “compassionate releases” that allow inmates’ families a chance to spend their final hours together without law enforcement supervision.
In all, Reuters identified at least 59 cases across 39 jails in which inmate deaths were not reported to government agencies or included in tallies provided to the news organization.
The Justice Department has grown more secretive about the fatality data under the Trump administration. While BJS never has released jail-by-jail mortality figures, it traditionally has published aggregated statistics every two years or so. The 2016 report wasn’t issued until this year. And, a Justice spokesman said, there are “no plans” to issue any future reports containing even aggregated data on inmate deaths in jails or prisons.
The report delays are “an outrage,” said Representative Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat who co-authored the original reporting law in 2000 with a Republican colleague. Scott said secrecy was never the goal. He co-authored a 2014 update, which restricts federal grant money when jails don’t report deaths and shifts data collection to a different Justice Department agency that would not be restricted from releasing jail-by-jail data. The updated law has yet to be implemented.
“The whole point,” Scott said, “is we suspect a lot of the deaths are preventable with certain protocols – better suicide protocols, better healthcare, better guard-to-prisoner ratios. You’ve got to have information at the jail level. You have no way of really targeting corrective action if you don’t.”
Because the government won’t release jail-by-jail death data, Reuters compiled its own. The news organization tracked jail deaths over the dozen years from 2008 to 2019 to create the largest such database outside of the Justice Department. Reporters filed more than 1,500 records requests to obtain information about deaths in 523 U.S. jails – every jail with an average population of 750 or more inmates, and the 10 largest jails or jail systems in nearly every state. Together, those jails hold an average of some 450,000 inmates a day, or about three out of every five nationwide.
“You’ve got to have information at the jail level. You have no way of really targeting corrective action if you don’t.”
One finding: Since the last Justice Department report, for 2016, the death rate in big jails has continued to climb, leaving it up 8% in 2019, the highest point in the 12-year period of 2008-2019 examined by Reuters. In that time, the suicide rate declined as many facilities launched suicide awareness and response initiatives. But the death rate from drug and alcohol overdoses rose about 72% amid the opioid epidemic.
The data also reveals scores of big jails with high death tolls, including two dozen with death rates double the national average.
Such data “would have actually been very helpful for enforcement purposes,” said Jonathan Smith, who ran the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section from 2010 to 2015.
Detailed insight into jail deaths can save lives. In 2016, the Justice Department began investigating the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia, after state Attorney General Mark Herring and local civil rights groups called for a probe following several inmate deaths. Reuters found the jail, which serves five jurisdictions, averaged 3.5 deaths per thousand inmates over the years 2009 to 2019, more than double the national average of 1.5 deaths.
In December 2018, the Justice Department said the 900-bed jail violated inmates’ rights by failing to provide adequate medical and mental healthcare. The regional authority that manages the jail agreed to a “consent decree,” enforced by a federal judge, to ensure improved treatment of prisoners. Inmate deaths dropped after the agreement, which required increased staffing, better training and enhanced medical services. The jail reported two fatalities in 2019 and one through this May, down from an average of five a year in the prior four years.
That was one of the Justice Department’s last jail investigations. From 2008 to 2018, the department opened 19 investigations into jails, three during President Trump’s tenure.
Yet since 2018, it hasn’t opened any. A memo circulated in November 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions put hurdles in the way of entering consent decrees for overhauling jails. In a telephone interview, Sessions told Reuters the policy he set forth adhered to Supreme Court standards on when consent decrees could be entered, allowing them when “appropriate” and “justified.”
In the absence of federal oversight, states have a patchwork of guidelines. Seventeen states have no rules or oversight mechanisms for local jails, according to Reuters research and a pending study by Michele Deitch, a corrections specialist at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. In five other low-population states, all detention facilities are run by state corrections agencies. The other 28 have some form of standards, such as assessing inmates’ health on arrival or checking on suicidal inmates at prescribed intervals. Yet those standards often are minimal, and in at least six of the states, the agencies that write them lack enforcement power or the authority to refer substandard jails for investigation.
Without jail-by-jail mortality data, even jails with extraordinary death rates can escape official intervention for years, and local officials can remain blind to the seriousness of problems their facilities face. One example is the Marion County Jail in Indiana, a decrepit 65-year-old facility nicknamed “The Fossil” within the sheriff’s department. Overfilled and understaffed, the Marion County jail had at least 45 deaths from 2009-2019. Yet local officials rejected pleas from two consecutive sheriffs for additional funding to bolster staffing and build a new facility. Reuters found that the jail is among the two dozen with an average death rate, 3.5 deaths per 1,000 inmates, at least double the national average from 2009 to 2019. And its record was troubling on one of the most challenging problems plaguing jails: suicide, which accounted for more than a quarter of all U.S. jail deaths.
“We’re not built to be the largest mental health hospital in the state,” said Colonel James Martin, who oversees the jail. “We’re not built to be the largest detox facility in the state.” Yet the jail has “more detox beds than any single hospital in the state.”
The jail’s shortcomings have been documented, including a county-commissioned review in 2016 that found the Fossil “antiquated,” with inadequate staffing and design flaws that severely hamper inmate monitoring. In 2018, after another independent study highlighted the jail’s challenges, the county approved a new $580 million criminal justice complex, with dedicated facilities to treat mental illness and substance abuse. In 2022, the Fossil will be history.
An autopsy ruled Hill’s death a homicide, however. The report showed that abrasions speckled his head and chest. Severe internal bleeding swelled his neck. His liver had been lacerated.
The state medical examiner, citing a backlog, didn’t release the findings to the family until this June, 25 months after he died and 13 months after the statute of limitations had expired for litigation involving assault. The family filed its ongoing lawsuit last February, before receiving the autopsy.
How Reuters tracked and analyzed deaths in America’s largest jails
By GRANT SMITH and PETER EISLER
The Reuters examination of deaths in U.S. local jails represents the largest collection and publication of inmate mortality data undertaken outside the federal government.
The news organization filed more than 1,500 public records requests to collect data on inmate populations and deaths from more than 500 local jails. That universe includes the 10 largest jails in each state, as well as any jail in the country with an average daily population of 750 or more inmates.
In all, the Reuters data captures about 60% of the total inmate population in the nation’s 3,000-plus jails. Similarly, Reuters data accounts for about 60% of all inmate deaths nationwide, based on the latest national data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. BJS issues national-level and state-level data on jail deaths, but no statistics for individual jails. The Reuters investigation is the first to provide individual jail death data on a national scale.
Reuters calculated annual death rates at more than 500 jails by dividing the total number of deaths in a given year by the average daily population in the same year – the same formula used by BJS and other experts in criminal justice statistics.
Number of inmates in jails surveyed by Reuters who died without getting their day in court
States and local law enforcement agencies have varying definitions for what constitutes a jail death. Reuters counted all deaths that occurred in a jail, as well as deaths of inmates who were hospitalized for injuries or conditions incurred at the jail. When inmates are in life-threatening condition, some jails release them and do not count their subsequent death as an inmate fatality. Reuters, like many jurisdictions across the country, included those cases in its tally of jail deaths.
Reuters received responses from more than 95% of the jurisdictions from which it sought public records. Not all jails were able to provide accurate data on inmate populations for every year covered by the analysis, particularly the earlier years. Data was not available on race for about 9% of inmates who died and for conviction status for about 17% of fatalities. In cases where data was available for adjacent years, Reuters used that information to estimate inmate populations for the years in which no data was provided – a statistical method also used by BJS.
Reuters also used court records and news accounts to identify deaths that were not documented in jails’ responses and, in many other cases, to augment information jails did provide. Several dozen unreported deaths were identified in this manner and added to the Reuters tally. Court records and other official records, such as autopsy reports, also were used when available to fill in data that some jails declined to provide, such as cause of death or age.
Reuters also collected information on how healthcare services are provided in each jail, identifying those that relied on private companies to manage and deliver that care. Reuters only considered jails to have privatized or contracted care if they relied on a company to manage and staff the facility’s entire healthcare operation. If a jail contracted with individual practitioners for discreet medical services or hired staffing agencies to provide clinicians, Reuters still considered that care to be publicly managed, just as it would if the jail was running its own healthcare operation or relying on a public health agency.
The data captures jails in 44 states plus the District of Columbia. It does not include six other states – five where all detention facilities are managed by unified state corrections agencies (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont), and Alaska, which uses a hybrid model that also relies largely on a network of state-run facilities.
My good friend and great lawyer, Steve Hampton, sent me this article. Second only to “the war on drugs”, privatization is the worst thing to happen to our criminal justice system.
Excerpts from the Article:
Hefty fees for services such as drug testing and electronic monitoring are weighing down low-income people moving through the criminal justice system, according to a report by the American Bar Association.
The report, “Privatization of Services in the Criminal Justice System,” which was released in June, provides a comprehensive look at the effect of the private industry growing out of the nation’s criminal justice system, noting that about 10 million low-income residents owe more than $50 billion in often unaffordable additional costs.
The figures reflect the increased prevalence of user fees throughout the criminal justice system, and the degree to which those fees are charged by private companies, often for profit. Court fines and fees are compounded by supervision fees for both pretrial and post-sentence supervision. These fees balloon as private companies add revenue-enhancing requirements such as courses, regular drug and alcohol testing, counseling, periodic background checks and electronic monitoring.
The report, from the ABA’s Working Group on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System, represents a comprehensive overview of the role private companies play throughout the criminal justice system and how they affect low-income individuals. The report builds upon the “Ten Guidelines on Court Fines and Fees,” which were adopted as policy by the ABA House of Delegates in 2018.
The guidelines are intended to “provide practical direction for government officials and policymakers” so that the criminal justice system, particularly for relatively minor offenses, “does not punish people for the ‘crime’ of being poor.” They stress the “amount imposed, if any, should never be greater than the ability to pay or more than the actual cost of the service provided.”
The report cites numerous examples of individuals charged fees by private companies while working to resolve even minor criminal cases. Among them:
In 2015, police pulled over South Carolina resident Antonio G. for failing to use a turn signal, arrested him and took him to the local jail. The next day, his mother posted the $2,100 bail and the judge ordered, as a condition of his release on bail, that he wear and pay for an electronic monitoring device. The for-profit company that provided the monitor charged a set-up fee of $179.50 and $9.25 per day, or nearly $300 per month.
The cost of drug tests can be as little as $12 or as much as $80 or more for lab-confirmed results. At $25 per test, an individual ordered to test once a week during a 12-month term of probation will incur costs of over $1,250 for drug tests alone.
In about 40 Illinois counties, bad-check writers, in addition to restitution, must pay an administrative fee of $25 to $35 and a fee of $125 to $175 for a “financial accountability” class. In addition, there are fees for enrolling in a payment plan or rescheduling a missed class. As a result, someone who bounces a check for as little as $5 can end up paying as much as $300.
“Our criminal justice system should prioritize public safety,” said Rob Weiner, chair of the working group. “The fees in the criminal justice system disproportionately harm minority communities and, particularly when driven by profit, fuel the distrust these communities feel toward that system. We must take steps to eliminate these fees, ensure that all programs are equally accessible to those who need them and guarantee that nobody is trapped in the criminal justice system by virtue of inability to pay.”
The report represents the views of the working group and has not been approved by the ABA House of Delegates or the Board of Governors.