INdiana Systemic Thinking

January 30, 2008

Judge Currie Gets Probation

In an update to my post here, Carroll Circuit Court Judge Donald Currie received probation, will have his driver’s license restricted, and will have to pay court costs due to a recent charge of Public Intoxication.  Here is the full story, from the Carroll County Comet.

Carroll Circuit Court Judge Donald Currie pled not guilty at an initial hearing Dec. 26 after being arrested for public intoxication Dec. 23 in Boone County. A bench trial was scheduled for March at the initial hearing, but Currie then scheduled a plea agreement for Feb. 19. However, that date was moved up when Currie pled and was found guilty in Boone County Superior Court II by Judge Rebecca McClure Jan. 22.

According to the Lebanon Reporter, Currie was found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and issued a 180-day suspended sentence with credit given for his day in the Boone County Jail. Currie was ordered to pay $450 legal fees and his drivers’ license was restricted.

Currie’s case could be investigated by the Indiana Judicial Qualifications Commission concerning judicial conduct violations. According to Meg Babcock, supervisor for the counsel to the commission, that process is completely separate from the court case and is not a matter of public record until the time formal charges are filed with the Indiana Supreme Court.

“There is a lot the commission can do short of filing charges,” Babcock said.

She said there could be no investigation, suspension from office without pay and other remedies which include fines, removal from office or disbarment. She called removal from office the “ultimate sanction.” Babcock said the Indiana Supreme Court would be the entity to decide upon the sanction if charges were filed. The commission would be making a recommendation to that court.

Babcock referred the Comet to two similar cases investigated by the commission in the past two years. In both cases, the judges stipulated to the facts of the cases and their “misconduct.” Both were issued a “public reprimand” for their behavior.

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January 29, 2008

Pay to Play: $25 for Jail, Guilty or Not

All things considered, paying $25 when jailed is about the least of your worries, but should one still pay, even if innocent?  Apparently if your arrested in Porter County the answer is a definite “yes”, even though the State Board of Accounts found the fee to be um, well, illegal.  However;

Tammy White, a State Board of Accounts supervisor, said her agency’s reports serve to audit compliance with state laws and regulations but are not legally binding. The Board of provides information regarding laws in the hope that officials will consult legal counsel and review the appropriateness of findings.

The commissioners who passed the ordinance justify it by explaining;

“The entire fund is used for the benefit of the jail, and most directly the inmates themselves,” Lain said. “That’s how we pay for the Chemical Addiction and Dependency Program.”

Lain said the drug program has a large effect on the number of inmates who return to jail after being released. According to Lain, graduates of the 100-hour class have a recidivism rate of between 40 percent and 45 percent, compared to the typical recidivism rate at the jail of 65 percent to 70 percent.

“The biggest issue we have is how do we keep people from coming back,” Lain said. “This has shown to be the single most powerful avenue toward reducing that.

Sounds like someone is massaging their numbers a bit.  Any Chemical Addiction program that reduces recidivism to 45% is worthy not only of national acclaim, but patenting and copyrighting.  Sell it an make your money that way.  Something tells the Blogmeister that won’t happen soon.  Second, the reasoning sounds a little circular here.  They charge people who come to the jail, guilty or not, for a program that supposedly seeks to stop people from coming to the jail?  Maybe it is just my math, but if successful, won’t Porter County run out of money for the program? 

Those issues aside, doesn’t the whole innocent until proven guilty thing come into play?  Doesn’t that mean you treat, as well as think of a person, as not having done anything until proven otherwise?  Now the Blogmeister isn’t a lawyer, but who would dream of charging someone a fee who hasn’t done anything?  Oh, forgot, these are commissioners who levy taxes.  Nevermind, I get it now. 

January 22, 2008

FSSA to Pay For Substance Abuse Program

Finally, someone, somewhere, is looking at treating Substance Abusers.  In an area where money is usually non existent, comes this from the Indianapolis Star about a pilot program in Vigo County.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has been awarded $14.49 million over three years for the Access to Recovery program.

That includes more than $1.44 million annually targeted to people recovering from meth addictions, which will be the focus of the Vigo County program. He said 30 percent of the program’s money must be spent on meth users.

Addiction treatment providers, include faith-based agencies, will apply to participate in the program, Scott said. The agencies are reimbursed for services from state vouchers. Services include care coordination, clinical treatment and recovery support.

January 20, 2008

Drug Test Welfare Recipients?

The Evansville Courrier Press has a good story about a Kentucky lawmaker who wants to start drug testing people who rely on various welfare programs.  The argument for this seems to be that many people in the private sector have to undergo drug tests for their money, so why shouldn’t welfare recipients.  The argument against it is what do you do with the children of parents who test positive?  In addition, there is this bit of history:

Michigan briefly required drug tests for welfare recipients in 1999, but was ordered by a federal judge to stop just weeks into the program when the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit. After a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled the law unconstitutional in 2003, Michigan officials reached an out-of-court settlement with the ACLU, agreeing to stop the drug-testing program.

So, this legislation probably won’t go anywhere in Kentucky, but if it does, it may come our way soon.

December 4, 2007

AADP Best Treatment or Cash Cow?

The Blogmeister was aware of this story, but was not going to post on it.  It seemed like a personnel issue at first and frankly posting would just be in bad taste.  However, more information is available from this Fort Wayne Journal Gazette editorial that appears to highlight more problems than just personnel.

Background:  Last week Alcohol Abuse Deterrent Program (AADP) head Terry Yeiter was asked to step down by his board.  It was thought there was some mismanagement of the medication at the program sites.  In fact, it appeared there was, as an audit showed more medication on hand than was supposed to be there.

First, the Blogmeister wonders if anyone contacted the Drug Enforcement Agency about this?  More history from the editorial;

“AADP was established to provide an aversion-therapy alternative to incarceration for repeat drunken-driving offenders. Court-ordered participants take Antabuse, the brand name for disulfiram, which blocks the body’s ability to process alcohol and causes discomfort or illness when taken in combination with alcohol. Last year, AADP administered Antabuse or breath tests to about 1,500 people a week. Offenders are required to pay for treatment.”

Second, is this really treatment, or Chemical Restraint?

The editorial goes on to wonder, “Certainly, AADP is a less-costly alternative to locking up repeat DWI offenders, but is it the most cost-effective alternative? Do the medical and constitutional questions about Antabuse treatment warrant its continued use? The program has been the subject of legal challenges, and there are questions about the drug’s effect on the liver.

Allen Circuit Judge Thomas J. Felts, who orders some offenders to the program, said that he is re-evaluating the best course for felony drunken-driving cases in light of the developments at AADP but said the program has been doing a good job in spite of the director’s departure.”

In addition, questions about how much money was made linger, “Questions about the program’s cost have long circulated. According to figures from the 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service, Yeiter earned $73,170 in 2006. That amount was down from 2005, when he earned $85,239 in salary and benefits and 2004, when he earned $91,897. Five other AADP employees earned more than $57,000 in 2006, and contracts for medical and legal services totaled more than $319,000.”

The Blogmeister joins with the Journal Gazette in calling for a reevaluation of the program from top to bottom.  The board of the program has agreed to do this, to their credit, but the Blogmeister feels more effort should be put into treatment, with qualified counselors and therapists, instead of the continued use of Antabuse.  One reason the program is successful is many physicians refuse to prescribe the drug due to the above physical concerns, so this is one of the few places Judges can order an offender to get the drug.   Second, the amount of money spent on salaries is outrageous for a nonprofit program.  It is programs such as this that give nonprofits a bad reputation for abusing their legal status and not paying their share of taxes.

December 2, 2007

Indiana Overdose Rate up 98.5% in 5 years

The Herald Bulletin has as a sad story today about the 100% increase in the overdose rate for Madison County.  Buried in the story is this statistic,

“According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the number of overdose deaths in the county more than doubled between 2001 and 2005, from 17 to 34. The state nearly matched that, going from 335 to 665 over the same period. The figures are the latest available from the state health department.”

Did anyone else catch that…  That the state overdose rate for illegal drugs was up 98.5% from 2001?  While it is horrible Madison County beats the state score, it’s just little less horrible the state’s overdose rate has almost doubled.  It would be interesting to know the reasons behind the statistic.  In the Blogmeister’s opinion, this gives a lot of credence to licensing substance abuse counselors.

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