HEALTH & JUSTICE IN THE NEWS
Date: April 13, 2018
 
 
TASC in the News
 
Franklin County Community Event Discussing Substance Use
On Thursday, April 19th from 6:00pm-8:30pm at the Rend Lake Visitor Center there will be a Franklin County Community Event to discuss how substance use and opioids are affecting the community. This free event will include a screening of 'The Anonymous People', a documentary film about recovery; a community discussion led by moderator Bradley Bullock of TASC and a panel of local experts; free Narcan training conducted by Egyptian Health Department; and the Hidden in Plain Sight Display hosted by Michelle Bertinetti of the Gateway Foundation. Light snacks and beverages will be provided at the event as well as information about community resources available to address substance use and treatment options in the region.
 
 
Around the Nation
 
Press Release: Just Steps from the White House, a Memorial to Victims of America's Drug Crisis
The White House, 4/12/18
Victims of overdose shouldn't have to suffer in silence. President Donald J. Trump wants more Americans to hear their stories. So beginning April 11, for one week, more than 20,000 faces will occupy the Ellipse at President's Park, just a few hundred feet from the White House's South Portico. These faces don't belong to living Americans. They are the memorialized engravings of 22,000 people who died in 2015 from prescription opioid addiction. In partnership with the Executive Office of the President, the Department of the Interior, and the National Parks Service, the nonprofit National Safety Council is bringing its "Prescribed to Death" opioids memorial to Washington.
 
Sentencing Panel Acts on Synthetic Drugs, Fentanyl
The Crime Report, 4/13/18
The United States Sentencing Commission has issued proposed guidelines for judges for sentencing in synthetic drug cases. The proposal reflects "a collaborative, detailed, and data-driven approach to federal sentencing policy," the panel said. The commission said its proposal resulted from a multi-year study of synthetic drugs, which have not been included in federal sentencing guidelines, prompting courts to hold "expensive and resource-intensive hearings." Commissioners voted for a four-level sentencing enhancement for knowingly misrepresenting or knowingly marketing fentanyl or fentanyl analogues as another substance, which it said equates to an approximate 50 percent increase in the recommended sentence.
 
Feds issue warning as plague of synthetic weed laced with rat poison spreads [Illinois featured]
NBC News, 4/11/18
Federal health officials are sounding the alarm about synthetic marijuana laced with rat poison that has already killed three people in Illinois and sent a small army of people vomiting blood to emergency rooms there and in four other states. "This is an unusual outbreak," Renee Funk of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Investigators are not sure yet how the fake pot got contaminated, Funk said. But the CDC has dispatched a team of investigators to Illinois, where the bulk of the cases has been reported, to help pinpoint the source and hopefully identify the culprits. Meanwhile, people suffering from severe bleeding after toking up have also shown up at emergency rooms in Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland and Missouri. And the CDC is warning doctors nationwide to be on the lookout for more such cases. The rat poison plague has hit the Land of Lincoln hardest, claiming the lives of two men in their 20s and a man in his 40s, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
 
Most People Who Use Drugs Ignorant of Good Samaritan Laws
The Crime Report, 4/12/18
Forty states and the District of Columbia have overdose-prevention Good Samaritan laws that trade 911 calls for immunity for low-level drug charges. The idea is to encourage people to call to save lives during an opioid epidemic. The laws vary, but they assure those who are overdosing and those who are with them that they need not worry about calling. Do the right thing. Save a life. Be a good Samaritan. The problem is that the people most likely to witness an overdose are least likely to know about the laws, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. "There's generally poor knowledge of Good Samaritan 911 laws among people who use drugs," said Daniel Raymond of the national Harm Reduction Coalition. Nationally published studies show that young people who use prescription drugs for recreation are even less likely to know of the laws than are people who use injection drugs. Most of the law have no funding attached, and few states have named an authority to educate people about the laws.
Related: "'They passed as many as 3 hospitals.' What's wrong with Good Sam 911 overdose laws?" (Cincinnati Enquirer, 4/11/18): https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2018/04/11/they-passed-many-3-hospitals-whats-wrong-good-sam-911-overdose-laws/351496002/
 
 
Around Illinois
 
Illinois lawmakers move on effort to expand voting from jail
Illinois News Network, 4/12/18
Illinois lawmakers are working to give people behind bars while awaiting trial a better opportunity to vote. The bill would require election officials to collaborate with county jails to provide voter registration forms to eligible voters who are in jail while awaiting trial. Those serving time after being convicted are not able to vote while in custody. State Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Springfield, said many people in jail while awaiting trial don't know they can vote. "At the end of the day, we want to make sure that a person's right to vote is preserved," she said. Her bill would require jails to offer registration forms and make voting available to eligible individuals. It would also require jails and prisons in the state to provide returning citizens with literature informing them that their voting rights are fully restored. Illinois is one of 14 states, along with Washington D.C., that restores voting rights for those convicted of felonies after release. The bill next is ready for a full House vote after a favorable House Elections & Campaign Finance Committee vote on Wednesday.
 
Illinois State Police to offer medication drop-offs
Advantage News, 4/8/18
The Illinois State Police is teaming up with the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation to help decrease illicit use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Gov. Bruce Rauner announced five ISP District headquarters across the state will house receptacles for people to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription medications. "Many people experiment with prescription drugs before turning to more dangerous, illegal drugs," Rauner said. "These receptacles offer people a smart and safe way to get potentially addictive drugs out of their homes and off the streets."
 
County drug court ready to be put into play
Pontiac Daily Leader, 4/13/18
After getting the green light via state certification earlier in March, Livingston County State's Attorney Randy said the county is ready to institute a drug court. On Thursday, Yedinak explained that not only were such specialty courts more compassionate toward persons facing prison time after felony drug possession charges, but saved local taxpayers money by keeping those people out of prison. Yedinak gave a brief history of specialty courts, saying that they arose out of an evidence-based trend in the criminal justice system.
 
Bring Light to the Fight
CentralIllinoisProud.com, 4/12/18
The Overdose Prevention Agency, which is composed of four Bradley University students, will host the Bring Light to the Fight event on April 14, 2018 from 2 to 4 p.m. at C.T. Gabbert Construction located at 1323 SW Adams St. Bring Light to the Fight hopes to educate Peoria residents on the opioid crisis and address the stigma surrounding drug use. The event will feature Narcan distribution, the nasal spray that works as emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose; guest speakers; educational booths, free sexual health screenings and safe sex; and CPR training. People of all ages are invited to attend.
 
 
Research, Reports, and Studies
 
How Death Strikes Around the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal, 4/10/18
A grim tally of "years of life lost" shows that substance use, suicides and diabetes drove a rise in premature deaths in nearly half the country, according to researchers who mapped variations in death rates among people 20 to 55 years old. The new analysis, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows wide variation in where people ages 20 to 55 are at highest risk, and in what diseases or conditions afflict them. The risk of dying young declined in Minnesota, California and New York between 1990 and 2016, the study found. Yet it rose in 21 states, including West Virginia and New Mexico.
Report: "The State of US Health, 1990-2016 Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Among US States" (JAMA, 4/10/18): https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2678018
 
Deaths Involving Heroin and Fentanyl Spike as Prescription Opioid Deaths Decline
Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 4/12/18
Overdose deaths involving heroin and fentanyl are spiking, while deaths due to prescription opioids are declining, new research concludes. A study from the American Action Forum found the annual growth rate of all opioid-involved overdose fatalities rose from 9.1 percent before 2010 to 12.3 percent after 2010. The annual growth rate of overdose deaths involving heroin increased from 4.1 percent before 2010 to 31.2 percent after 2010. The annual growth rate of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl also increased, from 13.7 percent to 36.5 percent.
Report: The Types of Opioids Behind Growing Overdose Fatalities (American Action Forum, 4/11/18): https://www.americanactionforum.org/research/types-opioids-behind-growing-overdose-fatalities/
Related: "Study: Despite decline in prescriptions, opioid deaths skyrocketing due to heroin and synthetic drugs" (The Washington Post, 4/10/18): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/04/10/study-despite-decline-in-prescriptions-opioid-deaths-skyrocketing-due-to-heroin-and-synthetic-drugs/?utm_term=.6bb52e8bcf13
 
Drug-Fueled Infections Rising Across U.S.
The Crime Report, 4/9/18
First came the opioid epidemic. Then, a wave of drug-fueled infections. Now, after years of quietly spreading across the nation, diseases like hepatitis and HIV are prompting action by a critical mass of top doctors, health officials and policymakers, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Infections were among the issues tackled at the recent National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Experts said disease threatens not only people who use drugs but the entire population, hitting especially hard in Kentucky, Indiana and other rural states awash in addiction. "If you don't do anything, it's a ticking time bomb," said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "I think we can contain it, but we need to move rapidly."
Related: "Rampant opioid injection: 'A ticking time bomb' that puts all Americans at risk for disease" (Louisville Courier-Journal, 4/6/18): https://www.courier-journal.com/story/life/wellness/health/2018/04/06/drug-diseases-injections-ticking-bomb-hepatitis-hiv-epidemic/459182002/
 
 
Health & Justice in the News is a summary of recent news stories relating to criminal justice, mental health, addiction, recovery, and related issues. It is compiled and published by TASC each Monday and Thursday.
 
Some headlines and text have been altered by TASC for clarity or emphasis, or to minimize discriminatory or stigmatizing language. Opinions in the articles and op-eds do not necessarily express the views of TASC or our staff or partners.

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