TIME, AUGUST 24, 2019
“Trump’s remarks are a 'knee-jerk statement', a 'laughable proposition that we could stop the majority or even a major portion of contraband [even if] we triple the number of inspectors looking for the mail and delayed mail by multiple days.'”
CO-HOSTED BY ZACHARY SIEGEL
"On May 4, the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, won a Pulitzer Prize for its December breaking news reporting on hundreds of last-minute commutations issued by Republican Governor Matt Bevin before his term in office ended. The Pulitzer Prize committee praised the paper for 'its rapid coverage of hundreds of last-minute pardons by Kentucky’s governor, showing how the process was marked by opacity, racial disparities and violations of legal norms.' But in a letter published Tuesday and addressed to the prize board, over two dozen legal and public health scholars, including one of the authors of this commentary, took issue with the board’s decision. The letter rightly lays out the dangers of rewarding criminal justice journalism that is flawed, sensationalistic, and damaging to future reform."
"'There's a lot of talk about getting back to normal after COVID-19, but there's a range of issues where getting back to normal isn't desirable,' Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, told ABC News. For public health experts, challenges include a chronically ill populace, income disparities, and the effects of structural racism."
"Campaigns to get nonviolent drug offenders released during the pandemic may not be sufficient...prisoner re-entry into regular society is difficult and dangerous from a health perspective, even during normal times. As the economy collapses, shelters and food banks have been overwhelmed, with already limited resources stretched thin."
"Even in normal times, this would be an absurd amount of government resources to deploy on something like that. Federal law enforcement likes to spread this narrative that they’re going after ‘kingpins’ and are focused on ‘dismantling’ international drug trafficking organizations, but if you drill down and look at what they are doing, typically they’re arresting and prosecuting people who are very low down on the supply chain.”
The case illustrates how the armed forces, like many law enforcement agencies, fails its men and women who suffer from drug addiction. “It’s a tragedy not only for him but for West Point and society at large. Here is this person who had clear potential and who we had collectively invested in. Had he been given the right kind of support, he could have stabilized and found a way to continue doing what he was doing. Instead, we kind of just discarded him.”
"It’s the impulse to do something to combat the opioid crisis that has fueled the recent increase in drug-induced homicide prosecutions nationwide. 'The crisis is an opportunity for [law enforcement officials] to kind of increase their footprint and increase their funding and increase their influence. All of those things play into this pattern of high-visibility actions, whether it’s drug interdiction, or whether its drug-induced homicide prosecutions.'”
"Brent Eaton, an Indiana county attorney, is prosecuting people who have survived overdoses by using the administration of naloxone (Narcan), the opioid overdose reversal medication, as probable cause for the collection of further evidence needed to charge the survivor with felony drug possession. Leo Beletsky, a Northeastern University professor working at the intersection of public health and criminal justice, considers the Hancock County prosecutor’s policy to be a de facto criminalization of naloxone."
"An Indiana county attorney and police chief are working together to prosecute people who have suffered overdoses with felonies—and to use lifesaving naloxone overdose reversals as evidence against them. Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton intends to charge overdose victims with felony drug possession by encouraging police officers in Greenfield, a city in Hancock County, to use the administration of naloxone (also known by the brand-name Narcan) as “probable cause” for search warrants in pursuing further evidence of drug possession, specifically an oral swab of the defendant."
“The push for lifesaving interventions like treatment and naloxone, the number of people getting on buprenorphine and methadone” — medications regarded as the “gold standard” for people with opioid addictions — “are far more likely to be at play here."
"...overdose-homicide prosecutions tend to sweep up minor offenders who are 'struggling with addiction and who purchase drugs on behalf of themselves and their peers.' [The lab] studied two hundred and sixty-three prosecutions that occurred between 2000 and 2016, and found that about half of the defendants were 'friends, family, or romantic partners' of the person who died."