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oD Drug Policy Forum: Front Line Report - Week of October 2nd 2011

Following the successful openDemocracy Conference, ‘After the War on Drugs: Envisioning a Post-Prohibition World’; the Drug Policy Forum is back with a bumper edition and round-up of the last couple of weeks drug policy news. We lead this week with news that rebuffing the Conservative government, the Canadian Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that Vancouver's safe injection site for heroin addicts can stay open.
Mark Weiss Charles Shaw
2 October 2011

Lead Story

Canada Supreme Court Okays Safe Injection Site 

Rebuffing the Conservative government of Prime Minister, the Canadian Supreme Court Friday ruled unanimously that Vancouver's safe injection site for heroin addicts can stay open. Known as Insite, the Downtown Eastside facility is the only safe injection site in North America.

The Downtown Eastside, centered on the intersection of Main and Hasting, streets, has one of the highest concentrations of injection drug users in the world. An overgrown Skid Row flush with prostitution and destitution, most of its residents live in decaying SRO hotels lining Main Street. Out of 12,000 residents in the area, some 5,000 are estimated to be drug addicts.

At Insite, drug users are provided clean needles and sterilized water with which to mix their drug. Insite does not provide the drugs; users must bring their own. The users inject under medical supervision at one of 12 injecting alcoves. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Mexico and the Americas

Crossing the line: Mexico’s drug war is getting harder for Americans to ignore

NONE of the twinned cities that straddle America’s southern border with Mexico are as historically close as Laredo, in Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, in Mexico. The settlement at Laredo predates Texas, and what is now Nuevo Laredo was originally part of it before being separately established on the Mexican side after Mexican-American war of 1847. So on September 13th, when two young Mexicans were found in Nuevo Laredo, hanging from a footbridge and disembowelled (see article), it struck rather close to home.

 The conflict between and against the drug-trafficking organisations has killed more than 40,000 people in Mexico in the past five years. America’s response has, however, been warped by the fact that many on the north side of the river see border security as the effort to keep unauthorised economic migrants out of the United States, with the illicit flow of drugs from Mexico and guns from the United States being lesser concerns. The clamour has been rising—particularly in Texas, which has the longest stretch of the 2,000-mile (3,200km) border—but several things have drawn national attention. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist

Leaked memo: Killing cartel leaders doesn’t slow drugs

Arresting or killing “key” cartel players “does not significantly impact drug trafficking flow” into the United States, according to a newly leaked government memo. What does affect the flow of drugs into the U.S.? Crop cycles and religious holidays. Since 2006, the United States and Mexico have been operating under the assumption that capturing or killing the heads of the cartels would cripple their organizations.

The drug-related murder count (as many as 43,000 people in five years) and the fact that two-thirds of Mexico’s most wanted are either dead or in jail appear to be the only discernible results of that strategy. And now it seems even the Department of Justice is willing to admit — at least internally — that its strategy is not working. The full conclusion of the Customs and Border Protection memo reads: “The removal of key personnel does not have a discernable impact on drug flows as determined by seizure rates. [Drug trafficking organizations] appear to have built in redundancy and personnel that perform specific duties to limit the damage incurred by the removal of any one person.

By sheer volume alone, drug operations would require more than one individual to coordinate and control the process. While the continued arrest or death of key DTO leadership may have long-term implications as to the control and viability of a specific DTO, there is no indication it will impact overall drug flows into the United States.” To learn more please follow this link

Source: Chicago Sun

Mexico’s drug war and the internet: The fog of war descends on cyberspace

MEXICO’S national media have followed every gruesome twist of the government’s battle with organised crime. But in some of the most dangerous areas, local papers are curiously short on details. Last year five newspapers admitted in print that they would stop covering sensitive drug-war stories, such was the risk to their reporters. The year also saw 15 attacks on media offices, up from two in 2009, according to Article 19, a free-speech lobby group. The gangs are even dictating copy. Imagen, a daily in the state of Zacatecas, ran an article last year attacking the army on the orders of a mafia that had kidnapped one of its reporters. Milenio, a TV station, ran part of a mob-scripted report after some of its staff were abducted.

With the traditional media silenced, Mexicans have gone online in search of news. But that now looks risky too. On September 13th two bodies were found hanging from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, on Mexico’s northern border, with a sign promising the same treatment to all “gossips on the internet”. The notice named two drug-war-focused sites to which the murdered pair had supposedly contributed. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Economist 

Rio de Janeiro Declaration - Police officers call for better drug law enforcement strategies

In September, a group of police officers from around the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss and rethink the repressive law enforcement policies against drug trafficking and use.

In this declaration, they reaffirm the continued need for tough enforcement against organised crime, money laundering and corruption, but call for more effective and constructive approaches with regard to drug use. The Rio de Janeiro Declaration is available at this link

Source: IDPC

35 bodies dumped on road as Mexican drug war continues

Masked gunmen have blocked traffic on a busy avenue in the Mexican coastal city of Boca del Rio and dumped the bodies of 35 murder victims in front of motorists, according to authorities. Veracruz state attorney general Reynaldo Escobar Pérez said the bodies were left piled in two trucks and on the ground of an underpass. Police had identified seven of the victims as being linked to organised crime.

The Gulf and Zetas drug cartels have been locked in a bloody war for control in Veracruz state over the last year. Motorists first began tweeting on Tuesday afternoon that masked gunmen in military uniforms were blocking Manuel Ávila Camacho Boulevard and pointing their guns at civilians. Local media reported that among the dead were some of 32 prisoners who escaped from three Veracruz prisons on Monday. Escobar said he could not confirm that. Police have recaptured 14 of the escapees alive.

Earlier on Tuesday the Mexican army announced the capture of a key figure in the Knights Templar drug cartel involved in violence in westernMexico. Saul Solis Solis, 49, a former police chief and one-time congressional candidate, was captured on Monday in the cartel's home state of Michoacán. Solis is considered one of the principal lieutenants in the Knights Templar, which split late last year from La Familia, a pseudo-religious drug gang known as a major trafficker of methamphetamine. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Counting the costs of archaic drug policies and strategies in Southern Africa 

 Institute for Security Studies (Tshwane/Pretoria), 27 September 2011, by Annette Hubschle. In June 2011, fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and forty years after former US President Nixon launched the US government's 'War on Drugs', the Global Commission on Drug Policy released an explosive report on the failings of the war on drugs and its devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world.

The purpose of the Global Commission on Drug Policy is to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies. It consists of former world leaders, writers and business leaders including Kofi Annan, Carlos Fuentes, Ernesto Zedillo, Richard Branson and others. 

Traditionally, policy makers around the world premise drug strategies upon the belief that harsh law enforcement action against those involved in drug production, distribution and use would lead to a diminished market in controlled drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis. As a matter of fact, the global scale of the illicit drug markets largely controlled by organised crime networks has grown dramatically over the past fifty years. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC 

Colombia drugs war informants 'died from British blunders' 

At least a half a dozen secret informants helping British agents wage war on powerful Colombian drug cartels died because of blunders and mismanagement by their handlers, a whistleblower has claimed.

Insiders recruited by covert officers to provide invaluable information on the multi-billion pound cocaine-smuggling barons were failed by “dysfunctional” and “reckless” behaviour, it was alleged.

In a rare insight into secret anti-drug missions carried out throughout South America, one former counter narcotics officer claimed inadequate safeguards unnecessarily placed innocent lives at risk. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Telegraph 

North America and Canada 

On eve of ruling, Insite supporter reveals brush with addiction

As medical staff of the country’s only supervised drug-injection clinic nervously await Friday’s decision on its future by the Supreme Court of Canada, one of its leading supporters revealed that he now knows first hand what addiction is all about. 

Julio Montaner, renowned around the world for his efforts in combatting AIDS, said he had great difficulty weaning himself from pain-killing narcotics, after breaking a number of ribs this summer when a car collided with his bike. “I understood everything I was going through, and yet I tell you, it was probably the worst seven to 10 days of my life,” said Dr. Montaner, former president of the International AIDS Society and head of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in AIDS/HIV.

“To be honest, I could not wait to take another dose [of drugs] to get rid of all the pain, the insomnia, the anxiety. …Now I have experienced under my own skin what it’s like to kick narcotics. It was extremely painful.” Dr. Montaner pointed out that he had been on a form of synthetic morphine for only six weeks before deciding the pain had become bearable enough to stop taking it. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Globe and Mail

International Coalition Applauds Supreme Court of Canada Decision to keep INSITE open

INTERNATIONAL COALITION APPLAUDS SUPREME COURT DECISION TO UPHOLD HUMAN RIGHTS AND KEEP INSITE OPEN: Criminal law on drugs gives way to good public health practices in Canada 

We, the member organizations of an international coalition of harm reduction experts, applaud today’s landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) to uphold the human rights of all Canadians by allowing Insite — Vancouver’s life-saving supervised injection site — to remain open. We are heartened that the SCC has recognized that criminal laws on drugs must give way to good public health practices and harm reduction.

In its decision, the SCC has reaffirmed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, stating clearly that human rights must extend to all Canadians, including people who use drugs. The SCC has ruled that shuttering Insite would constitute a violation of the human rights of some of those who are most vulnerable. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IHRA

DPA's Ethan Nadelmann Debates Former DEA Head Asa Hutchinson at University of Arkansas 

Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, and former DEA Administrator and U.S. Congressman, Asa Hutchinson, debate. The debate was sponsored by the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) chapter at the University of Arkansas and University Programs. To see full one hour video (a production of the Fayetteville public access television program Ominivision) please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FR1PkpRLvo&feature=youtu.be

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

Rein in Forfeiture Power

Seizing assets associated with criminal activity is an increasingly powerful law enforcement tool. But one of America’s top legal experts warns that without proper legal protection, the innocent are vulnerable as well. 

Both the federal and the state governments have enormous power to seize property from individuals who never have been convicted, or even charged, with any crime. Over the last quarter of a century, legislatures and courts have dramatically increased the government’s authority to seize assets.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Crime Report

Dangerous Jails

An investigation by the LA Justice Report uncovers a history of physical and mental abuse of inmates by ‘rogue’ deputies at the nation’s largest jail complex. 

Juan Pablo Reyes says he was just doing his job on the afternoon of Friday, December 10, 2010, when he picked up a letter he found lying on the ground steps away from a deputy station on the third floor of Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail at the northeast end of downtown Los Angeles.

An inmate inside CJ, as Men’s Central Jail is called, Reyes, 30, was sweeping the floor as part of his daily duties as a trustee—a job that grants select inmates special privileges and work details. Trustees are chosen by sheriff’s deputies, and the position is reserved for inmates who are considered reliable. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Crime Report

Texas capital case highlights racial bias in psychology 

Even as Troy Davis's execution tonight draws attention to Georgia's death penalty, Texas remains  the undisputed execution capital of the United States. And in Texas, psychologists are integral to the process because of the prerequisite of proving future danger. It is here that Texas psychologist Walter Quijano stepped in, testifying in more than 100 capital cases. And in case after case, called by both the prosecution and the defense, he testified that defendants on trial for their lives were especially dangerous if they happened to be African American or Latino.

Like Davis's execution, Quijano’s racially imbued risk assessments are also in the international spotlight, after the U.S. Supreme Court's grant of a 30-day reprieve from death for Duane E. Buck, a convicted double-murderer who had already eaten his last meal when he got the news. To his credit, former Texas Attorney General John Cornyn agreed with defense attorneys that infusing race into criminal sentencing is unfair. When Quijano's testimony was called to his attention some time back, he red-flagged seven cases as meriting a new sentencing hearing. (The government now argues that Buck's case is different from the others for procedural reasons.) To learn more please follow this link

Source: Forensic Psychologist

NYPD Commissioner Calls on NYPD to Stop Improper Marijuana Arrests

NYPD Commission Ray Kelly issued an internal order this week commanding officers to follow existing New York State law by ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana – as long as the marijuana was never in public view. The order does not change the law itself – but simply instructs officers to comport with the law. This could result in tens of thousands fewer marijuana arrests annually in New York City.

The announcement comes on the heels of growing pressure on the NYPD. A campaign led by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, and VOCAL has gained the support of City Council members and state legislators. DPA issued a series of reports prepared by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project that highlight the cost and scale of the arrests. Their latest report, released in March, found that arrests for marijuana possession cost New York City taxpayers approximately $75 million each year.

While advocates applauded the move by Commissioner Kelly, they also expressed caution: "This represents a tremendous victory for the many New Yorkers who are fighting to end the NYPD's notoriously wasteful, illegal and racially discriminatory marijuana arrest policies," said Gabriel Sayegh. New York State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "But, the devil remains in the details as to whether and how the NYPD implements this new directive. If followed, then the NYPD will at last comply with both the letter and spirit of the marijuana decriminalization law enacted in New York back in 1977." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance 

For Many, a Life-Saving Drug Out of Reach

Mark Kinzly saved two lives this week. But he wouldn’t have been here to help if a friend hadn’t once done for him what he’s now repeatedly done for others — provide overdose victims with Naloxone, the antidote that revived them.

Overdose now kills more people in the United States than car accidents, making it the leading cause of injury-related mortality according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of deaths — 37,485 in 2009 — could be cut dramatically if Naloxone were available over-the-counter and placed in every first aid kit.

But that’s not likely to happen until the Food and Drug Administration takes some action. Naloxone is currently available only by prescription. Although dozens of needle exchange programs, rehab centers and pain specialists in at least 16 states distribute it, the prescription requirement severely limits its availability to those organizations that can afford to have doctors on staff. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

Young Men's Initiative: The White Mayor's Burden

Shortly before he first ran for office, Michael Bloomberg was asked by New York magazine if he had ever smoked marijuana. "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it," he answered bluntly. The quote would become the basis of an ad campaign by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, but it would never have any effect on Bloomberg's own practice of aggressively (and, some say, illegally) arresting people for the possession of even meager amounts of pot once he became mayor.

"In 1977, small amounts of marijuana were decriminalized in the New York State Legislature," says Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance. "So you can have up to 25 grams, which is seven-eighths of an ounce, on your person, and that would be a violation similar to jaywalking or traffic tickets." It's something that could carry a $100 fine, she explains, and is only an "arrestable offense . . . if it's in plain view or if it's burning."

And yet, try explaining that to the NYPD. Their boss might have admitted to having smoked weed himself, as did Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance (and nearly every candidate running for his job in 2009). But Mayor Bloomberg has not only forced New York City's finest to match his predecessor in marijuana arrests, he has also made Rudy "Broken Windows" Giuliani look like Dr. Timothy Leary by comparison. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Village Voice

Montana Medical Marijuana Initiative Poised for Ballot

Even with the last voter signatures due to be turned in Friday afternoon, it now appears that an initiative referendum campaign to undo regressive changes in Montana's medical marijuana law will be on the November 2012 ballot. Organizers for IR-124 told the Chronicle Wednesday they had already turned in 40,000 signatures, well in excess of the 24,337 valid voter signatures needed to make the ballot and that they expected to turn in thousands more by Friday's 5:00 pm deadline.

As of Wednesday, the Montana Secretary of State's officereported that 19,973 valid signatures had been received, but that is a lagging indicator. In Montana, signatures are handed in first to county officials, who validate the signatures, and then send them on to Helena. As many as 10,000 gathered signatures are being examined by county officials now, with more still coming in the next couple of days.

"We probably have about 10,000 yet to be processed, and we'll give them another few thousand between now and then," said Rose Habib of Patients for Reform -- Not Repeal, which is spearheading the effort. "Signature gathering has gone really well, and we're confident we will make the ballot. We're just waiting for the counties to finish counting what we're giving them. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

 

Think Outside the Cell 

At a New York church last weekend, city leaders and advocates from across the country launched a movement to change how society views the formerly incarcerated. Jason Davis was 14 when he joined the Bloods.  He was a “scared kid,” trying to survive in the five-square block area in New  York City that represented his gang turf—even though his mother, a university graduate, tried to keep him off the streets.

That was 16 years ago—and after hard time in prison, which included several  suicide attempts, Davis now counsels  at-risk kids like the troubled, fearful youngster he used to be. He still counts himself lucky to have survived not just gang life—but his years behind bars. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Crime Report

New Ken Burns PBS Documentary "Prohibition" to Air October 2nd – 5th

Advocates Hope Spotlight on Failed Alcohol Prohibition Will Provoke Debate on Drug Prohibition, Black Market Violence and the Criminalization of More Than a Hundred Million Americans 

The history of our country's disastrous period of alcohol prohibition will be  broadcast into homes across America this weekend when PBS airs Ken Burns and Lynn Novick'sProhibition, a three part series on America's failed "noble experiment" of banning alcohol. Drug policy advocates are thrilled that filmmakers of the stature of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick have taken on this topic – and hope that the series reminds Americans about the futility of prohibition and its devastating collateral consequences.

"Alcohol prohibition didn't stop people from drinking any more than drug prohibition stops people from using drugs," said Tony Newman, director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance. "But prohibition did lead to Al Capone and shoot-outs in the streets. It is the same today. It is not the marijuana or coca plants that have caused 50,000 deaths in Mexico over the last 5 years – but because they plants are illegal and thus unregulated, people are willing to kill each other over the profit that can be made from them." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

On Saturday, California Counties Will Gain Authority to End Incarceration for Drug Possession

SACRAMENTO – As of Saturday, when Assembly Bill 109 (called "Realignment") takes effect, most people convicted of drug possession in California will no longer be sent to state prison but will be kept under supervision in their home county. AB 109 gives counties increased flexibility in responding to low-level offenses like personal drug possession, including innovative alternatives to conviction and incarceration. Advocates call on counties to use this new authority to end incarceration for drug possession and relapse, and to implement health-centered drug policies instead. 

"It's encouraging that the state is getting out of the business of locking people up for personal drug possession. But it would be devastating if counties use their new power to simply repeat the state's failed lock-‘em-up approach. From October 1st, counties have the authority to do much, much better," said Theshia Naidoo, staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Instead of jailing people who use drugs, counties should maintain them in their communities and employ evidence-based practices that would increase public safety rather than further deplete already scarce local funds."

"We ask that local authorities create clear policies committed to alternatives to conviction and incarceration for people arrested for drug possession and to ensure access to treatment for those who want and need it," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director in Southern California for the Drug Policy Alliance. "These policies should be honest about drug use. If it's non-problematic, then don't waste treatment dollars on this person. Find another solution, such as community service." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

NYPD Ordered to Stop Marijuana Possession Arrests

New York City may soon shed its infamous reputation as the pot bust capital of the world. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly Monday issued an internal order to the NYPD telling officers they can no longer arrest people for marijuana possession in public view if the marijuana was not in public view before officers either searched the person and produced it or the person produced it after an officer's demand that he empty his pockets.

Although New York state has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, the NYPD has made a practice of stopping people -- mainly young people of color -- on the streets, searching them or demanding they empty their pockets, then charging them with possession in public view. Unlike simple pot possession, which is only a ticketable offense, possession in public view is an arrestable offense that typically results in a day-long stay in jail before the defendant can appear before a judge.

New York City and the NYPD have come under increasingly heat over the practice, which has resulted in tens of thousands of marijuana in public view arrests each year in recent years. The policy began under the administration of then Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but has continued under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who famously admitted having smoked pot and enjoying it. To learn more please follow this link 

Source: Stop the Drug War

Massachusetts Marks 1,000th Narcan Overdose Reversal 

State officials in Massachusetts announced Tuesday that the state's pilot Narcon (naloxone) pilot program has marked the 1,000th overdose reversal since the program was introduced in 2007. The program is part of a broader effort undertaken by the Department of Public Health, its Bureau of Substance Abuse Services and its Bureau of Infectious Disease Control to reduce fatal and non-fatal opiate overdoses.

Narcan is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids, such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine and methadone. The pilot programs teach people how to use Narcan, including opioid users and trusted people in their lives, such as family, friends and staff of human services programs. The Narcan pilot sites also provide education on overdose prevention and referrals to treatment. The Department of Public Health reported that more than 10,000 people are now enrolled in the pilot program, including drug users, friends, and family members.

"Too many families have been impacted by the rise in opiate abuse and overdoses in Massachusetts," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, Chair of the Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention. "As we continue to combat opiate abuse and provide resources for prevention and treatment services, Narcan has proven to be a powerful tool in saving lives, so that opiate abusers can receive treatment and begin to recover from their addiction." To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

Hon. Robert E. Davis: Remove 10 Year Prison Sentence for Mom's First-Time Marijuana Offense 

Earlier this year, Patricia Marilyn Spottedcrow, an Oklahoma mother of four, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for selling $31 worth of marijuana. While what Ms. Spottedcrow did was illegal, the harsh punishment hardly reflects the severity of the offense, especially for a first time offender convicted of a nonviolent crime.

On October 6, Ms. Spottedcrow will have a sentence modification hearing where this 10 year sentence could be significantly reduced or even completely removed. This 10 year sentence is tearing apart a family. It leaves a husband without his wife and four children without their mother. It also wastes valuable taxpayer resources to incarcerate someone who does not belong behind bars.

Please sign this petition to ask the judge overseeing Patricia Spottedcrow's sentence modification hearing to do the right thing and remove this woman from prison. To sign the petition please follow this link

Source: Change

Boeing Philadelphia drug raid nets 37 workers

US federal agents have raided a Boeing plant that makes military helicopters in a Philadelphia suburb and charged more than three dozen people with distributing or trying to get prescription drugs, among them powerful painkillers. 

The arrests were made by the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration at the 5,400-employee plant in Ridley Park, where workers build aircraft including the H-47 Chinook helicopter and the V-22 Osprey. The plant is part of Boeing's defence, space and security unit.

It did not appear to be an organised drug ring, but rather a "nebulous" series of independent actors, authorities said. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

NYPD Commissioner Calls on NYPD to Stop Improper Marijuana Arrests

NYPD Commission Ray Kelly issued an internal order this week commanding officers to follow existing New York State law by ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana – as long as the marijuana was never in public view. The order does not change the law itself – but simply instructs officers to comport with the law. This could result in tens of thousands fewer marijuana arrests annually in New York City. 

The announcement comes on the heels of growing pressure on the NYPD. A campaign led by the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Juvenile Justice Reform and Alternatives, and VOCAL has gained the support of City Council members and state legislators. DPA issued a series of reports prepared by the Marijuana Arrest Research Project that highlight the cost and scale of the arrests. Their latest report, released in March, found that arrests for marijuana possession cost New York City taxpayers approximately $75 million each year.

While advocates applauded the move by Commissioner Kelly, they also expressed caution. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Drug Policy Alliance

The Financial Burden of Substance Abuse in West Virginia:

The growing financial cost of drug and alcohol abuse puts tremendous pressure on every social sector. 

The present report, part of a larger Family Funding Study project, is the first in series 2 in which the cost of drug and alcohol abuse to West Virginia’s criminal justice, healthcare, education, welfare, and workforce systems will be examined.

This particular report focuses on the Criminal Justice System,which includes the Public Defender Program, Prosecuting Attorneys Institute, Parole Board, Law Enforcement, Judicial System, Division of Juvenile Services, Division of Corrections, and Regional Jail Authority. The report presents estimates of the prevalence of drug‐ and alcohol‐involved crimes and services for each agency separately and also the cost of drug‐ and alcohol‐involved crimes.

Source: Prevnet 

United Kingdom and Ireland

 Will heroin usage rocket in slump?

HEROIN use in Wales could rocket if the nation slumps further into recession, a leading drugs agency has warned. In 2009/2010 there were 6,140 referrals for treatment for heroin use in Wales, down 625 on the year before. Seven of these were under 15. But experts fear the addicts desperately needing help could rocket if the economy sinks deeper into recession amid today’s warnings of a global cash crisis.

The UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) is now predicted to grow 1.1% in 2011, compared to the International Monetary Fund’s prediction in April of 1.7%, and by 1.6% in 2012, compared with 2.3%. The dramatic downgrade prompted economy guru Professor Brian Morgan, director of the Creative Leadership and Enterprise Centre at the School of Management at Uwic in Cardiff, to forecast: “For the next decade we’re going to have to get used to a slow-growing economy.”

In this tough climate, the Welsh Government’s peer mentoring programme aims to get a quarter of addicts off drugs and into work. But at the moment only around 10% are getting jobs. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Wales Online

Club drug clinic opens its doors

The first NHS clinic to treat people addicted to so-called clubbing drugs has opened yesterday, with 70 referrals even before the official launch. Dr Owen Bowden-Jones, an addiction psychiatrist, has set up the Club Drug Clinic in Chelsea and Westminster hospital, with funding from Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.

Nobody knows the scale of the problem that drugs such as ketamine, mephedrone and GHB or GBL may be causing the predominantly young people who take them when they go clubbing. Existing drug treatment centres were set up primarily to tackle more established drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, while GPs and other doctors are not well versed in the effects and dangers of the new drugs.

Bowden-Jones said those who take club drugs tend to be younger, employed and sometimes affluent. They are often in relationships and don't necessarily identify themselves as addicts.He said the need for a treatment centre became apparent during a pilot phase of the clinic when 70 people found it through the internet and called up or asked for a referral from a doctor. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian 

Crystal meth seizure sparks alarm

DRUG experts have expressed alarm at the first major seizure in Ireland of crystal meth, a highly addictive and destructive drug that has laid waste to many US communities. Customs and gardaí intercepted 2.5kg of the drug, with an estimated street value of €250,000, at Dublin Airport. 

"Crystal meth is one of those drugs that is ‘red flagged’, that everyone is keeping an eye on," said Dr Des Corrigan, chairman of the National Advisory Committee of Drugs. 

"It is well recognised it could get out of hand fairly quickly and become a significant problem rapidly, because of the nature of the drug," he said. "Our antennae would twitch when there’s a seizure, large or small, to see if it’s the beginning of a trend." To learn more please follow this link

 Source: Irish Examiner

Heroin use in Dublin rising - survey 

Heroin use in Dublin rose last year despite a drought in the drug for almost four months, it has been reported. Merchants Quay Ireland said it supported 4,308 clients in the capital in 2010, including 575 new injectors attending needle exchange clinics. Tony Geoghegan, chief executive, said the figure averaged more than 10 new users a week, highlighting that demand for drugs remained constant.

“I think it’s significant there was still an increase in clients despite the fact there was practically no heroin on the streets from September to after Christmas,” he said. “This year’s figures are up again.” Some 4,092 drug users had attended the Dublin centre in 2009, including 642 new injectors. Elsewhere, the report found drug problems were continuing to grow rapidly outside of Dublin, with more than 20 per cent of clients accessing residential rehabilitation services from the greater Cork region.

Mr Geoghegan said demand for both homeless and drugs services was growing rapidly as the recession continued, yet finances were contracting. Merchants Quay Ireland gave 57,840 meals to homeless people during the year - a 26 per cent jump from 2009 when 45,710 meals were provided. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Irish Times

Europe

Czechs Will Legalize Medical Marijuana

The Czech Republic is on the path toward legalizing medical marijuana. The Ministry of Health said last week it plans to remove marijuana from its list of proscribed substances and allow it to be prescribed by doctors.

"By the end of this year we will submit to parliament an amended law on addictive substances which will move marijuana from the list of banned substances to the list of those which can be prescribed," Deputy Health Minister Martin Plíšek pledged.

Medical marijuana already enjoys political support in the Czech Republic, which liberalized its drug laws last year. Under that law, possession of small amounts of pot and cultivation of small numbers of plants is decriminalized. Prominent politicians backing medical marijuana include Miroslava Nemcova of the Civil Democrats, who is speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Public Affairs Party chairman Radek John and other prominent party members.To learn more please follow this link

Source: Stop the Drug War

French 'supercop' arrested on suspicion of colluding with drugs barons

The French police force has been shaken by what could become its biggest corruption scandal in decades after Lyon's deputy police chief, nicknamed "Supercop" for his fight against drugs, was arrested on suspicion of colluding with international drugs barons. 

Michel Neyret, 55, the bouffant-haired and charismatic Lyon detective, was arrested at home along with his wife and is being held in custody. He is suspected of having compensated informants with batches of confiscated drugs; police claim that Nyret then worked with the criminals to resell the products. He is being questioned about corruption, international drugs trafficking and money-laundering.

Neyret, however, is regarded as a hero for his success in cutting drug crime and stopping jewellery heists in the Lyon area. He had appeared regularly in the media to talk about Lyon's success in busting crime; he was also a script adviser on a recent feature film about Lyon gang crime. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

Australasia

 Take a drug test or lose benefits? Proposal raises fears 

Addiction treatment services are raising the alarm about a proposal to penalise welfare beneficiaries who refuse to undergo drug tests or addiction treatment. The proposal, by the Government's Welfare Working Group led by economist Paula Rebstock, aims to tackle drug and alcohol addictions as one of the main barriers keeping many beneficiaries out of paid work.

Thousands of young people, in particular, are being shut of of jobs because they are failing - or avoiding - drug tests. But the NZ Drug Foundation says the proposal to chop people's benefits if they don't undergo drug tests or treatment is "driven by ideology" and "not supported by the scientific evidence".

"Benefit sanctions will not have the intended effect of encouraging all dependent users into treatment," it says in a stinging 12-page critique. To learn more please follow this link

Source: NZ Herald

South East Asia

 Singapore admits under-reporting of drug arrests

Last year, when Harm Reduction International criticised Singapore's use of the mandatory death penalty in a piece for The Guardian, the government responded that its draconian drug laws have had a deterrent effect. To bolster this shaky argument, Singapore's high commissioner to the court of St. James's argued that a declining number of arrests for drugs in recent years proved this assertion.

It turns out that the government admitted this week that it underreported its arrest figures. According to Agence France Presse, 'The mistake was found to have begun in 2008 when the bureau shifted to a new information technology system. 'The correct figures show there were 2,537 drug abusers arrested in 2008 instead of 1,925 as originally reported.

'This worsened to 2,616 in 2009, instead of 1,883, and to 2,887 last year instead of 1,805.' Of course, it is completely irrelevant whether the numbers are going up or down. Arrests tend to reflect effort (not prevalence) and international human rights norms forbid the death penalty for drugs no matter what the statistics say. Nevertheless, if you are going to use these figures as justification for killing people, it would probably be good to make sure they are correct.

Source: HRI

New research points to the need for policy reforms and harm reduction programs for people who inject drugs in Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand (September 1, 2011) –Today, the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), the Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI) of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (Vancouver, Canada), and Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok, Thailand) released a report, “Reducing Drug-Related Harm in Thailand: Evidence and Recommendations from the Mitsampan Community Research Project (MSCRP).” A collaborative effort between the three entities, the report summarizes two years of research findings on HIV risk behaviors and barriers to accessing HIV and harm reduction services among people who inject drugs (PWID), and provides evidence-based recommendations calling for the expansion of harm reduction programs in Thailand.

“Thailand sorely lacks current, quality data on barriers to accessing HIV care and harm reduction services for injectors, and we wanted to urgently address that need, especially from a policy development perspective. Our research shows clearly the pressing need to expand harm reduction programs in Thailand” said Paisan Suwannawong, the founder of the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG), which provides direct services to PWID.

The Mitsampan Community Research Project, currently in its third year of data collection, is a unique, peer-driven public health project that aims to investigate the experiences of PWID in the areas of health care, the criminal justice system, drug use patterns, and HIV risk behavior. Key findings include high rates of syringe sharing due to difficulty with sterile syringe access and high rates of overdose. As well, several studies point to the harms caused by the current emphasis on criminal justice interventions. For example, one study revealed that 48% of local PWID reported having drugs planted on them by police. To learn more please follow this link

Source: HRI

Cambodia opens first MMT centres

Phnom Penh - Cambodia has opened the country’s first methadone-treatment programs/centers in September 2011, in approach to help heroine users. The methadone program will be strictly voluntary. Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to treat addiction to certain opioids, such as heroine. It is legal in many parts of the world for medicinal purposes.

Two organizations which run outreach programs for drug users and will identify candidates for treatment. If they’re willing, they will be taken to the clinic for an assessment based on international standards. While the facility is supported by the WHO, it is run by the Ministry of Health inside a public hospital, says BBC News.

Heroin addiction is a very large problem in Cambodia, as some people say is more of a social issue than health issue. Some residents have complained of being held against their will – and forced to take experimental herbal remedies. In government drug detention centers, people in Cambodia are abused to refrain from the habit. It is considered rightful to run drug detention centers in Cambodia that included electric shocks, beatings, rapes, forced labor and forced donations of blood. To learn more please follow this link

Source: IDPC

United Nations and Multilateral Agencies 

UNODC head inaugurates statistics Centre of Excellence in Mexico

01 October 2011 - As part of his mission to Mexico, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov has inaugurated a centre set up to assist in the collection of data on public security and justice in the country. The Centre of Excellence for Crime Statistics on Governance, Victims of Crime, Public Security and Justice will develop field surveys, share knowledge in the area of crime statistics and organize an annual international conference on statistics. It will also help to upgrade the methods used to generate statistics and provide policymakers in the region with tools to address challenges around public security and justice. These necessary services will benefit not only Mexico but also other countries in Central America and the Caribbean.

"UNODC is proud to join hands with the National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico - INEGI - to set up this Centre of Excellence," said Mr. Fedotov at the inauguration. "As criminal gangs and drug trafficking rings become more sophisticated in their quest to avoid detection and escape justice, we support the Mexican Government in strengthening and sharing data collection methods on governance, victims of crime, public security and justice so that it - and other countries - can better respond to these threats," he added.

The Executive Director also noted that, "We must all remember that organized crime has become transnational and borderless, it is no longer a problem of just one country. Therefore, this Centre of Excellence will not only help to assist in the Government's response to crime in the country, but its findings will also be crucial to regional and international authorities and organizations fighting transnational organized crime." To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

UNODC and Mexico build strategic alliance to counter organized crime

30 September 2011 - Speaking after a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov highlighted the impact that organized crime poses to the region and increasingly other parts of the world. "These criminals are responsible for the death and misery of people across the globe through their increasingly diversified illicit operations," said Mr. Fedotov "We have to remember however that such violent crimes form part of a much bigger, worldwide picture in which we face a complex and shifting threat; we have to remember that while the crimes are often violently local, our solutions must be global."

The Executive Director's two day visit comes on the back of UNODC's current discussions with the Mexican Government as the two move towards establishing a strategic alliance aimed at strengthening a regional consolidated response to organized crime in Central America. The meetings with President Calderón and a number of the country's senior leaders are aimed at discussing areas ranging from human trafficking and migrant smuggling through to illicit drugs and corruption.

Reflecting on those who are often most affected by organized crime, Mr. Fedotov expressed his solidarity with the people of Mexico: "On too many occasions, it is the citizens who have become victims while attempting to pursue a peaceful existence." Recalling last months abhorrent violence at a casino in Monterrey, the Executive Director pledged his Office's continued support to Mexico - a country whose location at the intersection between South and North America often places it at odds with criminal groups working to undermine peace and security. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

UNODC head tells President Santos that Colombia plays vital role in fighting drugs and crime

27 September 2011 - Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has praised Colombia for demonstrating strong political will to counter transnational threats. On his first visit to that country, he thanked the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, for his Government's generous funding for UNODC technical assistance projects in the area of illicit drugs, crime and terrorism prevention. That contribution, combined with contributions made by other donors, is worth around $250 million.

Those efforts have paid off. Ten years ago, Colombia was by far the world's leading producer of cocaine; now its share in such production has shrunk significantly. Its economic growth in the past decade shows a distinct correlation between increased national security and a declining drug economy. "Colombia's progress in drastically reducing drug production has had a positive global impact in terms of security and public health. UNODC is prepared to continue to support Colombia in addressing existing and future challenges relating to drugs and crime," said Mr. Fedotov.

Accompanied by Ambassador Freddy Padilla de León, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations Office at Vienna, throughout his trip, Mr. Fedotov visited Antioquia Department, where many alternative development programmes are under implementation. He commended those successful efforts, which have helped to wean poor farmers off coca bush cultivation by encouraging them to pursue legal livelihoods. To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Colombia: from illicit drugs to sustainable livelihoods

26 September 2011 - Some 80,000 farmers' families in Colombia depend on illicit coca bush cultivation to survive. UNODC runs projects to wean farmers off illicit crop cultivation by encouraging them to pursue alternative livelihoods, which is the best way to end the lure of illicit crops.

Today, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, visited Tarazá, in Antioquia Department, where many alternative development projects are under implementation. Accompanied by Ms. Catarina Martinez, High Representative of the Presidential Agency for Social Action, he saw how organic rubber and cocoa plantations have created jobs for hundreds of families. UNODC works closely with rural communities, including in Antioquia, where a project worth $8 million receives over 80 per cent of funds from the local government.

The Executive Director was delighted to be among the first to sample the new "Anorí" hot chocolate, which will be sold in Colombia's largest supermarket chain, "Éxito" (which is partly owned by the international supermarket chain "Casino"). To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC

Colombia: naval operations target submarines used to traffic drugs

26 September - Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC, has witnessed the latest methods employed by the Colombian navy to control maritime smuggling. Ten years ago, Colombia was by far the world's leading producer of cocaine; since then, the quantity of cocaine produced in that country has decreased significantly. That success is due largely to the will and efforts of the Government and law enforcement bodies of Colombia to curb drug trafficking, including along nearly 3,000 kilometres of coastline - nearly half the combined length of the country's borders.

Colombia's Pacific coast has long been a smugglers' paradise. Speedboats, fishing vessels and semi-submersibles have traditionally been the primary means of transporting cocaine. However, with coastguards and the navy ever on the alert, traffickers must ensure that their shipments are not detected.

"The challenge is to stay one step ahead. As traffickers become bolder, craftier and acquire more sophisticated equipment, Colombia's law enforcement officers are doing an admirable job of holding back the tide of drugs," said Mr. Fedotov.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: UNODC 

Other News

WITNESS Launches an Online Toolkit to Create Effective Advocacy Videos

Are you using video to support your advocacy work, or are you thinking of using video? Fantastic. We are excited to share our newest training resource, which we think will help you – the Video Advocacy Planning Toolkit.

The Toolkit is a free, interactive, step-by-step training resource that has 12 chapters, 35 instructional videos, lots of video advocacy examples and essential questions to help you develop a plan to create the change you and your allies are seeking.

It incorporates our 20 years of experience on strategic advocacy, storytelling, videomaking and distribution that we have developed throughpartnering with over 300 groups in 80 countries, and training thousands of advocates and groups in how to use video to create change. Simply, WITNESS’ video advocacy methodology works, and the Toolkit is the best way to incorporate these essential key principles, best practices and lessons as you use video. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Witness

'Magic mushroom' drug may improve personality long-term

In new research that will almost certainly create controversy, scientists working with the hallucinogen psilocybin -- the active ingredient found in "magic mushrooms" -- have found that a single dose of the drug prompted an enduring but positive personality change in almost 60 percent of patients.

Specifically, tests involving a small group of patients in a strictly controlled and monitored clinical setting revealed that, more often than not, one round of psilocybin exposure successfully boosted an individual's sense of "openness." What's more, the apparent shift in what is deemed to be a key aspect of personality did not dissipate after exposure, lasting at least a year and sometimes longer.

"Now this finding is really quite fascinating," said study author Roland R. Griffiths, a professor in the departments of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. "And that is because personality is considered a stable characteristic of the psychology of people. It's been thought to be relatively immutable, and stable across the lifespan. To learn more please follow this link

Source: USA Today

Ecstasy to be used to help war veterans

They believe it could help those who have experienced extremely distressing events - be they in battle, or as a result of child abuse or rape - to come to terms with their past.

A small-scale American trial found 10 out 12 volunteers given the drug to help facilitate two psychotherapy sessions reported significantly improved mental health, two months later.

Of the other eight who were given a placebo, but otherwise experienced the same therapy sessions, only two reported significant improvements.

The 12 were given MDMA - the acronym for 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine - the active ingredient in ecstasy. According to Michael Mithoefer, the psychiatrist who helped run the trial, one said: "I feel like I'm walking in a place I've needed to go for so long and just didn't know how to get there. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Telegraph

Drugs to Curb a Deadly Inheritance

The medicines that prevent the transmission of H.I.V. from mother to child are highly effective when they are used properly — that is, taken at the right time in gestation and in the right doses by both mother and newborn. But in resource-poor countries, mothers often give birth at home and rarely visit health clinics. So the problem is getting the medicines to the mothers and babies who need them, and making sure the doses and timing are right.

Several years ago, health workers in several African countries hit on an idea: The first time a pregnant woman visits a health clinic, she should be tested for H.I.V. If she is positive, give her the medicines that she and her baby will soon need, as she may never return to the clinic.

Clinic workers began packaging the antiretroviral drugs — pills for H.I.V.-infected mothers and liquids for their babies — in paper bags with instructions on how to use them. The Mother-Baby Pack was born. To learn more please follow this link

Source: New York Times

Seeing with eyes wide shut: Ayahuasca inner visions

"In a hut, in a forest, in the mountains of Colombia, I am puking into a bucket. I close my eyes and every time my body convulses I see ripples in a lattice of multi-coloured hexagons that flows out to the edges of the universe." Vaughan Bell's description seems to be typical of the ayahuasca experience – at once unpleasant, frightening and enlightening.

Ayahuasca – meaning 'spirit vine' in Native South American Quechua languages – is a foul-tasting hallucinogenic brew that has been used for centuries by rain forest shamans as a religious sacrament. The infusion facilitates mystical visions and revelations, and is said to have healing properties. To date, there have been very few studies of how it affects brain function. Now, though, a team of Brazilian researchers reports one of the very first functional neuroimaging studies of the drug's effects. 

The ayahuasca brew is made from the jungle vine Banisteriopsis caapi, which contains several beta-carboline compounds, and Psychotria viridis, a shrub containing the psychotropic dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which acts on specific subtypes of serotonin receptors. Taken on their own, neither of these ingredients has any significant effect, but when consumed together, they synergize. To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Guardian

HRI releases new 2011 Death Penalty report 

Harm Reduction International is pleased to announce the release of a new death penalty report. ‘Global Overview 2011 – Shared Responsibility and Shared Consequences’ is the fourth report on the death penalty for drug-related offences produced by Harm Reduction International. In addition to providing a survey of international developments related to capital drug laws around the world, it focuses on foreign nationals sentenced to death and/or executed for drug-related offences.

The report demonstrates that every country in the world – whether it retains capital punishment or not – has a stake in the abolition of the death penalty. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of non-nationals who are facing or have faced the death penalty for drugs in recent years including citizens of Australia, France, Israel, Liberia, Mexico, Mongolia, The Netherlands, Nepal, Nigeria, Peru, The Philippines, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia and many more.

No government in the world can be assured one of its own citizens will not be subject to sanctions that violate international human rights law. In fact, the report reveals that in many cases, foreigners appear to suffer death sentences at disproportionate rates. In some countries the majority, or even totality, of those executed are non-nationals of the prosecuting state.  To view the report in full please click here. (PDF, 589 KB)

Source: HRI

Putting pot in its place

A Rand Corp. study this week seemed to nip the conventional wisdom about medical marijuana dispensaries in the proverbial bud, contradicting statements from law enforcement officials that these facilities are magnets for crime. On the contrary, Rand researchers said, crime actually increased in the vicinity of hundreds of L.A. dispensaries after they were ordered to shut down.

Does this mean that dispensaries decrease neighborhood crime rather than increasing it? Unfortunately, despite Rand's analysis, we still don't know the answer. There are so many obvious problems with Rand's study that it's impossible to come to solid conclusions about crime either way. To learn more please follow this link

Source: LA Times

The Global Fund at a Crossroads: Recommendations for the Next Five Years

“Failure of the Global Fund would be a global health catastrophe,” wrote a panel that evaluated the Fund’s risk management systems in a report released on Monday. I agree. I have been closely involved with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for the past five years, working both at the Board level and with partners on the ground to make sure that its resources reach communities, support the right things, and are used in a way that is transparent and accountable. In that time, I have seen the Global Fund transform countries’ responses to HIV, TB, and malaria. And above all, I have seen the Global Fund save lives.

One of the Global Fund’s hallmarks has been its willingness to take risks and to invest in the most marginalized communities. Through its bold statements on gender inequalities and the health and rights of sexual minorities, I have witnessed the Global Fund prompt countries like Uganda to move away from demonizing sex workers and men who have sex with men to establishing strategies that address the HIV needs of these vulnerable communities. To learn more please follow this link

Source: Open Society

ACMD report on desoxypipradrol  

This letter from Professor Les Iversen, chair of the ACMD, to the Home Secretary recommends that desoxypipradol and its structurally related compounds be controlled as Class B substances. A short report on desoxypipradrol and related pipradrol compounds is attached to the letter. ACMD report on desoxypipradrol (PDF file - 493kb)

Source: ACMD

How Childhood Trauma Creates Life-long Addicts 

Childhood abuse and chronic stress massively increase the risk of people turning to drugs and alcohol. A little advice to fans of "tough love" treatment like Dr. Drew: Try a little tenderness. Is addiction caused by drugs alone? Or do chronic stress and trauma in childhood play the determining factor in predicting who will lose control once they start using drugs?

As our society still tries to deal with the consequences of 9/11 a full ten years after the attacks, the continuing role of childhood trauma in addiction gains increasing scientific traction. Early life experience programs the brain and body for the environment it encounters: a calm, nurturing upbringing will orient a child to thrive in most conditions, while a stressful, barren one will predispose it to conditions of scarcity, anxiety and chaos. 

Not all stress is bad, however. Learning requires some stress, and coping with intermittent, mild doses builds the system up, like a muscle. Stress crosses into the hazard zone of trauma only when it comes in "doses" that are too large or too unpredictable or too sustained over which the person has little or no control. Paradoxically, early neglect—an absence of parenting—can be as traumatic as overt abuse.

Source: The Fix

Involuntary Treatment is not Enough 

In a recent article, researchers from the University of South Florida correlated arrest rates with recent histories of involuntary commitment.  They found that people who underwent an involuntary psychiatric evaluation were 12 percent more likely to be arrested in the three months after that evaluation than people who had not been involuntarily evaluated.  

Significantly, they also noted that those who had been involuntarily evaluated were 20 percent more likely to be arrested for a felony offense than those who were not involuntarily evaluated.  What does this mean? Those of us who urge treatment for people with mental illness as opposed to incarceration for criminal acts based in their mental illness should read this carefully.  

First, because this was a retrospective study that used administrative data only, it should not be used to conclude that involuntary evaluations or treatment somehow cause later arrests.  Rather, the strongest conclusion that can be drawn is that there is a correlation between involuntary evaluations and arrests for alleged criminal behaviors.  To learn more please follow this link

Source: The Crime Report

Expose the ‘dark money’ bankrolling our politics

US Christian ‘fundamentalists’, some linked to Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, have poured at least $50m of ‘dark money’ into Europe over the past decade – boosting the far right.

That's just the tip of the iceberg: we've got many more leads to chase down. Find out more and support our work here.

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