Thursday July 18, 2019

NY to make Medication-Assisted Treatment Available to all Jail Inmates Struggling with Opioid Addiction

Laura Levine says she never smoked a cigarette or touched a drink until age 35. Then the mother of five tried heroin, and she was hooked

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Laura Levine prepares to dispense drugs at Vocal NY, an organization that works with addicts, where she is the health educator and coordinator for the opioid reversal drug Narcan, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, March 15, 2019. VOA

Laura Levine says she never smoked a cigarette or touched a drink until age 35. Then the mother of five tried heroin, and she was hooked.

After some brushes with the law — petty larceny to support her habit — she was booked into Nassau County jail and withdrawal started kicking in. As the nausea, shaking and sweating grew worse, she began pleading with guards for help.

“They kind of laughed and said, ‘You’ll be fine. Nobody dies from heroin withdrawal,’” said Levine, who is in recovery and now works to help others struggling with opioids. “I would rather give birth to all five of my children again without medication than go through withdrawal again.”

More help for people like Levine could be on the way, as lawmakers in New York are considering a measure to make medication-assisted treatment such as methadone or suboxone available to all prison and jail inmates struggling with opioid addiction.

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FILE – Family and friends who have lost loved ones to OxyContin and opioid overdoses leave pill bottles in protest outside the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the Sackler family, in Stamford, Conn., Aug. 17, 2018. VOA

States across the country are considering similar approaches amid research that shows that the drugs along with behavior therapy can help addicts reduce the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that drive many addicts to relapse.

Federal statistics suggest more than half of all inmates in state prisons nationwide have a substance- abuse problem. New York officials say that percentage could be as high as 80 percent in state and local lockups, which at any given time have about 77,000 inmates.

Drug policy experts point to the success of a similar program in Rhode Island, which has seen a sharp drop in the number of former inmates who died of overdoses, from 26 in 2016 to nine last year.

Other successes have been reported in local jails in Louisville, Kentucky; Sacramento, California and in Massachusetts.

“It makes no sense that people who have a public health issue don’t have access to medicine,” said Jasmine Budnella, drug policy coordinator at VOCAL-NY, a group that advocates on behalf of low-income New Yorkers on such issues as criminal justice, drug policy and homelessness. “In the U.S., we talk about human rights but we are literally torturing these people.”

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FILE – Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter speaks at a news conference in Oklahoma City, April 26, 2017. Oklahoma is one of at least 13 states that have filed lawsuits against drugmakers, alleging fraudulent marketing of drugs that fueled the opioid epidemic. VOA

Two years ago, 24-year-old Matt Herring died of a drug overdose after years of struggling with addiction and bouncing in and out of correctional facilities. His mother, Patricia Herring, said Matt once tried to smuggle suboxone into jail in order to avoid the horrors of withdrawal. Guards found the medication and took it away.

Patricia Herring has now become a self-described “mom on a mission” to push for greater resources for addiction treatment in correctional facilities.

“If he had been given medication-assisted treatment when he entered, I don’t know, maybe things would have been different,” she said.

With no organized opposition, the debate over supporting medication-assisted treatment in correctional settings comes down to dollars and cents. Some counties have paid for programs in their jails; others have not. A total of six state and local lockups in the New York City area, for example, have limited drug-assistance programs for opioid addicts.

Albany County became the first county in the state outside of New York City to offer medication-assisted treatment. Sheriff Craig Apple said he’s become a believer.

“It took me a while to get on board with this, but we’re already seeing early success,” he said.

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Drug policy experts point to the success of a similar program in Rhode Island, which has seen a sharp drop in the number of former inmates who died of overdoses, from 26 in 2016 to nine last year. VOA

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A state budget proposal from Democratic Gov. Andrew would spend $3.75 million to expand access in county jails, and use more than $1 million to expand its use in state prisons. Democratic leaders of the state Legislature have called for more, and advocates say they want to see at least $7 million in the annual budget.

A decision is expected before April 1, when the new budget is due.

“Addiction is a disease,” said New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat who is sponsoring the drug-treatment legislation. “We should treat it like a disease.” (VOA)

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Factors to Consider When Hiring a Defense Attorney in New York City

If you can’t afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender for you

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Hiring, Defense Attorney, New York
If you have a good income and you’re capable of hiring your own attorney, then you’re bound to be fine. Pixabay

It’s important for you to know that your income plays a major role when you seek legal representation. If you have a good income and you’re capable of hiring your own attorney, then you’re bound to be fine. However, if you can’t afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender for you. The constitution guarantees you the right to be represented by a defense lawyer.

Before you hire a lawyer to represent you in the case, you need to discuss with that attorney about their billing structure, as the cost is one of the major factors to consider. When you explain your case to the lawyer, he/she can be able to determine the amount of money that the case will cost you. The following are other factors you need to consider when hiring a New York City criminal lawyer.

 

  • The skill of the lawyer

 

If the attorney you’re about to hire has much experience in cases such as yours, the attorney will charge you more for the legal services. In most cases, you’re advised to look for the most qualified attorney to present you in a case because you will have higher chances of winning the case.

Hiring, Defense Attorney, New York
It’s important for you to know that your income plays a major role when you seek legal representation. Pixabay

 

  • The seriousness of the case

 

If you have committed a serious offense, you need to hire a competent attorney to represent you. Serious cases such as rape, murder, and drug trafficking are taken very seriously in court, and if you’re found guilty, the penalties are very harsh. You can get a life sentence or face the hangman’s noose very easily. A New York City criminal lawyer who is capable of making you run away with murder will demand a higher cost than compared to petty crime such as trespass.

 

  • The complexity of legal issues in the case

 

When you have a case with complex issues that may require expert witnesses or private investigators, it will attract a higher cost to build a strong defense. For example, you want to raise the defense of legal sanity; you can hire a psychologist to prove that fact. Such experts require an average retainer of up to $300/hr, depending on the circumstances of your case.

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  • Whether the attorney charges by the hour or a flat fee

 

Attorney charges are different. There is a defense lawyer who normally charges a flat rate, and you may find another who prefers to charge by the hour. You should consider your case, and if you find that your case will go to trial or take a long period of time before it’s determined, you should seek the services of an attorney who charge a flat rate. However, if you find that your case will not take a long time before it’s determined, you should go for the attorney who charges by the hour.

Conclusion 

You should always hire the most qualified defense attorney to take you through the court proceeding. The attorney has the experience and influence in a court of law because he/she understands the technicalities of the case before the court.