Posts Tagged ‘criminal defense lawyer’

Drug Charges! Drug Charges! Drug Charges! For Criminal Defense Cases, Where Are the Treament Centers?

Friday, November 4th, 2011

A man charged with a nonviolent criminal felony charge sits in jail in Kane County. He knows his drug history situation, but it’s hard for him to admit it to others. He’s a young black man, poor with a poor education, and wonders whether anyone will believe him about his drug addiction or, even worse, whether anyone will care about a poor, young black man facing drug charges. He weaves and he bobs and comes up with every other excuse until I ask him, What’s really going on here? He cries and wants to run out of the client meeting room at the jail because he’s crying. He stops and says he has nothing. Nothing until he stops using drugs – he wants to know if I’ll listen, and if I will help him.

I am his criminal defense lawyer, hired to represent him on his nonviolent felony criminal charges. It is my job to help him, I admit that, but I hope people accept I have a passion beyond the legal fees. Sometimes with lawyer jokes abounding, it’s hard for people to believe. But you know what? – it wasn’t just me giving a damn that this man got his chance for the first time in his life – it was the prosecutor in Kane County too. The Kane County prosecutor offered prison at first, but then agreed to the TASC program (Treatment Alternative for Safe Communities) after looking at the man’s history, the police report, and his plea for help. The TASC evaluator agreed. Moreover, the Judge agreed, and gave my client not just lip service, but a talk that showed how much the court wanted him to make it.

    After delivering the paperwork to TASC and the probation department that day, I contacted TASC to learn my client was 4th on the treatment center waiting list. Great news for my client, and I went to the jail to tell him so.

     But two months later – he’s still in jail at about seventy taxpayer dollars a day! No calls, no mention there’s a problem. What’s wrong with TASC?

     Here’s what’s wrong – severe cutbacks in treatment centers as well as in TASC personnel. Experienced, hard-working, caring people losing their jobs; treatment centers losing bed spaces or closing down altogether. To those who say, Good, put all those criminals in jail, I point out that it costs $24,000 to $27,000 a year to house someone in prison, where treatment programs are extremely limited and where the person is released the same way he or she went in, without at least an opportunity to reach recovery. If people think that jail ought to “cure” addiction, then they do not know a thing about addiction. Besides, the percentage of people this country has in prison for non-violent offenses ought to embarrass everyone.

     I am all for people making money (hey, I’m a lawyer, after all, right?) but whether it’s treatment for the addicted, the mentally ill, the aged, the wounded Veteran, the child in need, well, I just don’t understand what we’re doing these days. Perhaps out-of-sight, out-of-mind, provides comfort to some. But this country’s roots began with the motto – E Pluribus Unum,  From Many, One, about a hundred and fifty years before In God We Trust made its appearance. Has that been forgotten?

     Like wounds, physical ailments, mental health difficulties, unemployment, and, of course, the aging process itself, addiction can happen to any of us or the loved ones around us. These days we all seem to be waiting for the money that’s there in the private industry to be invested in our own country, while political gamesmanship and name-calling continues unabated, with some media people getting wealthy off just that. In the meantime, people suffer; people die. Shouldn’t we strive for better?

     After this criminal defense lawyer learned what I could, and called who needed to be called, and faxed and mailed what needed to be faxed and mailed, I sat down with my client, said my piece, apologized, and asked him to say his piece. I think he’s okay, and still has the right attitude to receive treatment. I hope so. Only time will tell. I’m not writing all this to tell you how to vote or which political party you should align with. Instead, I’m just putting the facts out there about one fellow human being, his situation, and the fact that any one of us or someone we may know, may be in the same situation one day.

Criminal Drug Defense Lawyers and the DeKalb County Drug Court

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Whenever I post a blog on a criminal case or a criminal defense lawyer matter, I always keep the full names of living subjects completely out. This is such a blog, but certainly people know that when I mention Drug Court in DeKalb County, a bunch of people know which Judge I’m talking about. I had the pleasure of spending close to an hour talking about Drug Court with the DeKalb County Drug Court Judge. I’ve learned that this is a well-run program, now up to approximately 32 participants (at the time of our early October talk), closely monitored, and giving addicts the opportunity to make a real change rather than count the days in a prison at 25,000 tax payer dollars a year, while living among more harden criminals than themselves.

I’ve met plenty of people who are jaded by the notion of drug court, that it doesn’t work, or it’s a nice idea but good luck. Anyone who has read my blog on Anthony Robinson knows how I feel about this. The fact is, recycling people into prisons guarantees the never-ending cycle of addiction, the cost to individual lives as well as the burden addiction places on society. Like the Judges in Kane and Dupage Counties’ Drug Courts, the DeKalb County Drug Court Judge shows a great understanding of the cycle, and the structures and processes that increase the chances of sobriety.

And the Judges have their feet rooted in reality, not fantasy.

The Drug Court Judge related a story of a Drug Court graduate (also name withheld) who later relapsed. While this may be thought of as a complete failure, the Judge noted that this person came back to seek help, to seek sobriety-something this person would never have done before going through the DeKalb County Drug Court program. While this relapse was a setback for the person, it was not a failure. It’s a recognition that drug use does not end with the bang of a gavel, or a written court order, or even with graduation from a Drug Court program. A recognition of relapse, the ability to know what to do, to have the trust and courage to do the right thing after a relapse, must be recognized as an incredible step forward toward long-lasting recovery. This person came back for help and guidance because of what was learned in the program fully aware and accepting of the failures on the road to success in defeating the urge to use illegal drugs or abuse prescription drugs.

Congratulations to the DeKalb County Drug Court Staff and its Judge. It’s a tough battle worth fighting for.