The United States, as of July 2015, has 2.2 million people incarcerated in our jail and prison systems. This is more people in our prisons than any other country in the world. Per capita, the United States has more people in prison than any other nation except for Seychelles. How do we imprison more of our citizens than China, North Korea, Iran or Cuba? One reason is our inability to deal with an addiction epidemic, and how we treat people who have an addiction. As of October, 2015, Forty-eight percent of all prisoners in our federal prisons were locked up for drug offenses.
In 1980, one out of every 749 people in Arizona was behind bars. In 2011, one out of 159 Arizonans is behind bars, according to U.S. Census and Arizona Department of Corrections data. Arizona has the highest proportion of people in prison of any state in the West and ranks sixth in the country.
Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. In the Arizona criminal justice system, having an addiction which lessened a person's ability to control their behavior, or lessened their ability to remain law-abiding can be used as a mitigating factor by criminal defense attorneys in attempting to reduce jail or prison time for their clients.
Change and increased understanding had appeared to be coming. In February of 2015, the Senate voted 92 to 0 to approve an admitted recovering alcoholic as President Obama's Drug Czar. It seems like common sense that someone who has suffered through addiction should be in such a position, but the fact that there was bipartisan support for this vote shows that both major parties realize that addiction and review of our national drug policies should be reconsidered.
With the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, we are unsure of any formal policies he is going to implement. However, the national trend of citizens increasingly preferring treatment as opposed to incarceration will clearly continue to grow. Incarceration, plain and simple, does not work. In August of 2017, President Trump did give what seems to be his personal advice regarding avoiding opioid addiction. "The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place. If they don't start, they won't have a problem. If they do start, it's awfully tough to get off." Just don't start. It seems that Trump wants to return to the "just say no" methods that haven't worked for decades, and offers no discussion for providing additional treatment for those who already addicts. Since then, he has begun preparing a plan that he says will solve the opioid crisis, and calls for the death penalty for some drug dealers. Treatment and education are the answers. The trend toward this, and away from the proposed Trump policies will continue to grow, and continue to be proper tools to negotiate and litigate criminal matters involving substance abuse.
On March 1, 2018, the Trump Administration released a fact sheetthat describes a much more allegedly compassionate policy on his "War on Opiates," which has been widely criticized. Of note, is it contains many restrictions on physicians, prescribing rates of opiods, and as Trump stated: “People go to the hospital for a period of a week and they come out and they’re drug addicts.” While his entire fact sheet is very short-sited, and his policy very ignorant, the entire policy ignores the vulernability and need for assistance of those addicted to heroin, chemically related to opiate medications prescribed by physicians. His policy seems to want to focus on prevention and treatment of addiction to pain pills, but offer little or no prevention and treatment of those suffering from heroin and other drugs.
In May of 2016, a federal judge in Brooklyn, issued a very strongly written forty-two page opinion that calls for courts to pay closer attention to how felony convictions affect people’s lives, and sentenced a woman in a drug case to probation rather than prison, saying the collateral consequences she would face as a felon were punishment enough. It should be read by any person learning or seeking to promote change in how the government treats drug prosecutions.
Paul Mattern, criminal defense attorney, sees many attorneys arguing at sentencing that their clients should receive a mitigated sentence based on an untreated or ongoing addiction. Sadly, often their clients haven't had the chance for adequate substance abuse treatment in their lives, or had an adequate evaluation by a forensic professional in order to make the most persuasive argument to the court.
There is no statute in the nation that specifically outlaws having an addiction. However, a person with an addiction often engages in criminal behavior and is tossed into the criminal justice system. Paul Mattern works with, and has access to, forensic psychologists, psychiatrists, and substance abuse professionals that can be used to evaluate and start treatment of a person facing criminal charges long before the client is standing before the judge awaiting sentencing.
If possible, clients who are out of custody can get a professional evaluation, start treatment, and start to get the help they need so that an argument can be made either at the plea-bargaining stage or at sentencing that 1) the addiction does not excuse the crime; but may help us explain it; and 2) the client is less likely to offend in the future because s/he has already started treatment. Paul Mattern is not a professional substance abuse professional, and does not give substance abuse advice. However, he does know how to use experts to help his clients with addiction problems receive the absolute best outcome that can be obtained.
Clients who are in custody may still be evaluated by a psychologist, and often experts find other mental health issues that may have caused the client to self-medicate by using street drugs. This too, may be used to negotiate a plea bargain or present at a sentencing hearing.
If you are facing criminal charges because an addiction has taken over your life, call Paul Mattern to discuss your case. He is experienced in this area of law, and does everything humanly possible not only to resolve your case favorably, but also to refer you to non-judgmental addiction experts to help you get on the right path with your addiction.
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Paul Mattern has the experience, skill and dedication to work with you to obtain the absolute absolute best results in your situation, whether attempting to negotiate a dismissal, some type of deferred prosecution, plea bargaining, or representing you at trial.
Paul Mattern does not accept clients and have less experienced associates or attorneys handle the matters like many firms. He takes every case personally. He handles every case knowing it will affect his clients for the rest of their lives. He has a proven record of successful experience at all stages of criminal matters. He is available to provide you with only the finest criminal representation.
Paul Mattern, Attorney ● 4150 W. Peoria, Suite 219A ● Phoenix, AZ 85029 ● 602-715-8160 ● email@example.com
ADDICTION IS A DISEASE
ADDICTION IS NOT A CRIME