A couple of years ago, I served for several weeks on a grand jury for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Mine was designated a RIP (Rapid Indictment Protocol) jury, assigned to efficiently hand down indictments for small drug-related offenses. These cases usually involved undercover officers posing as customers making purchases from street dealers, or uniformed police stopping suspicious vehicles and searching them for drugs. Although rarely we heard testimony about defendants caught with thousands of dollars of contraband, the vast majority of offenses were possession of small amounts of marijuana, heroin, or cocaine for “personal use.” Many of the latter defendants had multiple such offenses, which had resulted in probation, “stay away” orders (court orders to avoid certain neighborhoods where drugs were highly trafficked), or brief stints in jail. Few, if any, had received medical treatment for their addictions.
After a few weeks of hearing these cases, my fellow jurors and I grew increasingly frustrated with this state of affairs. We felt like a cog in a bureaucratic machine, fulfilling a required service but making little difference in anyone’s lives. A young man or woman caught using drugs would inevitably return to the street, violate the terms of his or her probation or “stay away” order, and be dragged before our grand jury again for a new indictment. We openly challenged the assistant district’s attorneys about the futility of the process. They would just shrug their shoulders and tell us Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Common Sense Family Doctor*
A friend sent me a press release a few days ago and I still find myself thinking about it. Here in the United States capital punishment is still legal in many states and is performed, frequently, by lethal injection. Prisoners sentenced to death have an IV placed in their arm which is then infused with the following three solutions:
- A barbiturate like Sodium Pentothal or Nembutal, used to induce anesthesia
- A paralytic like pancuronium bromide or succinylcholine chloride, used to stop respiration
- Potassium chloride used to stop electrical conduction in the heart
I remember a few years ago drug manufacturer Hospira, the producer of Sodium Pentothal, issued a statement that it disapproved of its drug being used in capital punishment. But, that was as far as their opposition went and, although Sodium Pentothal is in short supply, they have not to my knowledge formally discontinued supplying Sodium Pentothal to doctors who might use the drug in lethal injection. In 2010, the supply of Sodium Pentothal became limited and several states made the switch to Nembutal.
In response, Lundbeck, the producer of Nembutal, has issued a statement saying that they will no longer provide Nembutal to prisons in states where lethal injection is legal. In this press release Lundbeck announces its new distribution system, saying: Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*
From the New York Times today we have a story entitled, “A Schizophrenic, A Slain Worker, Troubling Questions,” a horrible story about a mentally ill man who killed a social worker in his group home. The story highlights the defendant’s longstanding history of violence with several assaults in his past. He once fractured his stepfather’s skull and his first criminal offense involved slashing and robbing a homeless man. (On another post on this blog Rob wondered why the charges were dismissed in that case; from experience I can tell you it’s probably because the victim and only witness was homeless and couldn’t be located several months later when the defendant came to trial.) The defendant, Deshawn Chappell, also used drugs while suffering from schizophrenia. Before the murder he reportedly stopped taking his depot neuroleptic and was symptomatic. The news story also suggested that he knew he was committing a crime: he got rid of the body, disposed of the car and changed out of his bloody clothes. Nevertheless, he was sufficiently symptomatic to be found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to a forensic hospital for treatment and restoration. At his competency hearing the victim’s family thought that the defendant was malingering his symptoms, while the victim’s fiance was distraught enough that he tried to attack Chappell in the courtroom. The point of the Times article appears to be an effort to link the crime to cuts in the Massachusetts mental health budget.
So what do I think about this story? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*
A former executive assistant for the La Habra Boys and Girls Club was sentenced today to three years in prison for embezzling about $135,000 from the organization over two years, using some of the stolen money to pay for breast implants. Superior Court Judge Roger Robbins also ordered Lynette Rojas to pay $270,000 in fines and $165,113.08 in restitution to the club. But the 37-year- old La Habra residents appears unable to pay any of the money back, Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche said. Rojas, who could have faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted at trial, pleaded guilty April 4 after Robbins agreed to sentence her to three years behind bars.
Lynette Rojas stole $135,000 from the Boys and Girls Club of La Habra and used part of the money to have breast implant surgery. She took a plea deal as opposed to going to trial. I wonder if her surgeon had to pay back the money she paid him.
*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*
Classic presentation of the perfect patient
“What’s the problem? You’re the doctor,
why don’t you tell me!
I’m suffering an awful lot it must
be plain to see;
I’ve got back pain from that car wreck
back in nineteen sixty-five.
If I’d have worn my seat belt
there’s no way I’d be alive!
I’m out of my prescription and I
need help, I’m afraid.
I ain’t worried ‘bout the price, you see
I got my Medicaid. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*