Indiana Chief Justice: Drug Crisis Flooding Courts, Welfare System


Indiana's drug crisis is flooding the state's courts with a growing number of cases and sending a surge of children into the welfare system, Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush told legislators yesterday, the Associated Press reports. In her State of the Judiciary address, Rush said the court's five members heard firsthand last year about the legal impact of drug abuse woes during visits with trial court judges in all 92 Indiana counties. “They shared with us what became a recurring theme: the drug crisis, particularly heroin and methamphetamine, crippling their communities and flooding their courts,” she said.

Wayne Circuit Judge Dave Kolger said he sees heroin cases daily in his courtroom but had handled only 20 in his previous two-decade career as a prosecutor. Another eastern Indiana judge, Fayette Superior Court Judge Paul Freed, lamented that his county of just 23,000 residents had 30 heroin overdoses in only a month. Indiana saw a 30 percent increase last year in children entering its welfare system — cases Rush said were “primarily because of parental substance abuse.” Rush, who became the court's first female chief justice in 2014, used her address to praise the state's drug courts, which keep low-level drug offenders out of prison by taking part in court-supervised treatment programs.

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