ED Magedson – Founder
STAR Drug Court, Perry Drug Policy, STAR Drug Court1201 Franklin Street Houston, Texas United States of America
I would be begin by requesting, as a victim who was denied standard victims rights as defined in the TX Constitution, subject to inappropriate treatment by a Judge, and who never saw any justice, my offender spend a day in jail which was sentenced, or have been paid back a penny of damages, that every organization who is supporting this drug court institution either instead support victims causes or donate your money to a worthy charity (such as an orphanage, the terminally ill, etc.). In light of the fact that many federal grants have strict wording on freedom of religion, I would ask federal agencies supporting this drug court or any other Harris County restorative justice programs NOT to do so until it commits to getting churches out of our rehabs which can bias court decisions, until Harris County no longer forces Sunday Christian prayer sessions on clients in some of its rehabs, and it itself gets out of either formal, or informal, association with churches which can, and have, biased court decisions.
A summary of what is to follow (so you will read the whole thing). We have links to audio tapes of the Harris County court counsel talking about how court employees sought a special deal for the offender in my case (whose dad, priest, and church have a relationship with the drug court). We have discussion of drug offenders living in transitional living facilities with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances (paid for by grant money - your tax dollars) - how many of you, Harris County citizens, have homes with granite countertops (maybe 10-20%). We have data on the costs of druggies. Drug addicts cause $800 billion in damage and output loss every year - 93% of that goes unremunerated to victims or taxpayers. Despite a recent survey showing 68% support stricter drug policy, not reform, and the fact that Harris Count voted out all 4 drug court judges in 2008, your Commissioners Court appointed 4 more, new drug court judges, and even had the nerve to add two more restorative justice programs. If you think there is something wrong here, you may want to keep on reading to see what else the druggie lobbyist are pulling behind your back
As an added side note, after Harris Countys very own counsel admitted STAR Court Manager Covington advocated outside of due process for the defendant in my case, sought special treatment, and was rebuked by the Judge (also witnessed by people in the courtroom), Ms. Covington still continues to run druggie court almost 8 months later. My offenders father ran one of the largest rehabs in the country, which claims association with the drug court, as does the defendants church. The actions, as described, are not only HIGHLY unethical, but also, break MANY state statutes regarding behavior in an adjudicatory hearings and the behavior of public employees. I would expect, as a victim in a case here in Harris County, that after hearing this audiotape I have a) the right to be quite angry and b) the right to expect Ms. Covington terminated and no longer working on my tax dollar. Here is the audio: Ref: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVAgDhiHihE. Why is this women still working for our court system nearly eight months later? Im little confused? Apparently, special favors are deemed appropriate in the Harris County Courthouse
THE REAL TRUTH ON DRUGGIE COURTS, TEXAS DRUG POLICY, AND HARRIS COUNTY DRUG POLICY
- Fact 1: Drug Courts and the Perry Administration Drug Policy Have Been a DISASTER in Texas: Governor Perrys drug policy of treating drug addicts like victims and diseased, including drug court policy, has been a miserable failure. Between 2003 and 2008, drug arrests in Texas jumped 49.5%. In the rest of the US, drug arrests jumped only 18%. I pulled data for the last 25 years and found that, in no other state in any 5 year period that I can find, have drug arrests jumped 50%. Governor Perry - your druggie policy has not been ineffective. It has not been a failure. It has been a DISASTER, and as a result, we now have a drug epidemic. At this rate, drug crime will more than double in just a decade! Ref: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime_records/pages/crimestatistics.htm You really have to dig for these numbers by the way presented in a single quarter-of-a-page graph in the middle of the several hundred page TX crime statistics report, but you dont really have to dig for Perrys accolades on his website calling his druggie policy a success Im not sure, Mr. Perry, by which measure it is a success - certainly, not by arrest and conviction data
I will add that TX drug court legislation was passed in 2001, and most required drug courts started being implemented in 2003. In 2001, we had a handful in Texas, now we have over 100. This correlates perfectly with the increase in drug crime. A few other points. One, all other classes of crime listed in Texas crime data has either remained steady or decreased (population control). Two, this jump in drug arrests preceded Hurricane Katrina and the influx by 3 years. Three, during the same period, the Texas population increased less than 10%. In 2003, Texas was on par (arrest per population) with the rest of the US - now our drug arrest rate, per capita, is 20% higher than the national average. Lastly, I would note there have been no major changes in drug trafficking patterns or other major changes in Perry drug policy This is called net widening - when the consequences of drug crime are less, UA testing versus jail, more druggies will experiment. When they know they are going to jail for a few years, then they will not. Drug arrest across the US are up relative to 10 years ago but, those looking for druggie court funds look at just recidivism rates (conveniently).
Bottom line, and the only number that should matter, are arrest data - thanks to Governor Perry, our streets now face a drug epidemic.
- Fact 2: Drug Courts are Unfair to Victims: Why should I expect that if a white, female drug addict steals $1,000 worth of items from me, she should get rehab and UA testing under drug court supervision (and not pay me back) but if a black man without a drug problem steals for his family, he should get jail time. My offender was a white female with the right connections. Her father once ran the largest outpatient rehab in the US, PDAP, which claims association with our STAR Drug Court. I would add, how is it fair to the non drug offender, who in this case steals for a better reason and who has committed one less crime in not using drugs.
- Fact 3: Drug Courts Create MASSIVE Room for Biasing: For thousands of years, we have had an adversarial system which has worked beautifully (certainly, arrest rates were not flying upward as stated above). In drug courts, prosecutors, judges, defense attornies, all work together to rehab the offender. Traditional barriers around courts are broken down. More people can talk to the judge directly. We add to this a host of non-profits and churches, many whose members have drug problems, assisting our STAR Drug Court, and the situation is ripe for special favors for the members of these non-profits and churches, many of whom have addictions themselves.
- Fact 4: Drug Courts ARE NOT PROVEN to reduce recidivism rates: In fact, most drug court studies suffer from selection bias, in which the performance of drug court graduates are compared against drug addicts in standard dockets, with the problem that all drug courts select less serious cases, non-violent offenders, first time offenders, etc. There are also, many other noted problems in these studies. Also, a few other comments. One, no major research university has initiated and conducted a thorough study on the numbers. Two, many such studies are requested by the USDOJ or other funding institutions. They are often performed by local universities, and often, the data is compiled by the local universities or drug court. You dont go back to your funding source with bad result (just like in academia). In CAPCO economic development funds, we find independent job creation figures are a small fraction of those reported by the funds, under their definition of job creation. Ref: http://www.cjlf.org/publctns/Guest/DrugCourtFraud.pdf from Yale and Penn Law Schools.
THE LOBBY: THE REASON WHY DRUG ADDICTS HAVE MORE RIGHTS THAN YOU DO
Generally, when you look at those supporting the theme of drug use and crime as a disease, they break down into 4 or 5 major groups: the drug addicts and past drug addicts, the therapists, the rehab centers, drug courts, and transitional living facilities, and their lobbies. These are the general categories storming commissioners court in support of STAR Drug Court on a semi-regular basis. The first group, obviously, benefits from drug court bailout plans. The second group, the therapists, make hundreds of thousands a year counseling drug addicts. And the last, gets millions in subsidies from local, state, and federal governments to deal with drug addicts. The bottom line - all have a monetary (or other) incentive, and all, pump a lot of money and effort into lobbying for drug courts, more grant money for their programs, etc.
What you dont know, Harris County will not give the locations, is that it works with a bunch of transitional living facility providers, which get payment and grant funding and tax writeoffs, and subsidies. Many of these facilities are just a few years old, and have luxury amenities such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and constant shuttles to pick up clients to maintain their secret locations. How many of Harris Countys citizens, Judge Emmett, live in houses with granite countertops? Further, I would note one of my offenders other victims was left virtually homeless by the defendants actions in my case, yet it is the druggies getting these transitional living facilities???
A recent polls of US citizens showed 68% support stricter drug policy, not drug reform. A 2006 poll of Congress, showed 63% of Congressmen support tougher drug policy, and less than 30% reform (the others undecided). I would really doubt, with such an overwhelming majority, it is less than 50% in Harris County. Harris County voted NOT 1, NOT 2, NOT 3, BUT ALL 4, of the drug court judges out in 2008. Your commissioners court and governor ignored you, and installed 4 more druggie court judges. What you want, in the Texas democracy, doesnt matter - your politicians are going to do exactly what they want to, look to save money and cut corner at the expense of your safety, and cater to the druggie lobby
THE CASE STUDY
On a regular interval, about once a year, drug courts in general, and I think the STAR drug court as well, love to publish a case study of a success story. They, of course, never talk about the failures. I will talk about my case as a miserable failure in the treatment, 12-step, recovery church, druggie court methodology, so people know that a) there is an alternative view and side of the story and b) everything isnt so copasetic as supporters of restorative justice would like us to believe.
In my case, my offenders family has had generations of issues. My offenders mother met her husband in a 12-step program - the marriage ended in a decision for divorce, and the father died in his last year an addict. Ironically, the father ran the largest outpatient drug rehab in the country. Fast forward a generation, and both of their daughters end up drug addicts. The one introduces the other, my offender, to her dealer, and actually stays for periods with her kids at the dealer. My offender is in and out of treatment facilities, both drug and behavioral, for almost a decade. Some treatment bills remain unpaid for years - as I found out when trying to check her into one of these facilities. These people believe they do not have to take responsibility for their debts. Its taught as part of their culture / the 12-step/recovery cult mentality (we are diseased). A rather convenient mentality, and one that does not belong in our criminal justice system. I paid for some rehabs, but sure as heck wasnt going to pay what her parents hadnt. Low and behold, a generational repeat, the offender meets her ex-boyfriend in a AA meeting, who gets her hooked on heroin and steals and crashes my car, dragging her along. After getting out of another rehab assignment in Nov 2007, she makes a b-line to meet and live with a women she met in that rehab, and less than a week later, is hooked again. The drug addict father, sister, and boyfriend are all members of this Mercy Street recovery church and/or a 12-step program. Another member of the church works in an illegal gambling hall with her, and leaves her messages on her myspace to put a balloon on it at work (she was a stripper). The church was founded by someone who as a self admitted ex-crack user and thief, and currently worked to seek special favor for the offender in my case. He has, apparently, never done a day in jail eithernow they are giving lessons to their parishioners in how to NOT take responsibility. My offender has been in and out of drug and behavioral treatment center for almost a decade, has a promiscuous tape, was involved in a flipped car crash, stole my car and drove it through a parking gate, stole from many people, left one man living with his parents (and stealing a lot of his belongings), nearly cost another his job, ect. Ect. Ect. I could go one for another 3 pages with her criminal and other activites. So, I ask our drug court judges, Ms. Lykos office (thanks for reassessing the crack pipe policy btw), and Governor Perry (great work on the drug arrest data), do our drug offenders get 1 year of bailout plans, 3 years, 5 years, or a full decade like my offender. Or do you just get the full decade package only if you daddy runs the biggest rehab in the state/country which also states its association with the STAR Drug Court in its bulletins as in my case?
Now, I am willing to bet, because my offender gets out soon (actually, I am willing to put money on it, a LOT of money), that she starts hanging out with a bunch of losers she met either in a) jail or b) in the county rehab, and the cycle starts once again. Sorry guys, but it doesnt take a PhD to figure out the treatment, 12-step, hanging out with similar people thing really isnt working all that well On the other side, the others get her great influence. Seems almost exponential.
One last comment. Harvard Medical School recently published a book called Addiction: A Disease of Choice. The author shows how many addicts quit of their own accord and CHOOSE to use drugs before becoming addicted. Drug use is a choice. A disease of choice. This is precisely why we need harsh sentencing - to prevent that choice. The Perry administrations policies have not done so, as shown by the massive spike in drug arrests and convictions. Further, another HMS book shows that 12-2tep rehab fail over 60%-70% of the time - that is, the relapse rate. If it doesnt work, guys, we look to fix it, not do more of the same
THE COST OF DRUG USE
A 2000 study showed that addiction costs, in terms of stolen property, lost productivity, and wasted medical treatment, over $550 billion (with a B) per year. In todays dollars, thats almost $800 billion, or 6% of our GDP/output going to waste every year because of druggies. 93% of that waste remains unremunerated to drug victims and taxpayers. In my case, thats 100%.
Now, of what I know about, my offender stole or destroyed or borrowed and never paid back on the order of $50,000 - $60,000. This is what I know about - the number is probably WAY higher, because I only knew her for half of her heroin 1.5 years, and didnt follow her every move. That number is probably 2-3x higher. Throw in a few hundred thousand in stripper income for which she never paid taxes, another $100,000+ in rehab treatments, probation officer time, etc., and she has cost us, probably, a good $250K to perhaps as high as $400K in the last 3-4 years. Im an economist, so I like looking at numbers
How some time in the state pen is not cheaper than all these rehabs, btw, is beyond me I am unaware of a single victim she has paid a penny back to. My offender has fallen below the 7% national average for remuneration. When I sued her, she denied any wrongdoing (despite admitting thefts to others, admitting the car crash incident in court, pleading deferred, and being on videotape). The church managed to find another one of their members to defend her, rather than, once again, making any effort to reach out to any of the victims. Reach btw out doesnt mean monetarily btw it means doing what a real church is supposed to do. See that the people that their parishioner harmed are OK And expect, as real churches would, that your parishioner take responsibility to those they have harmed Thats what the Roman Catholic church I grew up in would expect,
Now, I am a really, really simple person. An apology and maybe 10% of the money she had owed, as a sign of good faith, would have went a long way. No such luck. Whether it is worth the time to pursue or not, I shall decide I think I will on principal not for the money Now the offender has the nerve, as she has in the past, to continue going around making false claims about myself and other victims to cover up her our indisgretions, while living on taxpayer (and victim) taxes at county run rehabs.
My offenders ex-boyfriend has apparently cleaned up his act, moved to Austin, and is getting a culinary degree. Because of this, I like to call him creampuff. Now, creampuff has changed his life around, which is really great (I tried to guide him to rehab as well), but creampuff has also made no observable attempt to pay his victims back 3 years later. To me, this is a failureto druggie court or the church, its a success story.
So, I go back to the point of ballout plans. I went to Catholic school throughout childhood you know, where you get forgiveness from God, but there are also rules, sin, and the nuns slap your knuckles with rulers. Maybe they need to go back to that When we messed up, we were required to take responsibility. Just because a druggie chooses to use, and hiss/her rehab convinces her is is diseased, doesnt mean that she didnt cause TREMENDOUS amounts of damage that need to be repaid. Said defendant should be using the money she is making to do so, not working while getting support from Harris County transitional living facilities yet too, and further treated herself as diseased and a victim and hidden her her obligations. Time to start teaching RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY in Harris County rehabs.
What we have here, is a class of convenient Christians, and convenient 12-steppers. The church in question, Chapelwood Mercy Street, after inappropriately involving itself in this case, has not reached out to a single victim. They did, however, have no problem finding one of their Methodist breahern to defend the offender in a lawsuit seeking to recover damages and one of their priests to kick a friend of mine out of the courtroom. Despite the 12-step rule of making amends, no such efforts have been made with any of the victims I knowI have a host of people at my condo the offender can start with. And so, I then pull the very definition of Restorative Justice from the 21st century authority, Wikipedia, and get this Restorative justice is an approach to justice where offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and "to repair the harm they've done- by apologizing, returning stolen money, or (for example) doing community service. The victim may receive an apology, direct reparation or indirect action to restore or fix the damage. Restorative Justice can involve a fostering of dialog between the offender and the victim show the highest rates of victim satisfaction, true accountability by the offender, and reduced recidivism. And, so, we have convenient restorative justice as well. The church, in my case, has had the nerve to blame many of the VICTIMS. There has been no effort at constructive conversation. There have been no apologies. There has been no accountability for my offender, just another bailout plan. STAR - Success Through Avoiding Responsibility
Now, I have spent my life trying to make the world a better place. At 26, I founded an economic development fund. At 28, I invested in a family values magazine. I left 4 other people live at my places, paid for medical treatments for people, paid for the defendants rehab, and am going to school for economic development and non-profit. I have never been treated like this, and by a church yet too. For years I stayed quiet, until my friends and neighbors urged me to stand up and fight this. We will also be going in, as a group of victims, to speak in front of Commissioners Court in the summer, and be posting our petition online soon. I cant wait to hear the Commissioners Courts response to us victims, how it can defend it druggie court, and why our druggies are living in luxury accommodations
What is most amusing is that the rehabs the victims are paying for in their tax dollars are in the business of hiding offenders from their victims and debtors, so that they can move on with their lives. The other drug addict I helped in my life happens to get assigned to the same rehab as the defendant (hows that for a message from God) and was warned by rehab staff not to tell me or the other victims where she was. Nothing like hiding an offender from the victim on the victims tax dollars. Now, the excuse for this, according to my friend, was not an discernible bad detail about myself - just that she wants to move on with her life. Thats nice - she can do that AFTER paying back all of the victims and apologizing for all the lives destroyed and disrupted.
So, now I have become obsessed obsessed with revealing the true nature of these druggie courts, the other side of the story, and of making sure victims are put first We have launched a national association from drug victim justice, with one of its primary goals to nationally fight the expansion of these druggie court by providing true and good public policy, and presentations on the other side of the story, which can be used locally by individuals trying to eradicate present druggie courts or prevent new ones in their local communities. We will make a national example out of the STAR Drug Court, and this case, for everything that is wrong with the drug court and restorative justice model.
LAST - 15 THINGS HARRIS COUNTY DOES NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT
I end with 15 items Harris County would like to avoid talking about, openly in public, like the plague.
1) The hundreds I paid for rehab for the defendant in my case.
2) The four calls to HPD and Harris County Sheriff reporting her drug dealers (in phone records) which were never acted upon.
3) The email I sent the defendant in July 2007, six months before her arrest and 8 months before my run in with druggie church, pointing out the issues with her family members and that she has to change her life. Harris County has a copy of these. Not good for either the family or druggie church. Especially since the court returned her to a family full of drug addicts. For some reason, my offender was returned to her family of drug addicts so the cycle can just start once again Its been working great for years guys, let try it again When you daddys runs the biggest rehab and your priest knows the Drug Court Manager
4) The email I sent the police department in December 2007, requesting in writing the drug dealers be investigated and arrested, which also happened to highlight my earlier 4 calls.
5) The phone calls made by the defense lawyer to the priest, and subsequent phone calls, while the trial was going on to the rehab they are well recorded in phone records of course.
6) The fact that Judge Campbells entire staff saw STAR Drug Court manager Covington ask for special favors for the defendant and the rebuke (which other people in the back of the courtroom also saw). They especially dont like to talk about the audiotape of their own counsel talking about the impropritaries in the case.
7) The fact that the defendant was assigned to a rehab which the judge almost never uses but which is run by friends of the church.
8) The fact that a credible working professional was threatened to shut up or leave the courtroom by the head of druggie church.
9) The fact that after said audiotape in 5), Ms. Covington is still running druggie court.
10) The fact that a drug policy staff member in the Governors office is also on an audio tape demanding to know who was investigating this case in the AG, and when I wouldnt tell her, going on to say that she knows everyone over there and would find out.
11) The fact that Harris County is associated with transitional living facilities offering luxury (granite countertop and stainless steel) appliances to our druggies
12) The fact that all 4 druggie court judges were voted out in 2008, and ignoring populace vote, your commissioners court nominated 4 new ones.
13) The fact that, while our druggies receive tens of thousands, or more, in treatment, victims like me need to pay for our own counseling, and/or, wait months to receive compensation from a victims fund in Austin.
14) The fact that there is no victims fund for drug victims in Texas. Maybe good old Perry wants to do something for the victims as well!
15) The 49.5% increase in drug crime in the last five years. Perry and the Commissioners Court, they want to avoid that one like the plague Tucked neatly away in the middle of a several hundred page report in one graph about the size of one page.
16) Why the court will not order restitution in the case for me or any other victims. 17) The fact that the offender was returned to her family of drug addicts.
18) The fact that, despite a promise by court counsel that a thorough review of the entire drug court model and the drug court relationship with the church would follow my case, it never has
19) The fact that less than 6 weeks after 18), they add a Judge from this church as the next drug court judge.
20) The fact that Mr. Russell was invited to speak at the Texas Association of Drug Court Professionals meeting about getting churches in the drug court recovery process at its annual meeting
Why is this. Well, its all quite simple and political. One, druggie court scandals are just not good for federal and state druggy court funding. They are also not particularly helpful in attracting non-profit donors. Two, as good little Republicans, they need to make Governor Perrys initiative look good, even it is a miserable failure. Three, it is, and was before my case, on the agenda to get these churches more involved in the druggie courts. For the churches, they can spread their propoganda. For the commissioners court, they believe they can save money from church in-kind and cash donations.
It is time to invert the pyramid of stakeholders. There are at least 4 classes of stakeholders in the process: drug users, those providing drug services (for tens of millions a year in grants and payments in Harris County), victims/taxpayers, and society in general. What is wrong here is not a focus on some rehab efforts, especially preventative ones. What is wrong here is a weighting putting druggies and service providers first, societys safety (and potential cost saving second), and victims third. Its time to invert the stakeholders importance properly Its also time to end Harris Countys cover-up of my case, get the churches the heck out of our rehabs and court system, and hold those responsible for esthetical and criminal actions in the courtroom responsible for their actions. At the very least, that means some terminations and a dissociation from these churches (which are donating money, btw, and have founded a foundation to support druggie court). STAR - Success Through Avoiding Responsibility. In 2007, I, as well as many others, were victimized by an offender who had a long, long track record of drug use, irresponsible behavior, and criminal actions. That offenders father, ironically, ran the largest outpatient rehab in the US, whose Houston branch claims an association with the drug court on online references. He also ran the rehab at a church, Mercy Street / Chapelwood, which is associated with our countys rehabs and informally with our drug court. In my case, a friend reported the pastor of this church kicked him out the courtroom when trying to make my wishes, as a victim, known to prosecutors. I personally witnessed a request from the offenders lawyers for the priest to alter rehab statements to the court. The court judge placed the offender in a rehab program which she has not historically used.
Some questions for the general public. Isn't it odd, unethical, and ia joke that after listening to reference auditape, that Ms. Covington is still running druggie court? Two, isn't itt odd that the Chapelwood United Methodist Druggie Bailout Plan is still associated with our county rehabs after this case. Isn't it humorous that the newest druggie court judge, named just weeks after their lawyers made these referenced statements, is from Chapelwood...
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/18/2010 12:20 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/STAR-Drug-Court-Perry-Drug-Policy-STAR-Drug-Court/Houston-Texas-/STAR-Drug-Court-Perry-Drug-Policy-STAR-Drug-Court-STAR-Drug-Court-and-Perry-Administrat-582571. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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