According to reports, the current judge for Superior Court 4 in Tippecanoe county, Indiana, Laura Zeman, is likely to retire soon. The resultant empty seat has seen two judges competing for the position. The Republicans are represented by Matt Sandy, whereas Matthew Boulac represents the Democrats. Both potential judges have differing views on how to tackle drug abuse in the community if elected.
The issue of drug addiction has been a major cause for concern in the county. Court 4 in Tippecanoe county overlooks the majority of low-level drug abuse, drug-related felony, small claims, and eviction cases in the area. For this reason, both candidates have decided to take drug abuse as one of their leading agendas in the race for Superior Court 4.
Though both candidates have different approaches to the issue, some similarities have arisen as well. Matt Sandy, a civil and criminal lawyer, practicing in his firm downtown, believes that the best practice for rehabilitating perpetrators of drug abuse is employment. The lawyer considers himself to be on the frontline of Tippecanoe county’s war on synthetic drugs, meth, and opioids. Sandy is also pushing for Tippecanoe’s once-coveted forensic drug treatment programs along with problem-solving courts to be brought back.
According to Sandy, the best method to rehabilitate anyone with a drug problem is by providing them with employment opportunities. The lawyer strongly believes in work and employment as one of the best deterrents for the escalating problem of drug abuse.
Matt Sandy has stated that he plans on working with local employment agencies within the area to provide viable employment options to individuals involved in drug issues. According to him, anyone who requires a public defender’s services must also try to actively look for jobs. The lawyer is determined to facilitate this process as much as possible by inviting local employment agencies to provide guidance to such individuals.
According to his proposition, this can be done by said agencies by setting up tables right outside courtrooms. Individuals will be able to freely approach such agencies in a bid to secure a job and get themselves out of drug-related crimes.
The lawyer stressed the importance of unburdening the public defender’s office as it counts for one of the country’s major expenses. In a statement, Sandy said that the court sees a large number of cases being assigned to public defenders of the county. This, he said, is a major cause for the increased burden and expense on not only the courts and the community but also the entire county.
The criminal lawyer’s statement is a welcome change for the county and reiterates the importance and magnitude of the issue. The Democratic party’s candidate for the position of Superior Court 4 Judge, commissioner Matthew Boulac, shares similar sentiments as Sandy and has also vowed to tackle drug-related issues head-on. Boulac works as a commissioner for the Tippecanoe county’s IV-D courtroom. The court and Boulac handle paternity and child support related cases.
The commissioner’s plan is to decrease the number of people in the county jail and instead use them for services that will benefit the community. In a statement, Boulac addresses how individuals who have had minor run-ins and first-time felony charges with the law might be a better fit for community services rather than prolonged jail time. According to him, incarceration may not always be the best solution for dealing with individuals who struggle with drug abuse and addiction.
Boulac adds that for low-wage, low-income workers, jail time could be disastrous. He points out that once the inmates are released after three to six months, they will essentially be returning to nothing. Given the fact that such people are likely to lose both their job and apartment by the time they are released, this invariably perpetuates the cycle of drug addiction and worsening conditions of such individuals instead of solving the issue at hand.
The commissioner has proposed for Superior Court 4 to engage in special substance abuse and mental health courts to help solve the issue of drug addiction. Boulac further stated that this proposed problem-solving court is a way of adding new avenues to Tippecanoe County that were missing before to expand and make the most of what the county has.
Both candidates favor creating a more favorable environment for people suffering from drug addiction and offering them opportunities to improve their situation, albeit through different plans.
Drug Addiction in Indiana
The United States, and especially the state of Indiana, is faced with severe drug addiction issues. The state has consistently led the statistics for opioid-related fatal overdoses. Furthermore, the rate of drug-related overdoses has nearly doubled in the last decade.
It is suggested that nearly 90% of people suffering from some form of opioid abuse started illicit use of drugs before the age of 18.
These alarming statistics paint a dire picture of the issue of drug addiction and related mortality in the state of Indiana. As a result, authorities are now focusing more on finding new ways to tackle drug addiction. Senators, Judges, and other authority figures have proposed various plans to tackle drug abuse issues in the state.
To this effect, the state of Indiana has numerous treatment options for drug addiction-related issues as well. There are a number of addiction treatment and rehabilitation centers in the state of Indiana with state-of-the-art facilities and highly-qualified professionals that are well equipped to handle all levels of drug addiction cases.
Authorities realize that there is an urgent need to build rehabilitation centers. Hence, they have released numerous resources to help guide individuals suffering from drug addiction to the proper treatment channels so they can get the help they need.
John Eckelbarger is a Business Development Representative for Stonegate Center. With a BSA in Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin, he has an interest in the neurobiology of addiction & pharmacology of drugs. He hopes to bolster Stonegate Center to the forefront of addiction medicine through bold, innovative content. He is currently pursuing his MBA in Finance from Texas Christian University.