Thursday, September 21, 2017

Opioid crisis is impacting life expectancy in the U.S.

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an analysis showing the opioid crisis has actually negatively impacted life expectancy in the U. S.  The analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, crunched the numbers recorded by the National Vital Statistics System Mortality file, a storehouse of death data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, from between 2000 to 2015.
According to the Washington Post, the analysis found that the average American’s life expectancy grew overall from 2000 to 2015, but that the astounding rise in opioid-related deaths shaved 2.5 months off this improvement. That’s .21 years, compared to the .02 years taken off the average life expectancy by alcohol overdoses.
No factor negatively affected life expectancy more. “It really underlines how serious the problem of opioid overdose has become in the U.S.,” the CDC’s Deborah Dowell told Time. “In general we don’t see decreases in life expectancy attributable to a single cause that are of this magnitude.” While overdose deaths in general in the U.S. more than doubled in that 15-year span, opioid overdoses more than tripled, the study reported. The average life expectancy for an American born in 2010 was 76.8 years, which grew to 78.8 years in 2015. The study suggested that but for opioid-related deaths, it would have been higher still.
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort was wiretapped by investigators

Investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources told CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.
Manafort was ousted from the campaign in August. By then the FBI had noticed what counterintelligence agents thought was a series of odd connections between Trump associates and Russia. The CIA also had developed information, including from human intelligence sources, that they believed showed Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered his intelligence services to conduct a broad operation to meddle with the US election, according to current and former US officials.
The FBI surveillance teams, under a new FISA warrant, began monitoring Manafort again, sources told CNN.
The court that oversees government snooping under FISA operates in secret, the surveillance so intrusive that the existence of the warrants only rarely become public. 
For that reason, speculation has run rampant about whether Manafort or others associated with Trump were under surveillance. The President himself fueled the speculation when in March he used his Twitter account to accuse former President Barack Obama of having his "wires tapped" in Trump Tower. 
The Justice Department and the FBI have denied that Trump's own "wires" were tapped.
While Manafort has a residence in Trump Tower, it's unclear whether FBI surveillance of him took place there.
Manafort has a home as well in Alexandria, Virginia. FBI agents raided the Alexandria residence in July.
What does this mean for the Trump administration, if anything?
To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vox: How America became the world’s leading opioid prescriber

So how did the US become the world’s top prescriber of opioid painkillers? There are several reasons, according to Vox.
First, there were the pharmaceutical companies. Wanting to make as much money as possible, these companies marketed their drugs as safe and effective for treating pain — even though the evidence for opioids shows that, particularly for chronic pain, the risksoutweigh the benefits in most, but not all, cases. Many doctors and patients were convinced by this campaign. (Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and some of its higher-ups later paid more than $600 million in fines for their misleading marketing claims, and opioid makers and distributors are now facing many more lawsuits on similar grounds.)
Then there were doctors. On one hand, doctors were under a lot of pressure from advocacy groups (some pharma-backed), medical associations, and government agencies to treat pain more seriously. On the other hand, doctors faced increasing pressure to see and treat patients quickly and efficiently.
The latter is a result of what Stanford addiction specialist Anna Lembke, author of Drug Dealer, MDdescribes as “the Toyotazation of medicine — tremendous pressure on doctors within these large integrated health care centers to practice medicine in a certain way and get patients out in a timely fashion to be able to bill insurers at the highest possible level and to make sure that their patients were satisfied customers.”
Opioids provided an answer to these two problems. Doctors didn’t know how to deal with many of the complex pain problems their patients were dealing with, because in many cases the answers were complicated and simply required too many resources and too much time. So an easy response was to give patients some pills.
In many situations, doctors simply prescribed far too much. With acute pain patients, doctors often gave weeks- or even months-long prescriptions when only a few days’ worth was needed. It was common, for example, to give weeks-long supply for opioids after wisdom teeth removals, even though the procedure usually leads to pain for no more than a week and the pain typically can be treated with milder painkillers like ibuprofen. The prescriptions left patients with a lot of extra pills, all because a doctor wanted to play it safe — and make sure that a patient didn’t come back complaining that a provider gave too few pills the first time around.
And in other cases, the doctors involved were outright malicious — establishing “pill mills” in which they gave away opioids with little scrutiny, often for hard cash.
On the patient side, there were serious medical issues that needed to be addressed. For one, the Institute of Medicine has estimated that about 100 million US adults suffer from chronic pain. Given that the evidence shows opioids pose more risks than benefits in the majority of these cases, patients likely should obtain other treatments for chronic pain, such as non-opioid medications, special physical exercises, alternative medicine approaches (such as acupuncture and meditation), and techniques for how to self-manage and mitigate pain.
With the broader proliferation of opioids, there were so many of these pills — enough prescribed just in 2015 to medicate every American around the clock for three weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — that they were often diverted.
So America got its deadliest drug overdose crisis ever.
To read more CLICK HERE

Monday, September 18, 2017

Despite prosecutorial misconduct verdict stands according to 1,343 page opinion

Senior Judge Christopher Munch from Arapahoe County, Colorado has denied the death penalty appeal of Sir Mario Owens who was convicted of killing three people in two separate incidents, reported the Denver Post. Munch said Owen's ultimately received a fair trial and was represented well enough by his attorneys. The ruling took nearly a decade to reach, and was a whopping 1,343 pages in length. 
“The court concludes that Owens received a fair trial – one whose result is reliable,” Munch wrote on the last of his . “He also received a fair sentencing hearing — one whose result was constitutionally obtained, justified in law, and is rationally based upon the evidence.”
Owens was first convicted of murder in 2007, in connection with the 2004 shooting death of 20-year-old Gregory Vann at a party in Aurora’s Lowry Park. The following year, in 2008, a different jury convicted Owens in the 2005 killings of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe, both 22. He was sentenced to death.
At the time of his murder, Marshall-Fields had been scheduled to testify against another suspect in Vann’s death, and prosecutors argued that Marshall-Fields and Wolfe, his fiancĂ©e, were killed to silence them. 
Defense attorneys raised numerous concerns about Owens’ convictions, including an allegation of juror misconduct during the Lowry Park trial that Munch denied earlier this year. Munch ruled in his Thursday order, though, that prosecutors improperly withheld evidence during the case — by not disclosing numerous instances in which they provided witnesses money or other benefits.
For instance, prosecutors did not tell Owens’ attorneys that they had promised and later given a car to one key witness. Other witnesses received undisclosed lenience in separate criminal cases facing them. In at least one instance, prosecutors did not reveal that a witness had been present at another shooting while in the witness protection program and preparing to testify in Owens’ case. Prosecutors also withheld information about money that witnesses were paid as informants or in the witness protection program.
Defense attorneys said the evidence could have been used at trial to question the credibility of the witnesses. But, in each instance, Munch concluded that the evidence wasn’t significant enough to overturn the trial. At best, Munch said, the evidence would have been considered “helpful” but not outcome-changing.
To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mangino on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today

Watch my interview on Weekend Today, WFMJ-TV21 regarding the law suit filed by YSU football player Ma'lik Richmond. To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Saturday, September 16, 2017

GateHouse: High Court has chance to set the record straight

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
September 16, 2017
How did a statement made 30 years ago, in a magazine article with no supporting documentation, set in motion a series of some of the most draconian laws in U.S. history?
In 1986, Robert Longo, a prison sex offender treatment counselor in Oregon, and Ronald Wall, a therapist who worked with him, wrote in an issue of Psychology Today that “Most untreated sex offenders released from prison go on to commit more offenses ... Indeed, as many as 80 percent do.”
Psychology Today, although a respected publication, isn’t exactly Time Magazine when it comes to mainstream distribution and circulation. Yet, that quote took hold with the criminal justice system and among lawmakers, policymakers and decision makers across the country.
The claim really gained traction in 2002. That year, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote in a decision that upheld a mandatory prison therapy program for sex offenders, “the rate of recidivism of untreated offenders has been estimated to be as high as 80 percent,” a number he called “frightening and high.”
The following year, Kennedy repeated that claim in a case which upheld retroactive application of registration requirements for sex offenders. As of 2015, according to Reason Magazine, Kennedy’s phrase has been reused in more than 100 opinions and briefs filed with the court.
According to Reason, there was never any evidence to support the assertion, and research conducted during the period within which it proliferated indicated that it was not even remotely true. “Nearly every study -- including those by states as diverse as Alaska, Nebraska, Maine, New York and California as well as an extremely broad one by the federal government that followed every offender released in the United States for three years -- has put the three-year recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders in the low single digits, with the bulk of the results clustering around 3.5 percent.”
What has been the result of broad acceptance of this markedly misinformed data? According to the New York Times, for the past 24 years, Minnesota has detained sex offenders released from prison in a “therapeutic program.” The “patients” are kept in locked cells, transported outside the facility in handcuffs and leg irons, and subjected to a regimen that looks, sounds and smells just like that of a prison.
But unlike prison, the therapeutic program -- which aims to teach the patients to control their sexual impulses and was initially designed to last from two to four years -- has no fixed end date. Rather, program administrators decide which patients are safe enough to release. According to the Times, in the 24 years the program has existed, not a single “patient” has ever been fully released.
Nearly 5,400 people are currently civilly committed in sexually violent predator programs in 20 states and by the federal Bureau of Prisons. According to The Marshall Project, 13 states allow this practice for people who committed their crimes as juveniles. Despite having no adult convictions, these young people are held years into adulthood.
While civil commitment is perhaps the most extreme example of punishments imposed on people convicted of sex crimes, it is by no means the only one. Driven by a pervasive fear of sexual predators, and facing no discernible opposition, according to the New York Times, “politicians have become ever more inventive in dreaming up ways to corral and marginalize those convicted of a sex related crime.”
On Sept. 25, the Supreme Court will have a chance to take a step toward setting the record straight. They will decide whether to hear two cases involving offenders who claim new sex offender registration requirements are punishing them a second time for a single offense.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book The Executioner’s Toll, 2010 was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at and follow him on Twitter @MatthewTMangino.
To visit the column CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ohio executes cold blooded killer of two

The 18th Execution of 2017
Gary Otte died on September 13, 2017 at 10:54 a.m. following the administration of three lethal drugs at the Southern Ohio Correctional Faciltiy in Lucasville. He was executed for killing two people in back-to-back robberies 25 years ago in a suburban Cleveland apartment building.
In his final statement, the 45-year-old Otte professed his love for his family, sang a Christian hymn and quoted the Bible. He said, “God is good all the time,” and added, “I’m sorry.” Then he sighed deeply and began singing, “The Greatest Thing,” with words such as “I want to know you, Lord” and “I want to serve you, Lord.” He stopped singing at 10:39.
Otte quoted the Bible with his last words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they’re doing. Amen.” The words were derived from a Bible account of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.
Otte gave a thumbs-up sign, and then his abdomen rose and fell several times between 10:41 and 10:42. Two members of the state execution team did a consciousness check at 10:42. Otte’s abdomen continued to rise and fall a couple of more minutes, then he appeared to go still.
Defense attorney Carol Wright said she believes the rising and falling of Otte’s chest and tears she saw on his face during the administration of the first drug, the sedative midazolam, indicated that he was suffering from a phenomenon known as air hunger. Those occurrences “indicated to me that he was feeling pain or sensations,” said Wright, who was initially blocked in her attempt to leave the room to alert a federal judge about her concerns.
Security protocol was followed and the execution was carried out without complication, prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said.
“Once (Wright’s) identify and intention was verified, she was given permission to exit the room,” Smith said.
Otte had unsuccessfully argued  that Ohio’s lethal-injection method put him at risk of serious pain because the midazolam might not render him deeply unconscious. The rising and falling of his chest was similar to reactions in past executions when a different drug was used.
Otte was sentenced to die for the Feb. 12, 1992, killing of Robert Wasikowski and the Feb. 13, 1992, killing of Sharon Kostura.
Witnesses on Wednesday included the daughter and brother of Wasikowski and the sister, brother-in-law and niece of Kostura.
Otte didn’t sleep after arriving at the prison at 9:46 a.m. Tuesday and spent his time on the phone with friends and family and visiting with his parents and other relatives.
His legal appeals ended about two hours before his scheduled execution, when the Ohio Supreme Court declined to weigh in on his contention that he shouldn’t be put to death because of his age at the time of the crime.
Otte was 20 when he killed Wasikowski and Kostura.
Authorities had said he asked to go inside Wasikowski’s apartment to use the phone and then shot the 61-year-old and stole about $400. The next day, authorities say, Otte forced his way into the apartment of the 45-year-old Kostura in the same building, shot her and stole $45 and her car keys.
Both the state Parole Board and Republican Gov. John Kasich denied Otte’s request for clemency.
To read more CLICK HERE