Susan Happ’s Heroin Problem

At last night’s attorney general debate, Brad Schimel highlighted his leadership in combatting herion, mentioned his comprehensive S.T.O.P. heroin plan and pointed out that Susan Happ has a spotty record on the issue and does not have a plan to deal with the epidemic.

Happ responded tersely that her local law enforcement leaders were to blame and that she indeed had a plan.

“When I was first elected in 2008, it was early in 2009 when I talked to my former drug sergeant and I said, “where’s my heroin?” Because I could hear that other bigger counties had heroin and I was told we really didn’t have a heroin problem. And that’s very common for smaller areas not to understand the problem is there until it’s gotten much bigger. And so I think it’s unfair to criticize smaller counties and law enforcement for lagging behind when they just weren’t aware of the problem until it exploded. I actually have rolled out a comprehensive plan relating to the heroin and opiate epidemic and Brad knows that’s true.”

Really?

We’ve scoured her website for evidence of her plan. Had we missed something during this year-long campaign. No, we had not.

Here is Susan Happ’s heroin plan, as stated on her website, susanhappforwisconsin.com:

“We need to keep educating our citizens about the dangers of opiates, provide additional training to law enforcement, and work for additional funding for treatment and diversion programs.”

That’s it.

“Susan Happ’s plan to fight heroin is a one sentence, 28-word campaign stump speech talking point,” said Schimel Campaign Manager Johnny Koremenos. “She provides a concise summary of the work and vision of Brad Schimel, but the problem is bigger than her soundbites and bigger than Susan Happ can handle–Wisconsin can’t trust Susan Happ to lead the Department of Justice.”

Earlier this week, media reported that Susan Happ’s interest in fighting heroin coincided with her decision to run for attorney general.

Brad Schimel has been a leader in the battle. He’s worked with law enforcement, legislators, medical professionals, educators, parents, and community members as a member of the State Good Samaritan Law Task Force. His S.T.O.P. Heroin Plan has the breadth and depth that this problem deserves.

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The Plan

In addition to continuing efforts to raise awareness, DA Schimel proposes the following measures as part of his plan for Wisconsin and the Department of Justice:

SUPPORT:

  • Create a new coalition of neighboring states, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan to share data and training techniques.
    • Brad Schimel will convene the first upper-Midwest Attorneys General Association to discuss solutions and share resources to solve the problems posed by these dangerous drugs.
    • Partner with DEA
      • Partner with the DEA and law enforcement in neighboring states will help eliminate the pipelines that provide these dangerous drugs to hardworking Wisconsin families. The danger posed by Herion needs to be taken seriously by local law enforcement and members of the judicial system, who should ensure drug traffickers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
    • Expand resources and training available to local law enforcement and prosecutors.

TRAINING:

  • Drug treatment courts
    • Brad Schimel will advocate for organizing, training, and funding to expand the use of drug treatment courts statewide. According to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 75% of Drug Court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program. Additionally, for every $1.00 invested in Drug Court, taxpayers save as much as $3.36 in avoided criminal justice costs alone.
  • Medication Assisted Treatments
    • Medication Assisted Treatment has offered some hope for addicts who continue to struggle in spite of aggressive treatment intervention. The FDA has approved and many treatment providers and drug treatment courts have found reinforcement in medications that help reduce the powerful cravings for Herion and other opiates and blocking the good feelings that the user would normally experience from the opiates.
    • The medication is available in a daily pill called Naltrexone and in a monthly injection called Vivitrol. We need to recognize the overwhelming power of this addiction.  In many cases, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) may provide the added support necessary for the adict to be successful.
  • Implement technology upgrades to track and interface with local law enforcement
    • Integrating new technology will be another tool for criminal justice professionals to use in making quicker and more effective decisions. Although the information that will be contained in this new technology is currently available in many different places, it is not readily available to all criminal justice professionals. The advantage of using new technology is that it will bring together in one place criminal justice data from multiple systems to help create a clearer picture of an offender, and will be available to all criminal justice professionals.
    • This information can then be used to share with other states to combat the trafficking of Herion and other dangerous drugs harming our families.
  • Narcotics training
    • Brad Schimel will advocate for dramatic expansion of training available to law enforcement and prosecutors to handle narcotics investigations and prosecutions. Brad Schimel will make sure every law enforcement agency in the state has the training to effectively bring justice to those who provide the drugs that result in death.
    • Waukesha County, under Brad Schimel’s leadership, is leading the state in prosecuting Len Bias-type homicide cases and holding those who deliver the drugs that cause overdose deaths accountable. The successes experienced in Waukesha County demonstrate what is possible when law enforcement and prosecutors have the best training available and necessary resources to work together to combat this growing epidemic.
  • Brad Schimel will ensure the DOJ is a strong partner, ready to provide investigation and technical resources to assist local law enforcement and prosecutors to arrest and convict those who traffic dangerous narcotics, especially those who deliver drugs that result in overdoses.
  • The H.O.P.E. legislation provides for the use of Naloxone Hydrochloride (Narcan) by law enforcement officers to reverse the effects of Herion and opiate overdoses. Brad Schimel will make sure training for the safe administration of the life saving opioid antagonist, Narcan, is readily available to law enforcement officers statewide.

OPIATES:

  • Aggressive prosecution of Herion and opiate drug traffickers
  • Medical community awareness and legal ramifications
    • Aggressively investigate and incarcerate dirty doctors who profit off the misery of our communities by running pill mills.
    • Brad Schimel will ensure pharmacists follow the H.O.P.E. legislation requirement that a photo identification be provided by any person picking up prescription opiates from a pharmacy.
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
    • Advocate for a state law change that would require dispensers, practitioners and their delegates to enter information about opioid prescriptions in real time. Current law provides up to 7 days for submission of data after dispensing a monitored prescription drug.
    • Advocate for state law that would require doctors, physicians assistants, and other prescribers of opioids to check the prescription drug website before issuing an opioid prescription to a patient. This will reduce the number of opportunities for Herion and opioid addicts to “doctor shop.”
  • Advocate for continuing medical education (CME) standards that require those who prescribe opioids to complete periodic training related to the dangers posed by opioid medications.
  • Brad Schimel will urge the medical community to have a different conversation with their patients who receive these medications, so patients understand the risks associated with taking these potentially dangerous drugs. A key piece to raising awareness on Herion and prescription opioids is getting the medical community on the team. Changing the conversation between doctors and patients will be crucial to educating the public on the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.

PREVENTION:

  • Brad Schimel will continue to enhance the “Fly Effect” advocacy programs
  • High school presentations
    • Brad Schimel will advocate for local and statewide law enforcement to get out in front of students, parents and the community in every school district in Wisconsin.
    • We need to make the community aware of the nature of this danger. An extensive review of Herion addiction shows the abuse often times starts with the recreational abuse of opioids, prescribed by doctors, and inevitably leads to Herion because it is cheaper and more available that prescription opioids . Still, many overdose deaths are from prescription opioid abuse, without the presence of Herion. Parents need to talk with their kids about these drugs and help them understand that the fact that a doctor prescribes them does not mean that they are not addictive and dangerous.
  • Safe Disposal of Unused Prescription Drugs
    • When parents ask where young people get opioids, the answer, more often than not, is from medicine cabinets of family members. We need to get these excess drugs out of medicine cabinets.
    • In April 2014, Wisconsin’s semi-annual drug take-back program resulted in the collected of more than 50,000 pounds of prescription medications, out of the bottles. However, these programs require resources that make the programs only feasible a few times per year.  The H.O.P.E. legislation makes it possible to have drug return boxes placed in locations throughout the community, such as police department lobbies.   Brad Schimel will work to make sure that every community has convenient and accessible drug return sites to reduce the potential for diversion of unused prescriptions drugs to drug abusers .
    • Brad Schimel would advocate for a requirement that pharmacies include a label that directs patients to a list of a nearby drug return locations.