Is the flesh-eating Heroin substitute in McHenry County?

Heroin is pretty scary stuff.  They’re claiming it’s on the rise again all over McHenry County.  I don’t have access to the numbers, but I’m not buying that there’s necessarily been a huge increase.  Every couple of years they say it’s “on the rise” or becoming an epidemic.  Despite possessing the stuff being a felony or even handing heroin to somebody who ends up overdosing (even if it’s somebody you’re using with), carrying some fairly harsh felony consequences, it hasn’t disappeared.

I know that deaths are up, although that’s not necessarily an indication that general usage patterns have substantially increased. It’s not uncommon for a batch of “bad heroin” (not that any of it is good) to cause a cluster of overdoses.  So deaths can actually rise and fall without any real correlation in total usage.

Anyhow, Krokodil use is on the rise, for sure.  The Northwest Herald seems to believe somebody in McHenry County has been hospitalized by the substance this week:

“Dangerous flesh-eating drug may have arrived in county

A nasty flesh-eating street drug may have made its way to McHenry County, experts warn.

Centegra Health System advised Tuesday that it may be treating someone who injected themselves with “krokodil,” a heroin substitute of Russian origin. The drug is a toxic cocktail of opiates like codeine and substances such as gasoline and lighter fluid.

The drug causes users’ skin to turn scaly and green, hence the name, which is the Russian word for crocodile. The skin subsequently rots and falls off.

Centegra said in a statement that it is treating an intravenous drug user who has large skin lesions. Because the drug is cheaper than heroin, and heroin use is on the rise in McHenry County, officials fear local hospitals could see more krokodil victims…”

Bad stuff right there. Don’t think so? Here’s video of a girl from Joliet showing you how nasty the sores are and talking about it:

 

The criminals in McHenry County are always getting off easy…

I’m always amused to read the internet comments about the McHenry County Justice system.  Many of them think nobody gets harsh sentences.  Like, the judges in Woodstock are just letting people go “for the hell-of-it.”

Today a defendant took a deal for 45 years.  I know what you’re thinking, too- the dumb prisons are probably going to give him all sorts of “good time” and let him out early.  Nobody ever does all the time they’re sentenced too.  Not on cases in Woodstock, anyway.

The prevailing idea that prisons just open the doors and let people out whenever they want is the most ignorant belief people can have about the system.  Nearly any defense attorney, prosecutor, or judge in the courtroom knows exactly how long a sentence will be.  At a minimum, anyway (the that “good time” guys can get off is designed to keep them on their best behavior in the Big House… the prisons can always lengthen the time to it’s maximum sentence).

So, in this particular case the defendant got 45 years on a bunch of different counts.  Turns out, 42 of them are at 85% and 3 of them are at 50% (to be served consecutively).  So, that’s 35.7 years (42 times .85) and 1.5 years (3 times .5) for a total of 37.2 years of actual time spent.  There are also one (depending on current politics) or two more blocks of good time he can get for a total minimum time of 36.7 years (most likely 36.95, though).

If you don’t like that math, don’t blame the courts or prisons, though. Blame yourself. Your elected leaders formulated that system several years back.  If you want it to be 100%, elect the people who will pass that law… and also figure out how to fund the added burden.

Anyhow, people think nobody in McHenry County gets tough sentences.  That defendant is 39 years old.  He will be about 76 years old before the Department of Corrections can even think about letting him out.  That’s older than the average life expectancy for a male in this country.  The average life expectancy for a male in prison is lower, too. A lot lower.

If you’re going to get hung up on numbers and quibble that defendant only got 45 years for his crimes and that’s not “enough years,”  I suppose you could argue his sentence could have been more severe.  If you look at the practicalities and do the math, though, the guy very well got a life sentence.

Tell me how everybody in  McHenry County gets off easy, again?

The Advantage Group (T.A.G.) is gone. This is a shame.

Northwest Herald is reporting today on the demise of The Advantage Group.  This is a bad thing.  Going back to my days as a fresh-faced attorney in the McHenry County Juvenile Court system, I’ve had a lot of clients involved in T.A.G.  While I’m not a huge fan of a lot of substance abuse programs, I always respected T.A.G.  It’s really a shame that things having nothing to do with the success of the kids in the program are what has forced it to close its doors:

“The Advantage Group, based in Crystal Lake, shut down for lack of funding. The group lost funding from the McHenry County Mental Health Board last year after an audit revealed multiple fiscal irregularities, and another controversy scrapped a last-ditch effort to secure a $49,000 payment to stay afloat.
The group unsuccessfully took the Mental Health Board to court, and the audit prompted an ongoing state investigation into TAG’s finances. Executive Director Pat Owens pinned blame for the closing squarely on the board, which disburses property-tax revenue to agencies working with the mentally ill and disabled.”

If you haven’t seen, the McHenry County Mental Health board has (rightfully) come under fire lately.  It’s never good to see politics getting in the way of helping kids recover.  It looks like T.A.G. may not have been immune, though:

The Mental Health Board, most of whom are new members after a significant County Board shakeup, was poised last month to give TAG the $49,000 payment. But Owens abruptly withdrew the request the morning of the scheduled vote. It was later revealed that TAG was asked to do so because of allegations the group had violated its tax-exempt status by endorsing political candidates.

I’m not going to claim to know Pat Owens. I have enough experience with the program to believe that after decades of working with these kids, though, she didn’t intend to do anything to jeopardize T.A.G’s future. I believe it when she says the political endorsements are a mistake and she didn’t know it was a “no-no” for a tax exempt organization.

Even if it weren’t, it’s still sad to see a good program die for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the program.  It’s difficult enough to get good rehabilitation programs in McHenry County, the county can’t afford to lose one. Especially a good one.

No Rehab in Bull Valley’s Back Yard!

Interesting article in the Northwest Herald today.  It seems that somebody has proposed polluting the pristine woodlands and rolling hills of Bull Valley with a “Rehab Center.”  According to the article:

“Representatives from La Voie Inc. appeared in front of the Bull Valley zoning board Monday night for a public hearing on a special permit for a group home for adolescent and adult males recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.”

Now, I used the term “polluting” facetiously.  The local residents, on the other hand, would not:

“Residents voiced concerns about declining property values, noise and traffic that would come with the business, Keinz said.
Todd Scheel, who lives next door, said the effect on property values is a main concern, but it’s not the only thing he’s worried about. The house, he said, could be detrimental to the neighborhood’s safety.
“You will do stupid things to get drugs, to get money,” Scheel said.”

While I can appreciate the local Bull Valley resident’s concerns about having people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction in their neighborhood, I can’t help but wonder if those concerns are remotely valid.  There certainly have been people who have done dumb things for drug money.  My experience is that the overwhelming majority of people stealing for drug money are stealing from people they already know, though.  Plus, what’s with the assumption that there aren’t a bunch of people living in Bull Valley who aren’t already suffering from addiction of alcohol or drugs.  Are they out thieving?

So, to that end, I’d agree with the people proposing the rehab center:

“Kyle Oremus, president of La Voie Inc., said that perception was part of an unfortunate stigma that surrounds addiction.
“The fact of the matter is this disease affects everyone from all walks of life, no matter what your socioeconomic status is,” she said.”

That’s not to say I don’t understand the concern.  Would I want a drug rehab center to open right next to my house? It wouldn’t be tops on my list of desired neighbors.  On the other hand, I just attacked google to see where the nearest rehab center is to my house.  Turns out there’s one offering fairly intensive treatment right in town, less than a mile away.  It’s not even in the middle of “25 acres currently zoned as agricultural.”

I’m not sure how long it’s been there- which is a pretty good sign that, whenever it showed up, it didn’t change things much.

Bomb Threats at the Kane County Courthouses: Probably a Bad Idea

Earlier this week somebody, apparently, phoned in a couple of bomb threats to the Kane County Clerk’s office.  As a result, they closed the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles, the Kane County Branch Court that’s a mile away and the Elgin Branch Court. I know I’m going out on a limb here, but this bomb threat was probably a bad idea. Maybe even the worst idea of the week.

The Sheriff in Kane County is like many of your local lawmen across the country- well trained in responding and dealing to these sorts of threats. So, he kicked all the lawyers out of the judicial center, closed it for a couple hours, and then re-opened the courthouses and got back to business.  It was over quickly.

For everybody except the people making the threats, anyway.  See, these bomb threats are felonies- serious felonies.  Felonies are generally bad things to try to squeeze into your busy week.  Some are worse than others, though.  This would fall into that category.

I know I didn’t have to tell you that, though.  You remember 9/11, and you know that anything that has anything to do with mentioning bombs isn’t about bombs any more- it’s about terrorTerror equals extra-bad punishment.

That’s not really the worst part of this bad idea, though.  The worst part is that the alleged bomb-threat maker called the threats in to the clerk’s office.  According to the Kane County Chronicle:

Two threatening phone calls Wednesday morning prompted the evacuation of the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles Township, the Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles and the Elgin Branch Court in Elgin, Gengler said. He noted other court buildings were checked as well.

Sheriff Pat Perez said the calls came in about 9:40 a.m. A voicemail message was left at the Kane County Circuit Clerk’s Office, which shares a building with the Kane County Branch Court, he said.

The message was “a lot of people in Kane County are going to die today,” Perez said.

QuadComm – a dispatcher for Dundee, Carpentersville and Algonquin – relayed a second call to KaneComm, Perez said. That caller said four bombs were planted at the courthouse, Perez said, noting officials took that to mean the Kane County Judicial Center.

Authorities have identified a person of interest for both calls, Perez said, noting they are different people.

I’m no Magnum P.I. but I know exactly how the authorities found these two “persons of interest.”  They looked around for the a rock large enough for two people to hide under.  That’s the only place anybody could possibly be to have no idea what’s been going on with law enforcement and phones.  And by that, of course, I’m referring things like the government’s ability to track your cell phone even when it’s off, and the fact that AT&T is fine turning over all of your phone data- even if it was from over twenty years ago.  Who thinks they can phone in bomb threats anywhere and not get nabbed quickly, any more?  Only guys under rocks.

If you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to worry about, right?  I don’t know about that, but I know that if you’re phoning in bomb threats to the St. Charles courthouse- or anywhere else- you do have something to hide.

I guess if I could give you people one piece of advice from all of this it’s that you shouldn’t ever make bomb threats– doubly so if you’re going to do it over the phone. It never ends well.