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Celebrating National Recovery Month

September 25, 2020

Each September, we observe National Recovery Month to bring awareness to substance abuse resources and mental health services and celebrate the strides in recovery for those struggling with addiction. Below are some resources available:

Utah Naloxone

Naloxone (Narcan) reverses an opioid overdose if given in time, causing the effects of the opioid to reverse, which gives time for first responders to arrive. Naloxone is available in easy-to-use rescue kits that are legal to have and administer if you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids. Naloxone kits can be picked up from Salt Lake County libraries, no questions asked; from select pharmacies and physicians; and from Utah Naloxone. Contact Utah Naloxone at www.utahnaloxone.org.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a treatment locator for substance abuse/addiction and mental health problems. Find a treatment location near you here. Additionally, SAMHSA provided information, webinars, and events for Recover Month here.

Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health

The Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health provides local resources and services for Utahns including resources for addiction recovery, mental health, and prevention. For more information go here.

211 Utah

211 is a three-digit number that connects people to services they need such as mental health, addiction, housing, resources, etc. 211 is free, confidential, and can help you find assistance from organizations across Utah. For more information, go here or call 211.

Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness (USARA)

Utah Support for Recovery Awareness (USARA) provides a peer-based recovery support system for those struggling with an addiction. Their services focus on the reality of long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs from individuals and their families in Utah. For more information, go here.

Stop the Opidemic

Stop the Opidemic was created by the Utah Department of Health to provide information and resources for substance abuse. For more information and to view their list of resources including treatment centers and support, go here.

If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to the numbers and resources below:

  • SafeUT – Download the free SafeUT app to message a crisis counselor. Available 24/7.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Available 24/7.
  • Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741. Available 24/7.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) warm line – 801-587-1055. Available 8am to 11pm, 7 days a week.
  • University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) crisis line – 801-587-3000. Available 24/7.

Remember, recovery is possible, and you are not alone. While this month we observe National Recovery Month, let us continue to share resources and celebrate recovery each month of the year.


Charges Filed Against Heber City Man for Exploiting a Teen Girl from Arizona

September 25, 2020

The Utah Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force filed charges this week against a 28-year-old man from Heber City, Utah for soliciting explicit photos from a 15-year-old girl from Arizona.

Dale Robert Lawrence has been charged with 15 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony; one count of dealing in material harmful to a minor, a third-degree felony; and four counts of enticement of a minor, a class A misdemeanor.

On May 27, 2019, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a cybertip from a 16-year-old girl from Arizona who reported she had been communicating with Lawrence through Snapchat from March 2018 to June 2018.

Lawrence allegedly solicited the girl to send explicit pictures and videos of herself during these communications despite his knowledge that she was 15 years old. During an interview with ICAC agents, Lawrence admitted to knowing the girl was underage, engaging in sexual conversations, and receiving at least 15 explicit images and videos from her.

Lawrence works at a high school and routinely interacts with underage children who are the same age as the victim. A summons has been issued for Lawrence to appear at a future court date.


Attorney General Reyes’ Statement on Passing of Kay L. McIff

September 21, 2020

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes issued the following statement on the passing of former state judge and legislator, Kay L. McIff:

“The legal system suffered two great losses this past week. America is now without the brilliant mind of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court and Utah mourns the loss of a remarkable public servant in former state judge and legislator, Kay L. McIff. 

“Judge McIff served his country and community in many significant ways. As a young man, he wore the uniform of the United States Army before attending Snow College, graduating from Utah State University and obtaining his juris doctorate degree from the University of Utah.

“After a successful legal career in private practice, he was elected the top prosecutor and lawyer for multiple counties in the role of county attorney. He then enjoyed a long and distinguished career on the Utah state court bench. He capped his public legal career as a member of the Utah House of Representatives—highly respected on both sides of the aisle.

“Along the way, he demonstrated great commitment to building and strengthening higher education in Utah. Judge McIff was appointed to the State Board of Regents and the boards of Snow College and Southern Utah University, where he chaired the Board of Trustees.   His community service extends far beyond these achievements.

“Even more impressive than all his accomplishments in private practice and public service was the life he lived as a husband, father, friend and spiritual leader to so many.

“On a personal level, he was an inspiration for me to pursue a career in law. He was bright, wise, prudent, principled and always a gentleman—whether in court, during a floor debate or simply at lunch asking about my family.

“Judge Kay L. McIff lived a life of significant consequence and will be deeply missed.”


AG Reyes’ Statement on the Passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 18, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes issued the following statement tonight on the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 

“Today, America lost a legal giant and proud champion of women’s rights. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s service on the Supreme Court was an inspiration to millions of Americans.  Regardless of party or politics, no one can deny her historic impact on the High Court. We pray her lifelong example of service may unite us as a nation in mourning her passing. Our sympathies go out to her family, fellow Justices, staff and friends.”


AG Reyes Joins Relaunch of Anti-trafficking Program -OnWatch

September 18, 2020

Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined the Malouf Foundation and the Safe House Project for the relaunch of OnWatch, an anti-trafficking program that will train people on how to recognize, report and prevent human trafficking in our communities.

The human trafficking industry is estimated to be a $150 billion industry each year with an estimated hundreds of thousands of victims. Unfortunately, there has been a 40% increase in human trafficking during the COVID-19 pandemic. OnWatch was relaunched in an effort to help people better understand trafficking in America and learn how to recognize and report human trafficking.

OnWatch was first launched in 2018 and has trained tens of thousands of people on human trafficking. In a press release, Malouf Foundation Executive Director Jake Neeley said, “We’ve created an engaged community with OnWatch, and we want to keep that momentum with this new training. More people are ready to fight against trafficking, and OnWatch is the perfect place to start.”

OnWatch was created by sex trafficking survivors and features training completely online. For more information about OnWatch and to access the training, go to https://www.iamonwatch.org/.


U.S. Department of Interior Transfers Two Water Projects from Federal to Local Ownership

September 18, 2020

Today, U.S. Department of the Interior transferred two federal water projects to local ownership in the State of Utah during a signing ceremony at the Utah State Capitol.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt joined Utah Congressmen and local government leaders to officially transfer the Emery County Project and the Uinta Basin Replacement Project, two former federal water projects, to the ownership of the Emery County Conservancy District and the Moon Lake Water Users Association. These are the first water projects to be transferred from federal to local ownership under the new authority granted to the Department of Interior last year as part of the Dingell Act. This is a great step towards reducing federal liability and giving ownership back to the states.

Kirk Christensen, President of Board of the Moon Lake Water Users Association and Lee McElprang, Chairman of the Emery County Conservancy District finalized this transfer with their signatures on this historic document.

Also in attendance were Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, Governor Gary R. Herbert, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox, Senator Mike Lee, Senator Mitt Romney, Representative Rob Bishop, and Representative John Curtis.


Recognizing Constitution Day

September 17, 2020

Today we recognize the anniversary of the signing of the United States Constitution, perhaps the most influential document in American history. Since its signing, the Constitution has been a steadfast beacon of freedom and protection for the individual rights of American citizens. Forged from an exciting and influential history, the Constitution helped solidify our government’s role and build our nation into a thriving country that manifests the freedoms and liberties that we hold to be self-evident.

This Constitution Day, we encourage you to read the Constitution and its precedents that has so drastically altered the course of world history and reflect on how we can continue to inspire Utah’s future generations to respect, uphold and fight for the liberties it protects. Let us recommit to protect, preserve and defend the principles enshrined within the Constitution.


AG Reyes Urges President Trump to Support National Child ID Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES URGES PRESIDENT TRUMP TO SUPPORT THE NATIONAL CHILD ID PROGRAM
Personal Appeal and Letter Urges Funding for ID Act to Protect Children
 
 

SALT LAKE CITY — In a personal appeal to President Donald J. Trump, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is leading a coalition of state Attorneys General in asking for the administration to make funding available to support H.R. 4172, The National Child ID Act, (The National Child ID Program) in order to help both parents and law enforcement better protect children from exploitation, abduction and human trafficking.
 
This legislation would enable each state, through their Attorney General, to have the opportunity to request grant funding to purchase kits for their Kindergarten through 6th grade children. Each kit costs $1.76 per child, an incredibly small amount for the life of a child who has been abducted or runaway. The cost for protecting approximately 30 million K-6 students across America is just below $52 million.

“Statistics show that more than 800,000 children go missing each year including runaways and those abducted,” said Attorney General Reyes. “That is one child gone every 40 seconds. And we are seeing those statistics rise along with child sexual abuse, exploitation and human trafficking.”
 
Attorney General Reyes continued: “[Mr. President,] You recently met with our friend and NFL Hall of Fame Player Mike Singletary to discuss a program he and many other Collegiate and NFL Coaches champion called the National Child ID Program. We also support this effort as we fight daily to protect children in our role as state Attorneys General.”

The Child ID Kit allows parents to collect specific information by easily recording the physical characteristics, fingerprints and DNA of their child on identification cards that are then kept at home by the parent or guardian. No outside group collects, monitors or has access to the data unless parents choose to share it during an emergency. If ever needed, the Child ID Kit will give authorities vital information to assist their efforts to locate a missing child.    
 
The National Child ID Program has asked Congress for monies to be set aside in the next stimulus package as a grant for the purchase of such kits. And while legislation is ultimately needed, it may well take months or longer until funds are available. In the meantime, COVID-19 has made children more vulnerable to be groomed and exploited by predators. The threat of our kids becoming victims is more immediate and grave than ever. Every time we receive an amber alert for a missing one-year-old, it illustrates the critical need for this program.
 
Utah Attorney General Reyes is joined in this appeal to the President by Attorneys General in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.
 
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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Utah Supreme Court Rules Children Don’t Have to Testify Against Abusers Twice

August 25, 2020

Last week the Utah Supreme Court unanimously ruled that children do not have to testify in-person against those charged with sexually abusing them at a preliminary hearing. Going forward, subpoenas for a victim’s testimony can be rejected if there are other ways of receiving the information, except in rare cases.

This decision is a great victory for victims and will spare them from reliving traumatic events.

During child sexual assault cases, victims can become retraumatized when they have to recount the assault and trauma multiple times. The Supreme Court ruling cites research that “establishes that the experience of testifying about past abuse may cause substantial emotional trauma for victims of child sex abuse.”

Preliminary hearings are held once a defendant has entered a plea of guilty or not guilty. The prosecutor must then show enough evidence to charge the defendant. If a judge decides there is probable cause to believe the crime was committed by the defendant, a trial will be scheduled.

“A defendant has the general authority to ‘call witnesses’ at a preliminary hearing, but a subpoena compelling alleged victims to testify is per se ‘unreasonable’ when it seeks testimony that is immaterial to the probable-cause determination, would obviate the legal sufficiency of hearsay evidence, and would unnecessarily intrude on the rights of victims,” Associate Chief Justice Lee wrote in the opinion of the Court.

While the ruling does not pertain to a trial, this decision will keep victims from being subjected to reliving their trauma multiple times.

Read the Utah Supreme Court ruling here.

Media coverage:

Deseret News: Utah Supreme Court says children don’t have to testify against abusers ahead of trial

Salt Lake Tribune: Child sex abuse victims don’t need to testify twice, Utah Supreme Court rules

Fox 13: Utah Supreme Court gives more protections for victims compelled to testify

KSL: Utah Supreme Court says children don’t have to testify against abusers ahead of trial


AG Reyes Urges Congress to Adopt Measures to Expand Funding for Crime Victims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 24, 2020

Attorney General Reyes to Congress: “Expand Funding for Crime Victims.”

Reyes Joins All 56 State and Territorial AGs Call for Increased Funding and More Flexibility

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes is urging Congress to adopt key changes to the Victims of Crime Act that provide critical financial support to victims of violent crimes and their families.  Reyes joined a coalition of state and territorial attorneys general representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories in a letter to key Members on Capitol Hill.

The letter, delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the attorney generals call on Congress to adopt changes to the Crime Victims Fund, a national fund that supports state victims’ services programs. The recommendations will stabilize the Fund’s finances and provide more flexibility to grantees who are providing services to victims and their families. 

“The financial health of the Crime Victims fund is at risk,” said Attorney General Reyes.  “Congress increased the cap on distributions to the fund in 2015, allowing 2.5 million more victims to receive support.  As we said in the letter, while ‘deposits have sharply decreased in recent years due to a decline in the fines and penalties recouped from federal criminal cases, withdrawals have increased at a rapid pace.’”

The Fund, established by the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (“VOCA”), is the primary funding source for victim services in all 50 states and six U.S. territories. Deposits to the Fund originate from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds, penalties and special assessments collected by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal courts, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Fund covers the expenses of essential direct services and support for victims and survivors in the aftermath of crime, including medical care, mental health counseling, lost wages, courtroom advocacy and temporary housing.

The coalition makes three recommendations to promote the sustainability of the Fund, and preserve access to programs and services:

  • Redirect fines and fees from corporate deferred and non-prosecution agreements to the Fund: The Department of Justice increasingly uses deferred and non-prosecution agreements to resolve corporate misconduct. The AGs ask Congress to redirect these deposits to the Fund. In 2018 and 2019, recoveries resulting from these agreements were about $8 billion each year.
  • Increase the rate of federal reimbursement to states for victim compensation programs: The Fund currently reimburses state programs that provide financial assistance to victims at a rate of 60 percent, the remainder usually being funded by fines and fees in state courts. The letter recommends Congress reimburse state programs at a rate of 75 percent.
  • Extend the amount of time VOCA funds can be spent: VOCA requires recipients to spend grants within a four-year period. The coalition asks Congress to extend the period of funding so that state and local organizations can better plan and predict funding for long-term services.

Read a copy of the letter here.

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