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ICYMI: Utah AG In the News

Friday, April 19, 2019

Welcome to the weekend, Utah.
Its been a great week with lots going on and we don’t want you to miss a single thing. Below are a few highlights of our team working to protect and keep all Utahns safe.

Utah opioid overdose deaths are down thanks to Utah Naloxone and its founder, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, who is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Sean D. Reyes along with U.S. Senator Mike Lee, and DEA District Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser.

For more on the story, see St. George News: Utah Naloxone credited with reducing opioid overdose deaths.

The Children’s Justice Center Program, part of the Utah Attorney General’s Office, participated in this year’s planting of pinwheels in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month up at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Check out KSL.com’s article: ‘It is preventable’: Utah children’s hospital honors child abuse victims for more information.

Thanks to the great work of Assistant AG Jacob Fordham, some of the most vulnerable in our communities are a bit safer.

Standard-Examiner: Ex-nurse’s aide sentenced to jail for abusing elderly assisted living patients

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is once again partnering with FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention to provide a 24/7 harassment hotline, sending a clear message to participants that bullying, abuse, assault, and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

Watch coverage on KUTV below:


Utah! Take back your unused drugs on April 27th

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Utah Attorney General’s office encourages Utahns to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Utah Take Back, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, provides the opportunity to dispose of unused prescriptions on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide.

Find a take-back site near you at www.utahtakeback.org.

The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Additionally, eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state will be available for distribution from take-back locations.

The following items can be returned:

  • prescription medicines;
  • over the counter medicines;
  • vitamins;
  • pet medication;
  • medicated ointments and lotions;
  • inhalers;
  • liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 oz); and
  • medicine samples.

The following items are not returnable:

  • needles, lancets, or syringes;
  • thermometers;
  • aerosol cans;
  • empty containers;
  • bloody or infectious waste;
  • personal care products (i.e. non-medicated shampoo);
  • hydrogen peroxide; and
  • business waste.

For advice on the safe disposal of these items, contact your pharmacist, local health department, or call 1-800-RECYCLE (1-800-732-9235).


State of Utah agrees to delay enforcement of HB 136 pending constitutional challenge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2019

STATE OF UTAH AGREES TO DELAY ENFORCEMENT OF HB 136 PENDING CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE 

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, the Utah Attorney General’s office agreed to delay the enforcement of HB 136 pending the outcome of the litigation over the new law’s constitutionality.
 
In the motion presented to the court and plaintiff today, the state says in part:

The Plaintiff and State Defendants acknowledge and agree that this case raises important questions that deserve thoughtful and careful consideration. To that end, and without admission of wrongdoing or constitutional violation by State Defendants, the Plaintiff and State Defendants stipulate and agree to the entry of a preliminary injunction by which State Defendants are enjoined from enforcing HB 136 during the pendency of this litigation until Plaintiff’s claim is resolved by this Court through trial on the merits or other dispositive order. 

The case will proceed as scheduled with a status hearing in Judge Clark Waddoup’s U.S. District courtroom Thursday, April 18, at 2:30 pm.

HB 136 passed the 2019 Utah Legislature with a supermajority and signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert shortly after.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement:

Since we expect this case or one like it to be elevated to the United States Supreme Court, this injunction lets both the State and the Plaintiffs carefully and thoughtfully build factual records in support of their positions. In the process, we look forward to vigorously defending HB 136 and explaining why it constitutionally protects the most vulnerable among us. The passion and conviction this case creates on both sides of the matter is not surprising. The issues here are deeply personal and some of the most pressing our society faces. Besides presenting questions about the fundamental right of the unborn to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as the health and safety of the mother and her rights, the case raises important questions about governmental power and the proper role of courts. We, therefore, take the Plaintiff’s legal challenge extremely seriously. These questions are fundamental to who we are—and what we stand for as Americans.

# # #

NOTES:
1. The preliminary injunction can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Stipulated-Preliminary-Injunction-4-18-19-5.pdf.

2. A copy of the motion filed can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Joint-motion-for-stipulated-preliminary-injunction-4-18-19-5.pdf.

3. You can read HB 136 Abortion Amendments here: https://le.utah.gov/~2019/bills/static/HB0136.html


Harassment at FanX? Report It

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is proud to partner with FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention to provide a 24/7 harassment hotline. Together, we hope to send a clear message to participants that bullying, abuse, assault, or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

HARASSMENT HOTLINE: 1-833-OUR-FANX (687-3269)


Courtesy of FanX:

How to Report an Incident
Persons finding themselves in a situation where they feel targeted or where their safety is at risk or who become aware of an attendee or guest not in compliance with this policy should immediately locate the nearest volunteer or information booth, security personnel, or FanX® staff member that can direct you to the FanX® office located in Room 150A.

Note: FanX® staff members will be wearing identifying badges that say“Event Staff”. Volunteer Managers and Room Captains (Volunteers) will be wearing identifying t-shirts. Security will be dressed in black FanX® branded t-shirts. Convention staff can be identified by t-shirts/special badges/headsets.


For more information, please visit the FanX FAQ Policies portion of their website: https://fanxsaltlake.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360004136514.

The AG’s Office applauds FanX and their efforts to ensure their events are safe and fun for all.


Utah opioid overdose deaths are down, thanks to Utah Naloxone

Part of the Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Sean D. Reyes along with U.S. Senator Mike Lee and DEA District Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser, Utah Naloxone is a game-changer in the fight against opioids in the State of Utah. The Utah Attorney General’s office is proud of the work Utah Naloxone co-founder, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, has accomplished and is privileged to partner with her and her organization as we address the opioid epidemic in our great state.

For Immediate Release

UTAH NALOXONE REACHES MAJOR MILESTONE

SALT LAKE CITY – More than 3,000 people in Utah have a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of Utah Naloxone. All of these individuals were given the medication naloxone (Narcan) during an opioid overdose by a non-medical layperson around them. Naloxone reverses an opioid overdose if given in time, causing the effects of the opioid to reverse and bringing them back. Opioids include pain pills, heroin, and fentanyl.

All of these life-saving doses were administered by non-medical members of our community who obtained rescue kits from Utah Naloxone or one of its Overdose Outreach Provider partners just for this purpose. The recent reports bringing us to this milestone came from our partners at One Voice
Recovery (OVR) who work across the state of Utah to educate on substance use disorder, work to decrease stigma, as well as to reduce infectious disease transmission and overdose deaths. These direct community partners are a major contributor to saving lives across Utah.

The number of lives saved by naloxone has been attributed as a large part of why Utah is seeing a decline in the number of opioid deaths. We were one of only seven states in 2017 where the death rate is going down. And as the number of people who are surviving an opioid overdose and making it to an emergency room for care is rising – almost doubling from 2015 to 2017 (1.5/10,000 in 2015 to 2.8/10,000 in 2017). People are saving lives and giving people a chance to survive to make it to an ER which alters outcomes for our state.

There is still work to be done. Overdose is still the leading cause of injury death in the state, and Utah still is among states with a high rate of overdose deaths. If you or someone you know is taking opioids you should have Naloxone on hand in case of an overdose. Naloxone kits are available through Utah Naloxone. It is legal to possess the drug, and legal to administer it if you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids. For more information go to UtahNaloxone.org.

CONTACTS:
Jennifer Plumb, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Utah Naloxone
801-232-5410 801-696-1139
UtahNaloxone@gmail.com

Patrick Rezac
Executive Director, One Voice Recovery
801-696-1139
OneVoiceRecovery@gmail.com


Yesterday, Utah Attorney General’s office Special Agents and staff were trained on how to administer Naloxone in the field by Dr. Jennifer Plumb. Check out the photos below:


Pinwheels for Prevention: Raising Awareness about Child Abuse

The Utah Attorney General’s office is privileged to work in conjunction with the Utah Children’s Justice Centers and the partner organizations listed below to work towards the eradication of child abuse. The AG is committed to protecting children by prosecuting those who would seek to do them harm and provide necessary resources for healing and restoration. For more information about the work of the Utah Children’s Justice Centers, please visit www.utahcjc.org.

INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTHCARE NEWS

For Release:
April 15, 2019

Contact:
Jennifer Toomer-Cook: 801-662-6590 or 801-631-3484
Jennifer.Toomer-Cook@imail.org

More than 1,700 Pinwheels Planted by Child Abuse Prevention Advocates to Remember, Honor Children Who Died as a Result of Child Abuse

As part of the “Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention” project, 1,720 pinwheels – one for each child who died nationwide as a result of child abuse in 2017 – were planted on Primary Children’s lawn on Monday as a reminder of the gravity of child abuse and a symbol of hope for a safer tomorrow for children.

Blue and silver pinwheels were planted by Primary Children’s Hospital, Family Support Centers, Prevent Child Abuse Utah, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, and the Utah Attorney General’s Office and Children’s Justice Centers.

Pinwheels for Child Abuse Prevention serve as a reminder that everyone has a responsibility to help protect children in the community through education, support to children and families in need, and by reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Last year, more than 10,600 Utah children were victims of child abuse. 

If you see or suspect child abuse, call 1-855-323-3237 or local law enforcement.

Learn more about preventing child abuse at howtopreventabuse.org, onewithcourage.org, PCAUtah.org, and primarychildrens.org/safeandhealthyfamilies.


Recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The Utah Attorney General’s office wants to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate the public about how to protect themselves.

This issue is a priority for Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and everyone who works here. Our staff works tirelessly to stop sexual assault, to bring perpetrators to justice, and ensure the safety of Utah communities.

We’re also proud to support and work with community partners to break the cycle of abuse and prevent sexual assaults from taking place in domestic situations as well as in work and campus environments. From Attorney General Reyes’ efforts to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (or VAWA),  to collaborative efforts with NGOs, corporate, and non-profit partners, we can make a difference by continuing to educate and raise awareness of the horror of all types of abuse while doing everything to lift victims and survivors to a safe place.

The theme of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, headed up by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, is “I ASK”. For more information on the history of SAAM and resources available, please visit https://www.nsvrc.org/saam

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship or has been sexually assaulted, please call the Rape & Sexual Assault Crisis Line at 1-888-421-1100.


Utah AG: Best of State 2018

The Utah Attorney General’s Office found itself the proud recipient of multiple Best of State awards this year. Those in the Utah AG’s office work hard to uphold the Constitution, enforce the law, and protect the interests of Utah and its people. Our sincere thanks to all those who give their time and energy to help make our office the Best of State.

The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.

See below for a complete list of the AG’s Best of State 2018 awards.

Elected State Official: Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes

Military Personnel/Unit: Utah@EASE

Public Safety: Investigations Division, Utah AGO

Public Works: Utah Opioid Task Force

Public/Private Partnership: The Utah Children’s Justice Center Program

Publication: Utah AGO White Collar Crime Offender Registry

State Agency/Office: Utah Attorney General’s Office

Victim Advocacy: Attorney General Sean Reyes

Web-based Community Resource: The SafeUT App

The Utah AGO nominated DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser for the following award due to his relentless work in combatting the opioid epidemic that has hit Utah both in the metro and rural areas. We are privileged to call him a partner, colleague, and friend.

Public Safety Officer: DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser


Youth Advisors: Teens Changing the World

Monday, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes swore five teens into the Youth Advisory Committee during a ceremony held in their honor for all the tremendous work they have done in the last year.

Affectionately nicknamed the Teen Titans, these five teens have worked closely with organizations such as SafeUT, the Children’s Justice Centers Program, and the Utah Gun Safety Program where they attended focus groups, provided suggestions on how to make things more teen-friendly, and gave feedback on how to interact with teens to make them feel comfortable.

Additionally, during the holiday season in 2018, they assisted law enforcement in Operation Give Back, a day dedicated to identifying and taking care of families in need. The Teen Titans rode along with the Utah Attorney General’s investigators and other law enforcement in delivering gifts and encouraging the families visited.

The Youth Advisory Committee provides invaluable insights into ways organizations can identify with teens and streamline programs and apps to make them not only appealing to teens but also to make them more user-friendly to all age groups.

If you are interested in joining the Youth Advisory Committee, applications will be accepted soon. Look out on our social media and website for future notifications of available applications. More details will follow.


Honoring Survivors and Lost Victims

On Sunday night, people from all walks of life gathered together on the front steps of the Utah State Capitol for a candlelight vigil to support those who have experienced the tragedy of a violent crime, as well as to honor the victims who lost their lives.

A Victim Centered Approach

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes attended the event, sharing the importance of having a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach in the criminal justice system and the continuous efforts of the Attorney General’s Office to incorporate it into their work.

“A victim’s experience with the criminal justice system can mean the difference between supportive and healing experience versus one that exacerbates their initial pain and trauma. Criminal acts can often strip victims of a sense of control, not to mention a sense of safety, security, self-confidence, and self-worth. Making sure victims are advised of their statutory rights, informed of the status of their case, and reassuring them along the way that they have done nothing wrong, that they are not at fault, these things can empower them to begin taking back their own lives,” said Attorney General Reyes.

The Attorney General’s Office has a unique opportunity to work with victims throughout almost every stage in the criminal justice system, from investigation to prosecution. Taking a victim-centered approach helps to minimize re-traumatization and provides victims with a compassionate and nurturing space in which to navigate the criminal justice system.

Listen to Attorney General Reyes’ speech below.

Stories from Survivors

During the candlelight vigil, survivors shared their experiences with abuse, trauma, and how they overcame their past.

Coming up on its 20th anniversary, four survivors of the Columbine High School shooting and bombing shared their experiences that fateful day on April 20,1999. Sarah Bush, Will Beck, Laura Hall, and Tami Diaz, who were all students at the time of the tragic incident, have together formed Rebels for Change, an organization that works to make schools safer for children. They each shared their separate stories and spoke about what it means to be a victim and the hope and healing that victims can look towards.

Listen to their stories below.

Jenny Andrus, a professor at the University of Utah who currently teaches writing and rhetoric, as well as studying and reaching domestic violence, is a survivor of domestic violence herself. She shared her story of emotional and physical abuse. She spoke on how emotional abuse is often overlooked but can have the same horrible consequences as any other type of abuse. She spoke on the importance of the victims advocate program utilized by law enforcement.

Listen to her story below. Be advised of potential trigger warnings.

Sidney Andrews, a current Salt Lake Community College student studying Criminal Justice, shared her story on surviving sexual and emotional abuse by her step-father for 13 years. Andrews emphasized the importance of the victim advocate programs, and how her advocate was with her every step of the way through the court case and through her own healing. She spoke on the need for victims to have a voice, and how that voice was able to be heard through her family and advocate.

Listen to her story below.

Brielle Decker is a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and was the 56th wife of Warren Jeffs, a former president of the FLDS Church. Decker spoke about her sexual abuse and about the importance of understanding trauma as a way to protect your families and become compassionate towards others. Decker has since created the Dream Center, a transition point and a place of healing for those who have left the FLDS Church. The Dream Center aids hundreds of people each year.

Listen to her story below.

Current Legislation to Aid Victims

Lastly, Representative Angela Romero spoke about the current legislative progress made for victims and about what you can do to help advocate for victims.

Listen to her speech below.

HCR 6 Concurrent Resolution Designating May 5 as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and LGBT+ Awareness Day highlights data related to missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and LGBT+ and calls on the people of Utah and interested groups to commemorate the lives of those lost on May 5.

HB 234 Marriage Amendments increased the minimum age of marriage to 18. In certain circumstances, court authorization and consent by a parent or guardian may permit a lower age, but in all other circumstances, a person must be 18 years of age to legally marry.

SB 103 Victim Targeting Penalty Enhancements, otherwise known as the hate crimes bill, provides an enhanced penalty for a criminal offense committed against a victim based on age, ancestry, disability, ethnicity, familial status, gender identity, homelessness, marital status, matriculation, national origin, political expression, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, service in the U.S. Armed Forces, and status as an emergency responder.

The candlelight vigil was held as a part of the National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. For additional events and opportunities, check out https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/national-crime-victims-week/.

To listen to the full candlelight vigil:


Check out the media coverage below:

KUTV: National Crime Victim’s Rights Weeks Honors Victims with a Candlelight Vigil


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