Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wheat Ridge doctor faces drug charges for alleged "pill mill" - The Denver Post

Wheat Ridge doctor faces drug charges for alleged "pill mill" - The Denver Post

Ryan Lujan, 23, an award-winning athlete, died on the bathroom floor.

Derek Mefford, 28, a father of two boys, was found by his 10-year-old son.

Daryl Mattox, 41, was slumped over his couch.

The men had three things in common: All were addicts. All were patients of Dr. Kevin Clemmer, a Jefferson County osteopath. And all of them died after overdosing on prescription drugs.

Clemmer, who has neither been charged nor implicated by authorities in any of the deaths, is facing more than 50 federal criminal counts of distributing oxycodone — a synthetic opiate similar to heroin — "outside the scope of professional practice."

He has pleaded not guilty and is set for trial at the end of July. Authorities say in court papers that they investigated his connection to the three deaths and perhaps others.

Clemmer's case puts faces on what drug-addiction specialists say is an alarming trend in the illicit-narcotics trade in Colorado.

In the metro area, emergency-room visits for oxycodone abuse rose from 234 in 2004 to 1,256 in 2009, according to statistics from the Drug Abuse Warning Network that uses data from local hospitals.

Statewide, the numbers of treatment admissions for opioids not prescribed by a doctor has risen from 824 in 2006 to 1,715 in 2010, according to the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health.

Oxycodone scripts soar

A three-year analysis of Colorado's Prescription Drug Monitoring Database shows an average of 41,203 hydrocodone prescriptions and 34,516 oxycodone prescriptions are filled just for Denver residents every three months.

From 2007 to 2010, the number of prescriptions written in Denver alone for oxycodone rose by 41 percent, according to the Denver Office of Drug Strategy.

In 2009, 70 percent of drug-

related deaths in Denver involved the abuse of prescription drugs, according to statistics from Peer Assistance Services, a group dedicated to battling substance abuse.

In 1995, the FDA approved OxyContin for moderate to severe pain, and since then, an increasing number of people have sought drug treatment for abusing it.

"It was almost instantly sort of an issue," said Art Schut, deputy director of the drug-addiction clinic Arapahoe House. "People were being prescribed 300 tabs of it, which was supposed to be used over a long period of time. But immediately, people find a way to defeat the time-release portion of it."

Abusers can inject, crush and manipulate the tablets to consume the drug all at once to achieve a high rather than taking the pill and waiting for the drug to slowly act as a pain reliever.

In recent years, the drug has come into even greater use because it carries a hint of respectability not found in street heroin. Studies have shows that some abusers believe the drugs are safer to use because they are typically prescribed by a doctor and not necessarily purchased by a drug dealer on the street, Schut said.

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