Rutledge Calls on CDC to Adopt Guidelines for Prescribing Pain MedicationsTue, Jan 26, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with other attorneys general, calling on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to act quickly to adopt the proposed federal guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain.
“As I continue to work to combat the problem of prescription drug abuse, I want to make sure that physicians have the tools they need to properly prescribe medication,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have heard from doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement and citizens that over prescribing is a major concern in communities across Arkansas. I urge the CDC to move quickly to adopt these guidelines so that the medical community will have a better framework to prescribe opioids.”
In a letter to the CDC, the attorneys general write, “the increase in overdose deaths has made the efforts to improve informed prescribing both a law enforcement and public safety issue. Unfortunately, many prescribers, particularly primary care and family physicians, note they can lack clear and practical guidance in deciding when and how to prescribe opioids. Some are afraid to prescribe opioids at all, for fear that they will jeopardize their patients – or even their licenses. Others provide their patients with opioids when alternative treatments may serve as a more effective long term method for care.”
Rutledge has been vocal about the problem of prescription drug abuse in Arkansas. Since taking office, she has partnered with local law enforcement agencies to hold Drug Take Back Days, encouraging Arkansas to clean out their medicine cabinets of unused and expired medications to be properly disposed of by law enforcement. She also partnered with the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the Criminal Justice Institute to host the annual Prescription Drug Abuse Summit last November in which participants learned about more research and strategies to fight prescription drug misuse and abuse.
The letter to the CDC was signed by Rutledge, along with attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Rutledge to Make Parent/Teacher Child Safety Booths Available at Local SchoolsMon, Jan 25, 2016
POCAHONTAS – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today visited Alma Spikes Elementary School in Pocahontas to share with parents, teachers and administrators the resources the Attorney General’s office has to offer at the new parent/teacher child safety booth.
The booth is part of what the office is calling Rutledge Resources Days, which are days when staff visit a county and spend the entire day there – holding a mobile office, conducting Digital You presentations to various groups, including seniors, teens and parents and holding parent/teacher child safety booths.
“When I took office, I made a commitment to make the office and its resources more available,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “We did that in my first year by holding a mobile office in all 75 counties – a first for the office, but there are ways to expand the office’s reach even more. These parent/teacher child safety booths will be set up in elementary schools and public libraries all over the State in the months ahead to help provide parents and teachers with the tools to have important conversations with children about Internet safety, avoiding dangerous situations and much more.”
Child ID kits, ID bracelets, which have become a popular safety item from the Attorney General’s office, coloring books and stickers, featuring Ellie, the eagle, to guide young children through important safety tips, teen cards, parent guides and Internet safety materials will all be available at the booth.
Earlier this month in Searcy, Rutledge announced that she had adopted a new Internet safety program, Digital You. The program teaches seniors and older adults who are digital newcomers about tips and tricks to learn how to use mobile devices, navigate the Internet, recognize scams, keep private information secure, back up data and more so that they can be empowered online. Parents are given information about managing device usage, staying safe online, handling issues like cyberbullying and online reputation and protecting devices and information. And teenagers are taught how to safely and responsibly navigate their digital lives.
For information on the parent/teacher child safety booth, Digital You or to find out the Rutledge Resource Day county schedule, please visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007.
Rutledge Announces Little Rock Man Sentenced for Crimes Involving ChildrenFri, Jan 22, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced today that a Pulaski County man has been sentenced to 30 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction on child exploitation charges.
Roberto Almaraz, 49, of Little Rock pleaded guilty to 10 counts of distributing, possessing or viewing matter depicting sexually explicit conduct involving children. In addition to his prison sentence, Almaraz must register as a sex offender.
“It is a priority of this office to get these dangerous predators off the streets across Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I appreciate the hard work of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit and the Little Rock Police Department for conducting a thorough investigation to make sure this individual does not continue to exploit and endanger our children.”
Special agents with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit arrested Almaraz in August after executing a search warrant at Almaraz’s residence. Agents conducted a forensic exam on his computer and found evidence that he downloaded and viewed explicit materials involving children.
The Little Rock Police Department assisted with the search warrant and arrest. Attorneys from the Cyber Crimes Unit assisted Prosecutor Larry Jegley with the conviction.
Rutledge: Government Must Protect, Not Curtail, Beliefs of Religious NonprofitsThu, Jan 21, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined with 20 states to file an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the contraceptive mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, infringes upon the right of religious nonprofits. The brief was filed in Zubik v. Burwell, which has been consolidated with six other cases at the Court.
“Religious freedom was deeply rooted in and served as a guiding force for our nation’s founding,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Yet some would prefer to ignore the sincerely-held religious beliefs of nonprofits and force them to act inconsistently with those beliefs. Federal law does not allow this, but instead guarantees them the freedom to exercise their religious beliefs. Many nonprofits throughout Arkansas and across the country provide care and hope to countless individuals and communities. As Attorney General, I will not sit idly by while a political agenda from Washington D.C. assaults the faith and convictions of religious nonprofits.”
Led by Texas, Arkansas joined along with Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
In the brief, the attorneys general argue, “the states’ commitment to guarding the dignity of religious convictions is reflected in the states’ own laws. Each State constitution protects religious liberty, and some include protections that go beyond rights recognized under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. And twenty states statutorily protect religious liberty from government intrusion, as does the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The amici states thus have a substantial interest in protecting religious exercise from governmental intrusion. That interest is even more acute when religious practice is burdened not by congressional enactments, but by federal executive directives that do not pursue their ends in the manner least restrictive of religious liberty.”
Rutledge: The EPA Should Withdraw the MATS RuleThu, Jan 21, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) supplemental finding on costs.
“The EPA should withdraw this supplemental finding and perform a complete analysis of the costs utility consumers will have to bear,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Last summer, in Michigan v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court said that the EPA could not ignore costs when imposing MATS regulations. The agency’s supplemental findings, which are an attempt to sidestep the Court’s regulation, will affect electric utility ratepayers.”
In addition to her own comments, Rutledge also joined comments from the State of Michigan, which assert: “To weigh the Rule’s benefits and costs, the EPA must compare and balance them, not simply identify them. The EPA must revise its analysis to weigh the benefits and costs and assess whether there are any positive net benefits. Then, based on that revised evaluation the agency must determine whether regulation is ‘appropriate.’”
Rutledge: 332 Years in Prison for Those Sentenced for Crimes Involving ChildrenWed, Jan 20, 2016
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the 2015 statistics from the Attorney General’s Cyber Crimes Unit.
Law enforcement officers arrested six individuals from across the State for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children, along with assisting 24 local law enforcement agencies in getting these criminals out of cyberspace and out of our neighborhoods.
Agents also trained law enforcement officers at local and national conferences to provide instruction on digital forensic investigations.
“Agents in the Cyber Crimes Unit work diligently to find the predators and bring them to justice,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Arkansas children are put more and more at risk through rapidly changing technology. The number of cyber crimes continues to rise as these offenses have no geographic, age, race or economic boundaries.”
The unit closed 11 cases. One case led to a jury trial, while 10 entered into plea agreements, resulting in a combined 332 years behind bars for offenders.
Attorney General’s office staff members have also given over 500 community presentations with many of those focusing on Internet safety and anti-cyberbullying practices to students across Arkansas. Over 34,500 printed materials have been distributed by the office with many featuring Ellie, the eagle, to guide students through using the Internet safely, as well as the Parents Guide to Internet Safety.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General’s office Special Investigations Division also serves as the national Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Arkansas (NCMEC). Officers investigated 152 leads in 2015 and took information on 50 new missing children. The NCMEC Tipline is (800) THE-LOST (843-5678).