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Prescription Drug Take Back Boxes to Mobile Offices

Rutledge Adds Prescription Drug Take Back Boxes to Mobile Offices

Wed, Jan 27, 2016

BENTON – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today said that she is expanding the services offered at Attorney General Mobile Offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. Constituents will continue to receive help with consumer-related issues in filing consumer complaints and be provided with information about scams, identity theft, fraud and other protections, but now Arkansans will be able to dispose of their expired and unused medications. Rutledge made the announcement at the Central Arkansas Development Council Senior Wellness and Activity Center in Benton and was joined by Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant, Benton Police Chief Kirk Lane and State Drug Director Denny Altes.

The mobile office 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 hosting parent/teacher child safety booths. Rutledge is partnering with local law enforcement agencies across the State to provide the Prescription Drug Take Back boxes.

Rutledge noted at the announcement that without any promotion of the service during the month of January, the office has already collected more than 70 pounds at seven mobile offices.

“The Drug Take Back program has proven to be an effective way of getting expired and unused prescriptions, which pose a serious danger, out of our medicine cabinets,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By providing Drug Take Back boxes at mobile offices, Arkansans will be provided with another collection site to properly dispose of these medications and protect their loved ones. This does not seek in any way to replace the boxes already available at local sheriffs’ offices, police stations or on Drug Take Back Days. Instead, this expands on my partnership with local law enforcement to get these drugs out of our homes and destroyed in a safe manner. I want to extend my appreciation to law enforcement for their commitment to the Drug Take Back program and for working with my office to offer this service to the citizens of Arkansas.”

“No community, big or small, is spared from the threat of prescription drug abuse,” said Col. Bill Bryant, director of the Arkansas State Police and former assistant special agent in charge of the Little Rock District Office for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “These expired or unused prescription drugs sitting in our homes and offices need to be properly disposed. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies working as a team, in combination with civic organizations and businesses, are providing a secure method of destroying these unused prescription drugs in an environmentally safe manner. This also prevents these prescription drugs from being diverted to the streets for illegal sale and distribution.”

“The Arkansas Drug Take Back Program is an educational program to encourage all citizens to keep their households safe by practicing Secure, Monitor, and Dispose of their outdated, unused prescription medication,” said Kirk Lane, chief of the Benton Police Department. “The Arkansas Attorney General’s continued involvement with this program as a partner has been a key to its success. The General’s new collection opportunity will enhance efforts throughout the State and make accessibility to collection sites more available to every person. I applaud her and her staff, and encourage all Arkansas citizens to get involved and make this a safer State.”

“I applaud Attorney General Rutledge for her efforts to remove old and expired medications from our communities,” said Dr. Gregory Bledsoe, Arkansas Surgeon General. “These medications can find their way into the hands of children, and can contribute to unintended public health consequences. Thanks to General Rutledge and the other community leaders who are making this medication take back a reality.”

“Many teens report that they obtain prescription drugs from home medicine cabinets,” said Denny Altes, Arkansas State Drug Director. “This effort by the Attorney General is a great way to change that, and we encourage everyone to be proactive and take their unneeded medication to the Attorney General's or other take back events, and protect the people closest to them.”

“Prescription drug abuse in Arkansas is a serious threat to our children that we must address,” said Dr. John Kirtley, executive director of the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy. “There is an inherent misbelief that prescription drugs are safer than so called, ‘street’ drugs, when in fact they have the same risks for abuse, addiction and overdose. The best thing Arkansans can do with unused medications is dispose of them via Take Back programs, such as this new initiative being started by the General Rutledge. Prescription drugs that are disposed of in this manner will never be a threat to our children again.”

The Attorney General’s office has long been a partner in National Prescription Drug Take Back Days. The next nationwide take back event is scheduled for April 30. The Attorney General’s office also plans to host the fifth annual Arkansas Prescription Drug Abuse Summit this year.

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.

On Monday, Rutledge 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 new parent/teacher child safety booths. Child ID kits, ID bracelets, coloring books, stickers, teen cards, parent guides and other Internet safety materials are available at booths.

For information on mobile offices, the Drug Take Back program, parent/teacher child safety booths, Digital You or to find out the Rutledge Resource Day county schedule, please visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007.

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CDC to Adopt Guidelines for Prescribing Pain Medications

Rutledge Calls on CDC to Adopt Guidelines for Prescribing Pain Medications

Tue, 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.

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Parent/Teacher Child Safety Booths Available at Local Schools

Rutledge to Make Parent/Teacher Child Safety Booths Available at Local Schools

Mon, 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.

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Little Rock Man Sentenced for Crimes Involving Children

Rutledge Announces Little Rock Man Sentenced for Crimes Involving Children

Fri, 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.

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Government Must Protect, Not Curtail, Beliefs of Religious Nonprofits

Rutledge: Government Must Protect, Not Curtail, Beliefs of Religious Nonprofits

Thu, 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.”

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The EPA Should Withdraw the MATS Rule

Rutledge: The EPA Should Withdraw the MATS Rule

Thu, 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.’”

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