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Carol Esarey

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UIS produces first legal reference guide on methamphetamine in nation

October 4, 2004

Guide draws praise from Attorney General Madigan

SPRINGFIELD - The Institute for Legal and Policy Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield has announced the production of a legal reference guide about methamphetamine for law enforcement officers, judges, and prosecutors in Illinois.  Described as the first of its kind in the nation, the guide is a legal resource for court personnel and law enforcement officers who must handle methamphetamine cases.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan praised the Institute, her staff, and all contributors to the guide for creating “a comprehensive and critical resource for law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and others in the criminal justice system charged with protecting the citizens of Illinois from the ravages of methamphetamine.”

“This guide was developed with input from some of Illinois’ foremost experts on combating meth production and its devastating aftermath,” she said. “It is a valuable document that can help those new to the problems associated with this deadly drug as well as the professionals who have fought this epidemic from the start.”

The guide provides a clear understanding of how meth is made, who uses it, the extent of the meth problem in Illinois, treatment issues, and laws and regulations that affect evidence collection.  It also contains information about how the legal issues that arise in meth cases are being handled in Illinois and other states.

The guide is organized into a series of chapters that can be used as the basis for training modules for law enforcement and court officials.  A series of PowerPoint slides accompany each chapter as a training and education aid. The guide will be available on web-based sites, CD-ROM, zip-disk, and hard copy.  “The guide provides an opportunity for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges from counties where meth has been prevalent for years to share their experience and expertise with counties that are just now beginning to experience clandestine lab cases,” said Carol Esarey, interim director of UIS’ Institute for Legal and Policy Studies.

Esarey said a long-term goal for production of the guide is to provide a foundation for developing a comprehensive statewide strategy and coordinated response to the problems meth manufacturing and abuse are causing in Illinois communities.

The problems associated with meth, a powerful stimulant easily made from common household chemicals, are on the rise in Illinois.  The negative impacts experienced in 1996 when the first clandestine lab was seized in Adams County are rapidly spreading across the state.  The number of clandestine labs seized in Illinois has increased dramatically during the past eight years.

The precursor chemicals used to produce meth are inexpensive, widely available, easy to transport, and difficult to regulate.  Anhydrous ammonia, a precursor used in the production of meth, if not handled properly, can cause dehydration, cell destruction, chemical burns and, in extreme cases, death. The theft of anhydrous ammonia is a common occurrence in Illinois’ agricultural communities.

Meth can be ingested by swallowing, inhaling, injecting, or smoking and is highly addictive.  Although the initial effects are pleasurable, users will quickly come to experience mental confusion, severe anxiety, and paranoia.  The effects often lead to violent behavior including domestic violence and child abuse.

In addition to the adverse health risks associated with meth abuse, the manufacturing process generates harmful chemical vapors and a significant amount of hazardous waste.  The hazardous chemicals present a risk of fire and explosion that may lead to serious injuries or death for law enforcement officers, the meth cook, children, and anyone else who may be within the vicinity of the lab.

The Institute designed, developed, and wrote the guide in partnership with the Methamphetamine Protocol Advisory Committee under a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice funded through the Illinois State Police.  The advisory committee included judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and representatives from the Office of the Attorney General, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.


    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 40 degree programs – 20 bachelor’s, 19 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.