McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Homepage

February 27, 2013

Legislation affecting Narconon Arrowhead passes Senate

McALESTER — Legislation allowing Oklahoma’s mental health agency to certify recovery centers such as Narconon Arrowhead was unanimously passed by the Oklahoma Senate this week.

Narconon Arrowhead is a non-profit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Canadian.

Last August, after several deaths and lawsuits at Narconon Arrowhead, Sen. Tom Ivester, D-Elk City, said he would work with officials at Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to author legislation aimed at “regulating questionable practices” at the facility.

An investigation of the Narconon Arrowhead organization was prompted by the July 19 death of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso, by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office and the mental health department. The investigation later expanded to include three other deaths, those of Hillary Holten, 21, who was found dead at Narconon Arrowhead in April; Gabriel Graves, 32, who died at the facility in October, and  Kaysie Dianne Werninck, 28, who died in 2009 while she was a patient of the facility. Werninck was not at the Arrowhead facility a the time of her death.

District 7 State Sen. Larry Boggs said he voted for the bill Tuesday.

“I think over all the bill is a good one, but it will need some oversight,” said the legislator, whose district includes McAlester and the area in which Narconon Arrowhead is located, near Canadian.

“I think we came as close as we can for the people it will affect.”

In November, Murphy’s autopsy report revealed that she had died of an accidental overdose.

With that information, the investigation was handed over to District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward who has said he will a make the decision about whether criminal charges would be filed in connection the deaths. Several phone calls to Ward’s cell phone Friday and Saturday were not returned.

Meanwhile, in January, Sen. Ivester introduced Senate Bill 295 which broadens the scope of what the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services can do. Currently Narconon Arrowhead does not have to be certified under the agency. If it becomes law, Sen. Ivester’s bill would amend the current law so that the ODMHSSA could also certify recovery centers such as Narconon.

Meanwhile, back in August soon after Murphy was found dead at the facility, Ivester said he believed the state could impose strict regulations of “unorthodox drug treatment programs, like the one being run at Narconon Arrowhead that requires patients to endure five hours of extreme heat in a sauna and taking questionable doses of the vitamin Niacin.”

Ivester said, “There are proven treatment regimens to help people deal with the illness of addiction and we have a duty to ensure that programs being offered within the borders of Oklahoma are strongly regulated to ensure the utmost safety for these vulnerable patients and their families.”

The legislation must now be passed by the House of Representative before it becomes law.

Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, said he hasn’t read the legislation yet and couldn’t say how he will vote on it. He did said Narconon is going through the process of certification to become approved by the state mental health board.

“I have talked to Sen. Ivester about the bill and I feel (the bill) would be redundant,” Renegar said. “By the time it becomes law, Narconon will be approved by the board.”

He also said he felt that Narconon was taking steps to change its policies. And, since the deaths at the facility, he said a close family member of his has used the Narconon program.

District 18 State Rep. Donnie Condit. D-McAlester, said he is all for making drug rehab facilities safer.

“If I had to vote on the bill today,” Condit said, “I would vote for it.”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
07 30 SOUTH AVE 1.jpg

Heavy equipment operator Greg Wood removes more of the intersection between South Avenue and Country Club Road while working on Tuesday. Some motorists are still driving up to the intersection hoping to get through, despite signs that say “Road Closed Ahead.”

Local Sports
Clayton Pinson

Swag middle infielder Clayton Pinson gets low for a grounder during Tuesday’s men’s league softball game against Say I Won’t at the Pittsburg County Softball Complex in McAlester.

Features
State news
Area crime and courts
Poll

Do you agree with the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision?

Yes
No
     View Results
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Featured Ads
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
SmugMug