‘Fetal assault bill’ may lead to more drug treatment funding for pregnant women

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders.

An impassioned and unresolved controversy over whether to continue criminal prosecution of women who give birth to drug-addicted babies has birthed a bipartisan and unanimous committee crusade to spend more state money on treatment for addiction.  Highlights from the article:

  • All members of the state House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, where the opposing sides argued emotionally and at length about the “fetal assault bill” last week, signed on afterward to a proposed state budget amendment that would provide $10 million in new funding “for the sole purpose of drug addiction treatment services for pregnant women and newborn babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome.”
  • The bill, HB1660, appeared on the verge of defeat after a Sevier County judge who presides over a drug court joined others in telling legislators that a two-year experiment in authorizing prosecution of addicted mothers has been a failure.
  • Patrick said the law discourages mothers “from being forthcoming” and seeking help they need. He also said the law ignores alcohol abuse by expectant mothers, a far more common problem — although drug addiction is growing, mostly because of illegal use of opioid prescription drugs.

Read the entire article online at KnoxBlogs.com

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Connecticut Governor Proposes New Criminal Justice Reforms

Physician for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth. 

According to News 8 wtnh.com:

Gov. Malloy released the second part of his criminal justice reform that he plans to bring to the Legislature this year. It’s called Second Chance 2.0, and is aimed at the youngest of adult offenders. Under his proposal, non-violent offenders will be treated as juveniles up until the age of 21.

Malloy cites research that the human brain isn’t fully formed until 25, for reasons to up the juvenile age.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article. 

Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at risk adolescents.

As reported by the Washington Post:

President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

Highlights:

  • In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement.
  • The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days.
  • While Obama is leaving the details of policy implementation to agency officials, the Justice Department’s report includes “50 guiding principles” that all federal correctional facilities must now follow.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE.

24-hour crisis center designed to divert people from jail, hospitals

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders. 

As reported by the Triad City Beat:

Forsyth County officials are working on a plan to divert people with mental health and substance abuse challenges from the local jail. A new 24-hour crisis center to be operated by the regional mental health authority could provide an alternative to help offenders get treatment.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Mentally Ill Lives Matter

PfCJR CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of Mental Health and Addictive Disorders.

The Huffington Post published an opinion piece by DJ Jaffe entitled “Mentally Ill Lives Matter.”  Among the interesting points made:

  • At least half the people shot and killed by police each year are believed to have mental health problems.
  • Criminal justice leaders propose greater use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), called “Laura’s Law” in California and “Kendra’s Law” in New York.
  • The just-passed federal budget includes $15 million for states to expand AOT programs.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

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Grant provides Vivitrol for county jail inmates

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Provision of adequate physical and mental healthcare to inmates.

MANSFIELD – More Richland County Jail inmates will have access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addictions as a result of a new grant from the state.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services this week announced $3 million in grant awards to support 23 projects benefiting 38 counties in an effort to connect offenders with treatment. The goal is to reduce the number of criminal offenders with untreated mental illness and substance use disorders who continually cycle through county jails.

Richland County Mental Health and Recovery Services executive director Joe Trolian said the $148,000 Criminal Justice-Behavioral Health Linkages grant will not only help continue and enhance existing services like counseling and case management for current and former inmates but also add Vivitrol treatment to the lineup of services.

The agency has offered Vivitrol to only a limited number of people since 2014 because funding for the medication and the protocols and treatments associated with it were not available.

Statistics show people who attempt to overcome opiate addictions by quitting cold turkey have a much lower success rate than those who use medication assisted treatment, Trolian said.

 

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Why Connecticut may try 21-year-olds as juveniles

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE: Criminal Justice Reform to Identify and Divert At-Risk Juveniles. 

When the Connecticut legislature voted to raise the age of those eligible to be tried in its juvenile justice system from 16 to 18 in 2007, there was widespread skepticism.

Police chiefs and judicial officials in the state expressed concerns that the measures would overburden the juvenile justice system and cost the state $40 million a year. In the eight years since the age was raised, Connecticut has seen its juvenile crime rate and juvenile incarceration rate decrease significantly – and at a much lower cost than projected.

The state now wants to go even further, as Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) urges raising the age of the juvenile justice system’s jurisdiction from 18 to 21. He has also proposed reforms aimed at young adults – up to age 25 – that would give some juvenile system protections, such as confidentiality and the opportunity to have their records expunged, to young adults who commit less-serious offenses.

In an address at a University of Connecticut School of Law symposium in early November, Governor Malloy said he wants to “begin a statewide conversation” around the issue, and experts say the conversation could go nationwide.

This “Raise the Age” movement has been gaining momentum around the country, fueled by new scientific research suggesting that current juvenile and adult justice systems don’t properly reflect the modern path from adolescence to adulthood.

CLICK HERE to read the entire article.

As city jail deaths rise, will reforms help?

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Provision of adequate access to physical and psychiatric health care for current inmates.

According to an article in the Daily News section of www.philly.com:

* Seventeen inmates have died already this year, the most since 2007, when 20 died. This year’s dead included one man murdered allegedly by his cellmate, two men who committed suicide, one man whose cause of death remains undetermined and 13 others whose deaths were ruled “natural,” caused by health problems or addictions. The decade’s toll: 168 inmate deaths since 2005, according to prison records.

*  Meanwhile, the inmate population has fallen from a peak of nearly 10,000 in 2009 to about 8,000 today. Philly still has the highest incarceration rate of the nation’s 10 largest cities.

*  Six inmates who died this year – most charged with misdemeanors – could have gotten out of jail for $500 or less, including Parks and another alleged shoplifter, Erin O’Malley, who was held a week on just $100 cash bail, records show.

“The bad luck of the draw is that some people can’t afford to pay even low bail. So then they stay there not because we think they’re too dangerous to be released or won’t show up at trial, but because they can’t afford to pay even a low bail. For those people to die [in custody] is really problematic,” said attorney David Rudovsky, a leading prison reformer.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20151103_As_city_jail_deaths_rise__will_reforms_help_.html#eJowdpUB1flwXlbC.99

Police Leaders Join Call to Cut Prison Rosters

More than 130 police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs — including some of the most prominent law enforcement officials in the country — are adding their clout to the movement to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate.

Asserting that “too many people are behind bars that don’t belong there,” the officials plan to announce on Wednesday that they have formed a group to push for alternatives to arrests, reducing the number of criminal laws and ending mandatory minimum prison sentences. Members of the group are scheduled to meet Thursday with President Obama.

The group includes the police chiefs of the nation’s largest cities, including William J. Bratton of New York, Charlie Beck of Los Angeles and Garry F. McCarthy of Chicago, as well as prosecutors from around the country, including Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney.

Read the entire New York Times article by clicking HERE.

PfCJR – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform Officially Receives Non-Profit Status From Internal Revenue Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PfCJR – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform Officially Receives Non-Profit Status From Internal Revenue Service

Less than 3 months after its initial launch, Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform. Inc. (PfCJR) has officially received 501(c)(3) non-profit status from Internal Revenue Service.

 

(DECATUR – July 29, 2015) – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is kicking off its first round of major fundraising after officially receiving 501(c)(3) non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service. This organization’s mission statement is “Physicians advocating to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system.” PfCJR was launched to a great response on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+) on May 11th, 2015 and was subsequently incorporated in the State of Georgia on July 8th, 2015. The receipt of 501(c)(3) status represents the first major step in establishing PfCJR as a lasting force in the effort to obtain real, lasting criminal justice reform in the United States.

Edjah Nduom, co-founder of PfCJR stated “This is an important landmark for us, as we continue to build partnerships and attract donations that will help us sustain our operations and help spread the word that this is a vital issue. We are extremely grateful for those who donated to our initial crowdfunding drive, as that provided the funds that we needed to establish our website and pay the fees associated with 501(c)(3) status.”

Having received a robust response to the organizational launch, this designation allows Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform to further expand fundraising efforts, as non-profit status is likely to attract more significant donations and will allow supporters to deduct their membership fees. The PfCJR website, www.pfcjreform.org, has previously been launched and is already attracting significant web traffic from physicians, like-minded organizations and allied supporters in learning more about the intersection of healthcare and criminal justice reform.

About PfCJR:

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform (PfCJR) was founded by a group of physicians who were struck by the myriad of ways that negative encounters with the criminal justice system lead to detrimental health consequences. We firmly believe that changing the interaction between the criminal justice system and individuals of targeted populations will ultimately lead to improved health of targeted communities. As such, our members and supporters have made the commitment to be leaders of criminal justice reform by using medical expertise to:

  • Increase awareness and knowledge of the bidirectional relationship between health and the criminal justice system
  • Serve as a fund of knowledge, education and training for local, state and national health and justice systems
  • Lobby for criminal justice reform surrounding our core issues