‘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

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as a physician or allied member as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

PRESS RELEASE: PfCJR Officially Partners with the Campaign for Youth Justice to Raise the Age

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR), which advocates to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system, has officially partnered with Campaign for Youth Justice, a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing, and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

(DECATUR – March 9, 2016) – Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is pleased to support advocacy efforts of the Campaign for Youth Justice by officially partnering to lend the collective voice of our physician members to the national initiative to end the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.

Medical literature reflects that adolescent brains are developmentally different from those of adults, often leading to impulsive decision-making, increased risk-taking and decreased appreciation for long-term consequences of behaviors. As a result, youth, by law, are prohibited from taking on major adult responsibilities such as voting, jury duty and military service. It follows, then, that youth should not be held to an adult standard of accountability when involved with the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, youth in adult jails and prisons are more likely to be sexually assaulted, physically assaulted and, upon release, are more likely to re-offend than youth housed in juvenile facilities. Each of those experiences, as well as early developmental experiences that put youth and adolescents at risk for involvement with the criminal justice system, result in long-lasting, negative physical and mental health consequences that could be avoided by juvenile justice reform that identifies and diverts at-risk youth.

Osvaldo Gaytan, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform’s Juvenile Justice Taskforce and a physician with specialties in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Neuropharmacology and early childhood trauma states “Children and adolescents are our future. I think we can all agree on that. As doctors, it is our duty to make a united stand against environmental factors that affect both the mental and physical health outcomes of our patients. Every bit of evidence we have as physicians points to the fact that adolescent brains do not function in an equal capacity as adult brains. Therefore, it is not scientifically sound to equate the functioning of an adolescent brain with that of an adult. It is unjust.”

Please join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform and the Campaign for Youth Justice on insisting that the legal age for being treated as an adult be raised to 18 years of age as a national standard.

 

About PfCJR:

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (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.

 

When the Hospital Fires the Bullet

PfCJR CORE ISSUE: Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders

The New York Times is bringing needed attention to the story of Alan Pean, violence in hospitals, and police brutality in interactions with the mentally ill. This incident is not new to us at Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, as we reported on Alan in our blog six months ago. He was shot, in the chest, by security officers while voluntarily admitted for psychiatric care. Luckily, he has survived to tell his story and fight against the unbelievable charges levied on him by prosecutors with the help of his loving family that includes a physician and two aspiring physicians. We commend the New York Times for bringing attention to this critical issue, one which all physicians should be able to get behind.

#MedicineNotBullets

For more, please read the article on the New York Times website:

http://nyti.ms/1QZAMvp

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.

Untreated Mentally Ill 16 Times More Likely to Be Killed By Police, Study Says

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE: Decriminalization of Mental Illness and Addictive Disorders.

A recent report entitled Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters highlights the prevalence of fatal police encounters among individuals with mental illness, and makes recommendations for criminal justice reform. 

“By all accounts – official and unofficial – a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness. At this rate, the risk of being killed during a police incident is 16 times greater for individuals with untreated mental illness than for other civilians approached or stopped by officers.”

Recommendations for systemic change include:

  • TREAT THE UNTREATED.
  • ACCURATELY COUNT AND REPORT the number of fatal police encounters.
  • ACCURATELY COUNT AND REPORT all incidents involving use of deadly force by law enforcement.
  • SYSTEMATICALLY IDENTIFY the role of mental illness in fatal police shootings.

If you would like to join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform in supporting these recommendations, CLICK HERE.

 

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.

Kids Who Face Criminal Charges Are More Likely To Die Young

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the Juvenile Justice System to Identify and Divert At-Risk Youth. 

Young offenders who are transferred to adult court are three times more likely to die early than someone of the same age in the general population, according to a longitudinal study published this month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. “Any involvement with the criminal justice system increased the chance of mortality,” lead study author Matthew Aalsma, an associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University, told The Huffington Post.

The more severe the punishment a youth offender faced, the greater the likelihood he would die early, Aalsma explained. Most of the time, he noted, the kids died by homicide.

The study compared electronic criminal justice records and health records of almost 50,000 10- to 18-year-old offenders in Marion County, Indiana, between 1999 and 2011, finding a direct link between involvement in the justice system and early death.

Read the full article by clicking HERE.

 

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.