- On December 13, a group of Republican senators filed a pre-appeal statement with the New York State Court of Appeals asking the court to hear their appeal of a December 1st decision by a judge in Albany Supreme Court dismissing their challenge of a 2010 law mandating that New York State use inmates' last known addresses for legislative redistricting, rather than the location of their incarceration
- The New York State Comptroller's Office released a financial report on the New York City economy and the City budget for the coming year. In his comments on the report, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli stated that New York City would have more difficulty balancing its budget in the coming year as a result of lower profits on Wall Street. The Gotham Gazette meanwhile reported that, in order to balance the City's budget, Mayor Bloomberg was likely to cut hundreds of City jobs.
- REMINDER: The funding deadline to apply for the federal Health Care Innovation Challenge is this coming Monday. Submitting a letter of intent is very easy and can be done by visiting this site. Substance Use Disorder (SUD) service providers are eligible to apply and a large number of applications from SUD providers would help demonstrate both the level of interest and the need for funding within the field.
- Despite strong efforts by the HIV and broader health communities, a new ban on federal funding for syringe exchange has been included in the final language for the FY2012 funding package that Congress agreed to on Thursday night. A vote on the bill is expected to pass, possibly before the end of the week. Members of the community are planning a joint effort to have the ban removed again in the next federal budget. We will be sharing more details about this effort with you once we know them.
- On December 16, the Department of Health and Human Services released guidance to the States on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) essential health benefit. In a major victory for mental health and addiction consumers and providers and consistent with the ACA, Congressional intent, and the Coalition for Whole Health's recommendations, the guidance states clearly that mental health (MH) and substance use disorder (SUD) services must be included in the benefits package. The Coalition will be preparing comments on the guidance to submit by the January 31, 2012 deadline. A summary, fact sheets and the text of the guidance are available here.
- The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report on the effectiveness of drug courts which found that drug courts reduce recidivism, reduce drug use, and save money.
- Illinois recently passed a law, the Task Force on Inventorying Employment Restrictions Act, which creates a task force to review all state statutes, administrative rules, policies, and practices that restrict employment of individuals with a criminal history, and to report these employment restrictions and their impact on employment opportunities to the Governor and the General Assembly. State agencies must also report on all applicants they reviewed who underwent a background check and provide information about people who were denied licensing or employment as a result of their convictions.
- A Detroit man is suing his former employer, a nationwide chain of private dental clinics, Great Expression Dental Center, for HIV discrimination. After privately revealing his status to his office manager in order to explain why he needed time off for medical appointments, the individual says that he was subjected to a campaign of harassment and other mistreatment by co-workers and supervisors. After several months of mistreatment, he was hospitalized, which led to his termination for excessive unexcused absences.
- The Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project recently released two new products designed to educate policy makers and others about various evidence-based practices for reducing recidivism and increasing public safety, a Q&A with five state corrections directors on overcoming barriers that limit their ability to combat recidivism and a video that looks at four core strategies for reducing recidivism.
- The Urban Institute recently released a white paper that looks at the impact of efforts to reduce the growth of state prison populations on local jails, supervision offices and community-based providers, as well as how decisions on the local level can conflict with state efforts and recommendations on how state and local leaders can work together to avoid these problems.
- Monitoring the Future's most recent annual survey of teen drug use found that the number of teens using marijuana on a near daily basis has reached a 30-year-peak. Meanwhile, use of alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine continues to decline.
- The New Jersey State Legislature recently passed legislation allowing pharmacies to sell syringes to individuals without a prescription. New Jersey is currently one of only two states that still bar access to syringes without a prescription. In an editorial this week, the New York Times called on Governor Christie to sign the legislation.