• Need-to-Know News: Nov. 11, 2011

    November 11, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • LAC's Director of New York State Policy, Tracie Gardner, contributed an op-ed about New York City's new sex-ed mandate in the November 4th issue of the Brooklyn Daily.
    • Anita Marton, Vice President at LAC, testified at a public hearing on November 12 in front of the Assembly Standing Committee on Corrections examining the results of the merger of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and the Division of Parole into the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). Anita spoke about the need to direct more resources toward staffing the certificate review unit and the importance of enrolling individuals in Medicaid before they leave prison so that they have access to medical and mental health care and drug treatment upon release. Other speakers at the event included Elizabeth Gaynes, Executive Director of the Osborne Association, and Patricia Worth, Co-Director of Justice Strategies at the Center for Community Alternatives. Ms. Gaynes spoke about the impact of cuts to the DOCCS budget on essential programs for people in prison, including programs that help with family unification, pointing to the elimination of the “Free Bus Program” as one example. Ms. Warth spoke about the critical importance of expanding the DOCCS temporary release program to make greater numbers of individuals eligible, thereby enabling a structured transition from incarceration back to the community and saving New York State millions of dollars each year.

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State

    • The New York State Department of Health created a webpage with information about the 2% across-the-board cuts to Medicaid payments included in the 2011-12 budget, including a list of services that were exempted from the reduction.
    • The New York State Assembly recently announced two upcoming hearings on criminal justice issues. The first hearing, on November 17 in New York City, will examine the impact of merging the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternative into the Division of Criminal Justice Services. The second hearing, on December 6 in Albany, will look at treatment of mental health problems in Prison.
    National

    • The results of a survey of teen drug and alcohol use were published this week in Archives of General Psychiatry. The study found that, overall 37% of teens had used substances over the previous year. Native Americans had the highest rate of substance use over the past year at 48%, followed by whites, mixed-race teens, and Hispanics, while black and Asian teens had the lowest rates.
    • On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the inclusion of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was constituational.
    • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech on November 8 laying out her vision for turning the tide on the HIV/AIDS epidemic and working to bring about the goal of an "AIDS free generation".
    • Erika Wood, the Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, associate professor of law at NYU, and former staff attorney at LAC, wrote the first article of a new series for the New York Times website, "Who Votes?". The article examines the racial history of felon disenfranchisement laws in the US and their impact.

    From Our Partners

    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting the New York leg of its Regional Listening Sessions on Monday, November 14 at 26 Federal Plaza. The sessions are intended to seek comments on the establishment of the essential health benefits package provided for under the Affordable Care Act health care reforms. The RSVP period is officially closed but you may still be able to present by sending an e-mail to Joynetta.Bell@hhs.gov. Strong voices are still needed to ensure comprehensive coverage for substance use disorders and mental health are included in the essential health benefit package. For a copy of the Coalition for Whole Health's recommendations, click here.
    • The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), together with the Bronx Library Center, will be hosting a reception, screening and panel discussion on November 16 for the film "Released with Conviction." The event is part of an exhibit of photographs and interviews about returning from prison and jail that will be on display at the Library through December 17. For more information, visit this site.
    • The Bronx Reentry Working will be meeting Thursday November 17. For more information, click here.
    • Robert Gangi, the Director of the Police Reform Organizing Project at the Urban Justice Center will be speaking on police reform at the New York Reentry Roundtable next Wednesday, November 16.