|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Contact: Nicole Collins Bronzan
Director of Communications
NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2011 -- The Legal Action Center is proud to announce that Philanthropedia at GuideStar, the leading guide for donors to identify worthy charities, has named us one of the leading criminal justice advocates in the nation.
Decided by a panel of 127 experts working in criminal justice across the country -- with an average of 16 years of experience in the field -- this honor recognizes LAC as one of the top 5 nonprofits making an impact at the local level, out of the 144 reviewed.
Governor Andrew Cuomo released his $132.5 billion plan for the 2012-2013 budget today, closing an estimated $3.5 billion budget gap with $2 billion in savings and $1.5 billion derived from a reworked tax code that boosted levies on top earners. There are no new taxes or new fees under the plan, and, as agreed last year, the state would spend an additional 4 percent on education and Medicaid. The budget also proposes mandate relief, changes to pensions, and significant reform to the education system.
At this stage of our analysis, we do not see significant reductions or cuts in criminal justice or addiction or HIV services. Read our full preliminary analysis for more details on the key changes in our areas. The Legal Action Center will continue to gather details on the budget from our meetings and conversations with state policymakers and legislative staff.
The 2012 Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit will honor Elizabeth M. Sacksteder, Deputy General Counsel and Global Head of Litigation and Regulatory Investigations at Citigroup Inc., and Jim and Sue Cusack, founders of the Villa Veritas Foundation.
The benefit will be held October 23, 2012 at 6:00 pm at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. Purchase your tickets today!
its recommendations concerning the development of the required mental health and substance use disorder benefits in the essential benefits package.
streamed and downloaded free right here on our site, is a video guide to give people leaving prison the skills and knowledge to find jobs and prepare them for the challenges of re-entry.
Legal Action Center is thrilled to report that two of our re-entry bills and a number of other bills that we and other advocates fought for have now been signed into law!
either Certificates of Relief from Disabilities (CRDs) or Certificates of Good Conduct (CGCs) are accepted for the purpose of overcoming barriers to obtaining employment and occupational licenses.
The National Impact newsletter provides the latest updates from the Legal Action Center and State Associations of Addiction Services' joint National Advocacy Campaign for Smarter and More Effective Alcohol and Drug Policies (NAC). To learn more about the campaign, its goals, accomplishments, and how you can get involved, please visit the NAC website.
This week in the National Impact:
- ■ Health Information Technology Legislation (H.R. 5040) Introduced in the House; Bill Would Make Addiction and Mental Health Service Providers Eligible for HIT Funds
- ■ SAAS and LAC Leadership Meet with Federal Partners
- ■ SAAS and LAC Submit Comments on Parity, Funding and SSI/DI Eligibility
Since its passage in March, many people and organizations have been trying to better understand how the new healthcare provisions will affect them, and when those changes will be implemented.
Using the larger insurance provisions timeline from The Commonwealth Fund, LAC has developed a timeline for measures being implemented in 2010 that directly affect individuals and organizations dealing with SUD/MH issues.
Although ATI programs have been critical to reducing the prison population and crime and are essential to the success of Rockefeller drug law reform, they face potentially massive funding cuts because of the state’s fiscal struggles.
Now is the time to create enormous pressure on both houses to use federal funds to restore Alternatives to Incarceration and Re-entry related funding.
On March 24, 2010, President Obama signed into law H.R. 3590, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The new law, approved by the U.S. Senate on December 24, 2009 and the U.S. House of Representatives on March 21, 2010, is expected to expand healthcare coverage to tens of millions of Americans that are currently uninsured, resulting in 95 percent of the legal population being covered.
The new federal healthcare law includes a number of provisions aimed at improving coverage for and access to substance use disorder and mental illness prevention, treatment, and recovery services, a result of strong bi-partisan support in Congress and by the Obama Administration in addition to a unified and coordinated effort by advocates for people in need of substance use disorder and mental illness prevention, treatment and recovery support services.
The following is an overview of key components of the final legislation, including critically important addiction and mental health provisions included in the new law. The below also highlights provisions in the reconciliation bill, which was signed into law on March 31st and that amends certain provisions of the new law unrelated to the addiction- and mental health-specific provisions listed.
Many drug and alcohol residential programs and half-way houses have been asking how they can cooperate with census takers, as they make their rounds in 2010, without violating the federal confidentiality law and regulations. The Legal Action Center called the Census Bureau to determine exactly what information census takers will be seeking and how they plan to approach residential treatment programs. We believe we have found a way for programs to cooperate fully with census takers without jeopardizing the confidentiality of their patients' identities.
On Monday, February 8, 2010, New York State Senate Finance Committee Chair Carl Kruger, and Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman "Denny" Farrell conducted the joint budget hearing focused on funding for public protection and keeping communities safe. A panel of criminal justice agencies, led by Deputy Secretary Denise O'Donnell from NYS Division of Criminal Justice Service and including Parole and Corrections testified on public protection budget issues.
Legal Action Center Director of New York State Policy Tracie M. Gardner testified at the hearing on behalf of of the ATI and Reentry Coalition. To read her testimony, or to download the pdf, please "Read More.
Health Care Reform Update:
Although Congress has shifted its agenda from health care to stimulating job growth, Congressional leaders continue to explore ways to pass health reform. Democrats may try to persuade the House to pass the Senate bill as is and use the filibuster-proof reconciliation process in the Senate to make certain fixes demanded by the House, or they may attempt to develop a scaled-back bill that can pass both chambers.
LAC continues to monitor the situation closely while working with our Congressional allies to ensure that addiction and mental health are equitably included in any reforms considered by Congress.
Parity Regulations Released:
On Friday, January 29th, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor released the “interim final” rule and regulations governing implementation of the Wellstone/Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
The regulations include a number of strong provisions consistent with Congressional intent to improve access to critically important addiction and mental health treatment for millions of Americans. The rule will become effective April 5th and applies to group health plans and issuers with plan years beginning on or after July 1, 2010.
The Legal Action Center won a major victory when the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the Rockland County, New York-based Deer Mountain Day Camp violated federal and state anti-discrimination law by excluding a 10-year-old boy from its one-week basketball program because he is HIV positive. The case, decided January on 13, 2010, is the first in the country to address the issue of HIV-positive children in camp and one of just a handful to address the participation of HIV-positive children in extra-curricular activities.
On Thursday, January 7, 2010, Legal Action Center Vice-President Anita Marton testified at a public hearing on IOLA and the Future of Civil Legal Services in New York State. The hearing, held at the Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany, was sponsored by New York State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, Senator John Sampson, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee Judiciary, and Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein, Chairwoman of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
The IOLA (Interest On Lawyer Account Fund) Fund, in existence since 1983, is used as a means to provide additional financial support to civil legal service organizations. The money is used to provide lawyers to indigent people in dire circumstances who need representation for foreclosure actions, unemployment hearings, landlord tenant eviction proceedings, fair hearings and many other legal actions. The purpose of the hearing was to provide the Legislature with information to help its efforts to address the funding crisis for New York's civil legal services programs, so that it may better meet its responsibilities to at-risk New Yorkers and the cause of equal justice under law.
To read LAC's testimony, or to download the pdf, please "Read More."
On January 5, 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a decision in a landmark voting disenfranchisement case that struck a blow to Washington State's voting law that disenfranchised thousands of individuals with past felony convictions residing in the state, a disproportionate number of these individuals were Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans. This landmark decision further illuminated the startling statistics that show that people of color are disproportionately represented in this country's criminal justice system, thereby, disproportionately impacted by legal and policy barriers that prevent them from fully participating in society after paying their debt to society.
In federal budget and other legislative news, Congress passed its FY 2010 federal funding bills. Under the FY 2010 spending package approved by Congress, programs authorized by the Second Chance Act would receive $100 million, an increase of $75 million over FY 2009.
On December 28, 2009, the New York Times’ cover story, “The Recession Begins Flooding Into the Courts“ explored how courts are being inundated by cases due to the downturn in the economy. [Full article here]
LAC Vice President Anita Marton responded to the article by emphasizing that funding to provide legal services to the indigent has also been hard hit by the recession.
To read the full response to the Times' article, click “Read More.”