Albany, NY – February 5, 2016 – In recommendations presented to the New York State Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees, the Legal Action Center urged the State to expand its commitment to Alternatives to Incarceration, increase health care access and provide other re-entry assistance to justice-involved people.
On February 5th, Sebastian Solomon, LAC’s Director of New York State Policy, submitted recommendations to the Committees’ Joint Public Hearing on Public Protection on behalf of the New York State Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) and Re-entry Coalition, of which LAC is a member. The hearing was held in response to the Governor’s FY2016-2017 Executive budget. Among the Coalition’s key recommendations:
- Support a proposed $2 million increase in the Executive Budget and add $20 million to expand ATI and reentry programs, including services that:
- Divert individuals from arrest or sentences of incarceration, where appropriate, and assist them in transitioning back into the community;
- Provide treatment for addiction and mental illness, either as part of a diversion program or after release from incarceration;
- Help people with criminal justice involvement obtain employment, education and housing;
- Connect justice-involved individuals to Medicaid and needed health care, including helping providers develop needed information technology infrastructure;
- Support the Governor’s proposal to reallocate $5 million in funding to help link those in the criminal justice system to the health care services.
- Encourage the State to apply to the Federal government for permission to use Medicaid funding to coordinate health services between jails and prisons and community-based providers.
The recommendation for Medicaid funding was also submitted by LAC to the Assembly Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees’ Hearing on Mental Hygiene on February 4th. Other recommendations submitted in writing included:
- Support and add to the Executive’s proposal to increase investments in prevention and recovery;
- Ensure that relevant New York State agencies enforce the new insurance requirements that the Legislature enacted in 2014. These requirements were part of a package of legislation passed in response to the opiate epidemic. They are also included in the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the behavioral health components of the Affordable Care Act.
LAC’s written Testimony to the Mental Hygiene budget hearing can be found here.