HEALTH & JUSTICE IN THE NEWS
Date: October 11, 2018
 

TASC in the News

October 31: Getting the Ingredients Right for Deflection & Pre-Arrest Diversion Legislation
University of Pretrial
In July 2018, Illinois became the first state in the nation to pass and sign into law the first-ever comprehensive 5-pathway deflection legislation. This webinar will present the ins and outs of the sausage making that lead to this happening and present a path for communities across the United States to do the same in support of the newly emerging field of deflection and pre-arrest diversion. Panelists will be Jac Charlier, executive director, TASC's Center for Health and Justice; Laura Brookes, policy director, TASC; and Chief Eric Guenther, Mundelein Police Department (IL).
 
80 Organizations Sign Letter in Support of Plaintiffs in STLDI Final Rule Lawsuit
The Kennedy Forum, 10/10/18
The Kennedy Forum, led by former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, drafted a letter signed by 80 organizations [including TASC] supporting a lawsuit to block the Trump administration's Final Rule on Short Term Limited Duration Insurance (STLDI) plans. The letter expresses alarm regarding the Final Rule, which allows a dramatic expansion of STLDI plans that often offer little to no benefits for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders.
 
 
New on TASC's Blog

"Deflection" Grants Available to Illinois Law Enforcement-Community Partnerships, Proposals Due October 25, 2018
TASC Blog, 10/10/18
New state funding is available to law enforcement working to divert people away from arrest and jail and into drug treatment programs. With $500,000 available, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) is now accepting grant proposals to support deflection initiatives in Illinois communities. Proposals are due October 25. "This funding demonstrates the strong commitment of the bill's sponsors and the Governor to supporting police and communities as they work to help people gain immediate access to the substance use treatment they need," said Laura Brookes, TASC policy director. To learn more about how TASC may be able to assist with your community's deflection efforts, contact Jac Charlier, executive director of TASC's Center for Health and Justice and co-founder of PTACC.
 
 
Around the World  

Canada is legalizing cannabis sales
Associated Press, 10/10/18
Canada is legalizing the adult use of marijuana on Oct. 17 and will be the second and largest country to do so. The federal government established the broad outline of the legalization law but left it up to provinces and territories to fill in some of the details - such as whether to allow home grows, to establish a legal purchase age of 18 or 19, and whether to sell through government-run pot shops or private outlets.


Around the Nation  

McConnell looking at criminal justice reform after midterms
The Hill, 10/10/18
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will move a criminal justice reform compromise after the Nov. 6 election if it has 60 votes. The Senate GOP conference is divided on the package, which merged a House-passed prison-reform bill with bipartisan sentencing reform provisions crafted by the Senate.
 
Trump: 'We do need' prison reform
Politico, 10/11/18
President Donald Trump said Thursday that the United States criminal justice system needs reform and is "very unfair to African-Americans" and that he would overrule Attorney General Jeff Sessions if he tried to stand in the way of changes. The White House in August agreed to hold off on prison and sentencing reform legislation until after the midterm elections. The Department of Justice supported the stance, saying that the legislation would put "drug traffickers back on our streets." But on Thursday, asked during a phone call with "Fox & Friends" whether Sessions is standing in the way of criminal justice reform, Trump said the decision is not up to the attorney general. "He gets overruled by me," Trump said. "I make the decision, he doesn't."
 
Senate Democrats fail to block Trump's short-term health plans
Politico, 10/10/18
A long-shot bid to derail the Trump administration's expansion of short-term health plans died in the Senate on Wednesday, even with Sen. Susan Collins providing the lone Republican vote for the resolution. The Senate vote ended in a 50-50 tie, falling short of the majority needed to pass the measure reversing new regulations allowing insurers to sell skimpy health plans outside the Obamacare markets for up to a year, rather than the previous limit of three months.
 
Trump officials plan maintenance downtime for healthcare.gov during ObamaCare sign-ups
The Hill, 10/9/18
The Trump administration is planning hours-long downtimes for maintenance on healthcare.gov during the coming ObamaCare sign-up period. The administration drew criticism for a similar move last year from advocates who said the downtime would hinder efforts to sign people up for coverage, but the administration counters that maintenance downtime happens every year and is designed to occur during the slowest periods on the site. The maintenance schedule is the same as last year, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Tuesday, meaning healthcare.gov is scheduled to be offline for maintenance from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Sunday during the sign-up period, except for the final Sunday, for a total of 60 hours of downtime.
 
Fact Check: Trump's False Claims On 'Medicare For All'
NPR, 10/10/18
USA Today published an opinion column by President Trump Wednesday in which the president falsely accused Democrats of trying to "eviscerate" Medicare, while defending his own record of protecting health care coverage for seniors and others. The column - published just weeks ahead of the midterm elections - underscores the political power of health care to energize voters. But it makes a number of unsubstantiated claims.
 
Spurred By Convenience, Millennials Often Spurn The 'Family Doctor' Model
Kaiser Health News, 10/9/18
Brown's views appear to be shared by many millennials, the 83 million Americans born between 1981 and 1996 who constitute the nation's biggest generation. Their preferences - for convenience, fast service, connectivity and price transparency - are upending the time-honored model of office-based primary care. Many young adults are turning to a fast-growing constellation of alternatives: retail clinics carved out of drugstores or big-box retail outlets, free-standing urgent care centers that tout evening and weekend hours, and online telemedicine sites that offer virtual visits without having to leave home.
 
More Prosecutors Help People Expunge Criminal Records
The Crime Report, 10/9/18
In a new focus on helping people with criminal histories participate in society successfully, at least 20 states have created or broadened records expungement laws since the beginning of 2017, says the Collateral Consequences Resource Center. Although law enforcement officials have traditionally opposed such measures, citing belief that records are vital to public safety and support for crime victims, a growing number have begun to recognize that criminal records can hinder self-sufficiency and help trap people in cycles of crime, the New York Times reports. Increasingly, prosecutors are endorsing mercy through record suppression.
 
More Women Are Behind Bars Now. One Prison Wants to Change That.
The Marshall Project, 10/9/18
More than seven of every 10 people held in prison, according to some studies, are arrested again less than four years after they are released. And while recent years have seen the beginning of a national decline in the number of incarcerated men, the situation has not improved much for women, who remain incarcerated at stubbornly high levels. Connecticut is trying to push back by focusing on one group that is especially likely to return to prison: young women, ages 18 to 25.
 
How Fentanyl Is Contaminating America's Cocaine Supply
Rolling Stone, 10/9/18
Over the last few years, this illegal fentanyl has started to make its way into heroin and other opiate-based drugs, such as oxycodone. It's a cheap alternative to those drugs, and since it offers a similar sedentary high, drug traffickers at every level of the chain began cutting it in as an adulterant. But the synthetic opioid, which is 25 to 50 times more potent than heroin, is now popping up in an unsuspected place: the country's cocaine supply. The combination is killing people: In New York City, for example, 37 percent of cocaine-related overdose deaths reported in 2016 involved fentanyl. That year, its northern neighbor, Connecticut, recorded 143 overdose fatalities where fentanyl and cocaine were present - in 2015, there were only 42. Just last month, four people died as a result of fentanyl-laced cocaine in San Diego, California.
 
The Uphill Fight Against Fake Prescription Drugs
The Wall Street Journal, 10/8/18
The issue of counterfeit prescription medications like Xanax is a growing problem, attracting the attention of law enforcement organizations and pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer , which manufactures Xanax. In June the U.S. Food and Drug Administration convened a meeting around the problem of illegal opioids sold online and through social media. "Millennials and those younger rely heavily on social media," says Alex Khu, assistant director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Global Trade Investigations division. "Criminal organizations recognize that trend and we're starting to see advertisements and sales of counterfeit or substandard prescription drugs on social media sites."
 
Video: Don't Wait for Rock Bottom
Addiction Policy Forum
The concept of "rock bottom" can help people describe their experience of recovery from addiction by turning it into a narrative with a clear event that helped turn their life around. But the idea that we should wait for the disease to get worse before seeking treatment is dangerous. Belief in this "rock bottom" can keep people who are struggling from reaching out for help. It can also keep family, friends, and care providers from addressing the issue when they have been wrongly told that the disease has to "run its course" and that they should practice "tough love" until a person hits bottom-when they will be ready and willing to engage in treatment. But these ideas aren't backed by science, and not everyone survives the fall.
 
HBO's 'The Sentence' Sheds Light on Devastating Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
Newsweek, 10/10/18
The Sentence, which won the Audience Award at Sundance and airs October 15 on HBO, tells Shank's story. Filmmaker Rudy Valdez, her younger brother-at the time a pre-K assistant teacher-began making home videos of his nieces on a spare camera, as a way to record Shank's children growing up. Before long, he began to see it as an opportunity to tell the story of mandatory minimum sentencing through "the people left behind," says Valdez. His sister was eager to cooperate: "Tell everyone," she told him. "Please, somebody see us."
 
 
Around Illinois  

Report: Most McLean County defendants succeed on pretrial release
The Pantagraph, 10/11/18
The majority of defendants screened for release from custody before trial did not commit a new offense or fail to appear in court while their cases were pending, according to a study reviewed Wednesday by the McLean County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The data compiled by the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development at Illinois State University examined 3,488 public safety assessments for defendants facing charges in 2016 and 2017 McLean County.
 
Opioid-related deaths in St. Louis region continue to climb
St. Louis Public Radio, 10/10/18
The number of opioid-overdose deaths in St. Louis and surrounding counties continued to rise in 2017, although the increase wasn't as steep as in previous years. There were 760 opioid-related fatalities last year in St. Louis, St. Louis County and eight surrounding counties, a 7 percent increase from 2016, according to the St. Louis-based National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The year before, the number of deaths jumped nearly 40 percent. Unlike other agencies, NCADA looked at medical examiner data, which ties deaths to where a person died, and not where they lived. In addition to St. Louis and St. Louis County, it collected data from St. Charles, Jefferson, Lincoln, Warren and Franklin counties in Missouri and Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois.
 
 
Research, Reports, and Studies  

Medicare-for-All and Public Plan Buy-In Proposals: Overview and Key Issues
Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/9/18
As policymakers debate next steps for expanding health insurance coverage and lowering health costs, some have introduced legislation that would broaden the role of public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. During the 115th Congress, eight such proposals were introduced, ranging from bills that would create a new national health insurance program for all U.S. residents, replacing virtually all other sources of public and private insurance (Medicaid-for-All), to more incremental approaches that would create a new public plan option, as a supplement to private sources of coverage and public programs.
 
An Early Look at Implementation of Medicaid Work Requirements in Arkansas
Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/8/18
Arkansas is the first state to implement a Section 1115 waiver that conditions Medicaid eligibility on meeting monthly work and reporting requirements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Arkansas' waiver amendment on March 5, 2018, and the new requirements took effect for the initial group of beneficiaries on June 1, 2018. As of September 9, the state reported that more than 4,300 enrollees have lost Medicaid coverage as a result of the new work and reporting requirements, and another 5,000 were at risk of losing coverage with another month of non-compliance. This brief analyzes the early experience with implementation of work and reporting requirements in Arkansas, based on publicly available data and information, as well as targeted interviews with state officials, health plans, providers, and beneficiary advocates conducted in August and September 2018.
 
More than 4,000 people with mental illness held in solitary in US - report
The Guardian, 10/10/18
More than 4,000 people with serious mental illness are being held in solitary confinement in US prisons, according to new research, despite the knowledge that holding people in isolation exacerbates mental problems and can even trigger them. A survey by Yale law researchers together with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) has revealed the shocking prevalence of solitary confinement among incarcerated people struggling with profound mental health issues. They are kept in total isolation for at least 22 hours a day for 15 continuous days or more.
 
After Prison, Many People Living With HIV Go Without Treatment
NPR, 10/9/18
When people living with HIV walk out of prison, they leave with up to a month's worth of HIV medication in their pockets. What they don't necessarily leave with is access to health care or the services that will keep them healthy in the long term. That is one of the findings of a study published Tuesday in PLoS Medicine. The study was among the first to follow people with HIV from jail or prison back into the community. What they found was that most people - more than half - fell out of care within three years of leaving prison. But those who did stay in care did well - better than those who returned to prison. They were more likely to have access to health insurance and intensive case management that connected them to support groups, housing, medical care and other services.
 
 
Health & Justice in the News  is a summary of recent news stories relating to criminal justice, mental health, addiction, recovery, and related issues. It is compiled and published by TASC each Monday and Thursday.
 
Some headlines and text have been altered by TASC for clarity or emphasis, or to minimize discriminatory or stigmatizing language. Opinions in the articles and op-eds do not necessarily express the views of TASC or our staff or partners.

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