Advocate for Youth Mental Health: Join “Kids in Crisis” Event on May 10 in Madison

USA-Today in Wisconsin has been running an excellent series on youth mental health.  Click here for a link to some of the articles in the Kids in Crisis series.

Young people will share their stories at a Madison event on May 10, to be followed by opportunities for state advocacy.  Here is the information:

Our “Kids in Crisis Day of Action”  event will be from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. May 10 at the Overture Center for the Arts, 201 State St. in Madison.

 

 

 

 

 

Older Prisoners Languish and Cost Taxpayers Millions Each Year

Here are some key take-aways from an excellent article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“More than 1,200 people age 60 and older were serving time in Wisconsin prisons as of Dec. 31, 2016, the most recent count available. By one estimate, the average cost to incarcerate each of them is $70,000 a year — for an annual total of $84 million.”

“Last year, just six inmates were freed under [Wisconsin’s compassionate release program].   Among those who didn’t qualify were a blind quadriplegic and a 65-year-old breast cancer survivor who uses a breathing machine and needs a wheelchair to make it from her cell to the prison visiting room.”

“From August 2, 2011, through the end of June 2017, 25 people were released under the program, according to the corrections department. Only one was approved due to advanced age alone; the others had health conditions.

“A key reason is this: The law governing compassionate release says only people whose crimes were committed on or after Dec. 31, 1999, making them subject to truth in sentencing, are eligible.

“More than 25% of the state’s elderly prisoners serving long sentences — as well as some younger people with serious health problems — were locked up before that. That means some of the oldest and sickest prisoners can’t apply.

The article contains compelling examples of prisoners whose release would cause no threat to public safety and would save taxpayer dollars.  Click here to read “Compassionate Release Could Save Millions.”

Wisconsin Luminairies Focus Attention on Problems caused by Trauma

Important efforts by two dissimilar leaders in Wisconsin show emerging attention to the problems caused by childhood and other trauma.

In March, Marquette University President Mike Lovell issued an invitation to community groups to submit proposals to work with the university to address problems of trauma.  In November, he had hosted an “Epidemic of Trauma Conference.”   Here is an excerpt for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s article.

” Lovell predicts [the proposals are] almost certain to include treatment for neurological trauma — a condition that exists on an epidemic level in Milwaukee, where children in some districts routinely are exposed to homicide, neglect, abuse, violence, incarceration, alcohol and drugs as well as gunfire and police sirens, statistics show. Widespread trauma, in turn, worsens the ongoing social crisis in a city that for decades has defined the national extremes of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, infant mortality and broken homes…”

Click here to read details about his announcement and the problems in Milwaukee.

First Lady Tonette Walker aims to make Wisconsin the first “fully trauma-informed” state in the nation.  Her op ed describes progress at the Menominee Nation and her understanding of the harm caused by early trauma.  Here is an excerpt from her piece.

“We’ve made significant progress in other areas of our state as well, like in state government. Already, six Wisconsin agencies, including the Department of Health Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Workforce Development, Department of Children and Families, Department of Corrections, and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation are implementing trauma-informed Care principles within their interactions with each other, as well as in the services they provide to the people of our state.

Click here to read Walker’s op ed.

UPDATE:  The MJS published an article describing an enthusiastic response by a broad spectrum of Milwaukee residents to Lovell’s proposals.  Click here to read the article.

Here is an excerpt.

“More than two dozen community organizations have expressed interest in the effort, along with 18 academics. And a wide range of community activists have been attending meetings to learn more and plant the seeds of collaboration.

“There’s tremendous interest in the community,” Mike Lovell said.

Lovell wants to organize a major conference in late September, bring together as many national trauma researchers and local activists as possible, maybe even rent the new Milwaukee Bucks arena as a venue.

“This has got to get really big,” said Franklin Cumberbatch, a member of Lovell’s steering committee and executive at Milwaukee-based Bader Philanthropies.”

 

Congress Shows Promising Increase of Bipartisan Support for Criminal Justice Reform: So Does Wisconsin

Democrats and Republicans in the Assembly’s Corrections Committee crafted an ambitious plan to close the notorious Lincoln Hills/Copper Lakes complex, negotiated successfully with county governments, ultimately got a unanimous vote for the bill in the Assembly and the governor’s signature.  It was a rare bipartisan success story.

At the federal level, representatives of both parties also are working together successfully, despite the punitive approach of the U.S. Attorney General.

Here are some examples from the Council of State Government’s Justice Center.

Congressional leaders in March took strong bipartisan action in support of three programs in FY 2019—the Second Chance Act, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI)—aimed at increasing public safety and reducing recidivism at the local and state level.
U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-OH), Danny Davis (D-IL), and Mark Walker (R-NC) gathered 74 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for the Second Chance Act, which will mark its 10th anniversary this year.
U.S. Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Leonard Lance (R-NJ), and Norma Torres (D-CA) gathered 68 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for MIOTCRA.
U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Tom Marino (R-PA) gathered 68 signatures from members of the House in support of continued funding for JRI, a data-driven approach that helps states reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending and reinvest savings in strategies that improve public safety.

 

 

Problems Raised with SBH’s Proposal for a Psychiatric Hospital/Crisis Restoration Center

Middleton’s planning commission will host a public hearing on April 10 about the plans of Strategic Behavioral Health (SBH) to open a 72-bed psychiatric facility.  The city council has already endorsed the idea of providing $1.2 million in tax incremental financing to the for-profit company.

Through a review of public records, WSJ reporter David Wahlberg has uncovered a  number of violations by SBH in its operations in other states and nearby Green Bay.   Here are some of the most troublesome excerpts from his article.

“The Green Bay facility, called Willow Creek Behavioral Health, has had four medical directors, [since January 2017] and current and former employees say the facility is short-staffed. Aurora Health Care, which did medical exams at the hospital, terminated the contract this January.”

“After 10 youth escaped from Strategic Behavioral Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on New Year’s Day, the state suspended admissions, issued a $20,000 fine and gave the psychiatric hospital an immediate jeopardy violation for failing to keep the facility secure.

The sanctions are among nine immediate jeopardy citations and other serious actions taken in recent years against psychiatric hospitals owned by Strategic Behavioral Health…”

“Immediate jeopardy “is the highest level of potential sanction, and it is not common,” said Mark Covall, CEO of the National Association of Behavioral Healthcare, which represents psychiatric hospitals and includes Strategic Behavioral Health as a member.

“But the real key is whether or not the hospital made the changes that were necessary to continue their license,” Covall said.”

Click here to read David Wahlberg’s article about the violations and responses of advocates, public officials, and health care experts.   Click here to read a description of the violations.

Click here to read an article in Isthmus about the problems with SBH.