“There’s No More Money,” says Governor Walker’s Wife in a Discussion about Programs to Reduce Trauma in Wisconsin

Tonette Walker told a group in Milwaukee that her program “Fostering Futures” had changed state government by “goading” institutions and agencies to develop policies and practices that recognize the lifelong impact of childhood trauma.

When asked if she would advocate for more spending on relevant programs, Walker replied, “No. That’s not what I do at Fostering Futures. My number one thing when I meet with someone is: There is no more money. You are not getting any more money from me. I don’t have any control over that.”

Walker’s comments occurred at one of a series of  monthly meetings organized by the president of Marquette University and his wife to find solutions to the epidemic of trauma-related problems in Milwaukee.

Click here to read the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Winnebago Mental Health Institute Continues to Jeopardize Patient Health

Serious problems remain at Winnebago Mental Health Institute, according to two recent news reports.

Action News 2 at WBAY.com reported on July 30 that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) told the facility that it was not in compliance with federal standards in terms of physical environment, special staff requirements, and medical records.  The facility’s proposed “correction plan” includes such key areas as improving treatment plans and providing sufficient nursing staff and psychiatric care technicians.

CMS extended its deadline for compliance yet again.  The new date is October 1.  If the facility does not comply, it can no longer receive Medicare and Medicaid funds.

Click here to read “Winnebago Mental Health Gets Another Chance to Meet Medicare Standards.”

A July 25 report in Oshkosh Northwestern offers supporting and frightening details.

“As of July 3, the facility had at least 41 vacancies — that’s about 6.5 percent of the full staff. Openings include six full-time psychiatrists and nine full-time psychiatric care technicians.”

“An April report by a consultant for the state found Winnebago was “heavily relying” on overtime, increasing risk of harm to patients, causing staff to quit, and incurring substantial cost. Winnebago employees made nearly $1.9 million in overtime between July 2016 and July 2017.

Click here to read “Inspectors: Problems at Winnebago Institute Linger 8 Months After Patient’s Death.”

Click here to read a letter to the editor that proposes a solution to the problem.

Police and Firefighters are Teaming up with Mental Health Professionals to Address Trauma in Milwaukee

Everyday,  police and firefighters are involved in events that can cause lifelong trauma in others.  They see what a fire, a shooting, a robbery, and domestic violence can do to the immediate victims and those around them.

Experts are also beginning to understand the ways that traumatic experiences can be passed from generation to generation.  In simple terms: a violent environment for a child can led to stress, inhibit healthy growth, and ultimately perpetuate the cycle of violence.

Until recently, police and firefighters had no tools to help the survivors of exposure to violence.   But, under the auspices of a new county-city team, they have referred 700 families and individuals to mental health professionals for help with trauma.

Click here to read “How a City-County Partnership with Mental Health, Police, and Firefighters is Treating Trauma in Milwaukee” in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Click here to read “In High-Trauma Milwaukee Journey House Sees Mental Health Therapy as Missing Link,” another effort to address trauma in Milwaukee

Wisconsin should emulate Rhode Island’s success by offering methadone treatment in jails and prisons

Pew Charitable Trusts, which spent a year studying the state’s opioid treatment system, offered recommendations to a state task force.  Among them was the suggestion for a pilot program that would offer medication-assisted treatment in at least one prison or one jail.

Rhode Island has such a program that led to a 61 percent decrease in overdose deaths among recently incarcerated people and a 12 percent decrease in overdose deaths statewide.

Pew consultants also recommended that the state:

—-Expand opioid treatment programs.  The state has too few providers offering methadone treatment.

—–Develop a legal definition for recovery housing that would bar discrimination against those using methadone treatment, and

——Fund an expansion of buprenorphine training for providers during training programs for doctors and other medical professionals.

UPDATE:  Click here to read an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a pioneering program in the Dane County Jail to treat substance abuse.

 

 

 

 

 

Federal grants to decrease the number of people with serious mental illness in jail: Deadline May 29

Here is an announcement from Stepping Up about a grant program to reduce the number of people with serious mental illness in jail.  The Dane County government and Journey Mental Health appear to be eligible for funding. 
The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs-Bureau of Justice Assistance seeks applications for funding for The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). The JMHCP supports cross-system collaboration to improve responses and outcomes for people who have mental illnesses or co-occurring substance use disorders who come into contact with the criminal justice system. This grant program provides awards ranging between $100,000 and $750,000 for a 12- to 36-month project period to states, units of local governments, federally recognized Indian tribal governments, and state-county authorized mental health authorities.

There are three grant categories:
Category 1: Collaborative County Approaches to Reducing the Prevalence of Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses in Jails
Category 2: Strategic Planning for Law Enforcement and Mental Health Collaboration
Category 3: Implementation and Expansion

The deadline to apply is May 29.

Register for Webinar about This Funding Opportunity
The Council of State Governments Justice Center, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, will be hosting a webinar to provide guidance on how to respond to this solicitation on Tuesday, May 8 from 2-3:30 p.m.

Click here for the announcement, including links for more information and registration.

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.”

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.