Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits for 62 Million Americans
According to an issue brief released Feb. 20 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Affordable Care Act will extend mental health and substance use disorder benefits to 32 million and federal parity protections to an additional 30 million Americans.
The HHS report explains that to do so, the Affordable Care Act will build upon the existing federal parity law, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. Applying to group health plans and insurers, this law requires that when provided, coverage for mental health and substance use conditions be comparable to that for medical and surgical care. However, gaps in coverage currently leave millions either without such benefits or without parity protections.
In surveying coverage before the Affordable Care Act, the report finds:
- One-third of those currently covered in the individual market have no coverage for substance use disorder services, and nearly 20% have no coverage for mental health services. Even when individual market plans provide these benefits, the federal parity law does not apply to these plans.
- More common than in the individual market, about 95% of those with small group market coverage have substance abuse and mental health benefits. Again, the federal parity law does not apply.
- 47.5 million Americans lack health insurance coverage altogether, and 25% of uninsured adults have a mental health condition or substance use disorder or both.
With Synthetic Pot, You Don't Know Where it's Been; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Legislator Wants to Change the Culture of Juvenile Justice System (NebraskaRadioNetwork.com)
A leading state legislator says the state juvenile justice system must move from a culture of incarceration to a culture of treatment. Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, says his committee will spend a couple of days hearing legislation that aims at nothing short of the transformation of how Nebraska deals with juvenile offenders.
- In Kentucky, Juvenile Offenders’ Names Could be Shared After Adjudication (JJIE.org)
On Monday, members of the Kentucky House passed a bill that would allow victims in juvenile court trials to discuss a case once a verdict is rendered, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. House Bill 115 swept through the House with unanimous approval earlier this week, garnering a 93-0 vote in Kentucky’s lower legislative body.
- [VIDEO] Nation Honors Center on Front Lines of Juvenile Justice (Northwestern.edu)
The Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) at the Northwestern University School of Law has received a $750,000 award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in recognition of the Center's exemplary advocacy for children caught up in the harsh realities of Illinois’ juvenile and criminal justice systems.
- Inquirer Editorial: Juvenile Justice that Leans Toward Mercy (Philly.com)
The Luzerne County cash-for-kids scandal revealed the potential for tragedy when locking up juvenile defendants becomes routine. Thousands of young people were harmed by the scheme hatched by two disgraced judges, who took millions of dollars in kickbacks to place young offenders in for-profit detention centers.
Florida’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Is Largest in the Nation; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Smart Justice Reforms are Gaining Popularity for Juveniles in Jacksonville (Jacksonville.com)
Growing frustration and dissatisfaction over how juvenile delinquents are treated in Jacksonville, Florida has inspired a new coalition of activist groups to press for reform.
- Study Recommends Extending Illinois Juvenile Court Jurisdiction to Include 17-year-olds Charged with Felony Offenses (ModelsforChange.net)
After examining the impact of a 2010 state law that places 17-year-olds in juvenile courts for misdemeanor charges but in adult criminal court for felony charges, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission has issued a report recommending an end to the practice in the interest of fairness and public safety.
- New National Standards For Legal Defense Could Help Juveniles (JJIE.org)
It happens too often in court systems around the country. A teenager is charged with a crime. His family can’t afford a lawyer, but the court won’t assign him one until he can prove a lack of funds.
- Florida’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Is Largest in the Nation (Colorlines.com)
It used to be that getting in a schoolyard fight meant a trip to the principal’s office—detention, maybe. But in Florida, more than any other state, that schoolyard fight can lead to the student’s arrest and even felony charges. Last year 12,000 students were arrested 13,870 times in Florida public schools, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Feds to Audit Solitary Confinement Policy; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Feds to Audit Solitary Confinement Policy (JJIE.org)
The Federal Bureau of Prisons will hire an independent auditor to review the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons, according to a statement released by the bureau. The move could impact thousands of juveniles in adult facilities who are frequently isolated from adult inmates, sometimes on the pretext of protecting their personal safety.
- Thousands of Student Arrests Alarm Florida Justice Leaders (Orlando Sentinel)
Thousands of Florida students are arrested in school each year and taken to jail for behavior that once warranted a trip to the principal's office — a trend that troubles juvenile-justice and civil-rights leaders who say children are being traumatized for noncriminal acts.
- Report Calls for Increased Funding for Juvenile Justice Efforts (NOLA.com)
To sustain and ramp up changes to Louisiana's juvenile justice system there needs to be adequate funding at both the state and local levels, experts recommended in a report released Thursday. At a day-long conference in Baton Rouge, two members of the Louisiana Juvenile Justice Implementation Commission underscored this concern, saying a lack of money could hinder future progress across the state.
Teen Narrowly Escapes Death after Smoking Synthetic Marijuana; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Juvenile Justice Should be a Focus for Georgia (AlbanyHerald.com)
In her final State of the Judiciary address before the General Assembly today, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein is expected to focus on an issue that needs serious thought — juvenile justice.
- [AUDIO] When Crime Pays: Prison Can Teach Some To Be Better Criminals (NPR.org)
In popular lore — movies, books and blogs — criminals who go to prison don't come out reformed. They come out worse. Scientists who have attempted to empirically analyze this theory have reached mixed conclusions, with analyses suggesting that activities like drug addiction or gangs are what determines whether the correctional system actually gets criminals to correct their ways.
- Mapping Juvenile Justice (TheCrimeReport.org)
A new mapping project demonstrates overlaps between New York City communities with the highest percentage of youth, the lowest household incomes, rates of foster care placement and adults without high school diplomas.
- GA Police Chief to Serve on Juvenile Justice Board (CBSAtlanta.com)
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice has announced Elaine Snow, chief of the City of Rome Police Department, has been named vice chair of the agency's board. Snow is filling a board position that was left vacant by Avery Niles after Gov. Nathan Deal named him as Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner.
- Gov. Dayton appoints the first Minnesota Somali Woman to Serve on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee (TCDailyPlanet.net)
Saciido Shaie has long had a dream that her thoughts and actions would one day become a reason for Minnesota youth to excel in education and life. That’s why she’s spent many years of leadership and advocacy in building a better place for Twin Cities’ young minorities. Minnesota took a note of her passion in activism, and so did Governor Mark Dayton. He appointed her last June as the first Somali woman to serve on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee for Minneapolis.
- Suffer the Children (The Economist)
On March 29th 2012 Georgia’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted on a criminal-justice reform bill that read like a left-leaning criminologist’s fantasy. It revised sentencing laws to keep non-violent drug and property offenders out of prison, directing them instead toward alternatives—drug courts, day-reporting centres, mental-health courts—designed to treat and rehabilitate rather than punish. Now Georgia is looking to do something similar for juveniles.
Reclaiming Futures Hiring in Portland, Oregon
Do you support juvenile justice reform and want to help communities break the cycle of drugs, alchohol and crime?
Join our staff in Portland, Oregon, where Reclaiming Futures is improving the experience for teens in the juvenile justice system by providing adolescent substance abuse and mental health treatment in 37 communities around the country.
- Secure major sustainability funding from private and government sources
- Cultivate regional and national relationships with individuals and agencies
- Establish financial and other partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, private foundations, and private or business sectors
- Provide leadership for the strategic direction of the fellowship program and seek input from staff, fellows and faculty across the country
- Organize fellowship meetings’ activities and materials
- Develop a webinar strategy to provide learning opportunities for sites and grow the national profile of Reclaiming Futures
Urban Teaching and Juvenile Justice; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Urban Teaching and Juvenile Justice OR Why I Have 8 Probation Officers’ Numbers in my Phone (Philly Teacher Man Blog)
"When I started teaching, I had no interest or background in the juvenile justice system. The fact that it might one day be incredibly relevant to my work in education was not even on my radar, but here I sit nearly 5 years later with no fewer than 8 probation officers in my cell phone."
- Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Prepares for Transformation (JJIE.org)
Georgia’s DJJ boss tells state lawmakers that his department must be transformed to handle the burdens a class of inmates that’s older and more violent, and high employee turnover and low morale, just as the governor pushes a large package of reforms.
- Florida Tightening Juvenile Justice Monitoring (Bradenton.com)
State officials on Friday announced plans for quality improvements and tighter monitoring of juvenile justice residential and detention facilities following the arrest last month of a staff member accused of battering a 15-year-old girl in the Florida Panhandle.
- Senator Proposes Moving Toughest Juvenile Offenders to Adult Prisons (Statesman.com)
In a move that would change decades of state policy, the chairman of the Senate’s criminal justice committee suggested Monday that 17- and 18-year-olds who commit violent crimes should do their time in a new system of youth prisons rather than in Texas’ juvenile lockups.
Ohio Leaders Brave Blizzard to Help Teens
Despite snow, ice, fog and temperatures around 15 degrees on January 25, nearly 70 leaders interested in juvenile justice reform, adolescent substance abuse treatment, public policy and philantropy gathered at the Columbus Foundation in Columbus, Ohio, to learn about Reclaiming Futures, a proven model for helping teens break the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime.
We were joined by Harvey Reed, Director of Ohio Department of Youth Services, to discuss how to unite probation officers, judges, substance abuse treatment professionals and community members to help teens in the justice system.
The following counties expressed interest in the technical assistance, training, webinars, leadership institutes, fellowship support and coaching available to members of the Reclaiming Futures community:
Targeted Treatment for Rural Wisconsin Teens
A common misconception that befalls some stakeholders in the effort to increase targeted, effective treatment or placements for nonviolent juvenile offenders is that such treatment is not available outside of urban settings or larger cities.
The Village of Oconomowoc Lake, Wisconsin, pop. 595, proves that misconception may not hold true for much longer.
At a recent meeting of the Village’s Municipal Court officials, representatives of a substance abuse program described how substance abuse could be a far more effective deterrent for youths charged with drinking offenses or very minor drug offenses.
Currently, those youths are usually just given a fine, often paid by their parents, and nothing is done to curb the underlying drug or alcohol issues.
Instead, juveniles could be placed in an addiction and education and counseling class, a portion of which involves the family. This alternative meets the rubric for an effective intervention for juveniles: targeted, tailored treatment of underlying issues and familial involvement.
Department of Juvenile Justice Strengthens Oversight; News Roundup
Juvenile Justice Reform
- Department of Juvenile Justice Strengthens Oversight (PNJ.com)
In the wake of allegations of abuse by staffers at a girls’ lockup in Milton, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice is tightening its oversight of private residential facilities — adding interviews with youths and a partnership with the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation to its monitoring procedures.
- Nebraska Chief Justice: Guardianship, Juvenile Probation Initiatives Show Success (Omaha.com)
Tighter court oversight of guardians and conservators in recent months has exposed cases of theft and misuse of funds, Nebraska's top judge said Thursday. Chief Justice Michael Heavican said changes to state law made in 2011 are providing more protection for vulnerable adults in Nebraska.
- Georgia Governor: $5 Million for New Juvenile Diversions (JJIE.org)
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is asking the state legislature to spend $5 million dollars to set up community diversion programs for low-risk youth offenders, on the model of other states. The appropriation would “create an incentive funding program” to encourage communities to treat appropriate youth at home, Deal told lawmakers at his annual State of the State address on Jan. 17.
- Florida Tightening Juvenile Justice Monitoring (WCTV.tv)
Florida is tightening monitoring and improving the quality of juvenile justice residential and detention facilities. Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Walters announced the new efforts on Friday. They come nearly a month after a privately owned facility for girls in the Florida Panhandle agreed to end its contract following the arrest of a staff member who was accused of battering a 15-year-old inmate.
- Study: Minority Youth in Wash. Arrested, Referred to Juvenile Court More Often than Whites (TheRepublic.com)
Minority youth are arrested and in the Washington state's court system more often than their white counterparts, a recent study commissioned by the state Supreme Court shows. But researchers said counties aren't keeping complete data on ethnicity and the gap between minority and while youth is larger.
- Palm Beach County School, Justice Officials Warn Students Juvenile Crimes can Follow, Hinder Them as Adults (The Palm Beach Post)
Sometimes, Sonya Saucedo gets mad. It happens: She’s 13 years old. But Saucedo said she worries sometimes about where that anger and frustration will lead her. “I’ve gotten in trouble at school a few times,” the Pahokee Middle School student said. “I once screamed at everyone in class and threw books.” So on Thursday morning, Saucedo tentatively approached the microphone at a school assembly to ask one question: How hard is it to get your life back after you’ve committed a crime?