Justice System

CSG Midwest
Two new laws in Illinois will seek to improve conditions and long-term outcomes for women in prison by providing them with more gender-responsive programming. Under HB 1479, signed into law in January, a permanent women’s division will be created within the Illinois Department of Corrections. It complements last fall’s passage of HB 3904, which requires the women’s prison and parole system to have trauma-informed, family-centered policies and programs in place. These programs also must reflect women-centered research on the most effective types of treatment interventions.
CSG Midwest
Under a North Dakota law that took effect in January, parents who are sentenced to jail or prison for more than 180 days will have their monthly child support payments suspended throughout their period of incarceration. 
Lawmakers passed the enacting legislation (SB 2277) last year in order to prevent the accrual of large amounts of past-due payments for incarcerated parents with child support orders. 
According to the U.S. Department of Human Services Office of Child Support Enforcement, studies have found that incarcerated parents leave prison with an average of $20,000 or more in unpaid child support. In 2007 (the most recent year available), the population in U.S. state prisons included 686,000 parents who had a total of more than 1.4 million children. 

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) states that when a prisoner wins a civil rights case “a portion of the judgment (not to exceed 25 percent) shall be applied to satisfy” his or her attorney’s fees award.

In Murphy v. Smith the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that this statute means “the court must pay the attorney’s entire fee award from the [prisoner’s] judgment until it reaches the 25% cap and only then turn to the [prison guards].” In other words, the court may not exercise its discretion and take any amount it wishes from the prisoner’s judgment to pay the attorney “from 25% down to a penny.”

CSG Midwest
Minnesota Rep. Marion O’Neill first became aware of the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders in the state’s prisons while serving on the Legislature’s Prison Population Task Force in 2015.
CSG Midwest
Minnesota Rep. Marion O’Neill first became aware of the prevalence of mental health and substance abuse disorders in the state’s prisons while serving on the Legislature’s Prison Population Task Force in 2015.
State corrections officials told the task force that 85 percent to 90 percent of inmates had a chemical dependency, 60 percent had mental health issues, and 11 percent were severely mentally ill.
“It was clear we needed to address these individuals’ underlying issues, not just the criminal behavior,” O’Neill says.
She also learned that the majority of prison admissions — 64 percent in 2016 — were people whose parole or probation was revoked due to technical violations such as missing a meeting or failing a drug test, as opposed to individuals who had committed new crimes.
This year, O’Neill sponsored legislation that requires parole and probation agents to consider community-based alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders who violate the conditions of their probation or parole.
Under the new law, before revoking an offender’s probation or parole for a technical violation, agents must identify “options to address and correct the violation,” such as inpatient substance abuse treatment.

The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative released Practical Considerations Related to Release and Sentencing for Defendants Who Have Behavioral Health Needs: A Judicial Guide and an accompanying bench card, which were developed with the support of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and the CSG Justice Center. The resources are designed to assist judges in making informed connections to treatment for people with behavioral health needs who enter their courts.

Echoing his 2015 dissenting opinion in Glossip v. Gross, where the Supreme Court upheld Oklahoma’s three-drug lethal injection protocol, Justice Breyer asked the Court to reconsider the constitutionality of capital punishment in his concurring opinion in Dunn v. Madison.

Vernon Madison was sentenced to the death for the 1985 murder of a police officer. In 2016 he argued he was no longer competent to be executed due to a series of strokes. His psychologist and the state’s psychologist agree that Madison understands that he is being executed in retribution for murder. But he doesn’t remember killing anyone.

Supporting People with Serious Mental Illnesses and Reducing Their Risk of Contact with the Criminal Justice System

This primer highlights how critical it is for psychiatrists to better identify and address the clinical and forensic needs of these patients and incorporate interventions that address their criminogenic risks and needs into patient treatment plans.

CSG Midwest
Nebraska lawmakers are hoping a new law will reduce the number of individuals being housed in county jails due to the financial inability to pay bail bonds or court-ordered fines and fees.
Sen. Matt Hansen says he initially became concerned about the increasing jail population when he heard that the county jail built in his district in 2013 was already approaching capacity. He learned that many of the individuals being held hadn’t actually been sentenced to jail time — they either couldn’t make their bail and were awaiting trial, or couldn’t pay a fine or fee.

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) states that when an inmate recovers money damages in a confinement conditions case “a portion of the judgment (not to exceed 25 percent)” shall be applied to his or her attorney’s fees award. The question the Supreme Court will decide in Murphy v. Smith is whether “not to exceed 25 percent” means up to 25 percent or exactly 25 percent.