The Supreme Court held unanimously in January in Holt v. Hobbs that an inmate’s rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Rights Act were violated when he was not allowed to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his religious beliefs. This case will affect correctional institutions with no-beard policies and may provide lower court’s guidance in evaluating the act’s claims in the corrections and land use context. Grooming policies at the Arkansas Department of Corrections prohibit inmates who do not have a particular dermatological condition from growing beards. Gregory Holt’s request to grow a half-inch beard in accordance with his Muslim religious beliefs was denied.

The CSG Justice Center, in partnership with Texas A&M University, released a study commissioned by Texas state leaders interested in understanding the impact of the state's reforms of its juvenile justice system. This unprecedented study compares the impact on youth under community supervision versus incarceration in state correctional facilities. Closer to Home: An Analysis of the State and Local Impact of the Texas Juvenile Justice Reforms, which draws on an unprecedented dataset of 1.3 million individual case records spanning eight years, shows youth incarcerated in state-run facilities are 21 percent more likely to be rearrested than those who remain under supervision closer to home. When they do reoffend, data show that youth released from state-run secure facilities are three times more likely to commit a felony than youth who are under community supervision.

This act provides allows a judge to use discretion when sentencing a veteran or servicemember, who has been diagnosed with a mental illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder and who is charged with a non-violent offence to undergo a counseling/treatment program rather than be sent to jail. However, if an individual does not complete the program they can then be sentenced to jail time.

On February 10, federal judges granted California two more years to reduce its already overcrowded prison population. The ruling comes from a long-running lawsuit to increase inmate medical care in the state. California still sits about 5,000 inmates above the cap that was originally set by the court, which means they must bring their prison population to around 112,000 inmates by February 2016.

February 2014 ~ Stateline Midwest »

In 1977, South Dakota’s state prisons held just 550 inmates. Over the next 35 years, however, that population would multiply six times — and, in the process, drive costs through the roof.
By 2011, the state’s corrections budget was more than $100 million and had quadrupled in 20 years. And the prison population was projected to grow by another 25 percent in 10 years, with costs increasing to the tune of $224 million.

The CSG Justice Center released a new policy brief that outlines opportunities for states and localities to improve public health and safety outcomes and reduce spending on corrections and health care services by maximizing the appropriate use of Medicaid coverage for people involved with the criminal justice system. People in prisons and jails often have complex and costly health care needs, and states and local governments currently pay almost the entirety of these individuals’ health care costs. In addition, as many as 70 to 90 percent of the some 10 million people released from prison or jail each year are uninsured. The majority of these individuals have little or no access to health care services and experience gaps in continuity of care, which are associated with poor health outcomes and increased recidivism, particularly among those with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

The appropriate use of federal Medicaid dollars to help expand health care coverage for individuals involved with the criminal justice system presents an opportunity to achieve reductions in state and local spending, while minimizing known health and public safety concerns associated with reentry following incarceration. However, opportunities to maximize and maintain Medicaid enrollment for eligible individuals in this population, and especially to make use of Medicaid to finance certain types of care provided to those who are incarcerated, have been largely underutilized by states. This brief provides an overview of opportunities to expand health care coverage, as well as access to and continuity of care; improve public health and safety outcomes for individuals involved with the criminal justice system; and reduce state and local expenditures on corrections and health care. <--break->

October 2013 ~ Stateline Midwest

It didn’t take long for Michigan legislators to take notice of a state Supreme Court study examining the efficacy of mental health courts. Less than a month after the study’s release, the House unanimously passed a four-bill package (HB 4694-4697) that statutorily creates mental health courts, thus paving the way for judicial circuits across the state to operate them, Mlive.com reports.

Adults with behavioral health disorders are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. The Criminogenic Risk and Behavioral Health Needs Framework provides a starting point for corrections, mental health and substance abuse professionals to make better decisions to improve public health and safety outcomes.
 

This webinar examined trends and corresponding state policies to address the most dramatic change in the U.S. prison system, one that is having far-reaching effects on all components of the criminal justice system: the increasing number of elderly inmates. 

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