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DRM on WYPR Midday

DRM Attorney, Nicole Joseph appeared on Midday by WYPR to discuss Suspensions, Discipline and the School to Prison Pipeline.

Access the podcast of the 9/15/16 Interview

 

 

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DRM Seeks Bi-Lingual Advocate

DRM is hiring a part-time temporary (one year) bi-lingual advocate for outreach and assistance to Spanish-speaking communities in Maryland.

Please view the job description for more information;  submit application by September 30th for priority consideration.

 

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Comment on SGP (for Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities)

Comment sought on the DRM 2016-17 Statement of Goals & Priorities (for I/DD) until November 1, 2016.

§1326.22   Periodic reports: State Protection and Advocacy System.

(a) By January 1 of each year, each State Protection and Advocacy System shall submit to AIDD, an Annual Program Performance Report. In order to be accepted, the Report must meet the requirements of section 144(e) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 15044), the applicable regulation and include information on the System’s program necessary for the Secretary, or his or her designee, to comply with section 105(1), (2), and (3) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 15005). The Report shall describe the activities, accomplishments, and expenditures of the system during the preceding fiscal year. Reports shall include a description of the system’s goals and the extent to which the goals were achieved, barriers to their achievement; the process used to obtain public input, the nature of such input, and how such input was used; the extent to which unserved or underserved individuals or groups, particularly from ethnic or racial groups or geographic regions (e.g., rural or urban areas) were the target of assistance or service; and other such information on the Protection and Advocacy System’s activities requested by AIDD.

(b) Financial status reports (standard form 425) must be submitted by the agency administering and operating the State Protection and Advocacy System semiannually.

(c) By January 1 of each year, the State Protection and Advocacy System shall submit to AIDD, an Annual Statement of Goals and Priorities, (SGP), for the coming fiscal year as required under section 143(a)(2)(C) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 15043). In order to be accepted by AIDD, an SGP must meet the requirements of section 143 of the Act.

(1) The SGP is a description and explanation of the system’s goals and priorities for its activities, selection criteria for its individual advocacy and training activities, and the outcomes it strives to accomplish. The SGP is developed through data driven strategic planning. If changes are made to the goals or the indicators of progress established for a year, the SGP must be amended to reflect those changes. The SGP must include a description of how the Protection and Advocacy System operates, and where applicable, how it coordinates the State Protection and Advocacy program for individuals with developmental disabilities with other Protection and Advocacy programs administered by the State Protection and Advocacy System. This description must include the System’s processes for intake, internal and external referrals, and streamlining of advocacy services. If the System will be requesting or requiring fees or donations from clients as part of the intake process, the SGP must state that the system will be doing so. The description also must address collaboration, the reduction of duplication and overlap of services, the sharing of information on service needs, and the development of statements of goals and priorities for the various advocacy programs.

(2) Priorities as established through the SGP serve as the basis for the Protection and Advocacy System to determine which cases are selected in a given fiscal year. Protection and Advocacy Systems have the authority to turn down a request for assistance when it is outside the scope of the SGP, but they must inform individuals when this is the basis for turning them down.

(d) Each fiscal year, the Protection and Advocacy System shall:

(1) Obtain formal public input on its Statement of Goals and Priorities;

(2) At a minimum, provide for a broad distribution of the proposed Statement of Goals and Priorities for the next fiscal year in a manner accessible to individuals with developmental disabilities and their representatives, allowing at least 45 days from the date of distribution for comment;

(3) Provide to the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities and the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service a copy of the proposed Statement of Goals and Priorities for comment concurrently with the public notice;

(4) Incorporate or address any comments received through public input and any input received from the State Councils on Developmental Disabilities and the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service in the final Statement submitted; and

(5) Address how the Protection and Advocacy System, State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education Research and Service will collaborate with each other and with other public and private entities.

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National Report Addresses Segregation of Inmates with Mental Illness

Between 80,000 and 100,000 inmates are currently segregated in prison cells nationwide for 22-24 hours per day, for days, months, years, and in some cases decades at a time.

Segregation disproportionately affects inmates with mental illness and research shows that individuals may acquire symptoms of mental illness, or experience exacerbated symptoms of mental illness, as a result of the conditions in segregation. Today, the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Prison Project, in partnership with the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and the federally mandated protection and advocacy (P&A) agencies in over 20 states across the country, released Locked Up and Locked Down: Segregation of Inmates with Mental Illness. The report outlines the advocacy efforts undertaken on behalf of inmates with mental illness in segregation by the P&A network, and calls for greater national prison reform measures.

The report contains examples of both litigation and non-litigation advocacy cases from 21 P&As, and illustrates the sensory deprivation, psychiatric decompensation, and behaviors relating to self-harm and suicide experienced by inmates with mental illness in segregation across the country. According to the report, segregation means the practice of having prisoners isolated in a small cell for 22 to 24 hours a day. Inmates in segregation frequently have limited access to health and counseling services, programming, and services that support rehabilitation and re-entry. Report findings include limited access to mental health treatment, punishment for disability-related behaviors with increased segregation and restraint, the worsening of inmates’ psychiatric symptoms, and death related to the conditions in segregation.

Disability Rights Maryland, the Maryland P&A and a contributor to the report, describes settling a case in which the federal district court asked the P&A to represent an inmate who had filed a lawsuit alleging brutality in prison.  Although the events leading up to the inmate’s lawsuit were barred by the statute of limitation, the P&A learned that the inmate had been held in segregation for over three years, which was harmful to his mental health.  The P&A and its co-counsel negotiated a settlement agreement with the State Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to address the inmate’s conditions of confinement including avoiding the use of administrative segregation whenever possible and moving the individual to a prison with less segregation and closer to family members to further mitigate his isolation..

The report includes the following recommendations to address this crisis in our nation’s prisons:

  • Increased federal funding to the P&A network for corrections-based monitoring and advocacy;
  • Creation of independent corrections ombuds offices at the state level in order to address inmate concerns before they rise to the level of litigation;
  • Increased data collection by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics regarding the prevalence of people with mental illness in U.S. prisons and jails;
  • Increased monitoring and outreach in prisons by P&As across the country;
  • Fostering of collaborative relationships between state prison systems and P&As.

The report is available at AVIDprisonproject.org, where both the text of the report, and extensive original interviews with inmates with mental illness and corrections experts can be accessed. 

About the AVID Prison Project

The AVID Prison Project is an advocacy initiative focused on the needs of current and former inmates with disabilities. The project was developed by Disability Rights Washington and this report is a collaboration among NDRN, the P&As in Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Carolina, and Washington, with communication assistance from the P&As in Louisiana and Texas, and additional input from Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont.

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Press Release – Locked Up and Locked Down

AVID Prison Project Video Playlist

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Raise the Disability Vote for Affordable Housing in Baltimore!

A referendum on whether Baltimore City should create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund will be on the November 8th ballot! This summer, a coalition of advocacy organizations came together as Housing for All and gathered more than 18,000 petition signatures demanding that a referendum on a Charter Amendment be added to the November 2016 Election Ballot.

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund would require Baltimore City to create a fund into which vacant land, existing housing, and abandoned properties would be turned into affordable housing and made available to city residents making 50% or less than the Area Median Income. A housing trust fund is legal entity used to create and sustain affordable housing for those most in need. It is established by local or state government and receives ongoing public funding to support the preservation and production of affordable housing. Over 750 cities, counties, and states have Housing Trust Funds. Baltimore should have an Affordable Housing Trust Fund!

All around the country, but especially in Maryland, people with disabilities have worst case housing needs and are much more likely to need affordable housing than others in our community. Many people with disabilities survive on SSI-level income, which is below the federal poverty limit and about 18% of Area Median Income for the Baltimore Area. The referendum is just a first step – the Affordable Housing Trust Fund would only be created, not funded at this stage – but this model has been used successfully around the country and could be a good way of producing and maintaining affordable housing for those who need it most. For the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to become a reality, it is essential that Baltimore City residents with disabilities vote on November 8th!

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