Monday, April 24, 2017

Corrections aiming to be gold standard in treatment of mentally ill

The Department of Corrections (DOC) is the largest provider of mental health services in the state of Alaska. With 33,000 bookings a year, 65% of those booked qualify as beneficiaries of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, including 23% with a serious mental illness, according to Adam Rutherford, Chief Mental Health Officer for DOC.

In many areas, Alaska lags behind other states, but not in its treatment of the mentally ill in its correctional institutions, Rutherford said.“We are practicing evidenced-based interventions, we are a leader in this area,” he said, adding, “We want to be the gold standard in mental health care.”

L-R: DJJ Clinical Director Shannon Cross-Azbill, DJJ Chief Probation Officer
Heidi Redick, DOC Director of Health and Rehabilitation Services
Laura Brooks and DOC Chief Mental Health Officer Adam Rutherford.
Rutherford, along with Laura Brooks, Director of Health and Rehabilitation Services for DOC, Shannon Cross-Azbill, Clinical Director for the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and Heidi Redick, DJJ Chief Probation Officer, spoke at UAA earlier this month in a program sponsored by the UAA Justice Club on how the mentally ill are being served in both the adult corrections and juvenile justice.

While it is often difficult to diagnose juveniles, DJJ Clinical Director Cross-Azbill said that the majority of those in DJJ have a mental health diagnosis including substance abuse, ADHD, depression and trauma-related disorders. They’ve recently been keeping track of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders and found 47% of the juveniles may be experiencing this, she added.

The panelists attributed the high numbers of those with a mental illness in both juvenile and adult systems to be partly in response to a lack of resources outside their systems.

Laura Brooks, who oversees all of DOC’s Health and Rehabilitative Services (HARS), explained the growth in prison treatment of the mentally ill as symptomatic of a shift in the 1960s away from funding state psychiatric hospitals and moving toward community mental health centers that were inadequately funded. Eventually, many of those with mental health issues ended up in correctional institutions, she said.

Not only is DOC Alaska’s largest behavioral treatment center it is also the state’s largest health care provider.  It is also the largest medical facility, largest detox center, and substance abuse treatment center. The behavioral health staff has 21,000 contacts with offenders a year, according to Rutherford. The HARS staff of 200 sees 5,000 patients a day inpatient and 4,000 a day outpatient, according to Brooks.

DOC has followed the national movement to screen people coming into the system to assess : 1) criminogenic risk, 2) need for substance abuse treatment, and 3) need for mental health treatment.

The goal is to have people in a better position when they leave the facilities than when they entered, Rutherford said. This is important, he added, because most of those who are incarcerated return to the community.

Friday, April 21, 2017

ACLU of Alaska's Tara Rich speaks to Prof. Brandeis' Civil Liberties class

ACLU of Alaska's Legal Policy Director Tara Rich in
Prof. Jason Brandeis' Civil Liberties class
ACLU of Alaska's Legal and Policy Director Tara Rich spoke to Prof. Jason Brandeis' Civil Liberties class (JUST/LEGL A443). Rich gave a presentation on the ACLU's nationwide Campaign For Smart Justice and engaged the class in a discussion of criminal justice issues in Alaska. At the end of the class, Rich distributed pocket-sized constitutions to all of the students.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Center for Advocacy, Relationships, and Sexual Violence grand opening April 21

The 2016 University of Alaska Campus Climate Survey, conducted by Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, Justice faculty, found that few University of Alaska students who experienced sexual violence chose to disclose their victimization to authorities or a sexual assault advocate. The results of the campus climate survey, in combination with efforts of many across UAA to provide better victim services, led to a partnership with STAR and the opening of the Center for Advocacy, Relationships, and Sexual Violence, on UAA's campus. The Justice Center encourages you to attend the ceremony marking the opening on Friday, April 21, in Rasmuson Hall 118.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Prof. Brandeis presenting information on marijuana law at continuing legal education for Alaska lawyers

Prof. Jason Brandeis, Justice faculty, is giving two presentations at a day-long continuing legal education course for members of the Alaska Bar Association focused on marijuana law in Alaska on April 20 at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center.

Prof. Brandeis will present on legal developments in federal and state marijuana laws, providing an historical overview and discussion of pertinent state/federal conflicts. He will also do a presentation on ethics in marijuana law.

Prof. Brandeis teaches courses on the American legal system, constitutional law, and civil liberties, and is a frequent speaker on constitutional law and other legal topics.  Prof. Brandeis also maintains a private law practice through which he advises clients on marijuana law and policy questions.  He has also provided legal services to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska

Sen. Dan Sullivan thanks Dr. Blumenstein for highlighting "critical issue for our State"

Sen. Sullivan congratulates
Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein
on receiving the
 Rose Day Award
from the Zonta Club of
Dr. Lindsey Blumenstein, Justice faculty, received a congratulatory note from Sen. Dan Sullivan after Dr. Blumenstein was recognized by the Zonta Club of Anchorage for her work to improve the lives of Alaskans through research into domestic violence and sexual assault.  Sen. Sullivan thanked Dr. Blumenstein for her work to highlight this "critical issue for our State."

Friday, April 14, 2017

Want to learn more about justice in Anchorage?

"If you want to really learn about what happens behind the scenes — to a certain extent — in regards to Anchorage and what really happens to the justice side of it, the [Justice] club is in a perfect spot right now to where you can learn about that,” Brad Foster, club president and criminal justice major told the Northern Light.

Austin Rodgers, Justice Club  secretary.
   Photo credit: Young Kim
Justice Club's emphasis on service and its effort to strengthen year-to-year student involvement is driving a merger with the Pre-Law Society. "Pre-Law Society is actually going to be dissolving into the Justice Club, and the new club is going to be called the Society of Law and Justice," Foster said.

Interested in learning more: check out the end of year Mario Kart Drive for Justice bash April 21 at 6p.m. in North Hall 2nd floor lounge. Or go to a meeting. The club meets every other Friday at 5:30p.m. in room 119 of the Social Science Building. The next meeting is April 14. Questions?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dr. Allan Barnes talks about crime rates at Rotary

Dr. Allan Barnes talks about crime at Rotary
Dr. Allan Barnes, Justice faculty, spoke to members of Anchorage Gateway Rotary about the community's increased concern about crime.  He provided  copies of the AJSAC "Fact Sheet" on recent violent crime trends and other relevant AJSAC information.  He also demonstrated how to use the Anchorage Police Departments new Community Crime Map program and gave them information for creating a Neighborhood Crime Watch program in their home area.  A lively discussion of the causes for the perceived increase in violent crime in Anchorage ensued.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Tales from territorial lawyers featured at UAA Bookstore Thursday, April 13

Thursday, April 13 from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm at the UAA Campus Bookstore

Pamela Cravez, Alaska Justice Forum editor, presents her new book, The Biggest Dammed Hat.

The Biggest Damned Hat presents a fascinating collection of stories ranging from the gold rush to the 1950s.  Based upon legal research, oral histories, and interviews of more than 50 lawyers who came to Alaska prior to 1959, it provides new stories and perspectives on Alaska history from gold rush times to statehood.  It is published by University of Alaska Press.

There is free parking for this event in the South Lot, Sports Complex NW Lot, West Campus Central Lot, and Sports Campus West Lot

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Students take sides in wrongful death mock trial

Mark Heinrichs gives his opening statement in mock trial.
Prof. Kristin Knudsen judges mock trial in Prof. Ryan Fortson's Trial and
Advanced Litigation Processes class (LEGL487).
Students in Prof. Ryan Fortson's Trial and Advanced Litigation Processes class recently participated in a mock trial. Students performed all elements of the civil wrongful death trial, including opening and closing statements, examination of witnesses, laying the foundation for expert witnesses, and making objections. Prof. Kristin Knudsen, Legal Studies faculty who has spent more than eight years as an administrative law judge, served as judge for the trial. Judge Knudsen found mostly for the defense, although did find for the plaintiff on a couple of points.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Moving in the right direction on domestic violence but still a long way to go

Anchorage Press
More than half of  adult women in the state of Alaska have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence or both, Dr. André Rosay, director of the Justice Center, said in an interview with Ammon Swenson for the Anchorage Press.  The findings are from the 2015 Alaska Victimization Survey, for which Dr. Rosay is principal investigator.

Alaska Victimization SurveyResults of the  2015 survey showed consistently high rates throughout Alaska, according to Dr. Rosay. He added, that even though rates are very high, results from the 2010 Victimization Survey were even higher.

"We're moving in the right direction, but we have a very, very long way to go," Dr. Rosay said.  People recognize the problem and prevention programs are increasing, he said.  "We've turned a curve and proven we can make a difference."

Still, he's concerned that budget cuts are beginning to make the emphasis on domestic violence go away.

The Justice Center conducts the Alaska Victimization Survey for the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA).

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