Lawmakers ‘sobered’ by mental health, medical needs of prison population

first_imgby Elizabeth Hewitt vtdigger.org(link is external) Lawmakers are looking to prioritize accommodations that will be needed to house Vermont’s aging prison population. A panel of legislators toured the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield on Thursday, with an eye toward the supports available for inmates with serious mental illness and complex medical needs. The medical needs of Vermont’s prison population are increasingly complex as inmates age and the portion of incarcerated people with mental health conditions grows.Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield. File photo by Amy Ash Nixon/VTDigger“I think we’re all a little sobered,” Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield, said as the Joint Legislative Justice Committee reconvened after their visit to Vermont’s largest prison facility.“They’re sicker, they’re older,” Dr. Dee Burroughs-Biron, health services director for the Department of Corrections, told lawmakers of the prison population. “We do have a lack of coordinated services in the community.”The medical needs of the aging population will be funded out of the state’s budget, Emmons said, as Medicaid does not foot the bill for incarcerated individuals.Southern State is Vermont’s newest prison facility. Completed in 2003, it was designed with an eye toward accommodating the health needs of the incarcerated population — particularly those with mental illness.According to Southern State’s supervisor, Mark Potanas, the Springfield facility is host to 59.4 percent of the prisoners in Vermont who are classified as seriously functionally impaired, or SFI. That designation exists only inside prisons and includes a broad range of conditions, from dementia to serious mental illness.Meanwhile, as the prison population ages, the DOC is serving increasingly complex health needs. The Southern State facility recently expanded to include a dialysis unit, so inmates can be treated on-site.Lawmakers asked DOC officials about developing other options for inmate medical care.Burroughs-Biron said that she has reached out to nursing homes to find alternative care for older inmates, but that many facilities are reluctant to take in people in the corrections system because of the stigma associated with incarceration.Nursing home accommodations are complicated, too, by the fact that many of Vermont’s older inmates with significant care needs are sex offenders. They would need to register their residence at the nursing home with the sex offender registry — which could be bad for business.“They don’t want to get that little red dot over their facility,” Burroughs-Biron said.Rep. Mary Hooper, D-Montpelier, said that the statistics show that the demands on the prison system are going to change in the coming years.“Clearly, we’re going to be having pressures on the system that we need to be doing planning for,” Hooper said.Lawmakers also raised questioned about the services for Vermonters in the criminal justice system with serious mental illness, and how much of those services should be the responsibility of the DOC.Hooper said that this may be the time for an evaluation of who the state should be incarcerating.“Are there people with mental illness who should be in jail or should they be someplace else?” she said.Rep. Maxine Grad, D-Moretown, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said after the meeting that state lawmakers should continue to scrutinize the corrections system.“I think we need to continue to look at our sentencing structure and how we’re using our facilities and whether or not we are incarcerating the correct people,” Grad said.This was not the first time Emmons, who chairs the House Corrections and Institutions Committee, has visited a correctional facility, she said after the meeting. But this visit was different than previous trips, she said.“The complexities and the severities of the situations we’ve seen with offenders is much, much different than four or five years ago,” Emmons said.Mental health and dementia are more prominent in the prison population, she said, and that prompts reflection.“We say as a society that we do not want to institutionalize folks with mental illness,” Emmons said. “Well, we are institutionalizing them. We’re institutionalizing them in a corrections facility that is inappropriate but it is out of sight so people do not think it’s existing.”last_img read more

Temporary wildlife ban lifted

first_img Share 14 Views   no discussions Sharing is caring! LocalNews Temporary wildlife ban lifted by: – October 4, 2013 Sharecenter_img The Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division of the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry wishes to inform the general public that the Government of Dominica has approved the temporary lifting of the ban on hunting and fishing in freshwater streams for the period October 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.During that period, licensed hunters and licensed freshwater fishermen may hunt Crabs, Freshwater species (to include Crayfish, Mullets, Shrimps and Freshwater Crabs), Agouti, Manicou and Rammier only.The general public is reminded that it is an offence under the Forestry & Wildlife Act to hunt or fish in freshwater streams without a valid license, and that the hunting of all other species of animal, including the Mountain Chicken, all Birds, and Iguanas is strictly prohibited.The travelling public is further informed that the exportation or attempts to export wildlife from the state without a valid export license issued at the office of the Director of Forestry is a violation of the Forestry and Wildlife Act and is punishable upon conviction by a fine and or imprisonment.The public is therefore advised that with immediate effect hunting and fishing licenses may be purchased at the office of the Forestry & Wildlife Division on the Windsor Park link road, and at the Sub-Treasuries in Portsmouth and Marigot.Please assist the Forestry, Wildlife & Parks Division in the management and sustainable use of the natural resources. Share Tweetlast_img read more

Defense dealt a blow in Spector trial

first_imgSpector’s lawyer, Roger Rosen, argued the testimony was nothing more than “character assassination” and would prejudice jurors against the defendant because of the obscenity he allegedly uttered repeatedly to describe women. The judge, in making his ruling, said he would not repeat the phrase because his wife was watching the trial on television and would be offended. But he said jurors had already heard the phrase attributed to Spector by one witness. He said that in the three months since the trial began, he had re-evaluated his ruling in light of evidence presented by prosecutors and now believed it was relevant. “It’s extremely strong when an individual states this is how I’ll solve this problem. I’ll shoot them in the head. And here we have a woman who was shot in the head. … I’m satisfied it’s probative evidence,” Fidler said. The judge said that although the comments by Spector may have occurred as long ago as 1993, they were relevant to show Spector’s state of mind toward women. He said he was struck by the specificity of Spector’s comments about shooting women in the head. When jurors returned to the courtroom, the prosecution reopened its case to call Tannazzo. He testified that on the first occasion in 1993 or 1994, Dorothy Melvin, Rivers’ manager, called him at his post outside the party. “She said, `Vinnie, get up here. Phil Spector just pulled out a gun,”‘ Tannazzo testified. Tannazzo said he unholstered his gun, went upstairs and escorted Spector and Melvin into an elevator where he gave Spector a “light pat down” and could feel a gun in his waistband. When Spector made a move for his waist on the way out of the party, Tannazzo said, “I didn’t know what he was going to do. I told Phil Spector if he pulls out that gun I’ll blow his (expletive) brains out.” Melvin, who was dating Spector then, testified earlier in the trial about being held by Spector at gunpoint when she tried to leave his home. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LOS ANGELES – The judge in Phil Spector’s murder trial dealt a blow to the record producer’s defense Monday by reversing an earlier ruling and allowing a celebrity security guard to portray the record producer as a gun-toting, profane party guest who ranted against women and said they should all be shot in the head. Vincent Tannazzo, a retired New York City police detective, testified that at two Manhattan Christmas parties given a year apart by comedian Joan Rivers in the early 1990s, Spector was ejected, yelling obscenities against women and shouting, “These (expletive for women). They all deserve a bullet in their heads.” Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who had ruled earlier that the testimony was too prejudicial, happened too long ago and was not specific to the facts of Lana Clarkson’s killing, changed his mind. Spector is charged with the murder of Clarkson, an actress who was shot through the mouth at his Alhambra mansion Feb. 3, 2003. last_img