Archive for the ‘Council of State Governments’ Category

Is Scrap Metal Theft Legislation Working for States?

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Is Scrap Metal Theft Legislation Working for States?
Source: Council of State Governments

Insurance companies, law enforcement officials and industry watchdogs have called scrap metal theft—including copper, aluminum, nickel, stainless steel and scrap iron—one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. State leaders have taken notice, passing a flurry of legislation meant to curb metal theft and help law enforcement find and prosecute criminals. Researchers at The Council of State Governments, in collaboration with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, set out to determine if all that legislation is having an impact on metal theft rates.

To determine if state legislation has been effective at curbing metal theft, a thorough analysis is needed that starts with an evaluation of trends in metal theft incident rates at the state level. After an evaluation of the existing research and interviews with state and local officials and law enforcement personnel across all 50 states, CSG researchers concluded that metal theft data for states are not available for analysis.

Because metal theft is such a significant and widespread problem, and because accurately tracking metal theft is key to establishing evidence-based practices designed to both deter theft and to assist in the investigation and prosecution of theft, it is imperative that states evaluate ways to begin collecting these data.

Moving forward, it is unlikely data will be available on a scale necessary to perform meaningful analysis unless a widespread effort is launched to create systems to document, track and report metal theft crime uniformly and consistently. CSG researchers recommend continued discussion regarding the development of a uniform tracking system for metal theft or modifications to current systems.

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A State Official’s Guide to Science-Based Decision-Making

June 26, 2014 Comments off

A State Official’s Guide to Science-Based Decision-Making
Source: Council of State Governments

Policymakers are bombarded by information in today’s ever-connected, fast-paced world. Advances in communication platforms, like social media, and information technology have brought a sea change in the public’s ability to access data at unimaginable depths and speeds. This interconnectedness can also pose challenges for state officials trying to solve already difficult issues by adding another layer of complexity to the public policymaking process. As information becomes more available and immediate, policymakers often must make decisions without the technical background necessary to fully vet all the considerations involved.

The Council of State Governments developed A State Official’s Guide to Science-based Decision-making to provide strategic guidance that can cut through the jargon and spin that can accompany technical issues. The guide includes recommendations and helpful tools for policymakers, regardless of background, to confidently assess the assumptions, conclusions and results found in state public hearing witness testimony and scientific studies. The aim of the guide is not to suggest what to think; rather, the impetus is to provide a roadmap of how to approach an issue so state thought leaders can make the most informed decision possible.

School Discipline Consensus Report

June 3, 2014 Comments off

School Discipline Consensus Report
Source: Council of State Governments (Justice Center)

The School Discipline Consensus Report presents a comprehensive set of consensus-based and field-driven recommendations to improve conditions for learning for all students and educators, better support students with behavioral needs, improve police-schools partnerships, and keep students out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses. More than 100 advisors representing policymakers, school administrators, teachers, behavioral health professionals, police, court leaders, probation officials, juvenile correctional leaders, parents, and youth from across the country helped develop more than two dozen policies and 60 recommendations to keep more students in productive classrooms and out of court rooms. An additional 600 individuals from various disciplines and perspectives shared examples of promising practices that are also presented in the report. The School Discipline Consensus Report draws on real-world strategies and research to promote truly multidisciplinary approaches to reducing the millions of youth suspended, expelled, and arrested each year while creating safe and supportive schools for all educators and students.

Medicaid and Financing Health Care for Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System

January 14, 2014 Comments off

Medicaid and Financing Health Care for Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System (PDF)
Source: Council of State Governments

When an individual returns to the community after incarceration, disruptions in the continuity of medical care have been shown to increase rates of reincarceration and lead to poorer and more costly health outcomes.6 Research shows that the first few weeks after release from incarceration are the most critical in terms of connecting people to treatment. Reentry into the community is a vulnerable time, marked by difficulties adjusting, increased drug use, and a 12- fold increase in the risk of death in the first two weeks after release. For many, the failure to provide a link to healthcare coverage and services upon release results in needless, potentially months-long gaps in their access to health care. If they access care at all, these individuals often rely upon hospital emergency room services, shifting much of the cost burden to hospitals and state, county, and city agencies.

This failure to link individuals involved with the criminal justice system to health coverage and services upon release from incarceration is especially costly to state and local governments. Total state and local spending on uncompensated health care for the uninsured reached $17.2 billion in 2008.9 Individuals involved with the criminal justice system, who make up as much as one-third of the uninsured population in the United States, can be expected to account for a significant portion of this spending. Furthermore, elevated recidivism rates, which are associated with a lack of access to health care for individuals with mental illnesses or substance use disorders, contribute to the burden of state and local corrections spending.

The appropriate use of federal Medicaid dollars to help pay for health care provided to this population can save states and localities money, in addition to minimizing 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.

Reentry Matters: Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Across the United States

November 18, 2013 Comments off

Reentry Matters: Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Across the United States
Source: Council of State Governments

With over 95 percent of people in the nation’s state prisons expected to be released at some point, officials at all levels of government recognize the need for initiatives to support the successful reentry of these individuals to their communities. For the estimated 60,000 youth incarcerated in juvenile detention and correctional facilities on any given day, there is a particular urgency to help them avoid crime and improve their prospects for a successful future when released.

The program snapshots in this publication illustrate the positive impact these reentry initiatives can have by focusing on areas vital to successful reintegration back into the community, including employment, education, mentoring, and substance abuse and mental health treatment. Also highlighted are programs that address the needs of a particular population, such as women, youth and their families, and tribal communities. Representing a wide range of populations served, these programs also demonstrate the diversity of approaches that can address recidivism and increase public safety.

Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness

October 2, 2013 Comments off

Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness
Source: Council of State Governments

The Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies white paper was written to address the challenges that service providers cannot successfully serve every adult on probation or leaving prison or jail who needs a job. There are simply not enough resources and attempting to serve everyone would be largely ineffective. Also, some individuals require intensive services and programming, while others perform better with lighter interventions and supervision.

The white paper can help policymakers, system administrators, and practitioners collaboratively determine whether resources are focused on the right people, with the right interventions, at the right time.

State Lotteries

August 2, 2013 Comments off

State Lotteries
Source: Council of State Governments

In March 2013, Wyoming became the 44th state to legalize the operation of a state lottery. Lottery sales across all states totaled nearly $69 billion in 2012, with profits of more than $19 billion. Most states use at least some of that revenue to fund education and 17 states mandate that revenue be used exclusively for this purpose.

State Cigarette Taxes 2013

July 29, 2013 Comments off

State Cigarette Taxes 2013
Source: Council of State Governments

Cigarette taxes are a means both to raise state revenue and to discourage the use of tobacco. Cigarette taxes range significantly across states, as does the amount of revenue collected on such taxes. Revenues from state taxes on tobacco totaled more than $17 billion in 2012, representing 2.2 percent of all state tax revenue.

Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom

July 3, 2013 Comments off

Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom (PDF)
Source: Council of State Governments (Justice Center)

The Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom is a two-page benchcard to help judges recognize the signs of possible mental illnesses among individuals in the courtroom and to respond sensitively and productively.

The State of the Minimum Wage

February 22, 2013 Comments off

The State of the Minimum Wage

Source: Council of State Governments

President Obama stressed economic equality and opportunity, focusing particularly on the financial woes of those earning the minimum wage, during his recent State of the Union address.

“Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong,” the president said. “Let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.” He called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015 and tie it to inflation, a move the White House estimates would bump up the wages of about 15 million low-income workers.

The last time the federal minimum wage was raised was in 2009, when it went from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour. Since then, the upward creeping cost of living has eroded the value of that wage. If it had been adjusted for inflation, it would be around $7.61 today. If the rate moves to $9 an hour, it will be the highest—in inflation-adjusted terms—that it has been since 1979.

The Book of the States 2012

July 30, 2012 Comments off

The Book of the States 2012

Source: Council of State Governments

State revenue collections in the 2011 fiscal year grew by 6.4 percent and state general fund spending increased by 4 percent following two straight years of decline. The 2011 tax revenues are just $26.6 billion under the peak reached in 2008 and are just shy of the 2007 collections. Meanwhile, the challenges facing states in many programs continue to grow. State spending on Medicaid programs, for instance, is expected to increase nearly 50 percent from 2010 to 2012. Those are just a few examples of information and data found in the 2012 edition of The Book of the States, The Council of State Governments’ annual almanac of information about the states.

Facilitating Medicaid Enrollment for People with Serious Mental Illnesses Leaving Jail or Prison: Key Questions for Policymakers Committed to Improving Health and Policy Safety

April 29, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Council of State Governments Justice Center
This brief provides guidance for elected officials and corrections and mental health directors to understand what percentage of the corrections population is eligible for Medicaid and SSI/SSDI, how to identify eligible individuals at intake to the facility, and when to begin the application process for benefits program.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement

August 17, 2011 Comments off

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvement (PDF)
Source: Council of State Governments Justice Center

This report describes the results of an extraordinary analysis of millions of school and juvenile justice records in Texas. It was conducted to improve policymakers’ understanding of who is suspended and expelled from public secondary schools, and the impact of those removals on students’ academic performance and juvenile justice system involvement.

Like other states, school suspensions—and, to a lesser degree, expulsions—have become relatively common in Texas. For this reason and because Texas has the second largest public school system in the nation (where nonwhite children make up nearly two-thirds of the student population), this study’s findings have significance for — and relevance to — states across the country.

Several aspects of the study make it groundbreaking. First, the research team did not rely on a sample of students, but instead examined individual school records and school campus data pertaining to all seventh-grade public school students in Texas in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Second, the analysis of each grade’s student records covered at least a six-year period, creating a statewide longitudinal study. Third, access to the state juvenile justice database allowed the researchers to learn about the school disciplinary history of youth who had juvenile records. Fourth, the study group size and rich datasets from the education and juvenile justice systems made it possible to conduct multivariate analyses. Using this approach, the researchers could control for more than 80 variables, effectively isolating the impact that independent factors had on the likelihood of a student’s being suspended and expelled, and on the relationship between these disciplinary actions and a student’s academic performance or juvenile justice involvement.


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