PTSD Epidemic in Violent Neighborhoods, New California Rules Regarding Prisoners with Gang Ties…and MoreFebruary 4th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
POPULATIONS OF UNDIAGNOSED, UNTREATED VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE AND TRAUMA LIVING IN HIGH-CRIME NEIGHBORHOODS
Emerging research shows that people who live in violent neighborhoods have rates of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rivaling that of war veterans. While much progress has been made regarding treatment available to veterans with PTSD, there is virtually no support for those who experience serious trauma in their own neighborhoods.
ProPublica’s Lois Beckett has the story. Here are some clips:
Chicago’s Cook County Hospital has one of the busiest trauma centers in the nation, treating about 2,000 patients a year for gunshots, stabbings and other violent injuries.
So when researchers started screening patients there for post-traumatic stress disorder in 2011, they assumed they would find cases.
They just didn’t know how many: Fully 43 percent of the patients they examined – and more than half of gunshot-wound victims – had signs of PTSD.
“We knew these people were going to have PTSD symptoms,” said Kimberly Joseph, a trauma surgeon at the hospital. “We didn’t know it was going to be as extensive.”
What the work showed, Joseph said, is, “This is a much more urgent problem than you think.”
Joseph proposed spending about $200,000 a year to add staffers to screen all at-risk patients for PTSD and connect them with treatment. The taxpayer-subsidized hospital has an annual budget of roughly $450 million. But Joseph said hospital administrators turned her down and suggested she look for outside funding.
“Right now, we don’t have institutional support,” said Joseph, who is now applying for outside grants.
Researchers in Atlanta interviewed more than 8,000 inner-city residents and found that about two-thirds said they had been violently attacked and that half knew someone who had been murdered. At least 1 in 3 of those interviewed experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives – and that’s a “conservative estimate,” said Dr. Kerry Ressler, the lead investigator on the project.
“The rates of PTSD we see are as high or higher than Iraq, Afghanistan or Vietnam veterans,” Ressler said. “We have a whole population who is traumatized.”
“Neglect of civilian PTSD as a public health concern may be compromising public safety,” Ressler and his co-authors concluded in a 2012 paper.
For most people, untreated PTSD will not lead to violence. But “there’s a subgroup of people who are at risk, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, of reacting in a violent way or an aggressive way, that they might not have if they had had their PTSD treated,” Ressler said.
In 2007, SF Chronicle’s Jill Tucker wrote an excellent series of articles on PTSD in urban areas, with a focus on kids suffering from the disorder.
In one of the other articles, Tucker tells of LAUSD’s findings regarding PTSD among LA students:
In Los Angeles, school officials and researchers wanted to know if the rate of PTSD quoted by experts and the federal government held true in their hallways.
They wondered if it were possible that up to 35 percent of “urban youth exposed to community violence” had PTSD, a statistic cited by the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, part of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
In 2000, they joined UCLA researchers in screening students from 20 schools in violence-prone parts of the city.
Of the 1,000 students randomly selected, 90 percent were a victim of or a witness to community violence, and 27 to 34 percent had PTSD, said Marleen Wong, director of the district’s Crisis Counseling and Intervention Services.
NEW CDCR RULES WOULD ALLOW SOME INMATES TO LOSE GANG MEMBER STATUS ON THEIR RECORDS, AND LEAVE ISOLATION
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced new rules that would allow inmates in solitary for gang association or leadership to earn their way out of isolation, and regain regular privileges. After completing a three year rehabilitation program both associates and leaders may be released from solitary. A gang associate would have to go an additional six years without a gang-related infraction to have the gang designation removed from their record. A designated gang leader would have to go 11 more years without incident.
Although a step in the right direction, prisoner advocates are not impressed by the new rules that still leave inmates locked in solitary for years at a time.
The AP’s Don Thompson has the story. Here are some clips:
Prison officials consider more than 2,800 of California’s nearly 134,000 inmates to be gang members or associates, and say they direct much of the violence and contraband smuggling both behind bars and on the streets.
Until now, once inmates were confirmed to be in a prison gang or other “security threat group,” the label stuck throughout their time behind bars. The designation required those inmates to remain housed under greater security and barred them from some programs like firefighting camps.
The new regulations are an extension of a 15-month-old pilot program that has allowed gang members to get out of isolation units at Pelican Bay in far Northern California and other prisons without renouncing their gang membership.
Since the start of the pilot, the department has reviewed 632 gang members who were in isolation units. Of those, 408 have been cleared to be released into the general prison population and 185 were given more privileges but remain in isolation.
These 2012 policies, which are being updated in Friday’s filing with the Office of Administrative Law, let the gang members and associates gain more privileges and leave the isolation units in as little as three years if they stop engaging in gang activities, and participate in anger management and drug rehabilitation programs.
If the committee decides to remove an inmate’s gang designation, that decision would be reviewed by the department’s Office of Correctional Safety. If the inmate starts associating with gangs again, he would again be validated as a gang member and start the process over.
“As long as they keep indefinite solitary (confinement), as long as they have these decade-long processes … I think it’s woefully inadequate,” said Isaac Ontiveros, a spokesman for the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition.
LASD LIFE-SKILLS PROGRAM FOR EX-OFFENDERS
A successful LASD education program, the Emerging Leaders Academy, gives former offenders tools to successfully reenter their communities. The program, started by LASD Sgt. Clyde Terry, teaches life-skills, along with business and financial education, and helps students receive their GEDs and other certificates. Since it began in 2009, 465 people have graduated from Emerging Leaders Academy. Only 33 have gone on to reoffend.
Emerging Leaders has grown to four Los Angeles locations over the last few years, but the program faces an uncertain future. Whoever is elected in December (or the June primary) will decide the fate of the Emerging Leaders Academy. Terry says he will run it in his off time, as he did before former Sheriff Lee Baca made it Terry’s full-time position, if it is not supported by the new leadership.
The San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s Jason Henry has the story. Here’s a clip:
The Emerging Leaders Academy started in 2009 with the goal to give adults on probation or parole a different outlook on life. Of the 465 graduates since inception, only 33 have re-offended and class sizes grow every year, according to coordinator Sgt. Clyde Terry.
Emerging Leaders recently opened its fourth Los Angeles County location in La Puente at the Twin Palms Recovery Center with the help of Councilmember David Argudo. Other classes exist in Culver City, North Hollywood and Long Beach.
Terry taught in his free time, to the chagrin of his superiors, before Baca turned it into a full-time job. Terry said he’ll go back to doing it off the clock if Baca’s resignation leads to the defunding of the program.
The program puts deputies at the head of classrooms of ex-offenders with the curriculum focused on keeping the students out of a cell. The academy heavily focuses on life coaching, but also includes practical elements of career development, entrepreneurship, literacy and financial education.
Baca sought out Terry after the implementation of AB 109.
“Sheriff Baca made it into an actual job, he saw the effectiveness of it and it was in line with what he was doing with education-based incarceration,” Terry said. “If they decided they want to get rid of the program, I’ll have it survive.”
LA SHERIFF CAMPAIGN FUND NUMBERS
KPCC’s Frank Stoltze has an update on LA Sheriff campaign funds. Thus far, Paul Tanaka’s $381,000 and Bob Olmsted’s $240,000 are the only two figures we have until the campaign report numbers are made available. (Candidates who entered the race late—Jim McDonnell, Jim Hellmold, and Todd Rogers—were not required to file disclosures, according to the LA Times’ Abby Sewell, Robert Faturechi and Catherine Saillant.) Here’s a clip:
Friday, former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who’s been campaigning for six months, announced he’s raised $381,000. A spokesman for former Sheriff’s Commander Bob Olmsted said he’s raised more than $240,000.
So far, Tanaka’s been the only candidate to advertise, and it’s been entirely online. Its nearly impossible to search online for anything related to the Sheriff’s Department without seeing one of his political ads pop up.
Two lesser-known candidates, former Sheriff’s Lt. Patrick Gomez and LAPD Sgt. Lou Vince, have yet to say how much money they’ve raised.
The big question: how much money will it take to run a competitive campaign? With no incumbent in the race, estimates range from a few hundred thousand dollars to one million dollars.
Paul Tanaka shared the news on Twitter, as well:
Paul Tanaka @TanakaLASheriff
Check out this article by @KPCC announcing my strong momentum in the race for #Sheriff.