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Forensic Social Workers E- News January 2012
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NASW-MD Forensic Social Workers E- News


Fellow Forensic Social Workers -
Happy New Year.
First let me say thanks to those of you who came to our FSW meeting on Nov 30th.  We got lots of good ideas and really appreciate the committee input. Veronica and I are in the process of planning a forensic social worker get together for April, date to be announced soon.  We hope to include a speaker with CEU's. If you have suggestions for a topic, speaker or location please contact Veronica at
Two important Training Announcements below and all the latest news and information for you to review. Please also review the documents attached.
Social Work Matters - The 2012 NASW-MD Annual Social Work Month Conference will be held March 29 & 30, and registration opens soon. Check out the upcoming winter edition of The Maryland Social Worker newsletter for a full conference schedule and registration information or go online to

Building Bridges - Interdisciplinary Collaborations - Planning for the National Organization of Forensic Social Workers (NOFSW)conference in Baltimore April 15 -18 continues.  You can find additional information at  I have also attached the most recent NOFSW newsletter (Open Court) for your review.
Congress Provides $9 Million for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act  On Monday, November 17, 2011, Congress passed the “minibus” appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2012, which included $9 million in funding for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA). Signed into law in 2004, MIOTCRA created the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP), which provides resources to help law enforcement, courts, and corrections agencies, as well as mental health providers, better address the needs of people with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system. To date, 220 grants have been awarded to state and local jurisdictions. To learn more about the JMHCP,click here

Rules on Committing Dangerous Mentally Ill "Tragically Inadequate"
Forty years ago, legal standard for mental health commitment emerged from a Milwaukee lawsuit to become the law of the land. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in a detailed examination of the history and evolution of the standard, concludes that "it has proved to be tragically inadequate." Only about 40,000 of the 4 million people in the U.S. with severe mental illness are dangerous--1 percent. Even then, the violence is usually minor - a punch or a shove, said Jeffrey Swanson, a Duke University professor who has studied the correlation between mental illness and violence for more than 20 years. People with mental illness are 13 times more likely to be a victim of a crime than the perpetrator. The inability to identify who is dangerous and the barriers to getting them care are "among the more wrenching failures of our time." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
Crime Records Should Have Expiration Dates, Criminologists Say
A stunning number of young people are arrested for crimes, and those crimes can haunt them for the rest of their lives, criminologists Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura write in the New York Times. An article in the journal Pediatrics says that by age 23, 30 percent of Americans have been arrested, compared with 22 percent in 1967. The ubiquity of criminal-background checks and the efficiency of information technology in maintaining those records and making them widely available, have meant that millions continue to pay a price long after the crime. The risk of recidivism drops steadily with time, but there is still the question of how long is long enough. By looking at data for more than 88,000 people who had their first arrest in New York State in 1980, and tracking their subsequent criminal histories over the next 25 years, we estimate the "redemption time" - the time it takes for an individual's likelihood of being arrested to be close to that of individuals with no criminal records - to be about 10 to 13 years. A big problem is state and local rules that restrict employment or licensing for the rest of the individual's life in some occupations. We propose that the "forever rules" be replaced by rules that provide for the expiration of a criminal record. New York Times 
"The Ten Most Significant Criminal Justice Stories of 2011" 
What were the brightest and most encouraging developments in criminal justice this year? Here are The Crime Report’s 10 nominations. Read the article here.

Possible Outcomes of The New Juvenile life Without Parole Cases
Youth Today assess options for the Supreme Court in newly accepted cases on life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders, which were reported yesterday in Crime & Justice News. Just 18 months ago, the high court banned such sentences for juveniles in non-homicide offenses. A ban on "LWOP" for juveniles would affect more than 2,500 current inmates. More than half of them are in four states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, Louisiana, and Florida.   A ban on LWOP for youths under 15 appears to be what will be sought by the offenders' lawyers, from the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative. There are only 73 current LWOP inmates who were convicted for crimes they committed when they were 14, and nine others who were convicted when they were younger. Another possibility is a ban on LWOP for youths who did not commit a homicide but merely were present for an action that precipitated it. There also could be required judicial review of juvenile LWOP usage in mandatory sentencing schemes, a ruling that seem to be in line with Chief Justice John Roberts' suggestions during the previous case that requiring review of LWOP in all juvenile cases would be more practical than a categorical ban on the sentence for certain offenses. Youth Today 
Maryland Prisoners Begging to Join "Knitting Behind Bars" Program
Lynn Zwerling, 67, of Columbia Md., took up knitting after retiring from selling cars, quickly becoming an evangelist, started a knitting group that swelled to nearly 500 members and - surprising everyone she knew - announced that she wanted to teach men in jail how to knit, says the Baltimore Sun. "I just knew it would work," she says. "I thought what it takes to do knitting are skills vital to human existence - setting goals, completing a project, giving to somebody else."   Defying every expectation, Zwerling's Thursday night program, Knitting Behind Bars, has become in two years the most exclusive club at the state prison system's Pre-Release Unit, an all-male, minimum-security penitentiary. Men literally beg to get in. There's a waiting list. No one's more surprised than the assistant warden who couldn't help but harrumph when Zwerling told her she wanted to teach inmates how to make stuffed dolls and woolly hats. Every other prison in the area had already turned her down. "I was like, 'Mmmm, I don't know," says Warden Margaret Chippendale. "I just had a hard time trying to grasp that an inmate that might have committed a violent crime or been a gang affiliate was going to want to sit in a room and knit." Baltimore Sun 
RESOURCES: is a unique, dynamic website providing information about the Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) and Individualized Education Program (IEP) processes, family involvement and other topics and trends related to special education. The site features interactive tools, blogs and newsletters aimed at administrators, teachers, service providers and parents.
States around the country are putting forth reforms meant to promote employment for people with a criminal record, according to a new report by the National Employment Law Project. Find out more information here
The American Bar Association has identified more than 30,000 laws that limit job options for people with a record.

State reforms identified by NELP, in collaboration with The Sentencing Project and the National HIRE Network, include efforts to reduce collateral consequences, prohibit discrimination against those with a record, change licensing limitations and provide more training to ex-offenders. Read the full report here.

Bulletin Discusses Bullying in Schools
"Bullying in Schools: An Overview" (NCJ 234205, 12 pp.) examines the connection between different types of bullying, truancy, and student achievement and whether students' engagement in school mediates these factors. This bulletin discusses the results of three studies that the National Center for School Engagement conducted and compares the findings with those from a Swedish study on bullying. (OJJDP)

Resource Offers Strategies for Offender Employment
"Offender Employment Retention: Worth the Work" (ACCN 024978) discusses the need to target individuals at high risk for recidivism, address the dynamic influences that predict crime, and provide interventions specific to the needs of offenders. During this previously recorded video, participants will explore evidence-based practices that increase public safety while helping to reduce recidivism. (NIC)

BJS Report Details Prison Statistics
"Prisoners in 2010" (NCJ 236096, 37 pp.) presents data on prisoners under the jurisdiction of federal and state correctional authorities on December 31, 2010, collected from the National Prisoner Statistics series. Data compare changes in the prison population during 2010 to changes from year-end 2000 through year-end 2009, exploring factors leading to a decline in the state prison population. (BJS)

Bulletin Reports Statistics on Juvenile Arrests
"Juvenile Arrests 2009" (NCJ 236477, 24 pp.) is part of the Juvenile Offenders and Victims National Report series. This bulletin summarizes 2009 juvenile crime and arrest data reported by law enforcement agencies across the country. In 2009, arrest rates for nearly every offense category for both males and females and for white and minority youth decreased. (OJJDP)

Resource Offers Strategies for Offender Employment
"Offender Employment Retention: Worth the Work" (ACCN 024978) discusses the need to target individuals at high risk for recidivism, address the dynamic influences that predict crime, and provide interventions specific to the needs of offenders. During this previously recorded video, participants will explore evidence-based practices that increase public safety while helping to reduce recidivism. (NIC)

New Legislative Review On Employment Barriers for People With Criminal Records Three organizations collaborated to identifying policies that reduce the employment barriers faced by people with criminal records. As policy makers and advocates evaluate opportunities for reform heading into next year's state legislative sessions, the groups--the National Employment Law Project, the Sentencing Project, and the National HIRE Network--focus on proposed legislation that seeks to reduce crime and reward rehabilitation. People with criminal records now confront unprecedented employment challenges that are not solely the result of a weak labor market. The groups summarize laws on the subject enacted in 2010 and 2011 and report on "state trends of concern that broadly restrict employment based on a criminal record." National Employment Law Project

How to Reduce Incarceration of People With Mental Illness
Findings of a study in the January issue have prompted San Diego County officials to establish a new procedure: any public mental health client released from who is jailed must be seen at an outpatient program within 72 hours of jail release. The study of 40,000 adult clients found that 11.5% were jailed in a one-year period. More disturbing, a quarter were reincarcerated within a year. However, clients who received an outpatient mental health or case management service after release were much less like to be reincarcerated.Visit

Interactive Video Trains Police Officers to Deal with Mentally Ill
California-based creators of a new interactive video simulation hope it will teach police officers how to deal with the mentally ill in a way that neither the officer nor the person ends up hurt -- or worse, reports the San Jose Mercury-News. On the video screen a fraught father watches as his mentally ill young son, off his medication and convinced police are secretly monitoring his every move, lurches unsteadily from a lawn chair to loudly confront an officer. Does the young man end up arrested, in a psychiatric hospital? Does he end up dead? Different answers have been built into a program created for law enforcement by the Santa Clara County mental health department. As the officers react to the scenarios -- a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder scaring people in a park, a girl making suicidal posts on Facebook, and others -- the realities change, prompted by a trainer at a computer behind the scenes. Afterward the officers and trainers discuss what happened and what didn't. The key is to defuse the situation and avoid violence. "We are going to save lives with this,' said Patrick Dwyer, a retired Palo Alto police chief who serves as the county's mental health liaison with law enforcement and helped create the program. San Jose Mercury News 
Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services publishes a Public Safety E-Newsletter to subscribe visit  Information regarding the DPSCS Reorganization can be found at
Developments in Mental Health Law is now available for viewing at the Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Policy's website:; from the website homepage click on the "Publications/Policy&Practice" tab; from this page scroll down to find the list of Developments in Mental Health Law issues.



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