Providing a voice for consumers of

mental health services

The Consumer Council System of Maine represents fellow consumers with an effective, organized voice in shaping public policy and mental health services.

Action Alert- LD 1577

Legislative Update on LD. 1577: "An Act to Increase the Availability of Mental Health Services"

In the coming weeks, the Legislature will hold a public hearing on LD 1577: An Act to Increase the Availability of Mental Health Services.

BILL SUMMARY

This bill provides that, under certain circumstances, the Commissioner of Health and Human Services or the commissioner's designee may determine that a mental health unit at a correctional facility is an appropriate institution or program for the placement of persons who have been determined to be incompetent to stand trial or not criminally responsible by reason of insanity

* Please note that this is an existing statute and the changes would be the things that are underlined in the document.

Bill Text
http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=HP1070&item=1&snum=127

The CCSM strongly opposes this bill that criminalizes people that struggle with mental health challenges. Instead of providing treatment, they want to send these individuals to prison. Our clear message to the Legislature will be: Stop treating peers like criminals and provide them with treatment.

Think about our peers inside the hospital hearing all of this and how they have no avenue to speak up or be heard.

ACTION NEEDED

We need support from the community to show opposition to this bill. We need people willing to write and give testimony or write a letter to your Legislator. We suggest that you start writing now so that you are prepared for the hearing. To help you, we have attached some talking points, alternative solutions and links to webpages on how to testify at the Legislature and find your legislator. If you have questions or need help writing, please contact the CCSM office: 430-8300 or 1-877-207-5073. We have staff available to help you!

CCSM Talking Points: Click HERE

Preparing to testify at the legislature

http://www.maine.gov/sos/path/exploring/testify.html

http://legislature.maine.gov/house/testify.htm

HOW TO FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR

http://legislature.maine.gov/house/townlist.htm

IN THE NEWS

There is already much publicity in the press about this bill and you can follow the links below to some of the articles, news stories and editorials, along with a joint press release the CCSM created in conjunction with Disability Rights Maine.

CCSM & DRM PRESS RELEASE

http://bit.ly/LD1577pressrelease

Kennebec Journal Editorial 2/4/16

http://www.centralmaine.com/2016/02/04/our-opinion-lepages-plan-would-turn-mentally-ill-into-prisoners/

News Articles

http://www.wgme.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/governors-bill-allows-some-mental-health-patients-moved-maine-state-prison-31146.shtml#.VrDNYiorLIU

http://www.pressherald.com/2016/02/01/lepage-renews-push-to-house-forensic-patients-at-maine-state-prison/

Maine Statewide Independent Living Council Online Survey Posted- Your Feedback is Needed!

The Maine Statewide Independent Living Council is beginning their important work of creating their State Plan for Independent Living (Maine SPIL). They have just gone online with a survey asking for feedback from Maine people seeking independent living. This survey seeks to see what is working, what is not and what could be better and will be used in the creation of their 2016-2017 SPIL.

 

The survey is available on the Maine SILC website:  http://mainesilc.org/2013-survey/

 

Paper surveys are also accepted!

 

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Mike McClellan, Executive Director:  329-6148

 

Survey closing date:  April 22, 2016 at 5pm

Press Release: "Advocates Denounce Legislative Proposal to Send Individuals with Mental Illness to Prison

PRESS RELEASE



CONTACTS       Kevin Voyvodich, Esq.                  Simonne Maline, Executive Director

                 207.626.2774                                             207.430.8300

           kvoyvodich@drme.org                           smaline@maineccsm.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 2, 2016

 

Advocates Denounce Legislative Proposal to Send Individuals with Mental Illness to Prison

 

Augusta - Disability Rights Maine (DRM) and the Consumer Council System of Maine (CCSM) voiced their strong opposition Tuesday to LD 1577, An Act to lncrease the Availability of Mental Health Services.  They maintain that despite the bill’s title, the legislation actually proposes to criminalize individuals who have been found incompetent to stand trial or not criminally responsible for their crimes.  Under these circumstances, individuals do not enter the correctional system, but rather receive much-needed mental health treatment in a hospital setting.  However, the language of LD 1577 proposes to send these patients to the Maine State Prison for an indefinite period of time if “there is a therapeutic treatment advantage.”  DRM Staff Attorney Kevin Voyvodich states, “We have serious concerns about this bill, as the Constitution prohibits treating patients as prisoners, when they have been found not guilty due to their mental illness and are committed to the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.”

 

While the purported purpose of this legislation is to address the long-standing deficiencies at Maine’s only forensic treatment facility, the Augusta-based Riverview Psychiatric Center, opponents argue that the bill actually fails to achieve this goal.  Simonne Maline, CCSM Executive Director, expressed her concerns, stating “I am deeply disturbed that the Administration thinks the answer to the problems at Riverview is to transfer our fellow peers to the Department of Corrections.  We are going light years backwards in our mental health system, not working towards recovery.  The answer is treatment, not punishment.”

 

Attorney Voyvodich agrees, stating “prison is fundamentally punitive in nature and we are talking about individuals who have been found by the courts to need treatment rather than punishment.  We all should be advocating for these patients to receive the treatment necessary to recover.  Otherwise, we face a situation where an individual could spend 20 years in prison for a crime they were never found guilty of.  No one should be comfortable with that.”

 

 

State Seeks Public Comments on Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act Unified Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 29, 2016 

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Labor and the State Workforce Development Board have posted the new workforce development state plan for public comment. The plan will guide workforce development in the state for the next five years. 

The plan is a requirement of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)-federal legislation that directs each state's workforce system to develop regional, service-delivery strategies with its Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation programs and replaces the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. 

The premise of the new plan is that the success of Maine's economy will ultimately be determined by the strength and quality of its workforce and the ability of employers to fill their need for skilled labor. It outlines the steps needed to address the state's workforce needs and identifies tasks and duties of each agency and core partner

In December 2014, the Maine State Workforce Development Board convened the core programs authorized under WIOA-Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth training; Wagner-Peyser employment services; Adult and Basic Education; and Vocational Rehabilitation programs-to assess the challenges confronting Maine's workforce development system and identify measurable ways to align programs and activities to better serve residents and employers, and to develop a unified plan.

Although the plan is called the "Unified Plan" per the WIOA guidelines, this does not mean that any functions or structure of the current workforce development system, to include department, bureau or division structures, would be physically unified or combined; rather the term "unified" refers to the vision, coordination, and commitment to working to develop Maine's workforce to be ready to meet the needs of employers now and in the future. 

The State Workforce Development Board is seeking public comments for the plan. The plan is available athttp://www.maine.gov/swb/wioa_unified_plan.shtml.

Comments will be accepted from January 29 through February 12, 2016 at swib.DOL@maine.gov or by mail to State Workforce Board, Attn: WIOA Unified Plan, 54 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333. Comments sent through traditional mail must be postmarked by February 12, 2016. Comments received after February 12, 2016 without an earlier postmark date will not be accepted.

The federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act was signed into law by the president on July 22, 2014. The federal legislation reauthorized the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act. In Maine

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