Too few lawmakers address foster youth aging out or the failed foster care system. Let’s fix it.

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A woman sits at the steps of the BC Legislature as hundreds of people, many youth who have aged out of foster care, rallied to ask for better support for youth aging out of care. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Someone sent information this morning that said “Youth speak out on ‘aging out’ of foster care; requesting extension on age limit”

Lane Ball out of Huntington Beach, West Virginia is developing a story with Nexstar about how foster care facilities push for the “aging out” limit to be extended. We hope that somewhere in the development that he realizes there is a financial incentive to keep children in state custody, and most importantly, we hope that Lane Ball reports how badly the foster care system is failing our most vulnerable youth. If Lane doesn’t “get it” and report it, you can bet that we will.

Young adults that age out of foster care often do not have familial ties to their own biological families. Sometimes it is because the family was so bad that the child could not be safe around any of them, but for the most part, about 90% of the time, the state severs a child’s ties with biological family members out of “respect” for the foster placement’s wishes.

It is most of the time too difficult for foster “parents” with very little training to integrate the new family with the biological family. The result is that children age out of foster care very often not knowing who they are or where they came from.

What makes it even worse for them is that throughout their lives in foster homes, they are about 80% of the time prescribed psychotropic drugs “to help them cope”. Once they age out, they no longer have access to their medicines.

Many will turn to street drugs and about 75% of the aged-out youth will end up in jail or prison within 2 years of aging out. It is reported that at least 1 in 7 foster children will fall into the hands of human sex traffickers. I think the number is higher because social workers are not required to report missing foster children. There are no amber alerts for them, and city reports show that between 60% to as high as 99% of children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in state custody before they were trafficked. Even the Department of State admits that the U.S. foster care system is a problem.

Less than 3% of foster children ever go to college and less than 2% will ever graduate. Foster placements simply fail to teach the vulnerable youth how to make it in this world and by the time they turn 18 and hit the road, they are ill prepared for what life throws at them.

Lane’s report today shows that lawmakers are taking notice. He says, “When someone ages out of foster care, it can be difficult adjusting to life as an adult. This past year, the federal government offered a safety net for individuals not quite ready to be on their own, but that will soon no longer be the case”.

“Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act”  created specifically to aid foster children during the Covid pandemic expires on September 30, 2021. Apparently, the Annie E. Casey Foundation is pushing for legislation that will support foster youth between the ages of 18 to 27-years-old.

Some CASA advocates as well as US Senators Sherrod Brown from Ohio, and  Shelly Moore Capito from West Virginia are taking notice and working on legislation that will provide support for foster youth that are aging out.

West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito stated, “Throughout my time representing West Virginians in Congress, I’ve consistently worked to deliver needed resources and support to our state’s foster children, and help improve West Virginia’s foster care system as a whole. As legislation is introduced, I’ll prioritize the well-being of those in foster care, regardless of their age, who were particularly hard hit by the pandemic”.

Senator Brown from Ohio said, “It’s critical that Congress act now and extend the moratorium on ‘aging out’ of foster care. Now more than ever – as we continue to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot afford to cut young Ohioans off from critical housing and support services. Every young person deserves a safe and stable place to call home”.

Other senators from other states do not seem to be concerned about foster youth until they realize that there is something in it for them, and there is now about $100 Billion ASFA 1997 dollars and the Trillions of dollars put out into communities through the American Rescue Plan, The Family First Act, the American Family Plan, and countless other Acts that have been made to increase access to quality healthcare and services. Hopefully lawmakers will get on the ball and help desperate, vulnerable foster youth that have no ties to family that can support them.

As Lane Ball develops his story, I hope he does he research well and reports the facts about how badly the state has failed our most vulnerable children that are now becoming young adults and being set free in this messed up world. Our prayers go out to them that God will clear the path and work with everyone’s Hearts and Minds to make each foster youth a successful member of society, hopefully by beginning before they age out not knowing what to do. We pray for people that care to make a powerful difference in their lives each and every day so that they can become the people that God created them to be.

I offer two solutions; (1) place children will family or someone that they already know and trusts so that their lives are not disrupted any more than it has to be, and (2) localize foster care so that youth do not end up in strange places with strange people far from where they no their way around. This will prevent children from being trafficked and provide more stability.

If you want to offer any solutions, please do so in the comment section. Thanks for reading. We look forward to hearing from you.  

Louisiana State Police Officer Indicted on Federal Civil Rights Charge for Assaulting Arrestee

Jacob Brown, 31, a former trooper with the Louisiana State Police, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Shreveport, Louisiana, for using excessive force against an arrestee.

Louisiana State Police Trooper Jacob Brown
Louisiana State Police Trooper Jacob Brown OUACHITA PARISH SHERIFF’S OFFICE VIA AP
Brown’s indictment comes as the federal prosecutors on the case are scrutinizing other troopers who punched, stunned and dragged another Black motorist, Ronald Greene, before he died in their custody on a rural roadside. The probe of Greene’s 2019 death has grown to examine whether police brass obstructed justice to protect the troopers who beat the Black motorist after a high-speed chase.

The indictment charges Brown with a single count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

An arrestee known as A.B. says that he was “repeatedly struck in the head” bThe modified flashlight with a metal tactical cap that is designed for breaking glass is considered a deadly weopon.

Jacob Brown faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.  The FBI, Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Walker for the Western District of Louisiana, and Trial Attorney Katherine G. DeVar of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case. Investigations are ongoing. (Civil Rights Division, Civil Rights – Criminal Section, Press Release Number: 21-919)

Yes! Class action status against Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana means advocates can move forward.

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The federal lawsuit claiming abuse at Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana prison alleges harsh treatment and isolation of the mentally ill and has been granted class action status.

Until taxpayers decide that enough is enough, they will just have to keep paying for the damage done through the misconduct of those in charge. State officials of course denied the lawsuit’s allegations when it was filed and do not want to respond now either. That too, of course caused prolonged suffering that taxpayers will just have to keep paying for until it decides that enough is enough and puts the bad actors out!

Jeremy Alford from LA Politics reported…..Finally, a federal judge granted class-action status on Monday to a lawsuit involving several inmates at Wade Correctional Center in Claiborne Parish. The inmates allege that the mentally ill in the prison were not treated humanely in recent years. Based on reporting from the Associated Press, “U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote’s decision means the criminal justice advocates who filed the lawsuit in 2018 can potentially seek relief for hundreds of prisoners. … Exactly how many is unclear but the ruling by the Shreveport judge says there were 366 people being held at the buildings in question in March 2020.”

Another baby dies in government custody.

Another baby dies in government custody. This time in an England where prison guards ignored a pregnant mother and let her suffer for 12 hours! Before coming in to take the dead baby the young mother had just given birth to by herself, alone in a prison cell.

I saw a report from Sophia Ankel at Insider this morning about an18 year-old inmate who tragically lost her baby in HMP Bronzefield (womens prison) in Ashford Middlesex, England. Unfortunately, the United States is no better and is often the model that other countries follow. Everyone hates us but they want to be like us.

The United States healthcare system is a uniquely complex system made of both private and public sectors. From an international perspective, The United States spends more than any other country on healthcare though we do not necessarily have the best healthcare delivery system. The Department for Professional Employees (DPE) 2016 Fact Sheet shows though the US has the best doctors in the world, but that the treatment in the U.S. is inequitable, overspecialized, and neglects primary and preventative care. The result is that American’s health care is poor in comparison to other advanced industrialized nations. References for my latest healthcare research topics can be found here.

Thinking again about this young woman and her baby I have to wonder how does the United States healthcare system and prison system compare with England’s? England invests less than the United States, but English people have a better healthcare system than America. England may in some cases even treat prisoners better than the U.S. does. The United States can be barbaric at times. I hate to admit that.

NHS (England’s Department of Health) never offered the young mother counseling, but the department did help the guards that failed to help the young woman which is not unusual here in the states for either of the department agencies. About 50% of U.S. inmates suffer from mental disorders prior to entering the prison system, and U.S. prison conditions are reportedly more inhumane than any third world country.  Often American prisoners develop mental disorders because of the abuse they suffer at the hands of the United States Department of Justice.

The Guardian reports that the woman called for help three times during labor, and that none of the guards came to help her. They said the “vulnerable woman, identified only as Ms A, was ignored by prison guards despite multiple calls for help as she went into labor in her jail cell at HMP Bronzefield in Middlesex, England, on September 26, 2019”.

A prison watchdog said “the teenager gave birth completely on her own and was found in her bed cradling her dead baby 12 hours after calling her cell bell. The woman described being in constant pain during this ordeal, even passing out and waking up again only to find that her daughter had died. She bit through the umbilical cord and tried to clean the blood out of her cell”.

Still, according to The Guardian, the young mother was never offered counseling or any type of care. “Police and coroner involvement immediately after Baby A’s death, and a lack of understanding by the prison of the role of the local child death review team, meant Ms. A did not receive the routine bereavement and practical support that would normally be provided”.

Counselors were sent to offer support to the guards that allowed the mother to suffer and the baby to die. They still work at the prison. BBC reports that Vicky Robinson, the prison director stated, “This was tragic and extremely sad. We are deeply sorry that this has happened, and our thoughts throughout have been with the family”.

Reading about this case this morning made my heart hurt. I can’t imagine what that vulnerable mother is going through, and in a cell where no one can offer support or care. It is just unthinkable that it even happens in modern day societies.

Lori Yearwood, a contributing editor at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project says that Currently, 23 states do not have laws against shackling of incarcerated pregnant women, and that despite a federal law that prohibits the shackling of expectant mothers, that 85% of incarcerated women who are in state prisons or county jails often remain at the mercy of guards.

Sophia Casias shuffled across the floor at the Bexar county adult detention center in San Antonio, Texas, on March 2017 seven months pregnant, hands cuffed and feet bound, as a guard stood in front of her, holding the chain connected to her handcuffs.

“Casias couldn’t keep her balance though and crumpled on to the wet cement floor. She sobbed and felt as if she couldn’t breathe. She would later realize that she had felt the same way when multiple family members sexually assaulted her as a child”.

Casias recounted that after she fell “a female guard grabbed me by the hair and was making me get up. She was screaming: ‘Bitch, get up.’ Then she said, ‘That is what happens when you are a fucking junkie. You shouldn’t be using drugs or you wouldn’t be in here.”

Lori Yearwood says that the recently enacted federal legislation such as the Prison Policy Initiative of 2018 and the First Step Act of 2018, that are meant to prohibit the most punitive measures against prisoners, including shackling of pregnant women is not enough and that “85% of incarcerated women in America are still at the mercy of the guards who can choose exactly how to control their every movement – as well as the movement of their unborn children”.

Lorie Goshin, associate professor at Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing in New York and the lead investigator of a recent study about the treatment of incarcerated pregnant women says that “We dehumanize this group of women to such an extent that we don’t see how wrong this is….. just how unnecessary and cruel it is”.

The practice of shackling pregnant women during birth also violates the 2010 United Nations rule that “instruments of restraint shall never be used … during labour, during birth and immediately after birth”.

Despite laws, guards are in charge and probably do not even know about the laws. Not-for-profits distribute pamphlets to inmates and in support groups, but who educates the people in charge? To make matters even worse, the federal government does not require prisons or jails to collect data on pregnancy and childbirth among female inmates.

Rhode Island is the only state that has what is called “a private right of action”, an enforcement mechanism allowing the illegally shackled woman to sue for monetary compensation.

A 2017 report from the American Psychological Association addresses the acute psychological trauma that shackling inflicts saying, “Women subjected to restraint during childbirth report severe mental distress, depression, anguish, and trauma”.

Terry Kupers, MD, a psychiatrist and the author of the book Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It, implores staff “to be very careful that we do not re-traumatize them. Because re-traumatization makes conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder much worse….Women who get locked up, tend on average to have suffered many more childhood traumas”.

Amy Ard, executive director of Motherhood Beyond Bars, a Georgia not-for-profit worries, “if I am someone who needs to be chained, how can I expect to also see myself as someone capable of protecting my child?”

A former inmate at the California Institute for Women in Corona, Harriette Davis, now 64 and an anti-shackling advocate remembers herself being handcuffed to a hospital bed before giving birth to her daughter 36 years ago. The attending doctor told the guard to remove the shackles, Davis says, so that Davis could move freely, helping her baby travel more easily down the birth canal. “She’s not going anywhere,” Davis says the doctor assured the guard. She said the guard finally removed the shackles just before her baby was born.

Davis bursts into tears as she speaks by telephone from her home in Berkeley, California. “It’s inhuman and it’s not necessary and it’s emotionally and mentally unhealthy”.

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, with Louisiana and California having the most incarcerated people. According to data from the 2019  Sentencing Report, black women are almost twice as likely to be incarcerated as white women. Advocates say they are making modest progress.

Danielle Edwards, a former Georgia prisoner says that she was taken to and from court hearings and doctor appointments shackled, including leg irons and handcuffs. To prevent the metal around her ankles from cutting into her skin, Edwards wore two pairs of socks. Shackling terrified her.

“It’s all very confining, uncomfortable and cold,” she says. “And it’s scary because when your feet have that limited mobility, you don’t know if you are going to misstep and fall on your stomach.”

She says that at eight months pregnant, standing in front of a judge, a sinking feeling overtook her. She pleaded with the judge to send her to rehab instead of prison so that she could keep her baby after birth.

“And I’m standing there in shackles and once I asked him for that chance he said: ‘Do you actually think I am going to let you walk out of this courtroom? Absolutely not.”

The latest on Julian Assange reads like a James Bond movie with Mike Pompeo.

Thanks to Ginger Liberty and Yahoo News, we received and update on Julian Assange’s case this morning.

A recent Yahoo Investigation report by Zach Dorfman, Sean D. Naylor, and Michael Isikoff says that the CIA attempted to kidnap WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange from the Ecuador embassy in London where he has been held since 2012, and that some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed assassinating Julian Assange…{going so far as to request “sketches” or “options” for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. “There seemed to be no boundaries.”}.

The CIA’s war against Assange included spying on WikiLeaks associates, stealing their devices, and attempts to turn the group’s members against each other. I wonder how many people were framed in those attempts? Apparently, the CIA declared this war against Wikileaks because of a sensitive data breach of CIA hacking tools, known as “Vault 7”.

Did Pompeo break the law? Did he put the United States Department of Justise in jeopardy? A former national security official said that the CIA “was completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7. They were seeing blood.” Mike Pompeo, CIA director wanted revenge.

“Assange’s U.S. lawyer, Barry Pollack told Yahoo, “As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information,”.

Michael Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Back in 2017, Ecuadorian officials began efforts to grant Assange diplomatic status to give him cover to leave the embassy and fly to Moscow to serve in the country’s Russian mission. According to officials, that is when the CIA and the White House discussed a number of scenarios to arrest or kill Assange, including “potential gun battles with Kremlin operatives on the streets of London, crashing a car into a Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange and then grabbing him, and shooting out the tires of a Russian plane carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow”. Apparently British officials even agreed to help do the shooting if gunfire according to a former senior administration official.

“It was going to be like a prison break movie.” Said one senior official. “It was beyond comical,”. “It got to the point where every human being in a three-block radius was working for one of the intelligence services whether they were street sweepers or police officers or security guards.” They told then President Trump, “this is going to get ugly,”. The White House worried that the campaign against the organization would end up “weakening America,”.

In 2010, Assange published classified U.S. government documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies did not know how to deal with Wikileaks publishing information that other reporters would never touch. Some think WikiLeaks is an independent journalist institution, and that Julian Assange is a hero. Others think that he is a villainous spy.

Did the Obama Administration change the definition of a journalist? Cyber operations changed in 2013 when Edward Snowden fled to Hong Kong with a massive amounts of classified NSA documents. A WikiLeaks editor helped arrange Snowden’s escape to Russia from Hong Kong and lived with him for months. William Evanina, a retired U.S. counter-intelligence official says, “The Obama administration prioritized collecting WikiLeaks information to build a picture of WikiLeak’s contacts and tie it back to hostile state intelligence services. The CIA assembled a group of analysts known unofficially as the WikiLeaks team in its Office of Transnational Issues”, but he also states theta the Obama Administration backed off because of the First Amendment.

Prior to the 2016 presidential election WikiLeaks began publishing Democratic Party emails. The NSA began tracking Twitter accounts. The CIA targeted people affiliated with Wikileaks. U.S. intelligence officials believed Assange “was acting in collusion with people who were using him to hurt the interests of the United States”. A Trump Whitehouse  official said, “Nobody in that crew was going to be too broken up about the First Amendment issues.”, and the Trump Administration went after Assange.

Shortly after the election, and about five weeks after Wikileaks embarrassed Pompeo by publishing the “Vault 7” files, Pompeo made his speech about Wikileaks, “WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service and has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence,” he said. “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”.

Vault 7 “hurt the agency to its core,” said a former CIA official. Pompeo was reluctant to brief the president on Vault 7, “Don’t tell him, he doesn’t need to know,” Pompeo told one briefer, before being advised that the information was too critical and the president had to be informed, said the former official.

Covert actions by U.S. intelligence agencies to interfere with the activities of any foreign actor normally require the president be briefed and that the president sign a “finding” to authorize the covert operations or the CIA can conduct “offensive counterintelligence” activities without getting a presidential finding or having to brief Congress.

“Often, the CIA makes these decisions internally, based on interpretations of so-called common law passed down in secret within the agency’s legal corps. I don’t think people realize how much the CIA can do under offensive counterintelligence and how there is minimal oversight of it, said a former official.”

Was Wikileaks operating as a Russian agent? The CIA had no proof. “It wasn’t clear they were, so the question was, can it be reframed on them being a hostile entity.” Intelligence lawyers decided that the CIA could operate counterintelligence because Pompeo declared WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service”. Pompeo had control of the lawyers in D.C., and he wanted the Vault 7 documents. White House officials considered different ways the counterintelligence operation would play out, and officials reasoned that the CIA would be erasing its own documents.

Pompeo’s plan was to “break into the embassy, drag Assange out and bring him to where we want,” said a former intelligence official. “You can’t throw people in a car and kidnap them,” said a former national security official. Another official even says that the president discussed assassinating Assange. “It was viewed as unhinged and ridiculous”.

Former President Trump denies that he ever considered having Assange assassinated. “It’s totally false, it never happened” and added, “In fact, I think he’s been treated very badly”. Officials says that Trump’s lawyers were against the CIA’s illegal proposals “While people think the Trump administration didn’t believe in the rule of law, they had good lawyers who were paying attention to it”. “The White House told Attorney General Jeff Sessions that if prosecutors had grounds to indict Assange they should hurry up and do so”, and then “the Swedes dropped a rape investigation into Assange giving prosecutors 48 more hours to rush an indictment”.

U.S. officials couldn’t just run over a Russian diplomatic vehicle to arrest or kill Assange, but they had to find a way to prevent Vladimir Putin from getting both Snowden and Assange. Putin would have enjoyed that too much and would have had control of the propaganda.

Assange spent years running WikiLeaks from his living quarters, but the Associated Press uncovered a Spanish firm, UC Global that works for U.S. intelligence to provide detailed reports on Assange’s activities by secretly installed devices in the embassy. Ecuadorian authorities made Assange a citizen and provided him a passport so he could leave for Moscow. Fidel Narvaez told Yahoo News that the first secretary at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017 and 2018 said that Assange said refused to accept that assignment and that he was asked to persuade him. “However, Ecuador did have a plan B,” said Narvaez, “and I understood it was to be Russia.”

The Justice Department secretly charged Assange. UC Global planned to leave the embassy door open to allow U.S officials to get in, and even considered poisoning Assange. Assange’s colleagues planned to publish even more Vault 7 files if he were killed.

There was still no finding from the U.S. president and the CIA was in a bind with no presidential finding. “That kind of lethal action would be way outside of a legitimate intelligence or counterintelligence activity,” a former senior intelligence community lawyer said. Sessions warned the CIA to arrest Assange legally and  other U.S. officials worried about what the discovery process might reveal if Assange were to face trial in the United States.

“I was part of every one of those conversations,” Evanina said. “As much as we had the greener light to go do things, everything we did or wanted to do had repercussions in other parts of the administration.” As a result, he said, sometimes administration officials would ask the intelligence community to either not do something or do it differently, so that “we don’t have to sacrifice our collection that’s going to be released publicly by the bureau to indict WikiLeaks.”

In 2019, Ecuador’s government gave Assange to the British police who arrested him on a warrant that was issued in 2012. The U.S. government unsealed its initial indictment of Assange the same day that focused on 2010 allegations that Assange helped Manning, the Army intelligence analyst, crack a password to break into a classified U.S. government network. Prosecutors then charged Assange with Espionage Act charges  for publishing classified information. A British judge then ruled that Assange could not be extradited to the United States because he would be a suicide risk in a U.S. prison.

Trump may or may not have agreed to let Pompeo kill Assange, but in 2018, “Trump granted the CIA aggressive new secret authorities to undertake the same sort of hack-and-dump operations for which Russian intelligence has used WikiLeaks. Among other actions, the agency has used its new powers to covertly release information online about a Russian company that worked with Moscow’s spy apparatus” says Yahoo News investigators. A Trump official told Yahoo News, “There was an inappropriate level of attention to Assange given the embarrassment, not the threat he posed in context,”.

Let me know what you think about Assange’s case in the comments. You can also find the Yahoo News story here:  CIA’s secret war plans against Wikileaks led to a London shootout, kidnapping, assassination plot. (Sun, September 26, 2021, 4:00 AM·39 min read, Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks)

Hundreds of inmates in New York jails will soon be going home.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Less is More Act on Friday. Above, Hochul talks to reporters at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum on September 8, 2021, in New York City.CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY

In January 2020 a new criminal justice reform law went into effect that allows New York to release people that cannot afford bail. Jeannie McBride of New York State says that judges can not hold anyone arrested for a misdemeanor, or even some of those charged with felonies on cash bail. Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour, said, “The judge will have to go in and ‘ROR’ them, release them on their own recognizance”.

“I have to get paperwork from a judge. So they will have to see a judge. I would guess that there could be 75 to 100 that could possibly get released when this law goes into effect,” he said. It takes time to process people out.

District attorneys do not ask for bail unless there is a significant reason. Sheriff Voutour says that he doesn’t know it the new law will reduce the number of inmates, “If they’re in for 20 days before they are convicted and they get sentenced to 20 days, they get time served,” he said. “What’s going to happen is now that they don’t go in on bail, there’s no time accumulated. So now if they get sentenced to 20 days, now they have to come and serve those 20 days.”, and that the issuance of warrants will increase.

This week, Kathy Hochul, “the New York Governor is directing the state parole board to immediately release 191 prison inmates amid the crisis at Rikers Island that has worsened over the course of the pandemic.” states Jeannie McBride. “On Friday, Hochul signed a new law to help reduce incarceration among those who have been jailed due to technical parole violations, such as missing curfew, marijuana use or arriving late to a meeting with a parole officer.”

It is estimated that about 270 inmates at Riker’s Island will be released. “They have served their sentences under Less is More, but they should not have to wait until the enactment date,” Hochul said. Under the Less is More Act, Hochul also ordered around 200 inmates at Rikers to be transferred to state prison facilities to relieve severe overcrowding.

Rikers has always been known to keep inmates in horrific conditions, and the covid pandemic has made it worse. Over 2,200 New York’s Department of Corrections suffered employees became infected with COVID-19. There are not enough jailers to hold people in the horrific cells anymore. Some reports show that the facility holds people in units that do not even have beds.

This year, 10 people at Rikers have died. At least five by suicide. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to improve conditions at Rikers. He wants to require absent prison guards to get a doctor’s note if they’re out for more than a day, speed inmate intake procedures and fix infrastructure problems.

Hochul says, “It is about protecting human life, the lives of the people who are incarcerated as well as correctional officers. It’s also about protecting human dignity,” she added. “This questions who we are as a people when we can allow situations as we’ve seen at Rikers to exist in a prosperous, mighty city like New York. The fact that this exists is an indictment on everyone.”

Parents Mental Health, Foster care, Addictions, and Prisons

Parents, Mental illness, Homelessness, Addiction, Foster Care, Prisons

A social worker recently confronted me with her concerns about parents who have been diagnosed with mental illness and homeless families. I have to agree with her that there are problems that should be addressed. However my personal belief is that family units should be preserved whenever possible. Right now, state and federal governments are just beginning to make policy changes that are required by the Family First Preservation Act of 2018. It is 2021 and states have not implemented the new law! Currently, as in the past decades, services are geared towards adoptive and foster families. Biological family is almost always overlooked because previous to the Family First Act of 2018 the funding only provided for children to be placed in out of home placements with complete strangers. This led to children being crammed into group homes and being placed out of state with strangers.

Children will run away and parent’s lives spiraled out of control. The system causes more harm than good so new laws were made and states are supposed to be making the needed changes. My response is as follows:

Homelessness can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Mental health issues can also lead to homelessness. Families are for the most part ill equipped to handle a family member with a mental condition. We need more NAMI’s to help everyday people cope with these kinds of issues. The National Alliance of Mental Health Illness (NAMI) has volunteers and paid counselors that can help individuals, family members, teens, youth, veterans, and others dealing with mental health issues. Depression, unshakeable feelings of dread, despair, loneliness, and hopelessness seem to be leading signs and causes of suicide. Most of the suicide letters that I have seen include statements about “not seeing a way out”, ot that the family “will be better off without me”. The context is usually about child support and custody situations taking place in family courts. America has a problem! Family is the foundation of any society and courts are tearing our families apart!

Parents who suffer from mental conditions fall into even deeper despair when their families are destroyed and they are told that they can never be parents because of their condition. Studies also show that there is a high prevalence of mental illness in the foster care population and that many of the children will be homeless when they age out. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCLS) has collected data that tells us that children are prescribed doses higher than the maximum levels cited in guidelines developed by the FDA and that legislative action is being taken to address how states are doing this (NCSL, 2021).

The last I looked over 300,000 children less than a year old were prescribed adult doses of medications. Some I would guess were born of parents that were either taking street drugs or prescribed medications, but even if they were born addicted to some substance the amounts of psychotropic drugs they are being prescribed is concerning. What will their lives turn out to be like with no family ties and a bunch of pills to ease the pain?

Serious mental illness costs the United States an estimated $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually and only about 41% of persons with a mental disorder receive any treatment (Shi & Singh, 2019). Mentally ill patients are at higher risks of becoming homeless and homeless people do not have access to medical care and experience higher rates of adverse physical and mental health conditions, suicides, substance abuse, and respiratory diseases. SAMSHA’s national mental health statistics show that yearly, about 42.5 million (18.2%) American adults suffer from some mental illness (, 2021). Approximately 9.3 million adults (4%) experience severe mental illness that interferes with their daily lives. Nearly half (45%) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity. Mood disorders affect about 20.9 million American adults (9.5%) with the median age being around 30 years old (SAMSHA, 2021).

Homelessness does lead to bigger problems for an individual and for society. People with mental conditions and former foster children make up much of the homeless and prison populations. Reports showed that 50% of the girls in foster care become pregnant before 19 years of age, many (about half) before 18 years of age, 50% of foster children will be in prison within two years of aging out and 74% of foster children will end up in prison, 80% of the people on death row were in foster care (HHS, DOJ, Casey Family Foundation, National Coalition for Foster Children). Less than 3% of foster children will go to college! The foster care system is broken and parents are having difficulty working through mental health and legal systems. Foster children don’t stand a chance! They are too young to advocate for themselves and are often passed through several homes. They don’t get to have a permanent doctor or team to help them make it through life. This results in missed appointments, miscommunications, and a lack of proper care. Only about 25% of foster children receive services at any given time (Polihronakis, Tina, 2017).

Legislation was made a few years ago to provide for pediatricians to address mental health conditions in children (NCSL,2021), but are they actually qualified to make the diagnoses and help the child through what is happening in their lives to a healthy recovery. What I see is pediatricians prescribing medications for mental health issues and discussing it with lawyers and social workers instead of doctors and family members. 

As Christians I believe that we have to do better. In Biblical times children became orphans when their parents died. In today’s times even Mary would be under fire by the state. After all, she did ride around the desert on a donkey, homeless and some would say hallucinating because she said she talked to angels and they talked to her. Jesus was not born in a hospital either. He wasn’t even born in a house which is something that is not widely accepted today in the United States. Jesus was born in a barn. When I think about how to deal with homelessness, mental illness, and foster care, I have to think of it from a Christian perspective and ask myself, What would Jesus do? (KJV)

Related Articles: Homeless People, Runaways, Mental Health Disparities, and Homelessness, Is It Ever Appropriate to “coerce” children into loving someone through force and court orders?


Casey Family Programs, (2021),, (2015), Mental Health Disorder Statistics,

KJV, King James Version of the Holy Bible,

NAMI, (2021), National Alliance on Mental Illness,

NCSL, (2021), National Conference of State Legislatures,

Polihronakis, Tina, (2017), Information Packet: Mental Health Care Issues of Children and Youth in Foster Care,

SAMHSA, (2021),  mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration,

Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Essentials of the U.S. health care system with access (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN: 9781284156720.

Runaways, Mental Health Disparities, and Homelessness

Not all homeless people suffer mental illnesses, but they are more likely to develop mental and physical illnesses. Sometimes, people that suffer from mental illnesses will also end up in the homeless population.

Homelessness is a growing problem and effects all of us. Homeless people can come from all walks of life. Some have good families that worry about them. Others may not. We find mentally ill people walking the streets, runaways, and children. We find homeless people living in the streets, in bathrooms, on downtown benches, in tents close to busy traffic lights, in temporary shelters or sleeping on their friend’s couch.

Homelessness is a growing problem both in the United States and globally. Socially, people may be afraid of the homeless population. There are many people that believe that there is something severely psychologically wrong with homeless people. Some cities even criminalize homelessness (CDC, 2020).

Both the homeless population and people with mental illnesses face stigmas and biases that may prevent them from asking for help. It is hard sometimes for someone with a mental illness to get up and go to a doctor. The same is true for a homeless person. People may talk about going to the dentist, but not many people talk about going to see a therapist. Homeless people have a hard time finding their next meal. A trip to the doctor may be hard for them to think about. Mental conditions are something that is not often talked about in public either.

Serious mental illness costs the United States an estimated $193.2 billion in lost earnings annually and only about 41% of persons with a disorder receive any treatment (Shi & Singh, 2019). Homeless people do not have access to medical care and experience higher rates of adverse physical and mental health conditions, suicides, substance abuse, and respiratory diseases. One in two homeless people are without shelter making them susceptible to extreme weather conditions. Many homeless people face depression because of the stigmas that people have about them.

Homeless people will have difficulty qualifying for and receiving public assistance because they have no address or access to communicate with service providers. There is much debate about whether or not treatment first or housing first is the best approach to ending homelessness (State of Homelessness, 2020). posted a study concluding that the treatment first approach gets people with substance abuse problems in treatment first but that the housing first approach costs less (All Answers Ltd., 2018). Personally, I think the housing first approach is not only more cost effective but also a better approach to ending homelessness and the underlying issues that cause it. I feel like the housing first approach is a longer lasting approach that enables homeless people and people with mental illnesses to access medical and mental health services. Someone that is experiencing homelessness or a mental health episode may not be ready to ask for help or accept help right now, but next week or next month they may want help. I just can’t imagine trying to keep a doctor’s appointment if I didn’t know where I was going to sleep or where my next meal was going to come from, so I like the housing first approach.

Most homeless people are men and a large number of them are under the age of 25 (State of Homelessness, 2020). In January 2020, there were 580,466 people experiencing homelessness in America. Most were individuals (70%), and the rest were families with children. They lived in every state and territory, and they reflected the diversity of our country (State of Homelessness, 2020). Specific subpopulations policy makers are concerned with include people in families with children (30%), unaccompanied youth (under age 25, 6%), people experiencing “chronic homelessness” belong to another group that is often singled out for attention (19%), and veterans (6%). (State of Homelessness, 2020).

Risk of becoming homeless is significantly tied to gender, race, and ethnicity. Males are far more likely (70%) to experience homelessness than their female counterparts.

Race is another significant predictor. Marginalized groups are more likely to be disadvantaged within housing and homelessness spheres. Higher unemployment rates, lower incomes, less access to healthcare, and higher incarceration rates are some of the factors likely contributing to higher rates of homelessness among people of color (State of Homelessness, 2020).

Numerically, white people are the largest racial group within homelessness, however, racial groups are far more likely to experience homelessness as a result of segregation and discrimination in employment and housing. Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have the highest rate of homelessness (109 out of every 10,000 people). Native Americans (45 out of every 10,000) and Black or African Americans (52 out of every 10,000). These rates are much higher than the nation’s overall rate of homelessness (18 out of every 10,000). (State of Homelessness, 2020)

Children are often a priority for homeless services systems. As a result, families with children are least likely to be unsheltered. Runaways and young people not living with their families do not receive the same access to services. It is estimated that unaccompanied youth make up 50% of the homeless youth population and they are unsheltered. 66% of all homeless people live with no shelter at all and often in places that are not meant for human habitation.

Poverty is the highest risks factor that leads to homelessness.

SAMSHA’s national mental health statistics show that yearly, about 42.5 million (18.2%) American adults suffer from some mental illness (, 2021). Approximately 9.3 million adults (4%) experience severe mental illness that interferes with their daily lives. Nearly half (45%) of those with any mental disorder meet criteria for two or more disorders, with severity strongly related to comorbidity (, 2021). Mood disorders affect about 20.9 million American adults (9.5%) with the median age being around 30 years old. Suicide rates in Wyoming are the highest in the U.S. while New Jersey has the rates for suicide. Depression, unshakeable feelings of dread, despair, loneliness, and hopelessness seem to be leading signs and causes of suicide. Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million American adults (1.1%) in any given year (, 2021). The Pacific Northwest and the Midwest seem to suffer more from mental illness than other regions.

Racial profiling can traumatize people of color making their daily life experience different from Caucasians. Racial and ethnic minorities have less access to mental health services and may not receive the same level of care. Statista shows that as of April 2021, around 25.5% of U.S. black, non-Hispanic public health workers reported having depression in the past 2 weeks, while 32.4% of white, non-Hispanic health workers reported the same. The numbers may not be accurate because other populations are not included in the study and because some people such as homeless people, do not have access to care.

Related Articles: Homeless People, Interview With A Homeless Couple, Fostered or Forgotten? , Our Words Matter.


All Answers Ltd. (2018). Comparison of the Housing First and Treatment First Methods of Reducing Homelessness. Retrieved from

CDC, (2020), Homelessness as a Public Health Law Issue, Center for Disease Control, Retrieved From,

Community Solutions, (2021), The Challenge, Homelessness is a problem that’s more costly to ignore than to solve. Homelessness is a complex, life-threatening problem. It can be solved — but only if systems are built to get to zero.  Retrieved From,, (2015), Mental Health Disorder Statistics,

Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2019). Essentials of the U.S. health care system with access (5th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. ISBN: 9781284156720.

State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Retrieved From,

Statista, (2021), Prevalence of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideation in the past 2 weeks among public health workers in the United States as of April 2021, by race/ethnicity,

Homeless People

Homelessness is a growing problem and effects all of us. Homeless people can come from all walks of life. Some have good families that worry about them. Others may not. We find mentally ill people walking the streets, runaways, and children. We find homeless people living in the streets, in bathrooms, on downtown benches, in tents close to busy traffic lights, with friends, and in temporary shelters. Most homeless people are men and a large number of them are under the age of 25 (State of Homelessness, 2020).

Homelessness affects everyone. Homeless people do not have access to medical care and experience higher rates of adverse physical and mental health conditions, suicides, substance abuse, and respiratory diseases. One in two homeless people are without shelter making them susceptible to extreme weather conditions.

Many homeless people face depression because of the stigmas that people have about them. Homelessness is a growing problem both in the United States and globally. Socially, people may be afraid of the homeless population. There are many people that believe that there is something severely psychologically wrong with homeless people. Some cities even criminalize homelessness (CDC, 2020).

Many people and businesses want to close non-profits that feed the homeless and get them off the streets and out of sight. People can be mean, and others not so much. On the other side, there are people that want to feed the homeless population, give them clothes, and offer resources. Some people want to clean the homeless up a little by offering washing machines, public computers with wifi, clothes, and food so they can look for jobs. And others want to address medical issues such as Covid, HIV, tuberculosis, alcohol and drug use, and other medical and mental health conditions. Places such as the Salvation Army, Randy’s House, and shelters in my area offer Christian church services to the people that come to them wanting help. However, Covid has shut many churches down.

Homeless people are seen as outsiders by many, and they can think of themselves that way too. There are homeless people that want help and there are homeless people that want to be left alone to live however they want to. Homelessness usually starts out with economic stresses and not being able to afford housing, but sometimes it can start out with someone separating themselves from family and society.

The rising cost of living is making it so that people living on minimum wage cannot afford housing. Reporters often report the number of vacancies at shelters and ask the community to make monetary or food donations. The Covid pandemic raised awareness that homelessness can happen to anyone. Americans lost their jobs and many still are not working and wonder if they will find jobs before the Covid Relief packages end. Some say that real estate will soon be so high that the average single person cannot afford to buy a house. Homeless people often have problems maintaining stable employment and experience difficulties finding a job or keeping a job because they do not know where their next meal is coming from and they may not know where they will sleep. Many do not have clean clothes and cannot take a shower to prepare for employment. Many will become depressed.

Homelessness is a growing problem both in the United States and globally. Socially, people may be afraid of the homeless population. There are many people that believe that there is something severely psychologically wrong with homeless people. Some cities even criminalize homelessness (CDC, 2020). The Peasants Revolt in1583 led to beggars being branded with a “V” in 1547. During the 17th and 18th century people began to think this was cruel and in 1872 the New York City Rescue Mission was opened. The Great Depression of the 1930s created awareness and brought about more changes and in 1979 a New York City lawyer, Robert Hayes, brought a class-action suit, Callahan v. Carey, against the City and State, arguing for a person’s constitutional “right to shelter”. It was settled as a consent decree in August 1981. The City and State agreed to provide board and shelter to all homeless men who met the need standard for welfare or who were homeless by certain other standards. By 1983 this right was extended to homeless women. The Housing First Bill in 1988 began moving homeless people into their own house or apartment to get them off the streets.

Beth Sandor may have explained how hard it is to address homelessness best when she said, “when we throw a bird, we don’t know where it will go. It may fly off” (Community Solutions, 2020). It is hard to solve problems that we can’t identify. Each individual is different and with each individual difference there are individual circumstances that brought them to become homeless. I try to think about what Jesus wants me to do. I think that God has a plan for everyone and that someday we will all have to address homelessness in some way.


Other Related Articles: Runaways, Mental Health Disparities, and Homelessness,


CDC, (2020), Homelessness as a Public Health Law Issue, Center for Disease Control, Retrieved From,

Community Solutions, (2021), The Challenge, Homelessness is a problem that’s more costly to ignore than to solve. Homelessness is a complex, life-threatening problem. It can be solved — but only if systems are built to get to zero.  Retrieved From,

State of Homelessness: 2020 Edition, National Alliance to End Homelessness, Retrieved From,

How Foster Care Youth Become Trafficking Victims

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photo Huff Post

The CDC reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experienced sexual abuse as children. Most will never tell their stories out of shame and fear. Some children do not live to tell their stories.

Predators put themselves in situations where they have access to children. A predator can be a family member, school teacher, principal, police officer, fire fighter, doctor, therapist, counselor, and even Sunday school teachers and preachers.

Children with intact families are less likely to suffer abuse. Predators prey on children from broken homes, group homes, foster care, and runaways. The U.S. Department of State reports that foster care is a consistent problem. Live-in parents and step parents are 20 times more likely to abuse a child than a biological parent.

City reports show that between 60% to as many as 90% of the children rescued in sex trafficking stings were in foster care before they were trafficked. Often, when they are rescued, they are returned to state custody where they will likely run away again.

Studies show that children in foster homes are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children that live with biological parents. Children that live in group homes are 28 times more likely to be abused.

Sometimes the predator is friends with the family or someone that the adults in the family think can be trusted, such as is the case often with teachers, preachers, and other children. Child sex abuse is most likely to happen when a child is between the ages of 6 to 11 years old.

One solution that will reduce child sex trafficking is to localize foster care so that children never have to run from place they are not familiar with. Many sex trafficked children ran away from a group home or a foster home when they landed in the hands of sex traffickers. Another solution to reduce both child sex trafficking and the need for foster care is to shift the ASFA funding in a way that allows states to be paid when they place a child in need with a family member.

#EndASFA #StopTitleIV #Stophumantrafficking #stopchildtrafficking #QuitShoppingForChildren #SaveYOURchildren