In the News 
 

Press Release: DHSS Cannot House People Waiting for Psychiatric Evaluations in Jail and Must Provide Evaluations Outside API

October 22, 2019

ALASKA – There has been a victory for Alaskans with disabilities. One year after the Disability Law Center (DLC) sued the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) to end the practice of housing people in need of psychiatric evaluation in jail and emergency rooms while awaiting admission to API, Superior Court Judge William F. Morse has determined the practice causes irreparable harm and has ordered DHSS to create a plan for corrective action by December 5, 2019. The Order protects both the fundamental liberty rights and wellbeing of individuals with mental illness.

See full press release here and the Court’s ruling here.

Press Release: ´╗┐Forcing People Into New Mental Institutions Will Not Prevent Mass Shootings

August 23, 2019 ALASKA - There has been a dangerous change in the public discourse following the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Mass shootings are often blamed on “mental illness.” However, while recent discussions include suggestions that states should enact and enforce “red flag” laws, or report people who have been civilly committed to a firearms database, there is a new proposal that the public should guard against mass shootings by building new psychiatric institutions to house people with mental illness. See full release here.

Audio of Court Hearing about API Litigation

March 22, 2019 - Updated April 10, 2019

The Disability Law Center of Alaska is suing to restrain the State from keeping Alaskans who need psychiatric evaluation waiting in jails or hospitals, instead of being evaluated at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API). We have asked that if no appropriate evaluation is available, people be released.

A hearing on these issues began on March 19, 2019. Recordings of the March 21st portion of the hearing, each approximately 2 hours, are available here:

Testifying on that day were:

Al Wall, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Health and Social Services and CEO of API
Gennifer Moreau, Acting Director of the Division of Behavioral Health
Closing arguments on DLC’s motion for relief (as outlined above) took place on April 10, 2019. Audio is available here:

Related DLC press release:

People Waiting for Psychiatric Evaluations Should Not be Waiting in Jail: API Needs to Explain (10/12/18)

API Privatization Leaves More Questions than Answers

February 8, 2019

ALASKA - The Disability Law Center of Alaska (DLC) is concerned about the State’s press release dated February 8, 2019, announcing the Alaska Psychiatric Institute will fall under the management of Wellpath, a private, for-profit company. Our caution stems in part from documented problems in the privatization of medical and mental health care in federal prisons, the privatization of immigration detention facilities, and the privatization of state psychiatric hospitals. According to David Fleurant, DLC’s Executive Director, “Privatization creates tension between patient care and profit. When choosing between the two, what will a Wellpath corporate office in Nashville decide?”

Download Full Press Release Here.

People Waiting for Psychiatric Evaluations Should Not be Waiting in Jail: API Needs to Explain

October 12, 2018

ALASKA – On October 9, 2018, the Department of Corrections (DOC) sent an internal email to DOC officials announcing that, due to staffing and safety concerns, API had decided to reduce bed capacity from 78 to 36 and house psychiatric patients within the Department of Corrections. The email explains that the closure is to remain in effect until API can be staffed adequately. The State has not provided the public with any information regarding its decision to house API patients alongside those serving criminal sentences. The Disability Law Center of Alaska (DLC) has grave concerns for the liberty of these patients and for the lack of public information surrounding this process.

 For more information, read the full press release HERE.

New Program at DLC

October 2, 2018

The Disability Law Center beginning a new program to ensure the Social Security funds of people with representative payees are being well managed. We will soon be conducting:

  • In-depth site reviews of representative-payees;
  • Other types of reviews on SSA’s behalf;
  • Training to ensure payees fully understand their duties and responsibilities and educate them on record-keeping and reporting duties.

This program is made possible by grant funds awarded to Protection and Advocacy agencies, like DLC, from the Social Security Administration (SSA), based on the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018, signed into law on April 13th.

Learn more about Representative Payee Site Reviews here.