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MARCH 2010

A Special Invitation

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When the League of Women Voters was founded 90 years ago, passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution appeared to be imminent. Yet Carrie Chapman Catt and others agreed that it would be important to educate and engage newly enfranchised women so they could be informed and active in their government and community.

Today, members of the LWV share this sense of purpose which has become even more important with the complexity and challenges of our world. We know from discussions at our meetings and personal conversations with each other that we aspire to create communities in which residents are educated about issues and involved in making a difference.

You are invited to participate in a new kind of gathering for League members in which we will share ideas about the possibilities for such a community.

Saturday, March 27, 2010
8:45 a.m. to 12:00 noon
coffee available at 8:30 a.m.
Borgess Navigation Center
Behind the Medical Specialties Building on the Gull Road campus. Turn on Shaffer Road, and follow the signs. Parking is next to the building.
RSVP: president@lwvka.org or 544-0303

Our format will include small- and large-group conversations. We haven’t invited speakers or “experts” who will recommend what anyone should do, nor will we develop a traditional strategic plan. Instead, we ask that members bring their own commitments and experiences, and share those with others – with an interest in listening to and learning from each other. You won’t be asked to take on new projects, but may learn something that inspires you to use your gifts and talents to become a catalyst for change. You may even inspire someone else.

Please join us — if only because conversations with Leaguers are always stimulating and productive!

 highlights

National Health Care Reform

Add your voice, letters, and phone calls in support of health security reform

The League of Women Voters continues to support national health care reform for the long term benefit of women, families, and the nation.

How Health Insurance Reform Will Help Women: Lower Costs, Protect Choice, Assure Access
Preventive care for better health
By ensuring coverage for all basic health services, including breast cancer screening, maternity benefits, well baby, and well child care, we will have health care and not just sick care.

Insurance industry reforms that save customers money
Reform proposals cap out-of-pocket expenses, co-pays, and deductibles. Over half of women report delaying care because of cost, and one-third give up basic necessities for health care. Plans will contain a standardized maximum out-of-pocket limit.

One-stop shopping
Women often make family decisions regarding health care. Proposed reforms will make it easy to compare prices, benefits, and services.

Insurance security
Less than half of women have health insurance through an employer. Proposed health insurance exchanges and a possible public option guarantee access to health insurance regardless of one’s employer, whether one loses or changes jobs, or becomes sick.

Strengthening employer based health care
Sixty million women who currently have health insurance through an employer can retain this coverage if they wish.

Ending discrimination for gender and pre-existing conditions
Current practice allows insurance companies to charge a healthy woman premiums 150% higher than premiums for a healthy man of the same age. Reform will prohibit sex-based rates and prohibit denying coverage based on medical history, including previous incidents of domestic violence.

Quality Care for Children
Health reform requires insurance companies to provide quality coverage for children, including dental and eye care, heading off potentially serious conditions in later life.

Add your voice, letters, and phone calls in support of health security reform.

Compiled by Barbara Havira. Based on materials from U.S. House of Representatives Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Education and Labor, 2009.

highlights

LWVMI Prison Restudy

By Paula Manley

What are the responsibilities of the prison system?

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In this sixth and final article in the series on issues regarding the Michigan criminal justice system, we will consider the responsibilities of the prison system for the health and well being of prisoners.

Confronting Confinement, A Report of the The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, June 2006, noted “States and localities must commit to eliminating the crowded conditions that exist in many of the country’s prison and jails and work with corrections administrators to set and meet reasonable limits on the number of prisoners that facilities can safely house.”

“Prison overcrowding, the adoption of excessively harsh and arbitrary control practices in reaction to prison violence, and the growing general punitive attitude toward prisoners have resulted in more punitive policies and practices. These include denial of adequate medical services, excessive use of physical force and housing prisoners in exceptionally punitive arrangements, such as solitary confinement units and cells. The federal courts have ruled that all of these practices violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

According to Unlocking America, Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population, published in November 2007, by the JFA Institute, a recent “meta-analysis” of treatment programs reviewed 291 evaluations of adult offender treatment programs, both in-prisons and in-community, conducted in the United States and other English speaking nations. It reports that 42% of the evaluated programs, including jail diversion programs, domestic violence programs, faith-based, psychotherapy or behavior therapy for sex offenders, boot camps, electronic monitoring and restorative justice programs had no impact on recidivism.

The Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending made the following observations about the Michigan parole process: “With a high probability score, the board may, in most cases, release the prisoner without an interview. If it denies parole, the board must give ‘substantial and compelling reasons’ for departing from the guidelines recommendation.” According to the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments, no other state gives the parole board such discretion in determining length of time served. In many states, the judge sets the maximum sentence for an individual offender based on the specifics of the case.

The Justice Center of the Council of State Governments recommended the following changes in Michigan:

  • Require that people sentenced to prison after the effective date of this policy (anticipated to be April 1, 2009) serve no less than 100% of their court-imposed minimum sentence and no more than 120% of that sentence.
  • Direct the parole board to release offenders who have served 100& of their court-imposed minimum sentence except in cases where there is failure to complete required programs.
  • Permit the parole board to hold an offender beyond 120% of their court-imposed minimum sentence in cases where the offender poses a very high risk of reoffending as determined by a validated risk assessment.

Please join us to discuss the consensus questions on Wednesday, April 14, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. at Paula Manley’s home (5652 Brenda Lane East). If you would like to read more in depth on the issue, contact Paula Manley at 330-8578 to obtain a list of sources. If you cannot attend but would like to participate in consensus, please download a pdf file of the consensus form here and mail to: Paula Manley, 5652 Brenda Lane East, Parchment, MI 49004 by April 10.