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IN THIS ISSUE:

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Caring for Those in Custody: Identifying High-Priority Needs to Reduce Mortality in Correctional Facilities

Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results

Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative: Findings and Recommendations in Five Jurisdictions


EDUCATION

Selected Statistics From the Public Elementary and Secondary Education Universe: School Year 2015-16

Trends in State Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plans


GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Annual Report

Survey of Key Monarch Habitat Areas Along Roadways in Central and North Florida


HEALTH AND
HUMAN SERVICES

Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2016

Work Requirements in Social Safety Net Programs: A Status Report of Work Requirements in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Housing Assistance, and Medicaid



December 29, 2017

Criminal_Justice
CRIMINAL JUSTICE

Correctional facilities are responsible for the care, custody, and control of individuals who are detained while awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. These facilities also have a constitutional obligation to provide for the health and well-being of those under their charge. Maintaining inmate health and safety is a significant challenge. This paper identifies problems in correctional facilities which, if addressed, could significantly reduce inmate mortality rates.

Source: RAND Corporation

This brief profiles seven states in which recidivism has significantly decreased over the last decade according to several different measures. Using the most up-to-date data from Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, the brief highlights data on people under community supervision for a more comprehensive picture of recidivism. It also describes a sampling of recent policy changes that have taken place in each of these states and details some of the Second Chance Act grant awards received by various agencies and organizations in each state.

Source: National Reentry Resource Center

After decades of misuse and overuse, the role of solitary confinement in United States jails and prisons is now being addressed. In recent years, solitary confinement or segregation has been the subject of increased scrutiny from researchers, advocates, policymakers, media, and the government agencies responsible for people who are incarcerated. Against this backdrop, and in light of growing evidence that restrictive housing may harm people without improving safety in facilities, a number of departments of corrections are taking steps to reduce their reliance on this type of housing. In 2015, the authors partnered with five corrections agencies on the local and state level to assess their policies and practices, analyze related outcomes, and provide recommendations for safely reducing the use of restrictive housing in their jails or prisons. The number of people in segregation ranged from 3% to 14% in the lowest to highest jurisdictions.

Source: Vera Institute of Justice

Education
EDUCATION

There were 98,456 operating public elementary and secondary schools in school year 2015–16; this number includes 1,253 new schools that opened for the first time. During this time there were 50.33 million public elementary and secondary school students in membership, an increase of less than 0.1% from the 50.31 million students reported in school year 2014–15. In 2015–16, public elementary and secondary schools and local education agencies employed a total of 3.2 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers. The pupil/teacher ratio (i.e., the number of students for every FTE teacher) in public schools was 16.0, down from 16.1 in 2014–15. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the pupil/teacher ratio in 2015–16 ranged from a high of 23.6 in California to a low of 10.5 in Vermont. Florida had 4,322 schools in operation in 2015-16 employing 182,586 teachers educating 2.8 million students. Florida’s pupil/teacher ratio was 15.3.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This report reviews how 17 state plans implementing the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) address the needs of historically disadvantaged groups of students. In general, states picked indicators that get at whether students are learning, including chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness, and on-track graduation. But some states picked so many indicators that schools may not have the incentive to improve on any of them. Also, some states, including Florida, use measures of the whole school's academic performance, without incorporating the performance of sub-groups of students. Some states are still using so-called "super subgroups," which combine English-language learners, students in special education, and minorities for accountability purposes, potentially masking gaps among specific sub-groups.

Source: Education Trust

Government Operations
GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS

Florida has 1,533,306 veterans. The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs (FDVA) is a Cabinet agency responsible for assisting Florida veterans, their families, and survivors in improving their health and economic well-being through quality benefit information, advocacy, education and long-term health care. FDVA’s main administrative office is in Largo with a Capitol office in Tallahassee. Its two primary program areas are the Division of Veterans’ Benefits and Assistance, which provides professional assistance to Florida veterans and their dependents in obtaining financial benefits and health care treatments from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the State Veterans’ Homes Program, which provides comprehensive health care to eligible veterans in need of long-term skilled or assisted living care.

Source: Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Each year, beginning in March, hundreds of millions of monarchs begin their annual migration of hundreds to thousands of miles, flying from roosts in Mexico to their summer homes in Canada and the United States. Millions of butterflies come to Florida each year, where they are important pollinators that help maintain the health and diversity of many ecosystems. Pollinators are critical to the health of the environment and specifically to the agriculture that supplies the majority of food in the United States. Research presented in this paper identified roadsides and other rights-of-way as priority areas where habitat could be expanded. To address this possibility, the researchers surveyed highways in north central Florida from Pasco and Orange counties in the south to Gadsden and Liberty counties in the north. Over 30 counties were included in the survey region. A total of 303 roadway locations were found to have one or more plants of the most important species of milkweed. The colonies included from one to 161 plants. Forty high density stands were found.

Source: Florida Department of Transportation

Health and Human Services
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

In 2016, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States. The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths in 2016 (19.8 per 100,000) was 21% higher than the rate in 2015 (16.3). Among persons aged 15 and over, adults aged 25–34, 35–44, and 45–54 had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths in 2016 at around 35 per 100,000. West Virginia (52.0 per 100,000), Ohio (39.1), New Hampshire (39.0), the District of Columbia (38.8), and Pennsylvania (37.9) had the highest observed age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in 2016. In Florida, there were 4,728 age-adjusted drug overdose deaths or 23.7 per 100,000. The age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs such as fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol) doubled between 2015 and 2016, from 3.1 to 6.2 per 100,000.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This report presents information on the work requirements currently in use in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and federal housing assistance programs and discusses the available evidence on implementation experiences and impacts. It also describes Medicaid waiver requests currently under consideration at the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that would include work requirements and closes by highlighting key questions for consideration when assessing the use of work requirements in safety net programs.

Source: Urban Institute


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GOVERNMENT PROGRAM SUMMARIES (GPS)
Government Program Summaries (GPS) is a free resource for legislators and the public that provides descriptive information on over 200 state government programs. To provide fiscal data, GPS links to Transparency Florida, the Legislature's website that includes continually updated information on the state's operating budget and daily expenditures by state agencies.

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