Protecting Your Rights: Serving Sand Lake, Spenard, and Turnagain
September 5, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Please join me on Tuesday, September 11 from 1:00 – 5:00 PM in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium for the Alaska State Forum on Public Safety.
The forum will provide updates on the status of justice reinvestment in Alaska and examine Alaska’s crime trends and responses for those in the criminal justice system with substance abuse issues and behavioral health needs.
Alaska State Forum on Public Safety
Save the date: Tuesday, September 11 from 1:00 – 5:00 PM in the Wendy Williamson Auditorium.
Agenda and Event Details
At the 50-State Summit, the U.S. Department of Justice Assistance (BJA) announced it would provide support for up to 25 states to host a State Forum on Public Safety as a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety. In February, the BJA approved my office’s application.
Criminal justice experts from the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) are travelling to Alaska to facilitate a data-rich public safety discussion between a broad cross-section of policymakers, criminal justice professionals, behavioral health practitioners, and advocates to identify opportunities to improve public safety. The event will begin with a presentation from CJI to provide a national perspective on Criminal Justice Reform. The forum will continue with shorter presentations and panel discussions among state stakeholders, leaders, and experts.
Can’t attend the forum?
If you can’t attend the forum, the event will be live-streamed via my Rep. Matt Claman Facebook page and the video will continue to be available for viewing after the event.
Governor Walker Signs Legislation to Improve Access to Civil Justice for Low-Income Alaskans
Last month, Governor Walker signed legislation sponsored by my office that improves Alaskans’ access to the civil justice system by creating a stable and sustainable mechanism for funding the Civil Legal Services Fund. House Bill 106 allows the legislature to appropriate up to 10 percent of the filing fees received by the Alaska Court System during the previous fiscal year to the Civil Legal Services Fund. It further allows for appropriations to be made from that fund to organizations like the Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC) that provide civil legal services to low‐income individuals.
The Civil Legal Services Fund was created in 2007 with widespread bipartisan support to help ensure civil legal representation for Alaska’s most needy populations. The fund was originally designed to be capitalized by civil punitive damages collected by the state. In 2017, however, the Attorney General’s Office reported that in the last four years, the state had collected only $15,000.
ALSC, established in 1967, is a private, non-profit law firm whose funding comes from a variety of state, federal, and private sources. ALSC provides free legal help to seniors, veterans, disabled Alaskans, children, low income workers & consumers, and domestic violence victims. ALSC is dedicated to protecting those across Alaska who cannot afford to hire an attorney on their own.
Thank you to the Governor, the Attorney General, Nikole Nelson of ALSC, Greg Razo of CIRI, Nicole Borromeo of AFN, and everyone who attended the bill signing. And a special thanks to CIRI for hosting!
National Recovery Month
Every September, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Recovery Month to increase awareness of mental and substance use disorders, and to celebrate the individuals living in recovery. This the year’s theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community,” explores how integrated care, a strong community, sense of purpose, and leadership contributes to effective treatments that sustain the recovery of persons with mental and substance use disorders.
Recover Alaska and organizations around the state are hosting a number of events dedicated to increasing awareness of alcohol and substance misuse and celebrating Alaskans in recovery. Click here to see what events are happening.
“Chasing the Dragon”
Last month, the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, visited Alaska to raise awareness and learn more from the community about the opioid crisis in our state. During his trip, community members participated in a screening of “Chasing the Dragon.” The 45-minute documentary film, whose title refers to the never-ending pursuit of the original or ultimate high, features stark first-person accounts told by individuals who have abused opioids or whose children have abused opioids, with tragic consequences. The film highlights an important reality—that abusing prescription pills can lead to heroin use and that prescription pain pills and heroin are both opiates, highly addictive, easily accessible, and can lead to overdoses and death. Click the image below to watch the video:
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 11.8 million people misused opioids, including 11.5 million pain reliever misusers. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs (53%) were obtained from family and friends. If you’ve been prescribed opioid pain killers, it's very important to dispose of them as quickly and properly as possible. Anchorage has multiple Controlled Substance Public Disposal Locations. Click here to locate a year-round authorized collector in your area.
Department of Health & Social Services Releases Report on Opioid Misuse
Last month, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology released the Health Impacts of Opioid Misuse in Alaska report, which provides a broad overview of Alaska’s opioid epidemic and related data to help Alaskans better understand the scope of this serious public health crisis.
Overall, opioid-related deaths in Alaska have risen in recent years, similar to national trends. According to the report, between 2010 and 2017, 623 opioid overdose deaths were reported in Alaska—a 77 percent increase. The highest rate of opioid-related death was reported in 2017 — with 108 total deaths and 100 overdose deaths.
In 2010, 55 people died from opioid overdoses. In Alaska, the opioid epidemic has disproportionately impacted males, white and Alaska Native people, and persons aged 25-44 years. Economic impacts are also significant. Between 2016 and 2017, hospital visits in Alaska due to opioid overdoses cost more than $23 million.
While Alaska’s opioid epidemic continues, there are some encouraging findings in the report:
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events:
Spenard Community Council
Turnagain Community Council
Sand Lake Community Council
Fish Creek Festival 2018
Join your community in a family friendly event to celebrate Fish Creek and the community that loves it. Food trucks, art, community, a puppet show, free food for neighborhood kids, and a bike parade! Live music from Timbre Music, The Willow Street Band, Steven Bacon Band, the Russell Family Band, Winterland and the High Pets.
Youth friendly activities start at 12:00 noon
Bicycle Parade starts at 1:00 PM
Music will be from 3:00 – 7:00 PM
When: Saturday, September 8th from 12:00 – 7:00 PM
Visit the Facebook event page for more information and to RSVP. Consider riding your bike or walking to this event.
Fish Creek Cleanup
Come help clean the creek and trails prior to the start of the Fish Creek Festival. This year, the cleanup is an important interactive portion of the festival art. Trash will be taken to a large fish "trash can" created by Sheila Wyne and Bruce Farnsworth and displayed at the festival for the day.
Visit the Facebook event page for more information and to RSVP.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.