Decriminalizing Mental Illness & Addiction
At CLOUT’s 2017 Nehemiah Action Assembly, a dozen officials, including County Attorney Mike O’Connell, the CEO of Centerstone (formerly Seven Counties), Metro Council members, judges, treatment providers, and others committed to form the “Safe City Roundtable” for the purpose of jumpstarting the implementation of promising best practices such as: a "Living Room” program as an alternative to jail or the emergency room for persons in mental health crises; a LEAD initiative in LMPD, to get low-level drug offenders into treatment rather than jail; enhanced CIT training for LMPD; and better utilization of the current Drug Court program.
Over 2017-18, this resulted in the following:
Establishment of The Living Room - CLOUT worked with Metro Council to secure initial funding to establish the program, and Metro Council allocated $325,000 for a pilot program. That program began in Dec. 2017, and primarily focused on persons delivered there by the police. In the pilot phase it served over 1100 persons with over 8000 hours of service, diverting hundreds of persons from the overcrowded jail. CLOUT continued to work with Metro Council for increased funding in 2018-19, so the program could open to the public (to include walk-ins, families bringing loved ones, etc.), and the Council allocated $1 million for that purpose. Since the program opened to the public fully in Dec. 2019, it has experienced a 200% increase in guests, with 76% of them being self-referrals and 98% of them being diverted from higher levels of care such as police or EMS.
Increased utilization of Drug Court - At CLOUT's request, a training for judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and others was conducted in fall 2017, using experts from the National Associate of Drug Court Professionals. The result was an immediate increase of 20% in the utilization of the program.
Establishment of the LEAD initiative - CLOUT provided community support for the establishment of a LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) initiative, which allows police officers to direct low-level drug users to treatment rather than jail. Due to a Dept. of Justice grant secured by the Louisville Metro Criminal Justice Commission, the pilot program began in spring 2018.
Enhancing the use of CIT by LMPD - CLOUT is currently engaged in the process of meeting with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's office to improve public safety for citizens and police officers alike by ensuring that LMPD utilizes the department's de-escalation training and policies more consistently, especially when dealing with individuals who are acting out their health condition of mental illness/addiction.
Plugging the School to Prision Pipeline
At CLOUT’s 2010 Nehemiah Action Assembly, Ky. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, and the judges of the Jeff. Co. Juvenile Court committed to support the implementation of a “restorative justice” approach in the local juvenile court as a way of reducing the “school to prison pipeline.” Also, Mr. O’Connell committed to discontinue the practice in his office of referring all school-related offenses to court without the option of court diversion. Since then, funding was secured for the hiring and training of paid & volunteer staff for Restorative Justice Louisville, which has implemented a successful pilot project of using “family group conferencing” with certain juvenile crimes.
At CLOUT’s 2012 Nehemiah Action Assembly, JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens committed to begin the implementation of “restorative practices” in schools and to begin the process of revising the JCPS Code of Conduct to reflect the use of restorative practices. As a part of her commitment, Dr. Hargens, other top JCPS administrators & school board members, and the president of the Jeff. Co. Teachers Assn. (JCTA) traveled to Baltimore with CLOUT leaders to visit a model school using restorative practices. Also as part of her commitments, in July 2012, Dr. Hargens convened an all-day orientation in restorative practices by administrators, school board members, and others, which was attended by representatives from almost all 150 JPCS schools.
While Dr. Hargens has not yet fulfilled her original commitment to implement a pilot project of whole-school restorative practices in several schools, during the 2013-14 school year, JCPS began the implementation of the PBIS program in fifty-three schools, which moves the district in a new direction of using research-based approaches to dealing with school discipline issues, rather than relying simply on discredited & ineffective “zero tolerance” approaches.
JCPS continued to train stakeholders in basic Restorative Practices (RP) in summer 2015, and expanded the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports program in over 100 schools district-wide. After CLOUT's appearances at JCPS Board of Education meetings in 2015-16, calling for “RP, not PR,” JCPS has begun a process to incorporate restorative practices into the Code of Conduct, has continued the training of 700 stakeholders in basic Restorative Practices, and has hired a district-wide Restorative Practices coordinator.
In early 2016, JCPS Superintendent Hargens & other top administrators and Board of Education members visited a Restorative Practices school in Hamilton, Ohio. Then, in May 2016, JCPS allocated $5 million for improved behavior programs throughout the district, including $2.2 million for whole-school Restorative Practices, using the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) as the trainers & consultants. The funds will be used to: train a district leadership team of 24 JCPS staff, who will be trained to be certified IIRP trainers; conduct whole-school training for all staff at four pilot schools; conduct whole-school training at an additional 14 schools in the 2017-18 school year.
At CLOUT’s 2018 Nehemiah Action Assembly, JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio committed to expand implementation into an additional 10 schools in the 2019-20 school year, and to continue to expand implementation district-wide.
Also, in terms of other results of the RP program to date, at the end of the 2017-18 school year, at the elementary school level suspensions at RP schools were running 13% lower than the district, and suspension days (actual time out of school) were 30% lower than the district.
In October 2018, JCPS officials and CLOUT leaders participated in the World Conference of the International Institute for Restorative Practices, in Chicago, IL, where JCPS officials led a workshop in how the district is successfully implementing restorative practices. The officials also presented at the national PBIS Conference that same month.
During 2018-19, CLOUT leaders conducted site visits to Knight Middle School, where the principal reported that the school’s rate of suspensions has decreased by 80%, and Engelhard Elementary School, where suspensions are down by 79%.
In early 2019, community leaders from several cities in other states participated in a conference call with JCPS officials to learn about the school district's implementation of RP; and in March 2019, community leaders from Pinellas Co., FL and Lexington, KY visited Louisville to meet with JCPS officials to learn about the implementation and to attend the RP Summit conducted by JCPS at Spalding University.
Affordable Housing Trust Fund
CLOUT launched the effort to develop a Louisville Metro Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) in 2004, and received initial commitments at that time from several state & local officials to the concept. Since then, CLOUT assisted in the creation of the “Open the Door” campaign, which is a coalition of several local organizations that support the creation of an AHTF. In the meantime, CLOUT worked with allies to achieve in 2006 an ongoing dedicated source of revenue for the Kentucky (state-level) AHTF.
Finally, in 2007, Mayor Abramson included a local AHTF in his Comprehensive Housing Strategy and committed an initial $1 million in seed money to it, and in 2008, the Louisville Metro Council voted 25-1 to establish the Fund according to the guidelines developed by CLOUT and our allies in “Open the Door” campaign.
In October 2009, through the work of the “Open the Door” campaign, the Louisville Metro Council voted to move the creation of the AHTF and the Board was appointed by Mayor Abramson.
At CLOUT’s Nehemiah Action Assembly in April 2011, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer committed to make it a priority of his administration in 2011 to identify an ongoing dedicated source of public revenue for the AHTF. The goal is to have a fund of $10 million per year going toward various affordable housing strategies in our community. Such a fund would produce 840 units of affordable housing per year, would generate 1120 jobs in the first year and 440 jobs every year thereafter, and would generate over $60 million in local revenue in the first year and over 30 million every year thereafter.
While Mayor Fischer has not yet fulfilled his original commitment, CLOUT’s continued public pressure contributed to Metro Louisville creating the $12 million “Louisville CARES” affordable housing initiative in May 2015.
CLOUT leaders and allies have continued to share testimonies and data on the benefits of the AHTF at Metro Council meetings in 2015-16, and in January 2016, CLOUT received major media coverage for publicly contrasting the city’s investment in the luxury housing at the Omni Hotel project (funded with $139 million in local & state taxpayer money) with the city’s lack of investment in affordable housing.
At CLOUT’s Nehemiah Action Assembly in March 2016, Metro Councilman and Democratic Caucus Chair Bill Hollander (D-Dist. 9) committed to advocate for an allocation of $5 million for the AHTF in the 2016-17 city budget, and to work with CLOUT to secure dedicated funding for the Trust Fund in the future. In June 2016, Mayor Fischer committed $2.5 million for the AHTF in his budget, and it was unanimously approved by Metro Council. Over 2016-17, this has funded the development of 326 homes.
At CLOUT’s Nehemiah Action Assembly in March 2017, four Metro Council members committed to support a $10 million allocation to the Trust Fund in the FY18 city budget. Following that, CLOUT led the successful campaign to secure an allocation of $9.6 million by Metro Council, which has funded 22 different projects that built or preserved 1,115 units through projects in 8 Metro Council Districts. Of these, 775 were renovations of existing units (while maintaining their affordability), and 340 of the units were brand new, through new construction or renovation of a vacant property. It is estimated that this investment of $9.6 million resulted in a leveraging of another $150 million in investments by other parties.
At CLOUT’s 2018 Nehemiah Action Assembly, five Metro Council Members (plus two who were absent) committed to support a $10 million allocation to the Trust Fund in the 2018-19 Metro budget, and to work with CLOUT to identify a ongoing dedicated revenue source. In June 2018, Metro Council approved an allocation of $10 million for the LAHTF in 2018-19.
CLOUT is continuing to work toward securing a source of ongoing, dedicated public revenue of $10 million (or more) per year for the LAHTF.
Removing Barriers to Employment for Persons with a Criminal Record
At CLOUT’s 2013 Nehemiah Action Assembly, several members of the Louisville Metro Council committed to sponsor an ordinance to implement new hiring practices within Louisville Metro government and for companies who do business with local government in order to remove barriers to employment for persons with a criminal record. Specifically, they committed to make Louisville a “Ban the Box” city, and to extend that policy to vendors & contractors who do business with the city.
After several months of work, including many appearances by CLOUT leaders before Metro Council’s full sessions & committee meetings, in March 2014 the Council voted unanimously (26-0) to pass the “Ban the Box” ordinance. With this vote, Louisville Metro became only the 16th city in the U.S. to pass this policy and to extend it to vendors & contractors.
This policy is not only a compassionate way to help families get back on their feet, but is also a smart move by the city to address crime and the costs of incarceration & the courts. It will help thousands of individuals & families be able to support themselves by getting a job, and it will help the business community by providing a deeper pool of motivated & skilled employees.
What is “Ban the Box” and what does this ordinance do?
The approved ordinance will provide more opportunities for the approximately 160,000 persons in Louisville who have a criminal record to get a job, and therefore be able to support themselves & their families. It will do this by prohibiting a check box or written questions of inquiry about a job applicant’s criminal record on employment applications for city jobs, and for jobs offered by vendors who do business with Louisville Metro government (with certain specified exceptions). Businesses will still be able to ask about criminal records and conduct criminal background checks as part of their interview process. Under the ordinance, Louisville Metro government’s current practice of not having the box for city jobs has become law under city code, and the same practice is now required of vendors who do business with the city.
Improving Public Transportation to Jobs
At CLOUT’s 2015 Nehemiah Action Assembly, officials representing TARC, KIPDA, and Riverport businesses committed to expand TARC service to Riverport industrial park in southwest Jefferson County, home to 115 businesses and 7000 jobs. Through CLOUT's work, KIPDA ended up ranking this their number one priority transportation project and advocated for funding through a state-administered CMAQ grant. Unfortunately, the state chose to spend the CMAQ money on a recreational bike path in Covington, KY instead.
Following this, TARC kept their commitment made at the Nehemiah Action to convene a meeting of stakeholders, where Riverport businesses and government leaders discussed the idea of TARC matching business contributions to pay for expanded service. At CLOUT’s request, TARC distributed a follow-up survey to gauge which additional bus trips were most needed.
At CLOUT’s 2016 Nehemiah Action Assembly, TARC committed to develop a plan to move the project forward.
Finally, in June 2017, TARC launched the new circulator bus to provide transportation to workers in the Riverport Industrial Park.
At CLOUT’s 2011 Nehemiah Action Assembly, officials of the Jeff. Co. Public Schools (JCPS) committed to develop a comprehensive plan to deal with the problem of school bullying, to include an improved definition of bullying, required training for all school personnel, an enhanced tracking & reporting system, and evidence-based interventions.
Beginning in fall 2012, JCPS began the implementation of a plan which includes all of the elements identified by CLOUT, as well as additional steps that the school district is taking. Specifically, it includes:
Bullying Prevention Binders (training guide for school staff) – administrators from all three school levels have been trained in how to use the binders, and all schools have copies of the binder; the materials are also online & available to both staff & parents, including PowerPoint presentations to help all students (bully, victim, & bystanders).
Ongoing Bullying Prevention Trainings – special training specific to new JCPS employees; training for all employees; parent workshops; online training available to educators & parents; JCPS employees have Professional Development training available online, and parents also have access to the training.
Bullying Reporting – all bullying suspensions are now reported on the JCPS “Infinite Campus” database system & can be monitored immediately; a Bullying Report Form is now available online for parents & JCPS employees to utilize; a new Flowchart for Actions in Response to Allegations of Bullying is being used by all JCPS employees to ensure consistency in dealing with reports of bullying; Asst. Superintendents have received training & are now ensuring that school administrators are trained.
Cultural Competency Training – online for all JCPS employees to access.
District-Wide Bullying Prevention Committee – consists of active members from all JCPS departments working together to continue to create a systemic approach to bullying prevention, based on best practices; Student Response Team Bullying Prevention Coordinator is available as an ongoing resource.
Bank on Louisville
Also in 2009, in a meeting with CLOUT leadership, (then) Mayor Jerry Abramson agreed to convene local banks & credit unions to develop an initiative to offer products & services to reach out to the 29,000 unbanked households in the Louisville area, and to apply to the National League of Cities (NLC) to be selected as one of eight cities to receive a year of technical assistance with the initiative. Louisville was selected by the NLC to receive their assistance. Most major local banks & credit unions came together to develop the initiative, and “Bank On Louisville” was launched in July 2010.
Since its launch, over 16,000 persons have opened new accounts, with an average quarterly balance of $1283 and with 70% of the accounts remaining open. It is estimated that individual who participates in Bank On will save over $40,000 in check-cashing fees alone over the course of their lifetimes, which when totaled up will save our community hundreds of millions of dollars over time.
Catch a Falling Child
At CLOUT’s 2008 Nehemiah Action Assembly, officials with the Ky. Cabinet for Health & Family Services, and 12 other local & state health officials agreed to work together to develop a pilot project for Jefferson County with the goal of enrolling 6000 additional children in the next 3 years in Medicaid & KCHIP (Ky. Child Health Insurance Program). Through subsequent meetings under CLOUT’s leadership, the Regional KCHIP Task Force was formed.
Later in the year, through the efforts of CLOUT & allied organizations across the state, Gov. Steve Beshear committed to dedicate $31 million (to be matched by $81 million in federal funding) to enroll 35,000 children in KCHIP over the next two years.
Since the launch of the Governor’s initiative in Nov. 2008, over 47,000 children across the state, including over 9,000 in Jefferson County, have been enrolled.
Stop the Revolving Door
At CLOUT’s 2007 Nehemiah Action Assembly, (then) Ky. Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert committed to double the size of the local Drug Court program and to provide more training for judges in the benefits of the program. Those commitments were met, and now over 200 persons are participating in the program (up from 89 in 2008).
Also at that Assembly, (then) Ky. Dept. of Corrections Commissioner John Rees committed to create a new training program in issues related to drug & alcohol addiction for all Probation & Parole staff statewide. This program is now in place, and is required for all new & existing staff.
Also in 2007, Mayor Jerry Abramson committed to establish a new drug treatment program in our local jail, and to create a new position of Drug/Alcohol Counselor on the staff of the Louisville Metro Dept. of Corrections. Those commitments were met, and hundreds of inmates have already been assisted.
HISTORICAL LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
These are just a few of the community improvements resulting from CLOUT’s work since its beginning:
Traffic improvements in southwest Louisville that have made our streets safer
Drug arrests that have cleaned up drug trafficking in a west Louisville neighborhood
Public transportation improvements in southwest Louisville that have made our local bus service more accessible & safer
Thousands of children in struggling public schools learning how to read at grade level through a research-based reading curriculum
STOP program in JCPS, and changes in policies around school suspensions that have reduced drop-outs and enabled struggling students to succeed
Cleanup of trashy & overgrown vacant lots citywide, and a new process for inspecting and citing properties in violation of city ordinances
Creation of a gateway mini-park at the entrance to south Louisville
Cleanup of abandoned buildings and a rat problem in southwest Louisville
Development of a plan for community-oriented policing in the Louisville Police Department
One-for-one replacement of demolished public housing units, in order to prevent the loss of affordable housing in the city
Improved accessibility to health services for the growing Hispanic/Latino community through the Family Health Centers network
Expansion of the local Drug Court program, resulting in more alternatives to incarceration for persons with drug/alcohol addictions
Mandatory training program for probation & parole officers statewide in how to deal more effectively with the drug & alcohol problems of their clients
Built-in drug & alcohol treatment program in the Louisville Metro jail
Enrollment of over 60,000 additional uninsured children in KCHIP (Ky. Child Health Insurance Program)
Bank On Louisville program, which has already benefitted over 16,000 formerly unbanked households
A “restorative justice” program in the local juvenile court in order to address the “school-to-prison pipeline”
Elimination of the practice in the County Attorney’s office of referring all school-related offense directly to court without the option of court diversion (therefore preventing young persons from beginning a criminal record and beginning the journey down the “school-to-prison pipeline”)
Establishment of an ongoing, dedicated source of public revenue for the Kentucky Affordable Housing Trust Fund, resulting in $7 million a year going to the development of affordable housing across Kentucky
Comprehensive plan to address the problem of school bullying in the JCPS
The Louisville Metro Council voted unanimously (26-0) to make Louisville a “Ban the Box” city (and only the 16th in the country to extend this practice to vendors who do business with the city), which will open up more opportunities to the 160,000 adults in Louisville with a criminal record to rebuild their lives and to be able to support themselves & their families officials of TARC, KIPDA, Riverport businesses, and Metro Council committed to develop a solution to inadequate public transit services to the Riverport industrial park in southwest Jefferson County, including support for a new circulator bus from Dixie Hwy., which will provide much better access to the 7000 jobs there.
The creation of the Louisville Affordable Housing Trust Fund (LAHTF), which when fully funded will provide $10 million per year to address the affordable housing crisis in the Louisville Metro area; in 2016, CLOUT got Mayor Fischer & Metro Council to allocate $2.5 million in funding to the LAHTF, and $10 million in 2017 & 2018; CLOUT is continuing to work for an ongoing, dedicated source of public revenue.*
Implementation by JCPS of “restorative practices” (RP) in the school district, and revisions to the district’s code of conduct to reflect the use of RP, in order to address the “school-to-prison pipeline;” in 2016, over $5 million was committed to these new approaches; to date, 28 schools & 3 other school-related agencies are using RP, with dramatice reductions in student suspension and behavior incidents.*
Commitments by ten top public officials to form the “Safe City Roundtable” in order to better address the needs of people in our city suffering with drug addiction and mental illness; this will include expanding the use of the Drug Court program, developing a special crisis stabilization center for persons in mental health crisis (Living Room), and implementing new approaches within the Lou. Metro Police Dept. to direct mentally ill/addicted persons to treatment rather than jail; already in 2017, CLOUT got the Metro Council to allocate $325 thousand to the Living Room initiative of Centerstone (formerly Seven Counties Services), and in 2018 to allocate $1 million to expand the program and open it to the public; in its first twelve months of operation it assisted over 1300 persons.*
*these initiatives are still in the process of being completed as of April 2019