UPDATED: PA Legislature passes Medical Assistance suspension instead of termination for inmates

on Wednesday - June 29, 2016.

UPDATE: 7/8/2016: Governor Wolf has signed into law a new measure that will SUSPEND Medicaid (Medical Assistance) benefits rather than terminating them for anyone who is going to be incarcerated for 2 years or less. This will be a tremendous benefit to any of the more than 6000 people who go into Lancaster County Prison every year who are on Medical Assistance, as they will have immediate access to healthcare benefits upon their release.

For an article explaining more about this legislation, see http://cumberlink.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/vance-bill-to-ease-reentry-from-prison-awaits-wolf-s/article_285eb667-42c9-57d4-a2cf-2a192423f1fc.html 


(this article was written by our RMO summer intern, Gabriel Anthony-Kemp)

For quite some time persons reentering into society have been plagued with unjust and seemingly inescapable hardships. Among these hardships is access to affordable and effective medical help. Similar to mainstream society, many returning citizens struggle with addiction and have mental health complications, but because of their status or situation coming out of incarceration, they don't have the same access that another citizen would. Recently, there has been nationwide movement in changing Medicaid programs so that returning citizens will be able to utilize their services. Potentially, Medicaid is a source that would assist those reentering in supporting addiction and mental health needs.

As a new article by the Council of State Governments explains, "As states across the country adopt changes in their Medicaid programs, people who were previously ineligible for coverage have become eligible, including a significant number of people involved with the criminal justice system." 

In Pennsylvania, the legislature is considering Senate Bill 1279 that would suspend Medical Assistance (Medicaid) benefits while someone is incarcerated, rather than terminating these benefits. If passed, this change would make a significant difference to the large numbers of people in our prisons and jails who suffer from addiction and mental health concerns, as they would no longer have to re-apply for Medical Assistance upon their release from incarceration and then wait for coverage. The bill is currently sitting in the PA Senate's Public Health & Welfare committee.

For details on who's on the PA Senate's Public Health & Welfare committee, see


For a summary article about this proposed legislation in PA, see


For more from the Council of State Governments on this issue, see 


Scott's StoryCorps Interview: Surrender, Redemption and Following Your Calling

on Monday - June 13, 2016.

Scott's StoryCorps Interview: Surrender, Redemption and Following Your Calling

Here's another in our series of StoryCorps interviews. This one is with Scott Brubaker, one of our mentors and facilitators for the Successful Returning Citizens Mentoring Support Group. Scott explores themes of  surrender, redemption, believing in yourself again, and following your calling after your "darkest days."


The ACEs Quiz

on Monday - May 30, 2016.

Continuing our series of articles on childhood trauma and criminal justice responses, below is the ACEs quiz to determine someone's ACEs score.

Several key findings from the original CDC/Kaiser Permanente ACEs study are especially noteworthy:

The original study was conducted with 17,500 predominately middle class, Caucasian, college-educated American adults who had good health insurance.  And in that population:

* 63% of them had experienced at least 1 Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)

* 50% of them had experienced between 1 and 3 ACEs

* 12% of them had experienced 4 or more ACEs.

So ACEs, it turns out, are incredibly common. In later articles in this series, we'll explore some of the specific data on connections between ACEs and health risks, as well as what the research shows about resilience factors and protective factors that can mitigate the potentially harmful effects of trauma, as well as what's needed to heal from childhood trauma. But for now, here's the quiz to determine someone's ACE score.


Finding Your ACE Score

While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often...
Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or
Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often... Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or
Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever...
Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?
Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

4. Did you often or very often feel that ...
No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn't look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

5. Did you often or very often feel that ...
You didn't have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or
Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

7. Was your mother or stepmother:
Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or
Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or
Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

10. Did a household member go to prison?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

Now add up your "Yes" answers: _________ This is your ACE Score.

Collaborative effort to give incarcerated people a "Roadmap to Successful Reentry"

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Wednesday - April 27, 2016.

The RMO's latest collaborative effort is the "Roadmap to Successful Reentry" - a pocket-sized guide to help people incarcerated at Lancaster County Prison to prepare for release. The "Roadmap" covers every major aspect of life, including food, clothing, housing, transportation, family matters, employment, healthcare, mental health, addiction, financial matters, education and other needs. Staff at the Prison will give every person coming into LCP a copy of the Roadmap at intake, so they can begin thinking about and planning for release.

The "Roadmap" was created through a collaborative effort between many RMO partner agencies, including Lancaster County Prison, Lancaster County Adult Probation & Parole, Bridge to Community, Healing Communities partner churches, Tabor, Transitional Living Center, Spanish American Civic Association, Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, CareerLink, MidPenn Legal Services, Ambassadors for Hope, Compassionate House Aftercare, Mental Health America, Lancaster County Drug & Alcohol Commission, Lancaster County Behavioral Health/Developmental Services, and others.

Participants in the RMO's Reentry life skills course at Lancaster County Prison as well as returning citizens in the RMO's Successful Returning Citizens Mentoring Support Group provided input about what should be covered in the "Roadmap", based on what they most needed to know as they tried to prepare for release from incarceration and to navigate out into the community.

Funding for printing of the "Roadmap to Successful Reentry" is being provided by Bridge to Community and the Art & Selma Walters Trust. The "Roadmap" is a terrific example of the great things that can happen when agencies work collaboratively toward a common goal and collective impact for the good of the whole community.

Here's a recent Lancaster Newspapers article about the "Roadmap": 


And here are links to a downloadable version of the Roadmap (designed to be printed on legal-sized paper, double-sided, folded in half lengthwise, then accordion folded into 5 small sections to fit into wallet or pocket)