drhoda | Arkansas news, politics, opinion, restaurants, music, movies and art

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Recent Comments

Re: “UPDATE: Ted Suhl gets seven years, $200,000 fine for bribery

The Arkansas Times, Max Brantley, Mary Jacoby and others deserve an investigative reporting award for their work over the years on this case. The nonprofit agencies I've worked with have had to deal with this guy's unethical and illegal practices for years. He would pretty much do anything for a dollar.

4 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by drhoda on 10/31/2016 at 8:40 AM

Re: “Arkansas breaks the curve — in wrong direction — on locking up juveniles

Why on earth would Mr. Mendel write such an article without even interviewing current leaders of DYS or service providers. Why on earth would he blameg DYS and service providers for kids being locked up? Neither DYS or service providers have ZERO authority to make incarceration decisions. This is the role of the judiciary system. Did he not study Civics in high school? Why does this he also not mention that Arkansas Advocates objected to his entire article? Why does he also not mention how funding for community-based services (to offer more local alternatives to incarceration) has not increased in more than 10 years while costs have increased 40%?

His attack on the Arkansas Juvenile Justice system is based on old news and interviews with former staff. Individuals who chose to QUIT the system rater than fight to improve it. Perhaps Mr. Mendel misquoted them as well? If so I apologize. However, if they did quit and then want to throw stones then shame on them. For example, the quotes attributed to them blaming providers for data reporting issues are downright Laughable they are so inaccurate.

Three years ago we learned from our mistakes in Arkansas and began a path of working together, DYS, Providers, Courts, Arkansas Advocates. We have gotten more accomplished in those two years than the last 20 years. We ALL supported the legislation that created the Youth Justice Reform Board. We ALL supported the establishment of a statewide risk assessment for youth (SAVRY). We have ALL endorsed the Court's core principles. The Youth Justice Reform Board has also just released it;s recommendations seeking to INCREASE community alternatives In other words we are getting things done because we are working TOGETHER.

There are still some things we respectfully disagree about. For example sentencing restrictions and locking up status offenders. We are working toward solutions to these and I am confident we will achieve these.

Perhaps Mr. Mendel is indeed well-intentioned but I'm here to tell you that he is also VERY misinformed and his articles are downright mean-spirited. Has he ever even set foot in Arkansas? This same kind of attack mentality is what led to everyone fighting several years back and nothing good came out of it....except us all vowing to work together and quit blaming each other.

Mr. Mendel if you are truly interested in seeing Arkansas continue our progress then why don't you interview members of the actual Arkansas Youth Justice Reform Board? Why don't you ask the Providers for the "Five Steps to Reform" paper we prepared for the Governor. In other words, how about focusing on present and future reform efforts rather opening old woulds or rehashing old failed efforts? This is very counterproductive.

I say all this not only as an experienced youth service provider but as a citizen, parent, taxpayer. and yes even as a "survivor" of the DCFS and DYS system as a youth. I can assure you no one has more passion for these kids than I do. The service providers who I associate also with share this same passion and concern every single day. It is dishonest and mean to paint "service providers" with a broad brush. Keep doing this and you will keep hearing from me. If an individual provider does something wrong it is the the state's responsibility to address that with that specific provider. In fact I will cheer with you any time a greedy, unethical person is caught and indicted for bribing state officials (which many of us did cheer recently). During my career I have reported three individuals to the Medicaid Integrity unit for suspected fraud. Again, to make broad-based accusations is not only wrong,it is mean-spirited. Those who make these kind of mean-spirited accusations are welcome to come work for a week in one of our poorly funded homeless youth shelters and review the abuse and neglect reports on the kids we are serving every day. I can assure you they will quickly gain a whole new perspective and appreciation for community-based service providers.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by drhoda on 08/17/2016 at 7:24 PM


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