Fewer services for patients with Down syndrome who are affected by Alzheimer's
by Susan Abram
NORTH HILLS - She had learned to care for herself, to work and count her money so she could buy food, set the table, tell time and use a phone to dial 911.
Now 60 years old, Denise Steinberg is forgetting the little things. She puts her blouse on backwards or her pants on inside out. Her attention span has dwindled. She is acting out toward her roommates.
"I'm seeing the signs more and more, and I'm freaking out because where is she going to go?" asks Terri Budow, Denise's younger sister.
"I love her and I want her to be around people who care and who love her, too."
Steinberg was born with a developmental disability at time when she and people like her expected to live only until they were 30 years old.
Now, she is part of an unexpected trend: Those with Down syndrome or other development disabilities are living longer, but in some cases, not necessarily better. More than 90 percent of those with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer's disease by the time they are in their late 40s.
"This is something the community has never had to deal with before," said Roschell Ashley, director for residential services for New Horizons.
The nonprofit New Horizons formed in the San Fernando Valley in 1954 to help those with developmental disabilities learn life skills, find employment and receive housing.
But a new need has emerged.
As their clients age, New Horizons saw that its group homes were not adequate for elder clients with Alzheimer's and dementia. Of the nearly 700 clients the agency serves, more than half are 40 years or older.
So in 2008, the agency began plans for a six-bedroom group home just for those with Down syndrome who develop Alzheimer's, one of only a handful in California and nationwide.
The nonprofit bought a plot of land in Reseda and the $1.2 million home is expected to be completed in the fall of 2013.
"These clients become totally dependent and need special care," Ashley said. "The home will be equipped with everything, even lifts."
But the increasing need will no doubt outgrow that home, she said.
The number of people who seek assistance through the California Department of Developmental Services increased by 60 percent from 1997 to 2007.
"What is going to be a challenge in this subgroup population is they will have nowhere to go, because their caregivers are aging, and their siblings are not around," said Dr. Sikander Kajani, who specializes in geriatrics and is with Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
"There is no one to advocate for them," Kajani said. "It starts out with families that kind of care for them. As their children get older, they need a special environment to house them."
Kajani and others say the onset of Alzheimer's for those with Down syndrome is different, which is why a general nursing home may not be best. A 40-year-old's body ages faster, making him or her look as if she were 60.
"The milestones of aging come faster," Kajani said.
A study currently under way at UCLA's Longevity Center shows that brain scans of those with Down syndrome display evidence of plaques and tangle deposits, evidence of Alzheimer's, at an early age.
"What's challenging with Down syndrome is intellectually, they are challenged, but in Down syndrome (with Alzheimer's) you tend to see behavior problems," said Dr. Gary Small, director of the Longevity Center and author of the "The Memory Bible."
Small said one way to delay Alzheimer's, in this population and everyone, is more exercise and better nutrition.
"We don't have a cure, but there's a lot of evidence that healthy lifestyle can delay the onset of symptoms," Small said. "We can't cure it completely, but it might stall symptoms for three to four years."
At Tierra del Sol, a nonprofit agency in Sun Valley that also provides opportunities for the developmentally disabled to learn life skills and live independently, healthy lifestyles are promoted as well.
"This is the first generation in history when people with intellectual disabilities are routinely outliving their parents," said Steve Miller, executive director with Tierra del Sol, which serves 500 people.
"The life expectancy has doubled."
There are several reasons, Miller said, including better health care and steering away from the practice of placing these young men and women in institutions, where infectious diseases often cut their life span.
"We also have a focus on integrating people with disabilities into (the) mainstream where their peers are," Miller said.
Because clients are living longer, the agency has forged relationships with senior centers across the San Fernando Valley.
"We call it supportive retirement," Miller said.
Miller said communities and society can play a crucial role in how to help aging people with developmental disabilities. The secret is respecting all seniors.
"The most important thing is as it relates to senior services is to honor our aging parents and grandparents, and recognize that they raised us, that they put us through diapers and college," Miller said. "If we treat our seniors that way, then seniors with disabilities will benefit from that.
"Aging is a great equalizer," Miller added. "I'm arguing we don't see any differences."
On a recent morning at New Horizons, dozens of clients headed into the agency's workshop to fill up bags with lollipops or to ready packages for shipping.
It's a job Steinberg used to have, her sister said.
Steinberg and her sister and brother were all born in Inglewood, at a time when New Horizons had just been forming.
"My parents took her to different doctors, and did different tests," Budow said. "What I remember as a child is a lot of families didn't know how or want to take care of disabled children."
Budow remembers visiting institutions recommended by doctors. Disturbing images of how children were treated still trouble her.
Her family found New Horizons when they moved to the San Fernando Valley. The family even invested in the first group home, where Steinberg now lives.
"Thank God for them," Budow said. "It just changed our world around. It gave peace of mind to our parents, to my mother. Denise was and is a wonderful sister, and I love her death."
But in the group home, Steinberg has been acting out toward roommates. She cannot go to a nursing home, where there are fewer nurses per patient, and Steinberg needs more assistance, Budow said.
Budow said she is looking forward to New Horizon's group home for those such as her sister.
"I am so thrilled," Budow said. "I want this really bad."
CA 'Anti-Arizona' Legislation Gives Undocumented Immigrants License to Drive
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The newest legislative move in California marks a small victory for the states undocumented immigrants.
In the new bill, signed into action late Sunday night by Gov. Jerry Brown, some undocumented immigrants could get California drivers licenses.
AB2189 by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, will let the Department of Motor Vehicles issue licenses to undocumented immigrants eligible for work permits under a new Obama administration policy. The bill requires the department to accept as proof of legal residence whatever document the federal government provides to participants in its deferred action program.
Cedillo said his bill will make roads safer while letting young immigrants drive to school and to work. His reasoning drew support from several Republican lawmakers, while other Republicans argued the state should leave immigration issues to the federal government.
"It is a victory for those who were brought here through no choice of their own, played by the rules, and are only asking to be included in and contribute to American society," Cedillo said in a statement.
He said California is the first state to grant drivers' licenses to the group singled out under the Obama administration's policy. Cedillo praised Brown for choosing "public safety over politics" by signing the bill.
"President Obama has recognized the unique status of these students, and making them eligible to apply for driver's licenses is an obvious next step," Brown spokesman Gil Duran said.
"It is a victory for those who were brought here through no choice of their own, played by the rules, and are only asking to be included in and contribute to American society," said Assemblyman Gil Cedillo.
Meanwhile, Brown vetoed AB1081, which could have protected undocumented immigrants from deportation if they committed minor infractions. The bill has been dubbed "anti-Arizona" legislation, a reference to that state's immigrant identification law.
The so-called Trust Act would have let California opt out of some parts of a federal program that requires local law enforcement officers to check the fingerprints of people they arrest against a federal immigration database and hold those who are in the country illegally.
It would have barred local law enforcement officers from detaining suspects for possible deportation unless they are charged with serious or violent felonies.
Brown backed comprehensive federal immigration reform, and said in a veto message that federal agents "shouldn't try to coerce local law enforcement officials into detaining people who've been picked up for minor offenses and pose no reasonable threat to their community."
However, he said the list of serious or violent felonies in the bill is "fatally flawed because it omits many serious crimes." He said those include child abuse, drug trafficking, and weapons violations, among others. He promised to work with lawmakers to fix the bill's wording.
California law enforcement officials have turned over about 80,000 undocumented immigrants for deportation since 2009, though fewer than half had committed a serious or violent felony. The majority of those deported by the federal government under the Secure Communities program have come from California.
Supporters say the program targets otherwise law-abiding immigrants who commit minor traffic infractions, sell food without a permit or are arrested on misdemeanors charges but never convicted. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said the program wastes local resources and causes mistrust between immigrants and law enforcement agencies.
Several Republican legislators objected that Ammiano's bill would have removed a valuable tool for ridding California of lawbreakers.
DNA evidence exonerates 300th prisoner nationwide
A Louisiana man is released from death row after his murder conviction is overturned. He said he was coerced into giving a false confession.
by Molly Hennessy-Fiske
A Louisiana man has been released from death row, becoming the 300th prisoner nationwide to be freed after DNA evidence showed he was innocent.
Of those 300 prisoners, 18 had been on death row, according to lawyers from the New York-based Innocence Project.
"It feels good. I'm still processing it," said Damon Thibodeaux, 38, when reached by phone in New Orleans.
A Jefferson Parish judge overturned his murder conviction Friday and ordered Thibodeaux released after 16 years in prison, 15 on death row. The decision was one of several recent exonerations across the country.
Last Monday, John Edward Smith was released from a Los Angeles jail nearly two decades after he was wrongfully imprisoned in connection with a gang-related shooting. In August, Chicago prosecutors moved to dismiss murder charges against Alprentiss Nash 17 years after he was convicted of a murder that recent DNA tests indicated he didn't commit. Earlier that month in Texas, David Lee Wiggins was freed after DNA tests cleared him of a rape for which he had served 24 years.
Thibodeaux, a deckhand, was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to death after he confessed to the July 19, 1996, rape and murder of his 14-year-old step-cousin, Crystal Champagne, in Westwego, a dozen miles southwest of New Orleans.
The girl was last seen alive by her family when she left their Westwego apartment to go to a nearby Winn-Dixie grocery store. When she failed to return, her parents alerted police and a search ensued.
Her body was discovered the next evening under a bridge, her pants pulled down, a wire ligature around her neck; she appeared to have been strangled. That night, detectives began interrogating potential witnesses, including Thibodeaux.
After a lengthy interrogation, Thibodeaux confessed to raping and murdering Crystal, a confession that became the primary basis for his conviction in October 1997.
He unsuccessfully appealed his conviction in 1999, arguing that he was coerced into giving a false, unrecorded confession after being interrogated for nine hours by Jefferson Parish sheriff's investigators. He also said that there was insufficient evidence to convict him and that he did not receive a fair trial.
"This is a tragic illustration of why law enforcement must record the entire interrogation of any witness or potential suspect in any investigation involving a serious crime," said one of Thibodeaux's attorneys, Steve Kaplan of the Minneapolis firm Fredrikson & Byron.
In 2007, Thibodeaux's legal team persuaded Jefferson Parish Dist. Atty. Paul Connick to reinvestigate the case, sharing half the cost, which ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars. DNA testing showed that Thibodeaux was not the killer and that Crystal had not been raped.
"District attorneys now recognize that the system doesn't always get it right and many, like Dist. Atty. Connick and his team, are committed to getting to the truth," said Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, which also represented Thibodeaux. The case highlights the importance of California's Proposition 34, which would repeal the death penalty, on the November ballot, Scheck added.
Thibodeaux, who said he felt "great sympathy for the Champagne family" and hoped Crystal's killer "is found and tried," said he was grateful the district attorney was willing to reexamine his case.
"A lot of prosecutors, when they see a case like mine, they just turn away from it and say, 'We tried it in court, that's it,'" he said.
Louisiana pays those wrongfully convicted $25,000 for each year they were held in error for up to a decade.
Thibodeaux plans to live in Minnesota, which he heard had a good reintegration program for former inmates.
After he walked out of prison, Thibodeaux said, he took the first step toward that new life, inhaling a deep breath of "free air."
"It's probably the best breath I've ever had," he said.
Accenture Research Shows Citizen Support for Police use of Digital and Social Media
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Nearly all (92 percent) of citizens surveyed by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) in six countries want to support their police force and believe they have an important role to play in reporting crime (88 percent). However, the vast majority (84 percent) of almost 1300 respondents say they are only minimally informed of local police activities, according to a survey released by Accenture at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police ( IACP ).
Citizens -- from Canada , Germany , Netherlands , Spain , the United States and the United Kingdom -- believe digital communication channels, including social media, can play a significant role in bridging the communication gap. Almost three-fourths (71 percent) of those surveyed say police use of digital channels can help overcome the communication gap , but only 20 percent believe their local police use digital channels.
The survey found almost three-fourths (72 percent) of respondents believe social media can be an effective tool to report crimes, generate suspect leads and support police investigations. Yet, only 13 percent of respondents said their local police are currently using social media as a communications channel. More than half of respondents (53 percent) believe the use of social media by police can improve police services and 47 percent believe it can prevent crime. Citizens also expressed preferences for specific social media platforms: 81 percent of respondents said they would most likely use Facebook to interact with police and 35 percent said they would use Twitter.
Almost one-fourth (23 percent) of respondents believe police should use smartphone and mobile applications to communicate with citizens and 50 percent said they would like to see an increase in the use of police websites and portals. Only 22 percent of those surveyed, however, said their police force is currently using dedicated websites and portals. The research found that police across all six countries continue to rely heavily on traditional media channels, including newspapers (69 percent) and radio or television news reports (45 percent), as their primary tools for one-way communication with citizens.
Despite citizens' interest in the use of more digital channels, traditional community policing methods remain important. The majority (63 percent) of respondents still prefer to report a crime over the phone or in person to a police officer and more than half of respondents (51 percent) said that "seeing police on the street" instils confidence in local policing efforts. In fact, more than half of those surveyed (53 percent) would like to have a designated community police force contact. Additionally, 71 percent of respondents said they would interact with police more often if they had the option to remain anonymous when reporting a crime or providing information to support police investigations.
"The findings of this survey show a strong desire by citizens to change the way they interact with law enforcement agencies and to support their local police chiefs in delivering crime-fighting services in new ways," said Ger Daly who leads Accenture's global Defence & Public Safety business. "Citizens want to receive and share information with police through their method of choice, which increasingly is a digital and mobile channel and they are looking for ways to engage with police while reserving the option of anonymity."
Speaking at the IACP annual conference, Tim Godwin , Accenture senior executive and retired U.K. Metropolitan Police Service deputy commissioner said, "The strong belief among citizens that digital technologies and social media channels can improve police services and prevent crime demonstrates the importance of police forces continuing to adopt new tools to foster two-way communication with citizens. By increasing the number of channels by which police communicate, they will gain valuable intelligence that can help prevent crime and secure prosecutions."
The U.S. had the highest rate of respondents who felt "well informed" of local police activities (21 percent).
More than three-fourths of U.S. respondents (78 percent) said they would like to see police use more digital channels to communicate with citizens.
Seventy-seven percent believe that social media can aid investigations and help catch criminals and 56 percent of U.S. citizens believe social media can improve police services.
Almost half of U.S. survey participants (47 percent) believe that social media use by police can prevent crime.
More than half (52 percent) of U.S. respondents said they would like to have a community police force contact.
Thirty-four percent of U.S. respondents believe police should make greater use of smartphone and mobile applications to communicate with citizens.
The lowest level of awareness of police activities was in the Netherlands , where only 12 percent felt "well informed."
The highest level of awareness of digital use was among U.S. respondents, where 27 percent said their police force currently used digital channels to communicate. Citizens in Germany cited the lowest level of awareness of digital use by police with 15 percent.
The highest level of awareness of social media use was among Spanish respondents where 18 percent said their force currently use social media to communicate. This contrasts with 10 percent in Germany and 13 percent in the U.K.
More than half of Spanish (53 percent) and Netherlands citizens (51 percent) believe that the use of social media can prevent crime. By contrast, 44 percent of Canadians and 41 percent of U.K. respondents believe social media can help prevent crimes.
However, 77 percent of U.S. citizens believe that the use of social media can aid in investigating crimes and catching criminals. Spanish citizens (68 percent) are the least likely to hold this view.
The majority of Spanish respondents (73 percent) said they would like to have a community police force contact. This was the highest level recorded among the six countries surveyed, followed by respondents from Germany (60 percent) and the U.K. (52 percent).
The majority of respondents from Spain (86 percent) said they would interact with police more if they had the option to remain anonymous. This contrasts with 55 percent of respondents from the Netherlands and 62 percent from Canada .
Ninety four percent of respondents in Germany said they felt safe in their communities. Canadian respondents had the next highest level at 92 percent.
The online citizen survey included 1,298 respondents from six countries, with 200 respondents each from Canada , Germany , Netherlands , Spain , the United States and the United Kingdom . Thirty percent of respondents live in urban areas, 26 percent reside in suburban areas and 45 percent live in rural areas or small towns. The overall margin of error for the study is 2.72 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. Twenty nine percent of those completing the online survey were between 18 years and 39 years of age when the survey was conducted by Market Connections in June 2012 .
Learn more about Accenture's work with and the Accenture Police Centre of Excellence and our public safety business .
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with 257,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world's most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012 .
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Assistant Secretary of State Brownfield promotes international police training
by Jacob Goodwin
William Brownfield, a shrewd and witty diplomat who serves as Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, appeared at the IACP show in San Diego on Sept. 30 to sign a partnership agreement with the police department of Portland, OR, under which Portland will send some of its law enforcement officers to the South Asian nation of Bangladesh to instruct their counterparts in community policing.
One might reasonably wonder what police officers from Portland might know about community policing that would be relevant to police in Bangladesh, but it turns out that Assistant Secretary Brownfield, Portland Chief of Police Michael Reese and AKM Shahidul Hoque, an inspector general with the Bangladesh Police, all of whom attended the brief signing ceremony, all agreed that such training makes a lot of sense.
“When this training works,” said Brownfield, “Portland is a winner, the U.S. Government is a winner, the Bangladesh Police is a winner and the nation of Bangladesh is a winner.”
A few hours later, in an exclusive interview with Government Security News , Brownfield noted that while Portland may, indeed, be quite different from any large city in Bangladesh, a substantial percentage of the material about community policing that the Portland instructors would impart to their Bangladesh students would hit on “universal” themes, such as the importance of local police officers linking up with local residents, and the value that can flow to police if they're perceived to be members of the local community.
Chief Reese, of Portland, made essentially the same point when he recalled a situation a few months ago in which an engineer from Portland wanted to donate a handful of computers to a school in Bangladesh, and Portland Police officers agreed to hand-carry the computers and physically present them to the school in Bangladesh. As a friendly gesture, the Portland officers invited their counterparts from the Bangladesh Police to join them at the school when they presented the computers.
“The notion of kids-and-cops is second nature to us,” observed Chief Reese during an interview with GSN, but apparently it was a completely new -- and quite pleasant -- experience for the Bangladesh police officers, who rarely have any direct contact with schools and school children. The episode turned into a practical lesson in community policing.
Reese also emphasized that his officers gained a greater understanding of the Islamic religion and culture by interacting closely with local police in a nation that is overwhelmingly Muslim.
Hoque, the Bangladeshi inspector general, saw how Portland police officers moved beyond any initial misconceptions they had about Muslims. “They learned that all Muslim people are not terrorists, as is often portrayed in the media,” he told GSN . Beyond the basics of community policing, the Portland instructors also focused on leadership skills, investigation techniques, cyber-crimes and technology-based training, Hoque added.
Assistant Secretary Brownfield planned to sign a second partnership agreement with the Ohio State Highway Patrol on Sept. 30. These two law enforcement agencies will join more than 50 state and local partners who are already helping foreign nations strengthen their civilian security and justice sectors.
“Each state and local partner receives specialized training from the Department of State and develops key relationships from its hometown community,” says a press note issued by the State Department on Sept. 26. “The Department of State pays the salaries of state and local officers while they are deployed.”
Beyond the general principles of community policing, Brownfield told GSN , U.S. police trainers also get into the nitty-gritty of police work. For example, they might instruct their counterparts in crowd control tactics, addressing some key questions: How do you do it? Where do you put your female officers? What are you actually looking for?
Drawing on the U.S. military's long (and often frustrating) experience trying to train police personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan, Assistant Secretary Brownfield rattled off five lessons he says he has learned. First, the type of training the U.S. offers must be consistent with the type of training the recipient government actually wants. Second, the U.S. has to be clear about the training's purpose. Is the training an adjunct to a counter-insurgency role, or is the training focused on community policing? Third, is the U.S. trying to train the maximum number of police officers, or does it aim to train a smaller number, but highly-specialized, group of students (in a “train-the-trainer” role.) Fourth, it's vital to manage expectations in any nation whose community structure has nearly collapsed. Fifth, because no organization can ever devise a perfect plan right out of the box, it is absolutely necessary to build flexibility into such an international training program.