MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: March 19, 2019

Over the last few years, the New York State Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations hasn’t done a lot of investigating. But that’s about to change as its new chair, James Skoufis sets his sights on prescription drug pricing, so-called slum-lords and maybe even the governor.

AIRED: March 19, 2019 | 0:27:16
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS."

>> THERE'S A NEW SHERIFF IN

TOWN.

THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE

COMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS

DIDN'T DO A LOT OF INVESTIGATING

IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, BUT

THAT'S ABOUT TO CHANGE.

THE COMMITTEE'S NEW CHAIRMAN HAS

SET HIS SITES ON PRESCRIPTION

DRUG PRICING, SO-CALLED SLUM

LORDS, AND MAYBE EVEN THE

GOVERNOR.

FIGHTING THE WAR ON DRUGS,

STATEN ISLAND A HOT BED OF --

HAS A GROUNDBREAKING APPROACH TO

GETTING A HANDLE ON HEROIN.

AND MOVE OVER, TWO CRIME STORIES

GETS A WHOLE NEW FAN BASE IN

FESTIVAL RIGHT HERE IN NEW YORK

CITY.

WE'VE GOT THE FACTS OF WHERE TO

FIND THE DARK FUN.

THOSE STORIES AND MORE AS

"METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT NOW.

>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS," WITH

RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANNIGAN.

METRO FOCUS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY

JAMES AND MERRILL TISCH, SUE AND

EDGAR WACHENHEIM FOUNDATION,

BERNARD AND EILEEN SCHWARTZ,

ROSELYN P. WALTER, BARBARA AND

HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

>> GOOD EVENING AND TO

MOAT TRO FOCUS.

THERE'S A NEW WATCHDOG IN NEW

YORK STATE AND HE'S APPARENTLY

NOT AFRAID OF INVESTIGATING

ANYTHING AND ANYONE INCLUDING

GOVERNOR CUOMO.

A FORMER DEMOCRATIC ASSEMBLY MAN

ELECTED TO THE SENATE LAST

NOVEMBER IS NOW SERVING IN HIS

NEW ROLE AS CHAIRMAN ON THE

COMMITTEE OF INVESTIGATIONS AND

OPERATIONS.

HE HAD BEEN LOOKING INTO JUST

ABOUT EVERYONE FROM PHARMACY

BENEFIT MANAGERS WHOM THE

SENATOR HAS FAULTEDTOR DRIVING

UP DRUG COSTS TO SO-CALLED SLUM

LORDS WHO HE CLAIMS HAVE LET

HOUSING BUILDING DETERIORATE.

HE HAS NOT BEEN SHY ABOUT STATE

EXERTING HIS INVESTIGATION.

HERE WE HAVE THE SENATOR WITH

US.

SENATOR, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM

HAVE SOME THANKS VERY MUCH FOR

HAVING ME.

THRILLED TO BE HERE.

>> SO, SENATOR, YOU HAVE PLEDGED

TO CONDUCT NOR AGGRESSIVE

OVERSIGHT OF STATE GOVERNMENT

AND THERE'S AT LEAST SOME BUZZ

THAT YOU MIGHT EVEN HAVE THE

INTENTIONS OF INVESTINGGATORING

THE GOVERNOR OFFICE OR MAYBE THE

GOVERNOR HIMSELF.

ANY TRUTH TO THE RUMORS?

>> WE'RE DOING SOMETHING IN THE

SENATE INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE

THAT'S NOT BEEN DONE FOR A LONG

TIME, REALLY IN RECENT HISTORY.

WE'RE DOING REAL INVESTIGATIONS,

GO FIGURE.

WE'RE GOING TO DO THE WORK THAT

THE COMMITTEE'S SUPPOSED TO DO.

AND THE MATTER OF THE FACT IS

FOR THE FIRST TIME I THINK EVER

WE HAVE FULL-TIME INVESTIGATORS

THAT ARE SINKING THEIR TEETH

INTO THESE MAJOR ISSUES WE WANT

TO LOOK AT.

PREVIOUSLY, THE SENATE

INVESTIGATIONS COMMITTEE AND

QUITE FRANKLY THE ASSEMBLY

COMMITTEE AS WELL, THE TOTE

TOTALITY OF THE SO-CALLED

INVESTIGATIONS CONSISTED OF A

PUBLIC HEARING.

DRAGGING A FEW PEOPLE IN FRONT

OF TV CAMERAS TO MAKE SOME

PUBLIC POINT AND THAT WAS IT.

THAT IS NOT A REAL

INVESTIGATION.

THAT COULD BE A KMOBT OF AN

INVESTIGATION.

BUT WE HAVE, YOU MENTIONED THE

TWO INVESTIGATIONS THAT HAVE

PUBLICLY SHARED SO FAR WITH

PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS

MIDDLEMEN WHO ARE DRIVING UP

COSTS AND HOUSING CONDITIONS.

WE HAVE BEEN LOOK AT THESE TWO

ITEMS FOR TWO MONTHS.

WE HAVEN'T HAD A PUBLIC HEARING

YET BECAUSE WE'RE GATHERING

TESTIMONY, WE'RE GATHERING

DOCUMENTS, AND WE'RE REALLY

RESEARCHING THESE ISSUES.

ON THE HOUSING ITEM, THERE WILL

BE AT LEAST ONE PUBLIC HEARING.

SO IT WILL BE A COMPONENT.

THIS IS NOT --

>> WE'LL GET TO THAT IN A

SECOND, SENATOR.

BUT I WONDER IF YOU COULD JUST,

YOU KNOW, ANSWER IF, IN FACT,

YOU ARE INTENDING TO INVESTIGATE

THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE AT SOME

POINT?

>> WELL, LOOK, I'VE ALWAYS SAID

SINCE THE BEGINNING OF JANUARY

THAT EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE IS

ON THE TABLE.

YOU KNOW, I'VE CERTAINLY

QUESTIONED A NUMBER OF PROGRAMS

THAT ARE OUT THERE, INCLUDING ON

THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SIDE,

FOR EXAMPLE.

OVER MY SEVEN YEARS THAT HAVE

BEEN UP HERE IN ALBANY, THESE

ARE GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS AT

AGENCIES AND, YOU KNOW, I THINK

THEY DO NEED TO BE LOOKED AT.

YOU KNOW, I'M NOT TARGETING

ANYTHING OR ANYONE FOR THE SAKE

OF TARGETING ANYONE OR ANYTHING.

I'M LOOKING AT ISSUES THAT I

BELIEVE WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

IN.

WE CAN IMPROVE OPERATIONS, WE

CAN INCREASE ACCOUNTABILITY,

THAT'S THE POINT OF THIS KIND OF

STUFF.

>> ALL RIGHT.

TO CONCLUDE ON THE GOVERNOR,

THIS IS THE LAST QUESTION ON

THAT.

HE HAS SAID THAT, HEY, HE HAS

INVESTIGATIVE POWERS THAT HE CAN

INVESTIGATE THE LEGISLATOR TOO.

SOME SAW THAT AS A VEIL THREAT,

DID YOU?

>> YES, SOME SAW ITS IT AS A

VEILED THREAT AT ME.

I DON'T KNOW HOW WELL ONE WOULD

TAKE THAT, BUT LET'S BE CLEAR.

IT'S HIS PREROGATIVE TO LOOK AT

ANYONE OR ANYTHING WITHIN, YOU

KNOW, HIS JURISDICTION AND POWER

AND HE CAN HAVE AT IT.

BUT I'M NOT GOING TO BE BULLIED,

I'M NOT GOING TO BE THREATENED

AND MY TEAM AND I, WE'RE GOING

TO MOVE FORWARD WITH THE WORK

THAT WE INTEND TO MOVE FORWARD

WITH.

AND THAT'S IT.

NO ONE'S GOING TO INFLUENCE

THAT.

>> OKAY.

FOR THE SAKE OF TIME, LET'S

FOCUS ON YOUR INVESTIGATION OF

HOUSING CONDITIONS OUTSIDE OF

NEW YORK CITY.

WHY DID YOU PICK THAT TOPIC OR

THAT SUBJECT?

>> FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS.

SO, FIRST, I'M MOVING OVER FROM

THE ASSEMBLY WHERE I CAME FROM

TO THE SENATE, I REPRESENT NEW

COMMUNITIES.

ONE OF WHICH IS THE CITY OF

NEWBERG.

I THINK IT REPRESENTS A LOT OF

SMALL CITIESLY TOO THROUGHOUT T

STATE WHERE THERE ARE SOMETIMES

UNIQUE HOUSING ISSUES.

THERE'S A PERSONAL INTEREST

HERE.

ONE OF THE COMMUNITIES HAS

SIGNIFICANT ISSUES WITH

COENFORCEMENT AND HOW'SING THAT

I WANT TO LOOK AT.

BUT MORE BROADLY THERE ARE A

NUMBER OF HOUSING ITEMS ARE

BEING DISCUSSED RIGHT NOW UP IN

ALBANY FROM RENT CONTROL LAWS

THAT ARE ABOUT TO EXPIRE,

VACANCY DECONTROL.

ALL OF THESE ISSUES ARE BEING

DISCUSSED.

I IDENTIFIED THAT CODE ENFORCE

SPENT SOME MISSING FROM THIS

CONVERSATION.

THIS IS ALSO AN ATTEMPT TO I

JECT T

INJECT THIS IN.

THEY'RE MAKING SURE THAT THESE

HOUSES ARE STRUCTURALLY SOUND

AND MAKING SURE THAT THEY'RE

SAFE FOR FIRST RESPONDERS THAT

RESPOND TO FIRES.

WE'VE HAD FIREFIGHTERS DIE

BECAUSE THEY'VE GONE INTO

BUILDINGS AND HOUSES THAT ARE

NOT SAFE FOR THEM.

SO, YOU KNOW, THIS IS AN ATTEMPT

ALSO TO INJECT THIS VERY

IMPORTANT ELEMENT INTO THE

BROADER HOUSING DEBATES THAT ARE

GOING ON UP IN ALBANY RIGHT NOW.

>> YOU'VE PICKED FOUR

MUNICIPALITIES, AS YOU'VE SAID,

NEWBERG, WHICH YOU REMEMBER, BUT

ALSO ALBANY, MOUNT VERNON, AND

THE TOWN OF RAMAPOE IN ROCKLAND

COUNTY.

WHY THESE?

>> WELL, CERTAINLY WE'RE HERE IN

ALBANY A GREAT DEAL, MY TEAM AND

I, SO IT'S VERY EASY FOR US TO

INTERFACE, INTERACT WITH THE

CITY OF ALBANY BECAUSE WE'RE

HERE.

AND I WILL SAY THEY'VE BEEN

EXCEEDINGLY COOPERATIVE.

AND THEN IN THE HUDSON VALLEY,

WE PICKED A COUPLE OF SMALL

CITIES, MOUNT VERNON, CITY OF

NEWBERG.

MOUNT VERNON HAS SOME PRETTY

SPECIAL ISSUES GOING ON RIGHT

NOW.

AND THE TOWN OF RAMAPOE HAS A

LONG HISTORY OF CODE

ENFORCEMENT, LET'S SAY ISSUES,

WHERE THE STATE ACTUALY SENT

DOWN A MONITOR.

WHICH I THINK IS PRETTY

UNPRECEDENTED, TO THE BUILDING

DEPARTMENT IN THE TOWN OF

RAMAPOE.

BUT WE'RE ALSO ABLE TO GET A

SLICE -- A SENSE OF HOW THIS

WORKS IN A MORE SUBURBAN

SETTING, NOT JUST THE INNER

SMALL CITIES OUTSIDE OF NEW YORK

CITY.

I THINK WE'LL BE ABLE TO GET A

REALLY GOOD SAMPLE OF HOW THIS

WORKS ACROISESS THE STATE FROM

THESE FOUR PLACES.

>> YOU TALKED ABOUT THE

LANDLORDS YOU'RE INVESTIGATING.

WITH YOU YOULD THEM SLUM LORDS

ON A NUMBER OF OCCASIONS AND

SOME PEOPLE SAY THAT'S UNFAIR.

DO YOU THINK YOU'VE BEEN UNFAIR

IN LABELING THEM SLUM LORDS AND

TARGETING THEM?

>> CERTAINLY I THINK SLUM LORDS

SHOULD BE TARGETED.

I THINK WE NEED TO DO A LOT MORE

TARGETING OF SLUM LORDS THAN

JUST THIS INVESTIGATION.

LET ME ALSO MAKE CLEAR, THERE

ARE MANY GOOD LANDLORDS, SO THIS

IS IN NO WAY A PERSECUTION OF

LANDLORDS ACROSS THE BOARD.

WE ARE LOOKING AT THOSE BAD

ACTING LANDLORDS THAT ARE

LITERALLY PUTTING THEIR TENANTS

INTO HARM'S WAY, INTO DANGEROUS

SITUATIONS.

SO I DON'T THINK IT'S UNFAIR.

IN FACT THINK THERE WE SHOULD BE

DOING MORE TO TARGET THE BAD

ACTORS.

I THINK THE GOOD ACTORS, THE

GOOD LANDLORDS SHOULD WANT US TO

BRING THE BAD APPLES UP TO, YOU

KNOW, THE GOOD LEVEL THAT THE

OTHERS OPERATE.

YOU KNOW, IT GIVES THEM A BAD

NAME.

SO, YOU KNOW, IN NO WAY IS THIS

A BROAD BRUSHED PERSECUTION,

THIS SUCCESS TRYING TO EXAMINE

WHAT'S GOING WRONG HERE WITH

THESE SLUM LORDS, THESE BAD

ACTORS AND HOW DO WE FIX IT?

>> SENATOR, WHAT DO YOU HOPE

COMES FROM THE INVESTIGATION --

THIS INVESTIGATION AND ALL YOUR

INVESTIGATIONS?

>> YEAH, SO CERTAINLY ON THIS

INVESTIGATION BUT ON ALL OF THEM

I WANT TO COMPEL BETTER

BEHAVIOR.

WE'RE ALREADY SEEING SOME OF

THAT JUST BY VIRTUE OF TAKING A

HARDER LOOK ON THIS ISSUE.

I WANT THE BAD ACTING LANDLORDS,

THE SLUM LORDS, WHATEVER YOU

WANT TO CALL THEM, TO KNOW THAT

THE STATE IS PAYING MORE

ATTENTION TO THEM.

BECAUSE I THINK THAT IN AND OF

ITSELF COMPELS BETTER BEHAVIOR

AND SAFER CONDITIONS FOR

TENANTS.

BUT MORE BROADLY SPEAKING, AT

THE END OF EVERY INVESTIGATION

THERE WILL BE A REPORT THAT WE

ISSUE.

WE'RE GOING TO SHARE PUBLICLY,

BE VERY UP FRONT WHAT WE DID

LOOK AT, WHAT WERE OUR FINDINGS,

WHAT ARE OUR RECOMMENDATIONS.

HOW DO WE IMPROVE WHATEVER WE

LOOKED AT?

THE PROCESS, OPERATIONS,

CONDITIONS.

AND WE MIGHT HAVE LEGISLATIVE

RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE HOUSING

ISSUE, FOR EXAMPLE, WE MIGHT

MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO CHANGE

STATE BUILDING CODE.

ARE THERE LEGAL HOMES THAT WE

FOUND THAT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL?

WE'RE NEVER GOING TO INVESTIGATE

FOR THE SAKE OF INVESTIGATING.

WE'RE GOING TO INVESTIGATE TO

TRY TO MAKE WHATEVER WE LOOK AT

WORK BETTER FOR THE PEOPLE OF

NEW YORK STATE THAT WE ALL

REPRESENT.

>> ALL RIGHT, SENATOR, WE'LL

HAVE TO END IT THERE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US

TODAY.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

>>> THE POPULARITY OF TRUE CRIME

STORIES AND THEIR FAN BASE HAS

EXPLODED IN RECENT YEARS WITH

PODCASTS LIKE SERIAL AND

DOCUMENTARY SERIES LIKE MAKING A

MURDERER HAS SEEN A RESURGENCE.

AT THEIR HEART, THESE STORIES

PROVIDE US WITH HEROES AND

ANTIHEROES THEN INVITE US TO

THINK AND FOR SOME OBSESS ABOUT

THEIR NEWEST PASSION, THE CRIMES

AND THE PLAYERS INVOLVED.

NOW, IN AN EFFORT TO GATHER ALL

OF THESE FANS TOGETHER AT ONCE,

NEW YORK CITY IS GETTING A FIRST

OF ITS KIND TRUE CRIME FESTIVAL

CALLED DEATH BECOMES US.

WHERE THIS NEW AUDIENCE CAN COME

TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE THE GENRE.

AND IN TRUE CRIME FASHION, WE'RE

ABOUT TO PRESENT THE LINEUP.

JOINING US ARE TWO OF THE

FESTIVAL'S MOST INSPIRED

PLAYERS, DAMIEN ECKELS IS KNOWN

FOR BEING ONE OF THE WEST

MEMPHIS THREE, CONVICTED AS A

TEEN OF MURDERING THREE YOUNG

BOYS AS PART OF A SAY TANNIC

RICH CAL IN 1993.

THEY WERE LATER RELEASED.

JOINING HIM, TRUE CRIME DIRECTOR

AND CREATOR JENNIFER TISDALE.

I'D LIKE TO WELCOME YOU TO THE

PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

>> THANKS FOR HAVING US.

>> THANK YOU.

>> DAMIAN, YOU ARE THE

CENTERPIECE AS PART OF THAT

FESTIVAL AND I'M NOT SURE

EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR STORY.

IF YOU COULD GIVE US A SYNOPSIS

OF THE LAST 20, 25 YEARS OF YOUR

LIFE.

>> I WAS CAUGHT UP IN WHAT THEY

NOW CALL THE SAY TANNIC PANIC

CRAZE THAT HAPPENED IN THE LATE

'80s, EARLY '90s WHERE THINGS

ALL ACROSS THE U.S. WERE BEING

BLAMED ON THIS VAST SAT TANNIC

UNDERGRAUD.

THEY SAY WE MURDERED THREE BOYS.

I WAS SENTENCED TO DEATH THREE

TIMES, THE OTHER TWO GUYS, WITH

ONE WAS SENTENCED TO LIFE

WITHOUT PAROLE AND THE OTHER ONE

LIFE PLUS TWO 40-YEAR SENTENCES.

WE WOULD SPEND ALMOST 20 YEARS

IN PRISON, 18 YEARS BEFORE WE

WERE FREED ON WHAT THEY CALL AN

ALFORD PLEA IN 2011 AFTER DNA

TESTING AND NEW EYEWITNESSES

CAME FORWARD.

>> AND JUST SO WE'RE CLEAR, WHAT

IS AN ALFORD PLEA?

>> AN ALFORD PLEALY NEVER HAIRED

OF THIS THING BEFORE WE TOOK IT

IN OUR CASE.

WHAT IT MEANS LEGALLY SPEAKING,

IT MEANS YOU ARE ACCEPTING A

GUILTY PLEA WHILE AT THE SAME

TIME BEING LEGALLY ALLOWED TO

MAINTAIN YOUR INNOCENCE.

THE ENTIRE REASON THAT THIS

EXISTS IS SO THAT THE STATE

CAN'T BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR

WHAT THEY'VE DONE TO YOU.

YOU KNOW, NORMALLY WHEN

SOMEONE'S FALSELY CONVICTED FOR

SOMETHING, THEY'RE AWARDED ON

AVERAGE SOMETHING LIKE

$1 MILLION FOR EVERY YEAR THAT

THEY WERE IMPRISONED.

IF YOU TAKE AN ALFORD PLEA, THE

STATE DOES NOT HAVE TO GIVE YOU

ANYTHING.

>> WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE WORLD OF

TRUE CRIME THAT'S GOTTEN SO MANY

PEOPLE SO ENGAGED AND SO CURIOUS

AND SO FASCINATED?

>> I THINK PART OF IT IS THAT WE

HAVE SO MUCH ACCESS NOWADAYS.

THE INTERNET AND PODCASTS.

ANYONE WITH AN INTEREST IN

SOMETHING CAN PUT IT OUT INTO

THE WORLD ANYWAY THEY WANT TO.

BUT I ALSO THINK WE'VE ALWAYS

HAD AN INTEREST IN TRUE CRIME,

WE JUST HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO

DISSEMINATE THE INFORMATION THE

SAME WAY.

AND I ALSO THINK PEOPLE ARE IN

GENERAL A LITTLE MORBID AND A

LITTLE CURIOUS.

TRUE CRIME IS SO FASCINATING

BECAUSE IT IS LIKE A -- IT'S A

LITTLE BIT LIKE DELICIOUS, WHICH

SOUNDS CREEPY, BUT IT'S JUST.

>> YEAH.

>> THIS THING.

AND THEN THERE IS, AND THE MOST

IMPORTANT PART OF IT, THERE'S

THE VICTIM ADVOCACY AND THINGS

OF THAT NATURE.

>> WHAT IS THIS GOING TO

COMPRISE OF?

>> SO I REFER TO IT AS A

FESTIVAL BECAUSE I KIND OF

WANTED TO KEEP IT A LITTLE LESS

DRY, LIKE A CONVENTION.

THERE'S GOING TO BE INFORMATION,

YOU CAN STILL GET INFORMATION,

BUT YOU CAN ALSO BE A LITTLE

CHEEKY OR HAVE A LITTLE FUN WITH

IT THE MANY LIKE, IF YOU CAN BE

PROPERLY FUNNY ABOUT THESE

TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE THINGS IN A

RESPECTFUL WAY, THAT'S WHAT I

HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH AT THE

FESTIVAL WHICH IS LIKE LET'S

LEARN AND THEN LET'S GET A

LITTLE BIT WEIRD.

>> DAMIAN, TELL ME A LITTLE BIT

ABOUT YOUR PARTICIPATION IN THE

FESTIVAL.

>> WELL, ONE OF THE REASONS FOR

ME TAKING PART IN THINGS OF THIS

NATURE IS I ALWAYS THINKS THAT

EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO HEARS MY

STORY, EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO

BECOMES FAMILIAR WITH MY CASE,

HEARS ME SPEAK, SAY POTENTIAL

JURY MEMBER ON ANOTHER CASE AT

SOME POINT IN THEIR LIVES AND

CAN POSSIBLY HELP MAKE SURE THAT

THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED TO

ME DOESN'T HAPPEN TO SOMEONE

ELSE IN THE FUTURE.

FOR ME, IT REALLY IS ABOUT

REFORMING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE

SYSTEM OR THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL

COMPLEX, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO

CALL IT.

IT'S ABOUT SHINING A LIGHT ON

THE ASPECTS OF THAT THAT ARE

WRONG, ESPECIALLY THE CASES OF

PEOPLE WHO ARE POOR, MINORITIES

THAT GET SWEPT THROUGH THE

CRACKS AND FORGOTTEN ABOUT.

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IN MY CASE

AND SO MANY OTHERS WAS THAT I

WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE

CAMERAS IN THE COURTROOM THAT

CAUGHT THE ENTIRE THING ON FILM.

MOST PEOPLE IN THIS SITUATION

ARE NOT THAT FORTUNATE.

AND WE THINK THAT IT'S A RARITY

WHEN SOMEONE GETS SENTENCED TO

PRISON THAT'S INNOCENT.

BUT YOU HAVE GROUPS THAT ARE NOW

ESTIMATING AS MANY AS ONE OUT OF

EVERY CONTINUE PEOPLE SENTENCED

TO DEATH MAYBE INNOCENT.

NOW, IF YOU HAD ONE OUT OF EVER

TEN PLANES CRASHED, PEOPLE WOULD

DEMAND THAT SOMETHING BE DONE TO

FIX THE SITUATION.

BUT SINCE MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW

ANYONE WHO ARE CAUGHT UP IN THE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, THERE'S

NOT A WIDE OUTCRY FOR IT TO BE

FIXED YET.

SO ANY ATTENTION BROUGHT TO THAT

I THINK IS HELPFUL.

>> DO YOU ALSO THINK THAT

PERHAPS SOMETIMES CELEBRITIES

WILL GET INVOLVED WITH CERTAIN

CASES, THEY'LL BECOME ADVOCATES.

I FIRST DISCOVERED YOUR CASE

BECAUSE A DOCUMENTARY WAS MADE

OUT OF IT THAT AIRED ON HBO

PARADISE LOST, AND SEVERAL

CELEBRITIES FROM THE '90s

PARTICULARLY MUSICIANS WERE

ADVOCATING ON YOUR BEHALF AND

THAT'S HOW IT CAME ON TO MY

RADAR.

BUT I'M WONDERING HOW CRUCIAL AT

LEAST RIGHT NOW DO YOU SEE THAT

FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO GET

THEIR CASES -- TO GET THE

ATTENTION THAT THEIR CASES MIGHT

NEED TO GET A SECOND LOOK?

>> I THINK IT'S ABSOLUTELY

CRUCIAL.

WE HAD PEOPLE HELPING US THE

ENTIRE TIME I WAS IN PRISON, YOU

KNOW, JOHNNY DEPP, HENRY

RAWLINGS, MARGARET CHO, THE

DIXIE CHICKS.

PETER JACKSON AND FRAN WALSH.

WE WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ABLE TO

MOUNT AN ADEQUATE DEFENSE IF NOT

FOR THOSE PEOPLE.

EVEN THINGS LIKE DNA TESTING,

IT'S NOT AUTOMATICALLY DONE BY

THE STATE FOR FREE.

WE HAD TO PAY TO HAVE THE DNA

TESTED IN OUR CASE, WHICH CAME

UP TO SOMETHING LIKE $200,000.

YOU KNOW, MOST PEOPLE IN PRISON

HAVE NOWHERE NEAR THAT SORT OF

MONEY.

SO IF IT WASN'T FOR OUTSIDE

SOURCES WHO WERE ABLE TO BACK US

UP, I WOULD MOST LIKELY BE DEAD

RIGHT NOW.

>> FINAL QUESTION FOR BOTH OF

YOU, WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WOULD

REALLY WANT PEOPLE TO TAKEAWAY

HAVING ATTENDED THIS FESTIVAL?

>> WELL, THAT THERE ARE MANY,

MANY ROADS TO TRUE CRIME.

IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT, YOU KNOW,

LISTENING TO, YOU KNOW, 8,000

EPISODES OF A PODCAST ABOUT

SERIAL KILLERS, THOUGH I HAVE

ALSO DONE THAT.

I THINK IT'S GOOD TO REMIND

PEOPLE OF THE VICTIMS AND THE

THINGS, AGAIN, THAT DAMIAN IS

TALKING ABOUT THAT YOU CAN DO TO

KIND OF CHANGE THE CRIMINAL

JUSTICE SYSTEM, HOPEFULLY,

BECAUSE IT IS INCREDIBLY AN

ALARMINGLY FLAWED BEYOND, YOU

KNOW, HEARING AN INTERESTING

STORY, YOU'RE GOING TO MAYBE

LEARN HOW TO MAKE SOME REAL

CHANGES, IF YOU WANT TO.

>> ALL RIGHT.

DAMIAN, LAST WORD?

>> I WOULD SAY JUST THAT THE

SYSTEM IS NOT AS IMPARTIAL AS

MOST PEOPLE WOULD BE LED TO

BELIEVE.

YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE A LOT OF

INNOCENT PEOPLE IN PRISON ON

DEATH ROW.

AND TO NOT AUTOMATICALLY ASSUME

THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU SEE

SOMEONE ON TV BEING CHARGED WITH

A CRIME THAT THEY'RE AUTOMATIC T

GUILTY OF SOMETHING.

>> I WANT TO THANK YOU BOTH FOR

JOINING US, DAMIAN FOR

CONTINUING TO SHARE YOUR SORRY

WITH THE WORLD.

IT'S INCREDIBLY COMPELLING AND I

THINK IMPORTANT.

AND THE FESTIVAL, I MEAN.

>> IT'S A FESTIVAL ALL RIGHT.

>> IT'S SOMETHING FOR PEOPLE TO

GO OUT AND VISIT.

THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US.

>> THANK YOU.

>> THANK YOU.

>> THE TRUE CRIME FESTIVAL DEATH

BECOMES US RUNS MARCH 20th

THROUGH THE 24th.

FOR TICKET INFORMATION VISIT OUR

WEBSITE AT "METROFOCUS".ORG.

>>> IN NEW YORK, STAT STEN

ISLAND HAS BEEN ONE OF THE

HARDEST HIT PLACES BY THE OPIOID

EPIDEMIC DEM MON MONTH

STRAIGHTED BY THE SCHARP RISE IN

OPIOID DEATHS OVER THE LAST

DECADE.

ON THE GROUND, DOZENS OF HEALTH

ORGANIZES ARE WORKING AROUND THE

CLOCK TO COMPAT THE PUBLIC

HEALTH CRISIS.

NOW, ONE OF THE GROUPS DOING THE

CRITICAL WORK IS PARTNERING WITH

M.I.T. TO SEE HOW DATA AND

TECHNOLOGY CAN HELP DETERMINE

WHAT IS WORKING WHEN IT COMES TO

FIGHTING OPIOID ADDICTION AND

WHAT IS NOT.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT

THIS UNIQUE COLLABORATION IS

ANNA, DIRECTOR OF HEALTH SYSTEMS

INNOVATION AT M.I.T. SLOAN

SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT.

AND ASHLEY, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF

STRATEGIC INITIATIVES AT STATEN

ISLAND PBS.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

>> THANK YOU.

>> I WANT TO START WITH YOU AND

ASK, WHAT IS STATEN ISLAND PPS?

WHAT IS YOUR ORGANIZATION AND

WHAT IS IT THAT YOUR DOOG.

>> THE STATEN ISLAND PERFORMING

PROVIDER SYSTEM OR PPS, WAS

FORMED UNDER THE MEDICAID

REDESIGN PROGRAM IN NEW YORK

STATE.

WE'RE A NETWORK OF SOCIAL

SERVICE, MEDICAL, AND BEHAVIORAL

HEALTH PROVIDERS THAT WORK

TOGETHER AND COLLABORATE ON

DIFFERENT PROGRAMS AND PRACTICES

USING EVIDENCE-BASED STANDARDS,

PATIENT ENGAGEMENT TECHNIQUES TO

IMPROVE HEALTHCARE CONDITIONS

AND CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS

ACROSS THE BOARD RELATED TO

PRIMARY CARE, AS MA, DIABETES

AND SPECIFICALLY TODAY

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AND OPIOIDS.

>> SO HOW DOES M.I.T. GET

CONNECTED WITH THIS ORGANIZATION

AND WHAT IS IT THAT YOU'RE

POSSIBLY BRINGING TO THE TABLE?

>> SO WE GOT -- M.I.T. SLOAN GOT

INTERESTED IN LOOKING AT HOW TO

USE HEALTH ANALYTICS, NOT JUST

ON HEALTHCARE DATA, BUT ALSO ON

SOCIAL DATA.

SO WE'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

COLLABORATORS WHO HAVE DATA AND

WHO ARE SIMILARLY INCLINED.

AND SO WE FOUND THE STATEN

ISLAND PPS THROUGH -- THROUGH

VARIOUS RELATIONSHIPS THAT WE

HAVE.

AND WE STARTED TALKING WITH THEM

ABOUT WHAT IS IT THAT THEY'RE

DOING?

ASHLEY DID NOT TALK ABOUT THEIR

DATA YET.

BUT WHAT THEY HAVE DONE IS PUT

TOGETHER A VERY UNIQUE DATASET

OF NOT JUST MEDICAL DATA, HR

DATA, BUT ALSO AS SHE WAS

TALKING ABOUT WITH THE SOCIAL

SERVICES PARTNER SOME OF THE

SOCIAL DATA AROUND EMERGENCY

MEDICAL SERVICES, AROUND THE

CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, AND

OTHER SOCIAL AGENCIES ON STATEN

ISLAND.

SO YOU HAVE A MUCH RICHER

DATASET ABOUT THE PEOPLE THAT

THEY SERVE.

WHICH ALLOWS US TO WORK WITH

THEM TO CREATE NEW KINDS OF

ANALYTIC CAPABILITIES AND TEST

THEM IN THE FIELD TO HELP WITH

UNDERSTANDING WHICH

INTERVENTIONS SEEM TO WORK.

BUT BEYOND THAT, HOW THEY WORK,

WHY THEY WORK, AND PERHAPS HOW

THEY COULD WORK BETTER.

>> SO I THINK THAT'S ONE OF THE

PLACES, THAT'S AN EXCELLENT

POINT TO MAKE, BUT ONE OF THE

PLACES WHERE I THINK PEOPLE

MIGHT BE A LITTLE BIT CONFUSED,

BECAUSE DATA SEEMS SO COLD AND

DISTANT AND INHUMAN AND WHAT

WE'VE SEEN WITH THE OPIOID

CRISIS IS SO PERSONAL AND SO

EMOTIONAL.

AND SO IT'S SO DIFFICULT FOR

PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH.

SO HOW IS IT THAT YOU'RE ABLE TO

TAKE THE -- SHE'S ABLE TO TAKE

THE DATA THAT YOU GUYS HAVE

COLLECTED AND THEN BE ABLE TO

DETERMINE AT LEAST FROM THEIR

STANDPOINT WHAT THE DATA IS

SHOWING THAT'S WORKING AND

YOU'RE ABLE TO PUT THAT TO

ACTUAL USE?

>> RIGHT.

SO LIKE ANNA MENTIONED BEFORE,

WE TAKE MEDICAL/SOCIAL DATA.

WE HAVE A WAREHOUSE, STATE OF

THE ART DATA PLATFORM THAT

COMBINES A NUMBER OF DATA SOURCE

DOLLARS.

WE'RE ABLE TO PUSH THIS OUT

LOOKING AT HOT SPOTTING AREAS

OF -- WHERE HIGH OVERDOSES ARE

OCCURRING.

>> OKAY.

>> AREAS WHERE THE HIGHEST

NUMBER OF 911 CALLS ARE

OCCURRING.

ALSO LOOKING AT PEOPLE'S

SUBSTANCE ABUSE DISORDER HISTORY

AND OTHER MEDICAL HISTORY,

PUTTING THAT TOGETHER AND A WAY

TO IMPACT PEOPLE WOULD BE TO

DEVELOP PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS

ALGORITHM THAT COULD HELP US

PREDICT OR KNOW WHO WOULD BE AT

RISK OF HAVING A SUBSEQUENT OR

EVEN A FIRST OVERDOOSE.

>> WOW.

>> SO WE'RE HOPING TO GO FROM

REACTIVE TO PREDICTIVE USING THE

DATA SOURCES THAT WE HAVE AND

M.I.T.'S RIGOR IN THAT FIELD TO

DEVELOP SOME ANALYTICS AND TEST

THEM IN THE FIELD.

>> BUT EVEN WITH THIS DATA YOU

WOULD HAVE AND TO BE ABLE TO PUT

TOGETHER A PREDICTIVE, I GUESS,

METHOD OR SOMETHING THAT COULD

TELL YOU AT LEAST WHO WOULD BE

MOST AT RISK FOR AN OVERDOSE,

DOESN'T THAT -- DOES THE HUMAN

FACTOR STILL FACTOR IN THIS?

BECAUSE DO YOU TAKE THAT AND

TELL THE PATIENT THAT THEY'RE AT

A HIGHER RISK?

BECAUSE HOW MUCH OF IT IS STILL

GOING TO BE THAT PERSON VUG WELL

THEIR OWN INNER DEMONS AND THE

EFFECT OF THE DRUGS?

>> ANOTHER POINT IS GETTING AT

THE CAUSES AND NOT THE

CONSEQUENCES.

AND SO ANOTHER POINT THAT -- OR

ANOTHER POINT OF RESEARCH THAT

WE HOPE M.I.T. CAN HELP US WITH

IS LOOKING AT THE ROOT CAUSES

IFR OF ADDICTION.

WHICH IS THE UNDERLYING ISSUE

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT OPIOIDS AND

OVERDOSES.

THAT COULD BE ADVERSE CHILDHOOD

EXPERIENCES THAT ARE COULD BE

OTHER SOCIAL FACTORS THAT HAPPEN

EARLY ON IN A PERSON'S LIFE.

SO WE WANT TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND

MORE OF THOSE ISSUES AND ALSO

WORK UPSTREAM ON ALSO IMPACTING

THOSE AS WELL.

>> WOW.

SO THEN THIS SOUNDS LIKE

SOMETHING THAT COULD BE

INCREDIBLY USEFUL FOR SO MANY

OTHER COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE

COUNTRY.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> BUT I'M WONDERING SINCE THIS

IS STILL VERY MUCH IN ITS

BEGINNING STAGES, HOW MUCH TIME

DO YOU EXPECT THAT THIS NEEDS TO

GERMINATE ON STATEN ISLAND

BEFORE YOU CAN BEGIN TO MOVE OUT

IN OTHER COMMUNITIES?

>> WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY HOW

LONG THIS WILL TAKE.

IT IS RESEARCH, IT IS NEW.

WHAT WE ARE DOING IS WORKING

VERY CLOSELY WITH OUR

COLLABORATORS ON THE GROUND.

SO AS WE ARE LEARNING, WE'RE

LEARNING TOGETHER.

AND THE PPS IS AMAZING AT

TESTING OUT, TRYING OUT NEW

IDEAS AND GATHERING DATA ABOUT

IT.

SO I EXPECT WE HAVE A FAIRLY

RAPID TURNAROUND TIME, AS

QUICKLY AS WE CAN MAKE IT.

WHAT WE ALSO, AS YOU MENTIONED,

IT'S SCALEABLE, YOU KNOW, FOR

OTHER PLACES.

WHAT WE'RE LOOKING TO BE ABLE TO

DO IS TO REALLY UNDERSTAND

WHAT'S GOING ON SO WE CAN ADAPT

IT AND MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE AND

HELP SCALE IT IN OTHER

COMMUNITIES THAT ALSO MAY HAVE

DATA.

AND THAT WILL ACTUALLY SPEED

THINGS UP FURTHER, THE MORE DATA

YOU HAVE, THE MORE UNDERSTANDING

ON GROUND YOU HAVE, THE BETTER

YOU CAN PUT THAT TOGETHER AND

LEARN AND ADAPT AND TRY NEW

INNOVATIONS.

WE

>> WE ARE ONE OF THE ONLY

ORGANIZATIONS OF OUR TYPE THAT

HAS IMPLA MATED A SYSTEM OF CARE

ACROSS MULTIPLE DOMAINS.

WE WORK WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE

PARTNERS, INSTITUTES OF HIGHER

EDUCATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT,

ACROSS THE BOARD USING DATA AND

ANALYTICS TO CREATE TARGETED

POPULATION HEALTH INITIATIVES.

WE'VE SEEN A 60% REDUCTION IN

PREVENTAL HOSPITAL VISITS FOR

PEOPLE WITH BEHAVIORAL ISSUES.

WE'VE SEEN 60% REDUCTION IN

OVERDOSE DEATHS IN STAT HE

ISLAND IN THE PAST TWO

CONSECUTIVE YEARS.

AND WE'VE INCREASED THREE FOLD

THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE THAT HAVE

ACCESS TO SUBSTANCE ABUSE

DISORDER TREATMENT ON STATEN

ISLAND ALREADY.

>> WE'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU BOTH

BACK TO GIVE US AN UPDATE ON

PROGRESS AND IF THE DATA POINTS

HAVE CHANGED OR WHAT IT IS

YOU'VE LEARNED.

BUT THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR AT

LEAST BEING BOLD ENOUGH TO TRY

SOMETHING THIS NEW AND UNIQUE TO

ADDRESS A PROBLEM THAT SO MANY

COMMUNITIES ARE STRUGGLING WITH.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> THANK YOU.

>> THANKS SO MUCH.

>>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE

POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRILL

TISCH, SIOUX AND EDGAR

WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND

SIMON B. POYTA ENDOWMENT TO

FIGHT SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND EILEEN SCHWARTZ.

ROSELYN P. WALTER.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY

CORPORATE FUNDING FOR

"METROFOCUS" WAS PROVIDED BY

MUTUAL OF AMERICA.

YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.

AND BY PSE&G, SERVING CUSTOMERS,

STRENGTHENING THE BUSINESS

COMMUNITY, AND INVESTING IN THE

FUTURE.


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