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. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a medical group on Staten Island have partnered on a groundbreaking approach to treating heroin addiction. We have the details on “Death Becomes Us,” NYC’s first festival for the true crime fanatic.

Aired on March 19, 2019.

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.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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