Weekly Update: November 1, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: November 1, 2022

Highlighted Stories

NY Times: ‘Dying Inside’: Chaos and Cruelty in Louisiana Juvenile Detention
At Ware Youth Center back-to-back suicides flashed across the news cycle around northwest Louisiana. But inside the walls at Ware, one of the state’s largest juvenile detention facilities, children have been trying to kill themselves with stunning regularity. There were at least 64 suicide attempts at Ware in 2019 and 2020, a rate higher than at any other juvenile facility in the state. Children have tied socks, towels and sheets around their necks. They have swallowed baby powder, screws, fluid from an ice pack. Two tried to drown themselves.

Daily Beast: We’re Putting Kids in Maximum-Security Prisons. In America.
Louisiana has done it. They have moved young people into one of the most notorious adult prisons in the United States. In July, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that two dozen young people from Bridge City Center for Youth—a juvenile corrections facility outside of New Orleans operated by the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ)—would be relocated to the Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola Prison. This problem has heightened intensely, and now threatens the safety of every incarcerated young person in the state.

VT Digger: Since 2020, 9 juveniles have spent over 100 cumulative days in Vermont’s adult prisons. What’s the state’s plan to fix it?
Nine juveniles have spent over 100 cumulative days in Vermont’s adult prisons since 2020, Department of Corrections data shows, highlighting the state’s ongoing struggle to securely house young people accused of violence. The minors, whose ages range from 15 to 17, spent a total of 112 days detained in correctional facilities for adults, according to data obtained through a public records request.

ERIC: Double Punished: Locked out of Opportunity. How Education Policy Fails Students behind Bars
Today, and on any given day in the U.S., tens of thousands of students are attending school behind bars. Juvenile justice education fails many of these students, resulting in a double punishment for youth: the punitive experience of incarceration for their alleged offense and the potentially catastrophic disruptions of their educational pathway. This report reviews juvenile justice education policies in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

NHICM Webinar Registration: Health During and After Incarceration
In this webinar, leading health experts will address critical health issues incarcerated people face and solutions to improving their health: Vikki Wachino, Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, Divya Venkat.

NEJM: Protection against Omicron from Vaccination and Previous Infection in a Prison System
This report evaluated the protection conferred by mRNA vaccines and previous infection against infection with the omicron variant in two high-risk populations: residents and staff in the California state prison system. The findings in two high-risk populations suggest that mRNA vaccination and previous infection were effective against omicron infection, with lower estimates among those infected before the period of delta predominance. Three vaccine doses offered significantly more protection than two doses, including among previously infected persons.


Forbes: Federal Prison FDC Miami Nurse Indicted On Contraband Charges
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) continues to struggle with staff involved in criminal activities. Ruben Montanez-Mirabal (Montanez), a nurse at the federal complex FDC Miami, was indicted on charges of bribery, providing contraband in a prison and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance.

Manatt: Manatt Secures Settlement in Pro Bono Class Action Lawsuit For Prison Health and Safety
In one of the most successful impact litigation cases brought against a federal prison for its systemic failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Manatt team led by Naeun Rim and including David Boyadzhyan and C. Ryan Fisher obtained final approval of a settlement in a pro bono class action lawsuit brought against officials at FCC Lompoc and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for violations of the Eighth Amendment. At the time the lawsuit was filed in May of 2020, Lompoc was 130% overcrowded and was the site of one of the largest COVID-19 outbreaks in the federal prison system.

AP: New US prisons chief pledges truth, reform for ailing system
The outsider brought in to reform the ailing federal Bureau of Prisons pledged Monday to hold accountable any employees who sexually assault inmates, reform archaic hiring practices and bring new transparency to an agency that has long been a haven of secrecy and coverups. Colette Peters detailed her vision in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, her first since becoming director nearly three months ago.

Rikers Island

gothamist: Never-before-seen images show Rikers inmates locked in caged showers, left in soiled pants, more poor conditions
Officials in charge of enforcing safe operations at city jails recently shared never-before-seen photos and videos from Rikers Island with assistant district attorneys in Manhattan, giving the very prosecutors who file criminal charges and request bail an unprecedented look at the squalid and deadly conditions in which defendants are held. The shocking August presentation, obtained by Gothamist through a public information request, was prepared by the Board of Correction, which oversees and regulates the Department of Correction.

Daily News: Rikers detainees say brown water bring rashes and stomach sickness; another sign of inhumane NYC jail conditions, say advocates
Brown water spews from faucets and shower heads in at least one Rikers Island housing area, detainees say — a condition they blame for rashes and stomach woes, and which advocates say is another sign of deplorably cruel conditions at the city’s jails. Many in a housing unit containing 50 or so people at Rikers’ Anna M. Kross Center began to break out in strange rashes and experience digestive problems, five detainees told the Daily News.

Daily Beast: 25 Hours in a Cell: Rikers Island Is Worse Than You Think
Over a series of phone calls, the men who spoke to The Daily Beast—who are all awaiting trial—said that since early October, people in their housing unit have only been allowed a maximum of seven hours out of their cells each day. The rest of the time, they say, detainees face isolation alone in their cells for at least 25 hours straight every other day, a policy that flies in the face of basic standards the jail is required to follow. (On odd days, the men say, they are in their cells for at least 9 hours before being outside them for a maximum of seven hours at a time.)


Yahoo: Florida Inmate Starves to Death, Unable to Reach His Food after Officers Paralyzed Him
“My neck is broke. I’m paralyzed,” said Craig Ridley from a wheelchair. “You’re bullsh*tting. You’re just trying to get a lawsuit,” responded a corrections officer. Ridley laid on the floor of his cell for the next five days pleading for help as officers dropped trays of food he couldn’t reach. Just hours before, officers tackled him to the ground, dislocating his neck. A report by the Miami Herald, including details from a 383-page investigation by The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, has shined a light on the hidden story of Ridley’s death.


Sacramento Bee: Sacramento jail failing in health care for inmates, with report citing ‘filthy’ areas
A damning new report on the state of health care inside Sacramento County’s jail system, describes medical treatment areas that are “cluttered, dirty, and in many cases filthy,” a chronic shortage of nurses and doctors and an overcrowding problem so severe that the Main Jail has twice as many inmates as it was originally designed to hold. The report was compiled by court-appointed monitors working to assure the county is moving toward compliance with a 2018 federal consent decree in the Mays v. Sacramento County lawsuit.

San Diego Union-Tribune: Doctor charged in woman’s 2019 jail death, accused of neglecting her when critically ill
A doctor accused of neglecting a critically ill young woman incarcerated in the Las Colinas jail was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Dr. Friederike Von Lintig, 57, pleaded not guilty in connection with the death of Elisa Serna, who died on Nov. 11, 2019. The lawsuit against the county argued that Von Lintig and nurse Danalee Pascual, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in Serna’s death last November, ignored obvious signs that the woman was seriously ill. In a note in the medical chart several hours before her death Von Lintig accused the young woman of faking her illness, writing, “fainting spell: doubt true seizure and suspect second (sic) gain.” Serna was one of 16 people who died in San Diego jail custody in 2019.

Washington Post: California made prison phone calls free. Others should follow.
Imagine having to go into debt to stay in touch with a loved one — all while fearing for their safety and well-being. That is the grim reality facing 1 in 3 families of incarcerated people in the United States, thanks to the sky-high costs of phone calls from prison. So it is welcome news that California has moved against this cruel situation. Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a law to make all phone calls from state prisons free. Now it’s time for other states, and Congress, to act.


Texas Tribune: Texas diverts $359.6 million from prisons to keep Greg Abbott’s border mission operating
Gov. Greg Abbott said that he and other state leaders are pulling $359.6 million out of the state prison system’s budget to fund his Operation Lone Star border security operation through the next 10 months. So far, more than $4 billion has been spent to keep thousands of Department of Public Safety troopers and Texas National Guard members stationed along the Texas-Mexico border and other areas of the state.


Honolulu Civil Beat: Prison Officials Must Release Names Of Inmates Who Die In Custody
A Hawaii Circuit Court judge on Tuesday ruled the state Department of Public Safety must release the names of prison and jail inmates who die in state custody, an order that moves the department a step closer to the longstanding policies of other states. Other correctional systems around the nation routinely announce inmate fatalities. Circuit Court Judge John Tonaki made his ruling orally in a lawsuit filed by Honolulu Civil Beat against the department last year after public safety officials rejected a request for all reports on inmate deaths in 2020 and 2021.

Washington State

Washington State Department of Corrections: Access to Prison Creates a Path Home for Indigenous Inmates
At a signing ceremony today, the Tulalip Tribes and the Department of Corrections officially entered into a historic agreement, the first of its kind, that will allow individuals convicted in tribal court to serve their sentences in DOC jurisdiction. The agreement is the result of SHB 5694, which was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee on March 31, 2022. It allows individuals sentenced in tribal courts for longer sentence terms to access the services the Department of Corrections offers that local jail settings cannot provide.

Innovations In Health Care Delivery

Pittsburgh City Paper: New ACJ healthcare program to offer interdisciplinary, team-oriented care
Allegheny County Jail officials are revising their health care delivery methods. The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work conducted the survey of jail detainees. Common themes from the open-ended responses included long wait times for medical care, issues receiving medications, not receiving proper treatments, and concerns over dental care. The new Interdisciplinary Patient Care program has a healthcare team assigned to every level of the facility, instead of operating from a centralized location. This change is meant to ensure continuity of care.

Connecticut Public Radio: Primary care access for people recently released from prison expanding to Waterbury and New London
The Transitions Clinic Network (TCN) in Connecticut, which provides health care to people recently released from prison, is expanding beyond New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford to Waterbury and New London, communities also highly impacted by incarceration. Currently the clinic can see a couple of hundred patients a year, but the breadth of these programs, as they currently are, is inadequate and insufficient for the needs of the 10,000 people who are incarcerated in Connecticut.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

ABC: Judge rules on care for Tennessee inmate who severed penis
A Tennessee judge on Friday ordered prison officials to provide better care for a death row inmate being held in restraints after he cut off his penis. Riverbend Maximum Security Institution must provide clothing and other necessities to Henry Hodges while he recovers but can keep him restrained for his safety, Davidson County Chancellor I’Ashea Myles ordered Friday. Hodges has been naked and restrained by his arms and legs on a thin mattress over a concrete slab.

Thirteen: Suicide Risk Among Justice-Impacted People
It is well established that those who have recognized or unrecognized mental health issues are likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system; and for those in good health who become incarcerated, to see their mental health deteriorate. Even after being freed from incarceration, stigma and lack of work opportunities or income can drain a person’s well being. Suicide is a risk among justice-impacted people.

Seacoastonline: NH faces overlap of crime, mental illness: Jail super says 'they don't belong in concrete'
New Hampshire's county jails might be the best place to observe the uneasy overlap of two expensive, high-profile systems — criminal justice and mental health. One day last month, the booking area of the Rockingham County jail had three mentally ill people in its six cells. Mental health problems — suicidal ideation, depression, drug withdrawal, a risk of harm to others, psychotic episodes — have spiked in the past two years.


Senator Ed Markey: Senators Request For Immediate Action From ICE To Address Inhumane, Unsafe Conditions For Migrants At New Mexico Detention Facility
Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today joined his colleagues led by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) in calling for immediate action by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to remedy the ongoing unsafe, inhumane conditions at its privately contracted Torrance County Detention Facility in Estancia, New Mexico. In a letter to ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson, the Senators cite ICE’s continued failure to meet basic standards for humanitarian conditions at TCDF, as documented in a March 2022 Management Alert and a September 2022 report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG), and exemplified by the recent death of 23-year-old detainee Kelsey Vial. The Senators are urging ICE to immediately terminate its contract with CoreCivic.

WMAZ: Private prison in McRae will close and lay off 252 people
More than 250 people will lose jobs next month when a federal prison in Telfair County closes. The McRae Correctional Facility is owned by a Nashville-based private company, CoreCivic. Last year, the federal agency said they planned to phase out private prisons. CoreCivic agreed to sell McRae to the Georgia Department of Corrections for $130 million. Telfair County tax records say the prison site is worth about $48 million.