Weekly Update: March 28, 2023

COCHS Weekly Update: March 28, 2023

Highlighted Stories

Office Of Senator Bill Cassidy M.D.: Cassidy, Colleagues Reintroduce Bicameral Bill to Provide Medicaid Due Process for Americans Awaiting Trial
U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Ed Markey (D-MA) and U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-MD-06) and NAMES introduced the Due Process Continuity of Care Act. The bicameral bill amends Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) to ensure that pre-trial detainees are not kicked off Medicaid prior to ever being found guilty of a crime. MIEP denies federal benefits to individuals who are incarcerated and applies both to those who have been found guilty of a crime and those held pending adjudication who are still presumed innocent (Pretrial status detainees).

AP: NC approves Medicaid expansion, reversing long opposition
A Medicaid expansion deal in North Carolina received final legislative approval on Thursday, capping a decade of debate over whether the closely politically divided state should accept the federal government’s coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income adults. North Carolina is among states with Republican leaders that are considering expanding Medicaid after years of steadfast opposition.

Data & Statistics

CDC: Emergency Department Visits by Incarcerated Adults for Nonfatal Injuries — United States, 2010–2019
The proportion of nonfatal injury-related emergency department (ED) visits by incarcerated adults resulting from assault or self-harm was five times as high as those among nonincarcerated adults. Among incarcerated adults, men and persons aged greater than 65 years had the highest proportions of assault-related ED visits. Falls accounted for the most ED visits among incarcerated adults aged 65 years or older. A higher proportion of ED visits by incarcerated women than incarcerated men was for overdose or poisoning.

Prison Policy Initiative: New report Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2023
The Prison Policy Initiative has released Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2023, its flagship report, which provides the most comprehensive view of how many people are locked up in the U.S., in what kinds of facilities, and why. It pieces together the most recent national data on state prisons, federal prisons, local jails, and other systems of confinement to provide a snapshot of mass incarceration in the U.S.

Opioid Epidemic

MindSite News: One in Nine Arrests Are of People with Both Mental Illness and Addiction, New Study Finds
Some 7.5 million people were arrested in the U.S. in 2020, and more than 10 million people were arrested each year in the 2010s. Now a new study looking at three of those years, 2017 to 2019, finds that one in nine of all arrests was of a person grappling with both a mental health and substance use disorder. Although each of these problems – mental health disorders and addiction – is considered to be a medical condition, a disproportionate number of people with these problems are cycling through jails and prisons.

OHSU: Opioid overdose risk is 10 times greater for those recently released from prison
People recently released from incarceration face a risk of opioid overdose 10 times greater than the general public, according to researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of Corrections. The research also found that risk of overdose is highest among women and in the first two weeks following release from incarceration.

State Roundup

2 News: AB 292 would expand access to health care for incarcerated Nevadans
Lawmakers today heard proposed legislation that would expand access to hygiene products and gynecological care to Nevada inmates. The bill would provide access to prenatal care and ban the use of unnecessary restraints on pregnant inmates. It would also require that inmate searches be done by officers of the same gender.

VT Digger: Vermont State Police probe another death of a person in custody at Springfield prison
Vermont State Police Wednesday are investigating another death of a person incarcerated at the Springfield prison, the second death reported at the facility in the span of eight days. Since January 2022, 10 people who have been in custody at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield have died, according to state police and corrections department reports.

Correctional Nursing

CorrectionalNurse.net: Manifesto Proposition Five: Guarding Physical and Mental Safety
While professional boundaries can help protect a nurse’s safety, correctional nurses must also be vigilant to guard against physical and psychological injury from a variety of sources on a daily basis. Officer, civilian, and healthcare staff must work together with consistency to protect against injury when working in a correctional environment.

WCBI: Inmate medical care: the ones who provide care behind bars
Inmates can be in jail for a long period of time, and at some point, they are likely to need medical care. Medical care often falls to Infirmary nurses. They are responsible for providing daily healthcare to the inmates. That can mean they deal with as many as 288 patients.


Pew: For People Under Probation, Conditions Meant to Support Behavior Change Can Burden More Than Benefit
Probation supervision can serve as an alternative to incarceration and has been considered a privilege because it allows individuals to remain in the community rather than serving their full sentences in jail or prison. However, that privilege might come with many mandatory requirements that can consume the life of the person under supervision. There are often required treatment appointments, probation office visits, curfews, and other supervision obligations that must be met; otherwise, an individual may receive a sanction.


NY Times: How Do People Released From Prison Find Housing?
There isn’t much assistance for people getting out of prison. They get $40 and a one-way bus ticket. Many head to the Port Authority in New York City. In January, Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, reintroduced the Housing Access Voucher Program (S. 2804B). The bill would provide vouchers to people in immediate need of housing assistance, either facing eviction or homelessness. Its language has recently been updated to include people about to be released from state prisons.

CT Mirror: CT lawmakers aim to help formerly incarcerated get IDs, fresh start
Democratic and Republican legislators are working to fix loopholes in a law requiring the Department of Correction to issue state identification cards or driver’s licenses to people being released from prisons. People are still leaving prison without the forms of identification, which has made activities like opening a bank account and applying for jobs an uphill battle for them.


National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments: It took almost 30 years for Pell Grants to return to prison. But, for many, college is still out of reach.
The expansion of Pell Grants has been a long-sought change since the 1994 crime bill eliminated them for people in prison and ended the majority of prison education programs. Although educating people in prison has been shown to have a number of benefits, the new money may be difficult for many to access for a host of reasons.

Law Enforcement & Mental Illness

NY Times: Another Mental Illness Tragedy Spurs Questions About Virginia’s Health System
Irvo Otieno died on March 6, after he was pinned to the floor by sheriff’s deputies for nearly 12 minutes at a psychiatric hospital in Petersburg. To his family and many others across the state, the death of Mr. Otieno, a 28-year-old musician with a history of mental illness, proves that despite incremental signs of improvement, Virginia’s mental health system is still profoundly flawed in how it responds to people in acute distress, especially when law enforcement agencies are involved.

Washington Post: Even a hospital couldn’t protect Irvo Otieno
Christie Thompson ofThe Marshall Project writes: The suffocation of Irvo Otieno, recorded on video, recalled the deaths of other Black men who perished under the weight of law enforcement: Daniel Prude, Eric Garner, George Floyd. However, Otieno died not on the street but inside a Virginia state psychiatric hospital — a place where he was meant to be cared for, not punished, by the state.

Prison Contractors

Reuters: Relative of wealthy US retail family gets prison for insider trading
A member of a wealthy family that has held investments and leadership roles in retailers like DSW owner Designer Brands Inc (DBI.N) and American Eagle Outfitters Inc (AEO.N) was sentenced on Tuesday to a year in prison for insider trading. Prosecutors said David Schottenstein tipped Kris Bortnovsky, the co-founder of hedge fund Sakal Capital Management, and Shapiro, who founded inmate money transfer service provider JPay.

Correctional Healthcare Vendors

Washington Post: Man died after not being given water in jail for nearly 3 days, family says
For more than 70 hours in late January, Anthony Mitchell wasn’t given any water in his jail cell, according to a recent lawsuit. He was left in his cell, dehydrated and in “frigid temperatures,” according to the lawsuit. Quality Correctional Health Care, which is contracted to provide medical services at the jail, denies that its two employees were deliberately indifferent.

WFXR: Nurse charged with Involuntary Manslaughter for Henry County jail death
The Henry County Sheriff’s Office says after months of investigating the death of 42-year-old Bradley Steven Hensley, a nurse has been charged with Involuntary Manslaughter. During the investigation, camera footage was reviewed and it was determined that the Wellpath nurse, allegedly did not perform the expected and required medical checks on Hensley.

WCSC: Lawyers blame ‘systemic failure’ for Charleston County inmate’s death
The Charleston County Coroner’s Office ruled the death of 28-year-old D’Angelo Brown a homicide. Coroner Bobbi Jo O’Neal said Brown died on Dec. 29 from Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli sepsis with septic shock and multiple organ system failure because of “gross medical neglect.” Lawyers who represent the family say ruling in this case will allow them to hold those responsible for Brown’s death accountable inmate. The family hopes changes will be made to prevent something like this from ever happening again. That includes finding a different medical provider than Wellpath LLC, the current medical provider.