Weekly Update: August 16, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: August 16, 2022

Highlighted Stories

reason: Federal Judge Holds Illinois Prison System in Contempt for Inadequate Medical Care
A federal judge has held the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) in contempt for failing to abide by a court order to improve medical care for incarcerated people. The August 5 contempt order came after a court monitor's report, released in June, found the IDOC had failed to fully comply with nearly every measure in a 2019 plan to provide adequate health and dental care to incarcerated people.

The Crime Report: Federal Monitor Blasts Illinois Prison Healthcare System
A federal monitor’s report released this week has condemned the Illinois Department of Corrections’ (IDOC) failure to adequate health care for the roughly 29,000 prisoners in its system, citing shortcomings that ranged from the mistreatment of elderly inmates to a severe shortage of doctors and nurses and poor record keeping. The report is the fifth of its kind since IDOC fell under a federally mandated consent decree in 2019.

Minnesota Reformer: Judge temporarily blocks Corrections Dept. from ordering people back to prison from medical release
A Ramsey County District Court judge on Thursday granted reprieve to 18 people on medical release from prison, blocking the state Department of Corrections from forcing them to return — at least for the moment. The DOC granted medical release to 158 inmates because of underlying health conditions that made them susceptible to COVID-19. About two weeks ago, however, the agency ordered 18 of them back to prison on Aug. 15.

OJP: New Programs for and Approaches to Justice System Challenges
This report discusses four states’ programs and approaches that are critical components of their justice systems. The programs are Arkansas’s crisis stabilization units and crisis intervention training; Louisiana’s gender-responsive approach to women’s incarceration and supervision; Oregon’s Improving People's Access to Community-Based Treatment, Supports, and Services program; and Pennsylvania’s performance-based contracting approach to community corrections.


AZ Central: Suspected monkeypox case identified in Maricopa County jail
A person incarcerated in a Maricopa County jail is "suspected to have Monkeypox". "He is in medical isolation and will not be transported or removed from the cell without medical direction," read an email to supervisors and commanders at the Sheriff's Office.


East Bay Times: Opinion: With COVID surges, there’s no return to normalcy in jails and prisons
Aparna Komarla, founder and director of the Covid, writes: In-Custody Project.COVID-19 has been surging across California’s prison and jails this summer. But as cases behind bars increase, vaccination rates remain incredibly low with few signs of improvement. Unlike the general population, where a sense of normalcy is returning, it is unclear what the future holds for carceral facilities, especially because complacency regarding COVID-19 mitigation is mounting.

Data & Statistics

Prison Policy Initiative: Beyond the count: A deep dive into state prison populations
We know how many people are in state prisons, but what do we really know about who they are or how they ended up there? From survey data, we gain a deeper understanding of how mass incarceration has been used to warehouse people with marginalized identities and those struggling with poverty, substance use disorders, and housing insecurity, among other serious problems.

Abuse In Corrections

VT Digger: Franklin County sheriff suspends captain seen kicking suspect on video
A captain in the Franklin County Sheriff's Office has been placed on administrative leave after he kicked a man who was in police custody multiple times, according to video of the incident and a statement released by the sheriff's office this week.

Grid: The claims of abuses against prisoners in a St. Louis jail are horrific. They’re also not unique.
In 2019, the St. Louis county executive resurrected a local advisory board to conditions at the county jail after the deaths of several detained people, including one person who died of a curable form of leukemia, according to news reports. But as conditions at the jail continued to deteriorate, several board members resigned in protest, claiming they were not given the tools needed to properly investigate conditions.

Rikers Island

The City: City Jails Fail to Protect or Properly Identify Transgender People, Task Force Finds
A new report from a task force convened by the Board of Correction finds that the city jails system continually fails to identify, protect, and properly care for transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, and/or intersex (TGNCNBI) people in custody. The report comes as Correction Commissioner Louis A. Molina has embarked on his reform plan to avoid a potential federal takeover of the jails system.

New York Times: Pain Doctor Who Sexually Assaulted Patients Found Dead at Rikers
Ricardo Cruciani, a doctor found guilty last month of having sexually assaulted several of his patients, was found dead of a suspected suicide at the Rikers Island jail complex Monday morning. Mr. Cruciani is the 12th person to have died this year either while being held in the city’s jails or shortly after being released.

Air Conditioning

gothamist: 'All of us were sweating' — NY lawmaker discusses visit to Rikers during recent heat wave
As temperatures in New York City spiked in the muggy 90s this week, few people were likely hotter than those incarcerated at Rikers Island. Many rooms at that outdated jail complex have no air conditioning at all.

Corrections 1: Unlike most Southern states, La. is working to install air conditioning in prisons
95% of Southern households are air conditioned, according to a March 2022 Kent State University study. Among the last holdouts are state prisons, a condition that became particularly acute this summer of record hot temperatures — above 90 degrees for 27 days during June in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, 25 days in July.


The Breeze: Newly released prisoners aided by local reentry program
The Virginia Department of Corrections’ Good Time Earned system that went into effect July 1 and reduced sentences for nonviolent offenders with low-level charges. Additional releases and weekly fairs will occur through Aug. 31, and organizers said initial discussions are taking place for similar programming in the future. Frank Sottaceti, the criminal justice planner for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, said that in the four fairs held so far, 68 individuals have been assisted since July.

ABC 4: Salt Lake County Jail opens resource and reentry program
The Salt Lake County Jail Resource & Reentry Program (JRRP) was announced Thursday after two years in the making. Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson says it’s the first type of program like this in the nation that has been opened within a jail facility. The JRRP program will give people leaving jail access to those resources and Salt Lake County officials say they hope it will reduce the recidivism rate.

The Crime Report: Social Connections Called Key to Prison Reform
In 2014, Nebraska created a Vocational and Life Skills (VLS) Program providing funding for the state’s jail population to learn trades to lower the odds of recidivism, reports the Nebraska Examiner. About 6,000 inmates have been served since the program began and the state upped spending on the training programs from $3.5 million a year to $5 million.

Mental Health

Corrections 1: 'From Guards to Guardians': Program focuses on the mental well-being of correctional facility personnel
From new hires to old-timers, nothing is more important than correctional facilities finding ways to maintain healthy employees. That is the goal of “From Guards to Guardians,” a free educational enrichment program directed toward correctional officers and civilian staff that is catching on with correctional agencies around the country. The intent of this program is to help build a corrections environment conducive to the well-being of everyone behind the walls.

Marin IJ: Marin authorizes involuntary administration of medications to jail inmates
The Marin County Board of Supervisors cleared the way for court ordered medications to be administered to felony inmates at Marin County Jail who have been deemed incompetent to stand trial — without the inmates’ consent if necessary. The board voted unanimously to authorize the county jail as a facility to administer antipsychotic medications to defendants that have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial and are unable to provide informed consent due to a mental disorder.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

San Diego Union Tribune: ‘We’re begging for help’: Jailed people and their families ask court to force immediate change
In a San Diego federal courtroom Thursday, an attorney representing people incarcerated in the county’s jails argued that more people will die if the Sheriff’s Department isn’t forced to make immediate changes to mental health care, addiction treatment and security, especially related to drugs brought into the jails.

West Dakota Fox: Incarcerated individuals at greater risk for suicide; DOCR says staff works to intervene
In the United States, the number of suicides in state prisons increased 85% between 2001 and 2019 as reported by the National Institute of Corrections. The numbers also show that rates of inmate suicides are higher than averages in the general population. North Dakota Department of Corrections staff say the issue of suicide is nuanced and is difficult to compare and contrast responses across states, but they say the state performs well with interventions.

Private Prisons

Virginia Mercury: Potential overdoses, death at privately run Lawrenceville prison spur state investigation
The Virginia Department of Corrections is investigating a rash of potential overdoses and a death at the privately run Lawrenceville Correctional Center in Brunswick County. Christopher Ferreira, a spokesperson for The GEO Group, the prison operator, confirmed Wednesday that one inmate died Aug. 6 after prison staff “observed several inmates who appeared to be lethargic and unresponsive.”

ABC News: Private prison firm to settle lawsuit over inmate death
A private prison company has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit over a Tennessee inmate's killing that got national attention after a judge ordered the plaintiff's attorney to stop tweeting about it. Tennessee-based CoreCivic and attorney Daniel Horwitz, who represents the family of the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center inmate who died, noted the settlement Tuesday in a federal court filing in Nashville.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Reporters Committee: Prison contractor paid $200,000 to settle wrongful death lawsuit, newly unsealed records show
The York Daily Record reported this week that the York County Prison’s private health care provider, PrimeCare, reached a $200,000 settlement with the estate of an inmate who died by suicide in 2016. The terms of PrimeCare’s settlement with Henry’s estate are especially relevant in light of the fact that York County recently entered into another contract with the health care provider, which was named a defendant in 18 federal lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania last year.

AL.com: Alabama rescinds prison health care contract award, will start process over
The Alabama Department of Corrections has rescinded its decision to pick a new company to provide comprehensive medical and mental health care to inmates. The ADOC announced in July that it had picked YesCare Corp. (formerly Corizon Health),for the three-year contract covering 26 correctional facilities. The updated notification posted on the ADOC website says: “Out of an abundance of caution, the ADOC has determined that it is in the state’s best interest to rescind this RFP (request for proposals) and any previously issued notice of intent to award.”