Weekly Update: August 2, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: August 02, 2022

Highlighted Stories

Corrections 1: First monkeypox case is reported in Cook County Jail
The Cook County Jail on Tuesday reported its first case of monkeypox, according to the Cook County Department of Public Health. The individual was reportedly immediately isolated and contact tracing is underway, the health department said. County health officials will visit the jail Tuesday to offer testing and vaccinations to eligible individuals as the department continues its vaccination efforts in the city.

Truthout: Prison Health Expert Warns Monkeypox Could “Dramatically Increase” Behind Bars
The first case of monkeypox behind bars was reported in Chicago this week, and health experts are warning that jails could accelerate the spread as they are dangerously unprepared to combat against a virus that spreads through close physical contact. We speak with Dr. Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer for New York City’s Correctional Health Services, whose new op-ed for The Hill is headlined “CDC must act to prevent monkeypox explosion in prisons.” View the interview on YouTube.

Dallas Morning News: Dallas County tests inmate for monkeypox
After showing signs of the disease, an inmate in the Dallas County Jail is being tested for monkeypox. “We have had a lot of active experience in those protocols keeping people safe over the last two-and-half years with Covid,” stated Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown.

Source NM: Loss of Medicaid coverage could ramp up crime in NM, lawmaker warns
If authorities end the public health emergency in the fall and allow people to lose access to health care, it could lead to an increase in violent crime in New Mexico. New Mexicans are at risk of losing Medicaid coverage when national public health emergency status is expected to expire in October. It is going to have a ripple effect across our state in terms of economics, as well as mental health support, possibly an increase in violent crime This is supported by research showing a link between increased health care coverage and reductions in crime, particularly how often people commit a new crime after getting out of prison or jail.

Insurance News Net: Health Care Organizations to Senate: Include Medicaid & CHIP Policies in Reconciliation
Investing in prevention, the bipartisan Medicaid Reentry Act/2 will provide savings on healthcare and criminal justice costs for jurisdictions across the country. The "Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy" prohibits the use of Medicaid funds for services to otherwise eligible people who are incarcerated in jails, prisons, detention centers, or other correctional facilities. This leads to serious gaps in health coverage and access to needed care when individuals are reentering their communities from incarceration.

PBS: Federal judge seizes control of Mississippi jail after citing ‘severely deficient’ conditions
A federal judge has seized control of a Mississippi jail after citing “severely deficient” conditions at the facility. In a Friday ruling, U.S. Southern District of Mississippi Judge Carlton Reeves placed Hinds County’s Raymond Detention Center in Raymond into receivership. The judge will soon appoint an expert, known as a “receiver,” to temporarily manage the facility in hopes of improving its conditions.

New York Times: Prison Personnel Describe Horrific Conditions, and Cover-Up, at Atlanta Prison
Widespread drug abuse, substandard medical and mental health care, out-of-control violence and horrific sanitary conditions are rampant at a federal prison in Atlanta, a new congressional investigation into the federal Bureau of Prisons has found. The problems plaguing the medium-security prison, which holds around 1,400 people, are so notorious within the federal government that its culture of indifference and mismanagement is derisively known among bureau employees as “the Atlanta way.”

BJS: Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2020 – Statistical Tables
This report presents statistics on deaths that occur during federal arrest, detention, and incarceration in the United States. The report describes decedent, incident, and facility characteristics of deaths in federal custody and during arrest by federal law enforcement agencies during fiscal year 2020.


Yahoo News: Cook County Jail in Chicago under fire for inmate deaths since COVID pandemic
In Chicago’s Cook County Jail, at least a dozen deaths of incarcerated people and jail staff have followed, according to the jail’s records, causing human rights activists to take a closer look. Some of the deaths have been COVID-related and others not, leaving critics questioning the jail’s commitment to keeping inmates safe. Cook County officials, however, reject the notion that they don’t do everything in their power to protect people in their facility and that the jail is any more dangerous than any other one in America.

Corrections & 2022 Election

CT Mirror: Bob Stefanowski goes after Ned Lamont on prison conditions
Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski campaigned outside a high-security prison in Cheshire on Thursday, complaining that the administration of Gov. Ned Lamont has failed to heed complaints of staff and inmates about staffing levels and unreliable air conditioning.

Pregnancy In Corrections

Billy Penn: A pilot program providing doulas has been a game-changer for pregnant women in Pa. prisons
A state pilot program provides doula services to people who are pregnant behind bars. Funded through the Tuttleman Foundation and implemented with the help of of the Pa. Department of Human Services and Williamsport, Pa.-based Genesis Birth Services, the doula pilot at SCI Muncy is the first step in expanding pregnancy and parenting support for women incarcerated in state Department of Correction facilities.


NIJ Crime Solutions: Program Profile: Philadelphia (Pa.) Police School Diversion Program
This is a pre-arrest diversion program that directs juveniles with no previous adjudications to services (such as counseling) to avoid interaction with the juvenile justice system. This program is rated No Effects. Though treatment group youths were statistically significantly less likely to be suspended post incident, there were no statistically significant differences between treatment and control group youths in recidivism, number of recidivism arrests, and child welfare placement.

ProPublica: Michigan Proposes Juvenile Justice Reforms After Story of Teen Locked Up for Missing Homework Exposed Gaps in System
A Michigan task force Friday recommended a series of reforms designed to keep young people out of detention facilities and provide them with better legal representation and more community help, such as family counseling and mental health treatment. The task force made 32 recommendations that aim to transform what happens when young people get in trouble with the law, including by keeping low-level offenses out of the courts and limiting when children can be detained.

Opioid Epidemic

New York Times: Biden’s Drug Czar Is Leading the Charge for a ‘Harm Reduction’ Approach
During a recent interview here, Dr. Rahul Gupta, President Biden’s drug czar, appeared to be on the verge of supporting a radical shift in U.S. drug control policy. Asked for his views on supervised consumption sites, where users bring their own drugs to take under the supervision of trained workers in case they overdose — a concept accepted in Canada and Europe but still technically illegal in the United States under federal law — Dr. Gupta’s eyes lit up. Then he paused, catching himself, and said he could not weigh in yet.

Smithsonian Magazine: Drug Overdose Deaths in the U.S. Are Increasing More in Black and Indigenous Populations
A new report from the CDC found that during the first year of the pandemic, drug overdose death rates rose substantially in Black and Native American populations in the U.S. From 2019 to 2020, overdose fatalities increased by 44 percent among Black people and 39 percent among Native Americans. In the white population, the overdose death rate increased by 22 percent.

San Francisco Chronicle: Why is S.F.’s drug crisis so out of control? Stop blaming Chesa and look at Walgreens
Last year, Walgreens stores in San Francisco made national headlines after a tweet documenting a brazen act of theft went viral. In the now-famous video, security guards stood by as a man hastily filled a garbage bag with items from the shelves, before riding out of the front doors on a Lyft rental bike. Walgreens, once again, is in the middle of the story, but this time as an alleged perpetrator of crime. According to a lawsuit filed by the City Attorney’s Office, for more than a decade, Walgreens was the largest distributor of opioids in San Francisco — and was a key player in setting off the current iteration of our crisis.

NBC WPSD: Health department, jail working together in effort to prevent overdose deaths
The Purchase District Health Department and the McCracken County Jail (KY) are partnering to reduce overdoses in high risk populations. They are providing an overdose reduction program for people recently released from the jail. Starting Aug. 1, over 200 Narcan kits and 500 resource bags filled with things to prevent overdoses will be ready to be given out in an effort to save lives.


Desert News: Too nice for inmates or redefined? Why new prison is much different than at Point of the Mountain
Steve Turley, director of the Clinical Services Bureau at the Utah Department of Corrections, says it's important to give inmates every opportunity to become successful. He believes the new prison, called the Utah State Correctional Facility, 1480 N. 8000 West in Salt Lake City, will give inmates that chance. The new prison will hold approximately 3,700 inmates while the Draper facility held just under 4,000. The reduction in the inmate population is due to the Justice Reinvestment Initiative passed by the state in 2015 which calls for more programs and treatment to help nonviolent offenders and to save bed space for those convicted of violent and serious offenses.

Early Release

CBS KPIX: SJ mayor says county is releasing too many county jail inmates
San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo is calling on the county to stop letting so many people out of jail. He says the pandemic policy is essentially allowing criminals to run free in the South Bay.

Bail Reform

The Dispatch: What Happened to Efforts to Reform Cash Bail?
As of mid-2021, only 20 percent of the U.S. jail population was serving time for being convicted of a crime. The rest were being held on pretrial detention. That’s a result of the U.S. bail system. Despite increased calls for criminal justice reform—in a January 2022 Pew survey, 45 percent of Americans said that improving the criminal justice system should be Congress’ top priority—no reforms have succeeded at the federal level.

Rikers Island

New York Post: Family of Rikers inmate files $50M wrongful death notice of claim against NYC
Relatives of a female Rikers Island inmate who died in custody filed a $50 million notice of claim against the city Tuesday claiming the woman’s death was preventable. Mary Yehudah, 31, was not screened for diabetes when she arrived at the notorious jail complex. The Department of Correction is required to test for the chronic health condition under city law. A review of Yehudah’s medical records indicate Correctional Health Services never diagnosed her with diabetes and their failure to notice she was at risk for the illness led to her death

Daily Beast: Rikers Guards Charged for Allegedly Standing by as Teen Inmate Attempted Suicide
Four Rikers Island corrections officers pleaded not guilty to felony charges of official misconduct and reckless endangerment on Monday over the 2019 case of an 18-year-old inmate who tried to hang himself. The four officers a group of six who allegedly sat back and watched as Nicholas Feliciano attempted suicide in his cell. After more than seven minutes, during which Feliciano struggled and went still in clear view of the officers, according to a Board of Corrections review published last year, they cut him down.

Correctional Officers

New York Times: Former California Corrections Officer Admits Assaulting Inmates and Lying
A former California correctional officer pleaded guilty on Monday to federal charges, admitting that he had covered up the assault of two inmates, one of whom died, and then boasted about it in text messages. The former officer, Arturo Pacheco, 40, of Elk Grove, Calif., pleaded guilty to two counts of deprivation of rights under color of law and two counts of falsifying records in a federal case.

gothamist: Shootings by off-duty NYC correction officers raise questions about training, deadly force
Two shootings by different off-duty New York City correction officers this summer happened just weeks apart. One officer who allegedly shot and killed a teenager holding a toy gun now faces criminal charges, while the other – who fired his weapon at a Fourth of July celebration – has been hailed by public officials as a hero.

Staffing Shortages

Mission Local: Staff shortages nix programming in SF jails; guards warn they can’t take influx
A generation ago, deputies were in the pods with the inmates, interacting with them. But, due to staff shortages, direct supervision may once more become a novelty. Instead of direct supervision — which calls for a deputy to be placed in both of the adjoining “pods” of 48 inmates each — a single deputy would observe all 96 inmates. Walk time has been reduced to 45 minutes — 45 minutes for inmates to shower, visit the library, stretch their legs, whatever. Deputies working inside tell me that, yes, that’s 45 minutes a day, meaning inmates in this pilot program are in their cells for the other 23 hours and 15 minutes.

VT Digger: Corrections department, union agree to $6.8 million deal to fund higher pay rate for longer shifts, 60-hour workweek
Nicholas Deml, the corrections commissioner, had said earlier this month that he planned to move corrections officers from the current five eight-hour shifts a week to five 12-hour shifts, to help address safety and staffing shortages. A $6.8 million deal that involves higher pay and bonuses has been reached between the Vermont Department of Corrections and the union representing frontline staff over longer shifts and 60-hour workweeks.

Mental Health Initiatives In Corrections

Los Angeles Times: The false promise of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s CARE courts
The Los Angeles Editorial Board writes: It’s only natural to scour Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed CARE Courts plan for enough redeeming features to make it worthwhile. But the Community Assistance Recovery and Empowerment Court merely creates a new legal framework for the same failed approach, making mental illness tantamount to a crime. Under the CARE Court proposal, a person with specified serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia could petition a court for entry into a county care program. But it is presumed that few patients will choose to act on their own behalf and that most entries will be initiated by people the new law would authorize to act. Those people include police officers. Police participation in mental health is deeply alarming. There is a growing movement to remove police from dealing with mental health challenges because they are particularly unsuited to the task. It’s estimated that 25% of police shootings involve mentally ill people.

Next City: In Durham, Police Will No Longer Be the Only First Responders for Mental Health Emergencies
Durham Community Safety Department is preparing to deploy four pilot programs that give residents additional support or deploy qualified professionals in certain emergency call situations, such as when an individual experiencing homelessness or a mental health crisis dials 911. Each pilot will offer an alternative response to sending a police officer in response to emergency calls. The first is a 911-centered crisis call diversion program that will identify calls where law enforcement is not imminently necessary and where residents can be supported virtually.

NBC KXAN: Incarcerated people with mental illness increases in 7 months in Travis County, study shows
Research from Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) shows that in Travis County, 37% of people incarcerated in October 2021 were receiving mental health care in jail. By May 2022, the rate had increased to 42%. A disproportionate number of people living with mental health and substance use disorders end up in jail instead of getting the mental health treatment and support they need.

Private Prisons

gothamist: NY area’s ICE detention facilities are emptying, with local immigrants moved across the country
Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s sudden and surprise transfer of dozens of New York and New Jersey immigrants out of a detention center in the Hudson Valley this week constitutes a shift from prior years, when more than 2,000 immigrants awaiting the disposition of their deportation cases were held in five local jails. This stems both from a national decline in the number of people arrested and held by ICE compared to during the Trump Administration, and from the fact that local political pressure against deplorable conditions in ICE-contracted jails. The private prison company CoreCivic runs an ICE detention facility out of a converted warehouse in an industrial park in Elizabeth, NJ, that has also been criticized for disgusting conditions, including birds that fly inside, defecating on beds. Facing pressure, its landlord sued last year to cease the contract.

Correctional Health Care Providers

Phoenix New Times: New Prison Health Care Company Centurion Is No Better Than Corizon, Families Say
James Leonard, who is incarcerated in Lewis Prison in Buckeye, is still peeing through a catheter, the same one he's been cleaning and reusing for a few weeks now. Despite his requests, Centurion, the new health care provider for the Arizona prison system, hasn't given him fresh catheters, Leonard's mother, Laurie Torner, said. Back then, the for-profit company Corizon was in the final months of its contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections to provide medical care to inmates. It was, by just about all accounts, doing a terrible job. When Centurion took over on July 1, Torner and others with family members who are sick and incarcerated in Arizona hoped that the medical care would improve. They've been sorely disappointed.

Seattle Times: Even before $27 million Spokane County Jail lawsuit, NaphCare had a rocky legal history
Lawsuits that end with eight-figure verdicts don’t happen often. Like many companies that provide medical services to prisons and jails, NaphCare has faced dozens of lawsuits over the years. One of the most notable lawsuits ended in 2019 when the company was part of a $3 million settlement with the family of a man who died in a Virginia jail. Multiple nurses told The Spokesman-Review that NaphCare’s takeover and cost-cutting measures were leading to lower-quality care.