Weekly Update: January 25, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: January 25, 2022

Highlighted Stories

Psych Congress Network: Buprenorphine Treatment Access Equitable in Areas Where Medicaid is Prevalent
In areas where Medicaid coverage is more common, providers of buprenorphine treatment are much less likely to discriminate between prospective patients with Medicaid and those with private insurance. Dr Richards and coauthors conducted the study using county-level information on Medicaid enrollment combined with field experiment data from 10 states from a previous study.

NIH: Offering buprenorphine medication to people with opioid use disorder in jail may reduce rearrest and reconviction
A study conducted in two rural Massachusetts jails found that people with opioid use disorder who were incarcerated and received a medication approved to treat opioid use disorder, known as buprenorphine, were less likely to face rearrest and reconviction after release than those who did not receive the medication. After adjusting the data to account for baseline characteristics such as prior history with the criminal justice system, the study revealed a 32% reduction in rates of probation violations, reincarcerations, or court charges when the facility offered buprenorphine to people in jail.

Addiction Center: Pregnant Women Facing Incarceration For Drug Abuse
On October 5 2021, a young woman named Brittany Poolaw, a member of Wichita and Affiliated Tribes in Oklahoma, was charged with first degree manslaughter and a sentence of 4 years in prison. She had suffered a second-trimester miscarriage. In a fetal autopsy, examiners found a congenital abnormality and a complication with the placenta in addition to traces of Methamphetamine.

Journal of Health and Social Behavior: Losing Years Doing Time: Incarceration Exposure and Accelerated Biological Aging among African American Adults
A University of Iowa researcher and his colleagues have found that people who have been incarcerated age faster. Spending time in jail or prison can speed up the aging process by an average of 11 months past someone's actual age, according to DNA research by Berg and his colleagues. Experiencing violence in prison accelerated the aging process by more than two years

NPR: New data shows startling rise in prison deaths during 2020
The number of people incarcerated across the United States dropped early on in the pandemic. But now the number of people in prisons and jails is back up, and disturbingly, deaths increased dramatically. Deaths increased 46% in prisons from 2019 to 2020, 32% among people on parole and 6% among people on probation.

COVID-19 Surge

Mercury News: COVID outbreak among staff and inmates rages at San Quentin State Prison
The latest surge tied to the omicron variant is fueling an exploding COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison. As of Tuesday, San Quentin logged 240 prisoner and 128 staff cases in the last 14 days, up from six inmate and 73 staff infections a week earlier. The institution houses 3,140 prisoners, a little more than half of whom have been tested.

Los Angeles Times: COVID-19 surge at LAPD and Sheriff’s Department keeps over 2,000 personnel at home
More than 2,000 employees of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are at home sick or quarantining after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

Modesto Bee: Jails locked down, trials suspended as COVID-19 spreads among Stanislaus inmates, jurors
Stanislaus County jail facilities are on lockdown, and jury trials have been suspended, because of COVID-19 outbreaks infecting both inmates and jurors. For the last two weeks, unnecessary inmate movements and activities have been restricted as a precaution. Schwartz said. Medical staff is monitoring the inmate population 24 hours a day and providing health care.

Mercury News: More big COVID-19 surges at Bay Area jails
The Bay Area’s two largest jails are once again seeing massive spikes in COVID-19 cases amid the broader omicron wave. Santa Clara County has been charting a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections, growing from one active case on Dec. 25 to 76 as of Jan. 6. In Alameda County, Santa Rita Jail in Dublin was reporting 220 active infections within its jail population of 2,230 people.

Maui News: Hospital sees record COVID patients; jail cases rise to 88
A relentless wave of cases that has overwhelmed state health officials continued to put pressure on major Maui facilities, with active infections at the Wailuku jail more than doubling to 88 and the island’s main hospital setting a new record with 44 COVID-19 patients.

AP: North Dakota prison system feeling impact of omicron variant
North Dakota corrections officials say the state’s prisons have been hit hard by the coronavirus omicron variant. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says active COVID-19 cases total 151, more than double and infecting about one-tenth of the prison system population. There are three dozen more cases among prison staff.

CBS 8: Nearly 200 male inmates temporarily transferred to county's only women's jail due to COVID surge
About 200 male inmates who tested positive for COVID-19 were being transferred to the women's jail in Santee, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department reported. The change in housing will remain in effect until the number of positive COVID-19 tests decline in county jails. At that time, all male inmates will return to their previously assigned facility.

COVID-19 Reduced Sentences

Corrections1: Judge rules California can allow increases in good-conduct credits for prison inmates
A Sacramento judge has rejected an effort by 28 California district attorneys to halt an increase in good-time credits for some state inmates, allowing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to move forward with the changes. Prison officials first introduced changes in good-conduct credits last May in an effort to decrease prison populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DAs argued that the rules were put into place without public comment, something CDCR said was allowed under voter-approved Proposition 57.

COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

New York Times: New Jersey Mandates Boosters for Health Care and Prison Workers
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said workers in high-risk congregate settings like hospitals, prisons and nursing homes would be required to be fully vaccinated, including a booster. He said there would no longer be an option to satisfy the mandate through testing.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee County to require COVID-19 boosters for workers, volunteers in jail, House of Correction
Those who work or volunteer in Milwaukee County's high-risk facilities such as the county jail and House of Correction will be required to receive a COVID-19 booster or face consequences. The new requirement announced Wednesday applies to eligible employees, contractors and volunteers. It also includes the juvenile detention center and the behavioral health hospital.

Criminal Justice Reform

New York Times: Bragg’s Policy Shift Causes Furor, Though Few Cases Would Be Affected
When the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, announced a slate of new policies this month, one change that met furious pushback was the notion that the borough’s top prosecutor would no longer prosecute those who resisted arrest. But a review of court records from recent years indicates that the type of resisting arrest cases Mr. Bragg’s prosecutors will no longer pursue are exceedingly rare in Manhattan and in New York City overall.

USA Today: 60% of people awaiting trial can't afford bail. A civil rights commission can't agree on reform.
U.S. jails are increasingly holding people who have not been convicted of a crime even as overall prison numbers decreased this past decade, with the vast majority of pretrial detainees being people of color who can’t afford their cash bail. But the political polarization around the issue was evident in the commission members' own responses to their report, which included fiery write-ups, a dissent and a rebuttal.

Racial Disparities and Sentencing

The Crime Report: Jail Lengths of Stay Increasing Across the US: Report
In a new multi-state analysis, researchers found that the average length of stay in jails across the country increased from 2014 to 2019 by an average of 20 percent. The increase in the average length of time behind bars was primarily driven by three factors: high monetary bail, youth incarcerations, and an increase in serious charges. Racial disparities were also uncovered, as the researchers found that Black individuals were “consistently overrepresented in the number of admissions and percent of occupied bed days.”

Racial Censorship in Corrections

Washington Post: Prison systems insist on banning books by Black authors. It’s time to end the censorship.
In an opinion piece, Andy Chan and Michelle Dillon, write: We are living in a moment of increased attention to injustices within policing and incarceration. Limitations to access to information by the government should be deeply concerning, especially when considered within the known biases of the prison system. Books to Prisoners tracks restrictions both to draw attention to censorship as well as to safeguard that we aren’t using our limited resources to send books that will inevitably be rejected.

New Prison/Jail Construction

The Current: Georgia corrections prepares to spend $600M to replace older prisons
Georgia’s prison system could undergo a radical change with Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposal to spend $600 million to open two new prisons that would replace four outdated correctional facilities with the aim to make prisons safer and cut costs. Criminal justice reform advocates say that resources would be better spent on education, mental health and other areas that could keep more people out of the criminal justice system.

ABC 13: Lucas County eyeing Health Department property as new jail site
Lucas County (OH) is finalizing plans for its new jail, and the site getting the most consideration is the current site of the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department. The planning phase is now underway. The Health Department site has always made sense to many because of its neighbor Toledo Municipal Court. Many come from the jail to Municipal Court every day so keeping it all together just makes sense.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

The Lens: Mental health care at state prison is ‘insufficient, and almost non-existent,’ expert testifies in federal civil rights trial
Mental health care — from screening, to staffing levels, to suicide watch — at the restrictive housing unit of a Louisiana state prison is all but non-existent, the former chief psychiatrist for the Ohio state prison system testified this week in a federal class-action suit against the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

FOX 59: Inmate death at new Marion County jail, officials increase mental health services
Officials with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) said they are taking additional steps to prioritize mental health assessment and treatment in the new Adult Detention Center at the Community Justice Campus on the city’s southeast side. According to MCSO officials, a 45-year-old man was found unresponsive and not breathing by jail staff. Preliminary information, according to the MCSO, is that the man died by suicide. The MCSO said it has been focused on increasing mental health resources for inmates and recently announced a plan to hire full-time suicide prevention advocates in hopes of reducing the suicide rate.

ABC News: Sheriff agrees to improve jail conditions to settle lawsuit
U.S. District Judge William Ray on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to the settlement agreement signed by Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat and lawyers for women with psychiatric disabilities held at the jail in Union City, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) southwest of Atlanta. Lawyers who visited the South Fulton Municipal Regional Jail witnessed women in psychological distress lying on the floor, their bodies and the walls of their cells smeared with feces or food.

East Idaho News: Mental illness a silent killer in Idaho correctional system
“Our state is miserable when it comes to dealing with mental health,” then-sheriff of Bannock County Lorin Nielsen said. 200 deaths were reported among inmates in the Idaho corrections system in the decade between 2011 and 2020. There are several key contributing factors to those 20 deaths per year. The main factor is deaths occurring as the effect of mental illnesses, commonly in the form of suicides.

Electronic Health Records

Health Affairs: Negative Patient Descriptors: Documenting Racial Bias In The Electronic Health Record
Little is known about how racism and bias may be communicated in the medical record. This study used machine learning to analyze electronic health records (EHRs) from an urban academic medical center and to investigate whether providers’ use of negative patient descriptors varied by patient race or ethnicity. Compared with White patients, Black patients had 2.54 times the odds of having at least one negative descriptor in the history and physical notes. Our findings raise concerns about stigmatizing language in the EHR and its potential to exacerbate racial and ethnic health care disparities.

Private Prisons

inewsource: COVID-19 cases at San Diego’s ICE detention center reach all-time high
A San Diego detention center that houses U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees saw COVID-19 cases surge last week, reporting the third highest number of active cases among ICE detainees at any of the federal agency’s more than 130 detention centers. The border facility, which houses migrants awaiting court dates or deportation and federal inmates under U.S. Marshals Service custody awaiting trials or sentencing, is owned and operated by CoreCivic.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Santa Fe New Mexican: Potentially deadly but preventable infections going untreated in New Mexico prisons
Albuquerque attorney Parrish Collins has filed alleging New Mexico’s prison medical care providers have allowed common bacterial infections to go unchecked until they’ve caused severe damage to inmates’ hearts, brains and spines, resulting in intense suffering, costly hospitalizations and sometimes death. Many of the medical malpractice lawsuits name the state prison system’s former medical provider, Centurion Health, as a defendant; others are filed against current provider Wexford Health Sources or the state government.

AP: Inmates Say Prison Doc Dosed Them With Ivermectin Labeled ‘Vitamins’
Last week, the ACLU of Arkansas sued the Washington County Detention Center and its jail doctor on behalf of four incarcerated plaintiffs who claim they were unknowingly treated with Ivermectin while suffering from coronavirus. Dr. Robert Karas provides medical services to the WCDC through his business, Karas Correctional Health, PLLC. He also appears to spend a lot of time on Facebook, where he boasted of his success treating COVID patients in his private practice using the “Ivermectin protocol.”

Tampa Bay Times: 5 Pasco jail inmates sue, claim nurse exposed them to contaminated insulin
Five current Pasco County Jail inmates have filed a class-action lawsuit against a health care contractor at the facility and two employees, alleging that a nurse failed to follow sterile needle practices when injecting patients with insulin — potentially exposing them to bloodborne illnesses such as HIV. A registered nurse employed by Wellpath LLC — a private, national health care company contracted by the Pasco County Jail — failed to change needles between vials when injecting patients with partial insulin doses from two different vials, thereby contaminating the second insulin container.

AP: Freed Missouri inmate sues over medical care in prison
A Kansas City man released from prison after serving more than 40 years for a wrongful conviction is suing the company that provides medical care for Missouri prison inmates. Kevin Strickland alleges in his lawsuit that medical care provided by Corizon LLC officials left him dependent on a wheelchair and able to stand for only brief periods.