Weekly Update: June 7, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: June 07, 2022

Highlighted Stories

Congress.gov: H.R.7233 - Keeping Incarceration Discharges Streamlined for Children and Accommodating Resources in Education Act
HR 7233 would amend Title XIX of the Social Security Act to allow for incarcerated juveniles to receive the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment which is the child health component of Medicaid, allowing state Medicaid pay for them. There would be no services outside of screenings while incarcerated, but 30 days of targeted case management (TCM) upon release.

OJP: National Juvenile Treatment Court Dashboard Now Available
OJJDP recently launched the National Juvenile Treatment Court Dashboard, a map-based website that shows juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTC) operating across the U.S. and details the tools, programs, and resources they use. The site provides JDTC professionals with best practices and encourages peer-to-peer connections.

Youth Today: Upcoming study aims to gauge prevalence and impact of traumatic brain injury on juveniles in detention
Traumatic brain injury among juvenile offenders will be assessed as part of a three-year research project that’s slated to enroll the first of roughly 110 youth and young adult study participants in Florida as early as late January. Ultimately, the study aims to determine which TBI treatments might help keep those youth from cycling in and out of detention, complete their education and succeed at work.

The Crime Report: Juvenile Courts Need National Training Standards, Webinar Told
A new study published in May by the The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) reviewed the state of juvenile courts and judges across the U.S. Their major finding? The way juvenile court judges are trained, and the way their courts operate, varies wildly across the country.

CMS: Behavioral Health Strategy
CMS is embarking on a multi-faceted approach to increase access to equitable and high-quality behavioral health services and improve outcomes for people covered by Medicare, Medicaid (including the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and private health insurance. This strategy includes strengthening equity and quality in behavioral Health Care; improving access to substance use disorders prevention; treatment and recovery services, ensuring effective pain treatment and management; improving access and quality of mental health care and services; and utilizing data for effective actions and impact on behavioral health.


Government Executive: Biden Moves to Improve Public Health Conditions in Federal Prisons and Jails
The president instructed the Justice Department on Wednesday to take various steps over the next seven months to improve public health and conditions overall in federal jails and prisons. This directive was part of the executive order President Biden signed on the second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd. The Justice Department inspector general has repeatedly flagged, “maintaining a safe, secure, and humane prison system” as a top management challenge for the Justice Department, which houses the Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Marshals Service.

Stat: ‘Too little too late’: Unpacking Biden’s moves to improve federal prisons’ response to Covid-19
The Biden administration is trying to finally unsnarl the federal Bureau of Prisons’ response to the coronavirus pandemic, but experts say its latest moves also underscore just how much is still broken about the government’s response to Covid-19 in prisons. It’s no secret that the Bureau of Prisons has struggled with testing throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Sacramento Bee: More COVID-19 outbreaks reported at California prisons, among inmates and staff
Outbreaks are underway at several state prisons among both inmates and staff, data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation show, amid a broader surge of COVID-19 spreading across California and nationwide. Prisons reported nearly 1,500 new inmate COVID-19 cases between May 1 and May 29, an almost 20-fold increase compared to just 75 infections reported over the preceding four weeks, according to a CDCR online data tracker.

News Medical: Study evaluates protection conferred by prior infection and vaccination against the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant within the California state prison system
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) began third/booster vaccination by late August 2021. By the end of December 2021, more than 54% of residents and over 20% of staff received the boosters. The study estimated the effectiveness of mRNA vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 infection stratified by the number of doses administered, prior illness, and periods before or during the Delta wave. Across both residents and staff members without prior infection, vaccine effectiveness against infection was 14.9% after two doses, which increased to 33.2% after booster vaccination and 43.2% compared to non-vaccinated subjects.

Daily Journal: Judge orders outside look at health issues in sending Cumberland inmates to North Jersey
A federal judge has rejected Cumberland County's objection to conducting an outside look at potential COVID-related issues in the county's policy of sending more and more of its inmates to be housed at a North Jersey facility. In May 2021, the court appointed Morristown attorney William J. Hughes as an independent monitor, to examine public health conditions at the Cumberland jail. The appointment is connected with the continuing lawsuit from inmates over management of COVID-19 protective measures.

Lompoc Record: Visitation suspended at the Main Jail after COVID-19 outbreak
Visitation at the Santa Barbara County Jail has been suspended after officials detected a COVID-19 outbreak among more than a dozen inmates, according to a spokeswoman Friday. The outbreak was identified May 25 after custody staff detected 12 inmates who tested positive for the coronavirus in the Main Jail's West Housing Module. Additionally, sheriff's personnel are coordinating with the Santa Barbara Court and Public Defender's Office to adjust appearances to minimize inmate movement and spread of the coronavirus.

OPB: Court denies Oregon’s request to scrap lawsuit over prison COVID cases
A federal appeals court has denied Oregon’s request to derail a class action lawsuit over the state’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic inside its prisons. The ruling keeps pressure on the state in a case that could ultimately lead to payments to those who caught COVID while in prison or damages paid to family members of the dozens who have died from the disease behind bars.

Health Conditions In Corrections

Health Affairs: Rachael Bedard Explains Health Care in Jails
Dr. Rachael Bedard joins A Health Podyssey to discuss the health needs of older people in jail. Bedard and coauthors published a paper in the May 2022 issue of Health Affairs assessing the health and health needs of incarcerated older adults in New York City. They found that older incarcerated had greater health vulnerabilities than their younger counterparts. They are also more likely to suffer from serious mental and physical illnesses.

NPR: The newest federal prison has become one of the deadliest
NPR's Investigative Unit teamed up with The Marshall Project to look at a penitentiary in Thomson, Ill., that is one of the country's most violent and dangerous federal prisons.

Georgia Virtue: Smith State Prison Fails Health Inspection
Smith State Prison in Glennville recently failed a Food Establishment Inspection by the Georgia Department of Public Health. The report listed “Observed heavy rodent activity in side storage room, discard soiled food products. Observed flies and roaches in kitchen (at storage areas).” The report noted that the violation was a ‘Repeat Violation’ as well.

Phoenix New Times : Investigating the Nightmarish Health Care Crisis Inside Maricopa County’s Jails
Missed doses of medication. Urgent health request slips left to collect dust in drawers. The health care crisis in Maricopa County's troubled jails is worsening. A report entitled "Correctional Health Services workplace environment assessment," shows that over a three-month period, from September through November, auditors documented nearly 40 occasions in which nursing staff failed to provide any medication to an entire jail. Health needs requests that, according to policy, must receive a response within 24 hours, were regularly left unattended for far longer periods — sometimes for weeks.

Rikers Island

New York Times: N.Y.C. Jail Officials Avert a Federal Takeover of Rikers Island
Even as she acknowledged that “people are dying” in New York City’s troubled jails, a federal judge refrained from stripping control of Rikers Island from local officials, instead ordering the city to revise its plan for addressing violence and disorder at the compound. Some advocates have argued that a federal court takeover is necessary to cut through barriers to reform in New York City’s jails, which include a union contract that provides correction officers with unlimited sick leave and a state law that bars the department from hiring outside correction unions for certain positions.

NBC: As Pandemic Eased, NYC Jail Officers Took More Than Double the Sick Days
An expansive set of payroll records shows New York City correction officers dramatically accelerated their use of unlimited sick leave in 2021 — even as COVID positivity rates leveled off and public health conditions improved. The data, supplied by the New York City Office of Payroll Administration, provides the most complete picture yet of a jail workforce plagued by a pattern of absenteeism, straining the city’s ability to safely house criminal defendants who are awaiting trial.

New York Times: As Pressure Builds Over Rikers Crisis, a Drumbeat of Death and Disorder
Even as the city was promising to restore order in the jails, more troubling signs were emerging that Rikers Island was still in the throes of an unmediated crisis, records and interviews show. In April, a man suffered a grievous head injury after he was beaten by another person in custody, raising concerns that the incident mirrored failures in two other beating cases that were hidden from public view. The Board of Correction issued another scathing report that found that staffing problems at Rikers Island had endangered people in custody. Among the cases it cited was the death of Herman Diaz, 52, who choked to death on a piece of orange on March 18 in an understaffed housing area.

gothamist: Inmate awaiting trial on murder, robbery charges dies in custody on Rikers Island
Twenty-year-old Emanuel Sullivan was discovered unresponsive on his bed Saturday and pronounced dead about 4:25 p.m., the Department of Correction announced in a statement. Sullivan was the sixth person to die in city custody this year and the 22nd since January a year ago.

Criminal Justice Reform

Time: Prison Reform Is Undermining Public Health and Safety
Eric Reinhart, an anthropologist of law and public health, psychoanalyst, and physician at Northwestern University writes: It’s long past time that we confront the absurdity of spending approximately $280 billion of taxpayer dollars on policing and punishment annually. On the rare occasions in which carceral abuse garners significant media attention, policymakers—both Republicans and Democrats—along with judges, prosecutors, and prison officials typically respond by expressing shock, as if they had never before heard of the barbaric reality of these systems. Next, these public officials issue empty calls for incremental reform until the problem again fades from public view.

CT Insider: After winning key CT prison fight, longtime advocate for inmates says ‘this is just the beginning’
Barbara Fair, a 73 year old, West Haven resident, crafted a deal with state Department of Correction Commissioner Angel Quiros and other stakeholders that lead to Gov. Ned Lamont signing a law this month that requires the DOC to limit solitary confinement and allow inmates at least four-and-a-half hours of out-of-cell time every day beginning July 1. The law also requires the agency to hire an ombudsman to investigate complaints and creates an independent oversight board. The governor had vetoed a previous version of the law last year.

WHYY: Ending ‘vicious cycle’ of debtors’ prison in Delaware: Bill would halt some court fees for defendants
When someone is convicted of a crime in Delaware, fines are often part of the sentence. Yet beyond the penalties levied for breaking the law or harming someone, several fees, costs, and assessments are often levied against the defendant, too. For example, an indigent defendant gets charged a flat fee of $100 for having a public defender. Someone put on probation must pay $200 to be supervised.

Mad In America: Undoing the Healthcare-to-Prison Pipeline with Abolitionist Practice
New work published in the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics by Rafik Wabli and Leo Beletsky argues that the legal framework that sustains involuntary treatment and civil commitment cannot and must not be held out as a viable alternative to the criminal legal responses to behavioral and mental health chal­lenges.

Opioid Epidemic

WBUR: Mass. is poised to spend millions on forced addiction treatment, reigniting debate over system
As legislators seem poised to add millions of dollars in funding for involuntary commitment programs under the law called Section 35, there are concerns among legislators, public health advocates and families on the state of forced treatment here. State law allows a person to be involuntarily committed under Section 35 for up to 90 days. Some studies have found people may be at an increased risk of overdose after being civilly committed.

CBS: San Diego Sheriff's Department launches changes in medically screening jail inmates
Beginning Wednesday, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department adopted new changes as to how it medically screen inmates in its jail system. This comes months after a state audit found the Sheriff's Department did not do enough to prevent in-custody inmate deaths. One of the biggest changes to the county jail system is the Medication Assisted Treatment program (MAT), screening anyone coming in to a county jail for substance use: and if necessary, treating them for drug withdrawal under close medical supervision.

Shadow Proof: Despite Worsening Opioid Crisis, Many Jails and Prisons Remain Opposed to Treatment Medications
A lawsuit alleges That New York’s Jefferson County Jail has imposed a blanket ban on medication for opioid use disorder and that its policy of denying non-pregnant detainees access to their medication violated protections against cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the American with Disabilities Act, as well as New York State Human Rights law.


Washington Post: After living as a woman for 20 years, she was jailed with men
When Kesha Williams went to Fairfax County’s jail, she had been living as a woman for two decades. But when she asked about getting the hormone treatments she had been taking for 15 years, jail officials learned she was transgender and had not had genital surgery. From then on, she said in a federal lawsuit, she was housed with men. Her lawsuit is part of a national legal push both for trans rights to be considered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and for trans women in prison to be housed with other women. However, when the ADA became law in 1990, “gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments" were explicitly excluded from protection from discrimination.

Chicago Sun Times: Federal prison inmate to get gender-affirming surgery: ACLU
A federal inmate has won a legal fight to secure gender-affirming surgery from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, according to the woman’s lawyers. Cristina Nichole Iglesias, who has been in prison for almost two decades for threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction, is set to become the first inmate in federal custody to receive the surgery, according to her attorneys.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

Cal Matters: How California shuffles its mentally ill inmates
In four years, one mentally ill prison inmate was transferred 39 times.

LAist: Inmate Shuffle: How California Bounces Around Its Mentally Ill Prisoners
Mental health care in California’s prisons is provided along a spectrum, designed to transfer inmates as their level of need changes. But the system doesn’t always work. Advocates, inmates and family members contend that a steady stream of transfers reflects a system that too often fails to adequately care for people in mental health crises. These inmates might bounce between prisons and short-term crisis beds without ever stabilizing enough to get better.

KQED: Next Santa Clara County Sheriff Will Face Jail's Broken Mental Health Care System
Like many other sheriff’s departments in California, Santa Clara County’s has come under fire for its lack of mental health resources, and its treatment of people who are mentally ill and incarcerated in county jails. Over the past six years, the county has settled at least three multimillion-dollar cases over incidents that left mentally ill incarcerated people permanently disabled, or dead.

Data & Statistics

Prison Policy Initiative: Updated charts provide insights on racial disparities, correctional control, jail suicides, and more
From arrest to sentencing, racial and ethnic disparities are a defining characteristic of our country’s criminal legal system. The system of mass incarceration particularly targets Black people, who are 13 percent of the U.S. population but are 38 percent of the people in jails and prisons. These updated charts show how people of color, particularly Black and Native American people, are disproportionately incarcerated in the United States.

BJS: HIV in Prisons, 2020 – Statistical Tables
This report provides data on persons in the custody of state and federal correctional authorities who were known to be living with HIV in 2020. The report presents national- and jurisdiction-level estimates of the number and rate of prisoners living with HIV while in the custody of state and federal correctional authorities. The report also provides the number and demographic characteristics of state and federal prisoners who died of AIDS-related illnesses. Data on HIV testing practices by jurisdiction are also included.

BJS: Federal Justice Statistics, 2020
This is the 34th in an annual series based on data from BJS’s Federal Justice Statistics Program, which began in 1979. It provides national statistics on the federal response to crime for fiscal year 2020 and some statistics on changes over time. The report describes case processing in the federal criminal justice system, including investigations by U.S. attorneys, prosecutions and declinations, convictions and acquittals, sentencing, probation and supervised release, and imprisonment.


Government Technology: Can Medical Monitoring Wristbands Curb Jail Deaths?
In an effort to reduce deaths at the Cobb County jail, Sheriff Craig Owens on Tuesday rolled out a new system of medical monitoring wristbands that track inmates' location and heart rate. The wristbands were developed by Alabama-based Black Creek Integrated Systems. Owens is implementing them on a limited scale at first, starting with at-risk inmates, such as those in the jail's infirmary.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

AZ Central: Arizona prison health care contract awarded to company that allegedly overcharged feds
The Arizona Department of Corrections announced Friday it awarded a prison health care contract to NaphCare, an Alabama based health care provider that settled with the United States Department of Justice over allegations of overcharging clients in 2021. In that 2021 settlement, NaphCare agreed to pay nearly $700,000 after allegations the company had violated the False Claims Act by overcharging Federal Bureau of Prisons facilities.

AZ Central: Health care company expects to earn nearly $10 million in annual profits from AZ prisons contract
NaphCare chosen to provide health care services to people in state prisons expects to earn nearly $10 million in annual profits, according to procurement documents published by the state. The contract represents a 74% increase in the amount of money the state pays to provide health care for each prisoner every day.

Bloomberg Law: Medical Provider, Social Worker Face Trial Over Inmate’s Suicide
The parents of a Jefferson Parish, La., inmate who committed suicide while in custody can go to trial against a health-care provider based on a social worker’s alleged deliberate indifference to the inmate’s need for mental health care, a federal court said. CorrectHealth, a private company that provides health-care services at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Facility, is potentially liable under a federal civil rights law for failing to adequately supervise social worker David Jennings, whose treatment of Jatory Evans allegedly failed to prevent to his suicide, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana said.

St Louis Post-Dispatch: Federal jury in St. Louis awards $8.5 million in jail health care case
Advanced Correctional Healthcare is the largest privately owned provider of health care services to county jails in the country. It has contracts with more than 320 jails in 18 states, mostly in the Midwest, including several in Missouri and Illinois. On its website, it used to brag that it had never had a lawsuit “result in a judgment” against the company or its doctors. That’s no longer true. On May 24 a federal jury in St. Louis awarded the sister of Bilal Hill $8.5 million in damages relating to Hill’s death.