Weekly Update: January 23, 2024
Medicaid As A Solution To The Patchwork Of Behavioral Health Care In Criminal Justice

COCHS WEEKLY UPDATE: January 23, 2024


Highlighted Stories

Editor's Note
This week’s focus is on the challenges of creating alternative structures of care that both protect public safety and recognize that correctional institutions are not appropriate settings for individuals with serious mental illness and/or substance use disorder whose criminal activity are manifestations of their underlying behavioral health disorders. The article from Governing discusses the challenges of specialty courts as an alternative treatment setting for individuals with such disorders. There is little evidence that these courts' improve participants' health.

The NC Health News article points out that when the focus is shifted to correctional institutions as a locus of treatment, especially for substance use treatment, the need vastly outstrips the resources. The study from Pew looks at the other end of the criminal justice system: probation and parole. Here the issue is the lack of training probation and parole officers have to effectively monitor the high number of individuals with mental illness who come under their supervision.

What these three articles point out is that efforts to develop treatment for justice involved individuals with behavioral health disorders, which are separate and distinct from Medicaid, face substantial obstacles. Creating a distinct system of care for justice involved individuals whether inside or outside correctional institutions fails to meet the challenge of building continuity of care. Individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorder don’t confine the course of their disease to a patchwork of services. COCHS has been championing the use of Medicaid in our correctional system since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Only Medicaid, offered in and out of correctional institutions, has the possibility to develop a true system of care that both protects public safety and respects individuals in the process of their own recovery.

The proof of Medicaid's efficacy will be if stories like the last highlighted article (a Wellpath story from Law & Crime) do not appear so frequently in the Weekly Update. Apparently, Wellpath providers did not administer HIV medication to an inmate in El Dorado County's jail in northeastern California. That person died. As we all know, California last year received an 1115 waiver to expand Medicaid coverage within corrections. This recent death in El Dorado County raises the question that these editor's notes often pose: will proprietary health care vendors such as Wellpath be able to meet the standards necessary to be a Medicaid provider, if even the basic administration of life-saving medication is alleged to be beyond their capability? Time will only tell...

Governing: Mental Health Courts Struggle to Keep Up With Their Promise
Advocates, attorneys, clinicians, and researchers said mental health courts struggle to live up to their promise. The diversion programs, they said, are often expensive and resource-intensive, and serve fewer than 1 percent of the more than 2 million people who have a serious mental illness and are booked into U.S. jails each year. Participants must often meet strict requirements that critics say aren’t treatment-focused, such as regular hearings and drug screenings. And there is a lack of conclusive evidence on whether the courts help participants long-term. Researchers from the center found little evidence that the courts improve participants’ mental health.

NC Health News: Too much need, too few resources to meet all of the demand for substance use treatment in NC prisons
Nearly eight out of 10 people entering the North Carolina state prison system in fiscal year 2021-22 had a substance use disorder in need of treatment, according to a report from the Department of Adult Correction. The prison system only has the treatment capacity to meet a fraction of the growing need. Year after year, the gap between supply and demand keeps growing.

Pew: Adults With Mental Illness Are Overrepresented in Probation Population
Adults on probation—supervision imposed by the court generally in lieu of incarceration—are more than twice as likely to have a serious or moderate mental illness as those in the general public, according to analysis of federal data from 2015 to 2019. This translates into over 830,000 adults with a mental illness who are on probation at any given time each year. The American Probation and Parole Association indicated that although agencies were aware that 20% to 25% of people under their supervision had mental health issues, most agencies did not have specialized mental health approaches and provided their officers with limited training related to mental health.

Law & Crime: ‘A shocking failure’: Inmate died after jail medical staff denied him HIV medication for months, lawsuit alleges
An inmate, Nicholas Overfield, whose HIV-positive diagnosis devolved into AIDS died because the medical staff at the California jail where he was housed denied him lifesaving medication even though they had his prescription and were told he needed it to survive, a new federal wrongful death lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, names El Dorado County and Wellpath Community Care the jail’s health care contractor. “Nick’s case is a harrowing example of Wellpath’s failure to provide basic human rights and medical care to detainees,” said Patrick Buelna, civil rights attorney with Oakland-based Pointer & Buelna.




Medicaid

Health Affairs: Medications For Opioid Use Disorder Increased Among Louisiana Medicaid Enrollees During Policy Reforms, 2018–21
Increasing access to medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is a key strategy in addressing the opioid crisis. To increase MOUD access, state governments have pursued a combination of increased funding for MOUD and requirements that providers offer treatment. Louisiana has pursued multiple strategies, including a requirement that residential treatment programs offer MOUD as part of their licensure.

CT Insider: Incarcerated people in CT could get health insurance under new proposal
Incarcerated people in Connecticut could gain access to health insurance before leaving prison, under a change proposed this week by the state's Department of Social Services. Under the proposal, thousands of incarcerated people would be eligible for Medicaid coverage up to 90 days before their release, easing their transition back into general society. The policy would apply to all youth exiting the correctional system, as well as adults with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues or certain other health conditions.

Times Union: NY halts plan to enroll inmates in Medicaid care
Despite a months-long process that New York has undertaken to enroll inmates in health care coverage — a move that proponents say could drastically improve their health and enhance public safety — the state’s momentum in securing federal approval has lapsed. Gov. Kathy Hochul omitted any mention of the initative from her State of the State address in which she highlighted a recent Medicaid expansion. “It’s frustrating because New York could have been — should have been — the first,” said Tracie M. Gardner, a senior vice president with the Legal Action Center. “For it to not even have one of these waivers in the hopper, it really defies explanation.”

Epstein Becker Green: An Overview of the CMS Approved New York 1115 Medicaid Waiver
On January 9, 2024, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to New York’s Medicaid director approving New York’s Section 1115 Waiver amendment, which the state submitted for approval on September 2, 2022. (As noted above New York State has at this time decided not to include Medicaid enrollment of inmates.)

State of Reform: Improving health coverage for Minnesota’s incarcerated population
Prison and jail leaders met last month at the 2023 Minnesota State of Reform Health Policy Conference to discuss the state’s opportunity to provide services addressing health-related social needs (HRSNs) for individuals transitioning out of carceral settings. In Minnesota, incarceration rates are 342 for every 100,000 people. If approved, pre-release services for individuals in state prisons, county jails, and youth correctional facilities would become available 90 days prior to release under the 1115 expenditure authority.

Medical Express: Legal barriers to Medicaid remain upon release for many justice-involved individuals
New data released today by the Center for Public Health Law Research (CPHLR) at Temple University Beasley School of Law point to continued legal barriers for justice-involved seeking continuity of care through Medicaid coverage upon their release from incarceration, a population much more likely to face risk of overdose or death from opioid use disorder.




BOP

Forbes: Federal Bureau Of Prisons Faces Many Challenges In 2024
With 2023 drawing to a close, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) completed its first full year under the leadership of Director Colette Peters. The BOP has huge responsibilities in the care and feeding of over 150,000 prisoners in its care and over 36,000 staff. It has an $8.7 billion annual budget. The most success the BOP has had in any single program in its history was the implementation of the CARES Act, which sent nearly 50,000 prisoners, many minimum security with health issues, to home confinement during the pandemic. The First Step Act was more fully implemented under Peters during 2023.

Forbes: The Bureau Of Prisons’ Halfway House Problem
Halfway houses have become more important to the BOP. President Donald Trump’s First Step Act, signed into law in December 2018, allowed federal prisoners, mostly minimum security level, to earn credits to both reduce their sentence by up to a year, but also earn credits toward home confinement. But the BOP does not have room in halfway houses to monitor those who have rightfully earned First Step Act credits. The result, thousands of prisoners languish in expensive institutions rather than being placed in community halfway houses.

Mercury News: Special master sought to oversee scandal-plagued federal women’s prison in Dublin
Women housed at a troubled Bay Area federal prison say multiple leadership changes at FCI Dublin have done little to end rampant bullying, intimidation and retaliation by its staff — even as the inmates continue to face ongoing sexual abuse from the facility’s corrections officers. Advocates highlighted the complaints, made during testimony, in a bid for the appointment of a special master at the prison — one who would be tasked with overseeing long-sought reforms at the facility. Attorneys for the inmates say nothing other than a court-ordered, independent monitor can help stem the tide of abuse, reprisals and woefully inadequate mental health care that inmates contend with on a daily basis.




Juveniles

Prison Policy Initiative: How the criminal legal and child welfare systems cooperate to punish families
Mere contact with the child welfare system can have damaging effects on families that last for decades, much like collateral consequences from brushes with the criminal legal system. Just as Black and Brown people are overrepresented in jails and prisons, their families are overrepresented at every stage of a child protective services case. Black and Indigenous parents, in particular, are over-reported and over-investigated and are more likely to have their children removed and their parental rights terminated.

Los Angeles Daily News: LA County installs razor wire, body scanners at juvenile hall to keep kids in and drugs out
The Los Angeles County Probation Department has installed razor wire along the walls of Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall and plans to set up full airport-style body scanners within the next month to prevent escape attempts and halt an influx of drugs. Following the last escape in November, Probation Chief Guillermo Viera Rosa made the call to install razor wire along the interior walls of Los Padrinos. Many of the new security improvements are designed to stop drugs and other contraband from entering the facilities.




Opioid Epidemic

New Yorker: A Drug-Decriminalization Fight Erupts in Oregon
In November, 2020, Oregon launched a historic experiment: the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative, known as Measure 110. It also funneled hundreds of millions of cannabis-tax dollars toward addiction treatment, housing, peer support, and harm reduction. Measure 110 was inspired by a sense of desperation: the drug war had failed, and policing wasn’t curing people. But many Oregonians see Measure 110 as responsible for an increase in public disorder, drug use, and overdose deaths—which leaped from seven hundred and thirty-seven in 2021 to nine hundred and fifty-five in 2022. The backlash reflected broader anxieties about Measure 110. In many places, the law had funded fledgling groups and encouraged existing providers to do work that they’d never done before.

Corrections 1: Debunking the overdose risks of fentanyl contact for correctional officers
Much discussion has been had lately regarding the dangers of fentanyl. Correctional officers have expressed fear of searching inmate housing units due to possible fentanyl contained in the cells. Although care should be taken whenever housing unit searches are performed, there is no legitimate reason for increased anxiety related to fentanyl during searches.

VT Digger: Vermont House votes to establish overdose prevention centers
Calling it a “necessary part of the solution” to the opioid crisis, the Vermont House passed legislation that would establish two overdose prevention centers in the state. Gov. Phil Scott has suggested he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.




Hepatitis C

Healio: Scaling up HCV testing, treatment in prisons highly cost-effective
Scaling up hepatitis C testing and treatment in prisons effectively reduced HCV incidence and was a cost-effective option compared with existing services. Overall, outcomes demonstrated that rapid HCV treatment scale-up in prisons reduced HCV transmission.




Gender Dysphoria

US Department of Justice: Justice Department Files Statement of Interest in Lawsuit Concerning Treatment for Gender Dysphoria in Correctional Settings
The Justice Department today filed a statement of interest in a lawsuit brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia challenging the denial of treatment sought for gender dysphoria in a correctional setting. The statement explains that gender dysphoria falls within the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)’s definition of “disability” and affirms that correctional institutions cannot deny medically appropriate care for people with gender dysphoria, no matter their particular circumstances, consistent with the Eighth Amendment.




State Roundup

Alabama
Alabama Daily News: Hearing on inmate’s missing organ leaves family with no answers
Plaintiffs in Audrey Dotson v. Alabama Department of Corrections had one goal during a hearing in Birmingham: to locate the heart of Brandon Dotson, a former inmate whose body was returned to his family without his heart. After more than three hours of witness testimony from ADOC officials and others, the Dotson family came no closer to achieving that goal.

Alaska
Alaska Public Radio: 3 Alaska prison inmates die in 2024’s opening weeks
Three Southcentral Alaska inmates have died in state custody during the first half of January, just weeks into the year following 2023’s statewide total of 10 inmate deaths. Staff with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, which has been tracking Alaska prison deaths since a spike of 18 recorded in 2022, called for “legislative oversight” of the department in the wake of this month’s toll.

California
CDCR: California Model at Central California Women’s Facility
Central California Women’s Facility embraces the California Model, showcasing a commitment to rehabilitation, positive experiences, and transformative change throughout the prison. The collaborative efforts of staff and incarcerated people at the Chowchilla prison reflect a profound dedication to public safety and successful reentry, capturing the essence of the California Model.

Sacramento Bee: 10 days of hell in Sacramento jail: Lawsuit says inmate died after pleas for help ignored
Norman Fisher Jr. had been in the Sacramento County Main Jail for three months when he became ill last May, vomiting nonstop and unable to eat or drink. Over the course of 10 days, as Fisher’s condition deteriorated to the point that he could not stand up long enough to use the toilet. Fisher ultimately was sent to Sutter Medical Center, where he was placed on life support and died May 27 from septic shock, pneumonia and acute kidney failure, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit. Norman could easily have been saved had he gotten the most basic of attention; antibiotics would have cured the sepsis, a blood infection.

Colorado
InfoSpritz: Colorado proposes bill to provide $3K to ex-prisoners to aid reintegration and reduce state costs
Colorado State Senator James Coleman, along with other Democrats, has proposed Senate Bill 24-012, which will create a prison reintegration pilot program to provide up to $3,000 for basic life expenses to certain individuals leaving incarceration. Coleman believes this will help people leave prison and successfully transition back into society, and also save the state money by reducing the recidivism rate.

Hawai'i
Corrections 1: Hawaii’s new corrections department aims to give inmates a fresh start
The newly re-designated state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says that with 95 % of incarcerated people who come into the state’s prison system eventually being released, moving away from punitive justice has become a “vital " part of its mission. Formerly the state Department of Public Safety, the department was reestablished Monday as the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation under a bill signed into law in 2022 by Gov. David Ige.

Mississippi
Mississippi Today: Lawmakers plan challenge to jail as ‘default place’ for people awaiting psychiatric treatment
For years, Mississippians have been jailed without criminal charges while they await mental health treatment. This session, lawmakers will propose bills aiming to significantly curtail that practice, legislators said in interviews last week. And in the House, the measures will be sponsored by the chair and vice chair of the Public Health and Human Services Committee, to which at least some of the proposals may be referred.

BET: Atty. Ben Crump Demands Probe Into Finding of 215 Bodies Buried Behind Mississippi Jail
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump is calling for a federal investigation after the discovery of 215 bodies that were buried in a cemetery behind a Mississippi jail. Crump along with Reverend Hosea Hines, senior pastor of the Christ Tabernacle Church and the national leader of A New Day Coalition for Equity and Black America, want to know why officials failed to investigate the deaths of the victims and why the authorities never contacted the families.

New York
Corrections 1: N.Y. plans to close 5 state correctional facilities
The notion of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to close five state correctional facilities as part of the 2024-25 state budget is troubling to supporters of the prisons. The correction officers union, the New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association (NYSCOPBA) objects strongly to the governor’s plans. NYSCOPBA President Chris Summers said that as violence increases and staffing levels plummet, mandatory overtime for correction officers and sergeants has spiked to record highs.

New York Times: Guards Beat and Waterboarded Prisoners in New York, Lawsuits Say
Two prisoners in upstate New York say they were brutally beaten by guards and taken to a different facility to be waterboarded — a method of torture once used by C.I.A. interrogators on terrorism suspects, according to newly filed lawsuits. The lawsuits, filed recently in the State Court of Claims, come almost a year after 26 inmates at Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, N.Y., also sued, claiming officers there had orchestrated beatings during a facility-wide search in November 2022.

Oregon
Willamette Week: National Institute of Corrections Recommends Sweeping Changes at Multnomah County Jails
A report submitted to Multnomah County by a National Institute of Corrections contractor calls for the sheriff to hire an independent health administrator, wrenching some control of the jails’ broken health care system away from the beleaguered Multnomah County Health Department. Currently, jail security and jail health are siloed under two different elected officials: corrections deputies who work for Multnomah County Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell, and health care employees who work for the Corrections Health Division of the county’s Department of Health. Ten people have died in county custody in the past two years, and both the sheriff’s office and the Corrections Health Division are struggling with ongoing short-staffing.

Vermont
WCAX: Sen. Peter Welch discusses public safety legislation, First Step Act
Vermont Sen. Peter Welch is calling for further reform to the criminal justice system and more funding for mental health services. Welch attended a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the First Step Act, which he helped pass six years ago when he was in the House of Representatives. The act required the BOP to develop a tool to assess recidivism risks, as well as create a program to reduce those risks. It also reduced the mandatory minimum for some drug trafficking charges. Now, the senator is focusing on how to address mental health and addiction in the prison system.

Virginia
NPR: 2 Virginia prison supervisors named in death of a disabled inmate in amended suit
Attorneys representing the sister of Charles Givens — a disabled inmate at Virginia's Marion Correctional Treatment Center who died after allegedly being beaten by correctional staff — have filed a new federal complaint now naming two prison supervisors. The lawsuit lists a host of other gruesome allegations of conditions for inmates at Marion and the alleged inaction by prison supervisors when presented with evidence of abuse. The complaint alleges that supervisors "disregarded obvious physical evidence of repeated beatings and torture" carried out by the officer.




Rikers Island

AP: NYC mayor vetoes bills banning solitary confinement in jails and expanding reporting of police stops
New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, vetoed bills aimed at banning solitary confinement in city jails and requiring more transparency in police encounters with civilians, setting up a faceoff with the City Council, which says it has enough votes to override him. Democratic Mayor Eric Adams said the solitary confinement restrictions would make jails more dangerous and that the expanded reporting requirements for police would only bog down officers in paperwork, putting public safety at risk.

Vera: In First Week of New Year, Another Death on Rikers Island
A man collapsed after playing basketball on New York City’s Rikers Island during the morning of January 4. After going into cardiac arrest, he was given an anti-overdose drug and CPR but could not be revived. He is the first person to die during their incarceration in, or immediately following their release from, New York City’s dangerous jails this year, and the 29th since Eric Adams assumed office on January 1, 2022.

Spectrum News: Rikers inmate dies, marking second city jails-related death in 2024
A Rikers Island inmate died Friday evening, the Department of Correction said, marking the second city jails-related death of the year. Manuel Luna is the second Rikers inmate to die in the first 19 days of the new year. Nine inmates died in city jails last year. There were 19 city jails-related deaths in 2022, which includes inmates who were released from custody right before their deaths.

Gothamist: Without laundry service, Rikers detainees wash clothes in toilets and showers, lawyers say
Detainees at the Rikers Island jails have not had regular laundry service for at least a year, leaving them to wash their clothes in toilet bowls and on their bodies in the shower and to dry wet sheets on beds and in cells, according to three attorneys who represent detainees. Advocates for detainees say laundry service is inconsistent at Rikers, if it's provided at all.




Mental Health Initiatives In Criminal Justice

Detroit News: How Macomb Co.'s jail revamp will provide more services to those with mental health issues
Macomb County is making progress on a $228 million jail revamp project that will change how the county handles inmates with mental health and drug issues, and is planning to knock down several buildings in the jail complex this summer. Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel told reporters during an overview of the project that the county is taking a “mindful approach” to mental health and substance abuse. At the intake center, incoming inmates will be assessed for various mental and substance abuse issues. The building will also be home to beds for inmates who are detoxing or receiving medical or mental health treatment and for the general jail population.




Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

AZ Central: 5 Arizona prison inmates died by suicide in the past month. Here's what we know
There were five prison inmate suicides in Arizona in a recent 23-day period.The deaths occurred between Dec. 16 and Jan. 8, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. Even as the Department points to policies and procedures it has in place to provide inmates with mental health care and treatment, advocates maintain this spate of suicides reflects a broken system.

ABC: The national issue of criminalizing our mentally ill
The mental health care system in the United States is dysfunctional, according to law enforcement and mental health care advocates. One result of that is people suffering from mental illnesses are often being incarcerated and deteriorating behind bars, says Sheriff Tony Thompson of Iowa's Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office. Thompson, a 30-year law enforcement veteran who authored the book "Anyplace but Here: The Uncomfortable Convergence Between Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System," said approximately 60% of inmates in the Black Hawk County jail have a history of mental health disorders.

21AliveNews: Mental health advocate “not surprised” after another inmate dies in Allen County jail
Lisa Ganaway is heartbroken after hearing another inmate in the Allen County jail died by suicide. Ganaway is a board member for the Fort Wayne chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She says the jail isn’t properly equipped to handle inmates with mental health issues. “That’s the problem,” Ganaway said. “Once they get in the system, then they aren’t taken care of and they’re just going to come out worse or die in jail.”

KOCO: Oklahoma inmate waits 1,026 days to be transported to state facility for mental health treatment
An Oklahoma inmate had to wait 1,026 days to be transported to a state facility for mental health treatment. The Oklahoma County Detention Center CEO and chief public defender spoke out and demanded change. "This is not the environment for someone who has severe mental health needs. It's not a therapeutic environment," said Brandi Garner, the Oklahoma County Detention Center CEO. Inmates suffering from mental illness are waiting months, even years, for treatment at the Oklahoma Forensic Center, a state facility with top-tier treatment for those deemed incompetent.




Technology

Vera: Video Visits for Families of People in Jail and Prison Should Be Free
Like many policies and practices in jails and prisons across the United States, video call offerings vary widely from facility to facility. In the best cases, the calls are free and offered as a supplement to in-person visits. But family and friends of people incarcerated in Jefferson Paris Correctional Center in Louisiana are forced to pay up to $12.99 per 20-minute video visit—with no other way to see their loved ones. The technology is also far from perfect. People experiencing poverty are likely to struggle to afford high-speed internet and smartphones or computers with the bandwidth for video conferencing.

Boston Herald: Technology can transform post-prison futures
Online educational platforms are transforming traditional education by removing the barriers of cost, location, and distance. Students can take massive open online courses (MOOCs) and interactive online classes from schools such as Harvard University and MIT in a large variety of subjects. Making these online courses available to those behind bars could completely transform existing workforce development and reentry strategies. With the widespread availability of remote work today, it’s time to train inmates for jobs they can start while still behind bars.




Prison Labor

Worth Rises: How Governments Exploit Prison Labor to Subsidize Their Budgets
There is a common misconception that private corporations are the primary beneficiaries of forced prison labor due to viral exposés of corporate exploitation by brands like Burger King. However, while private corporations may be the most vile beneficiaries of prison labor given their for-profit interests, federal, state, and local governments are the primary beneficiaries.

Truthout: McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s Rely on Alabama Prison “Slavery”
Incarcerated Alabamans and labor organizations have filed a federal class action lawsuit to dismantle the forced prison labor system in the state, which rakes in $450 million annually from leasing incarcerated people to companies like McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Wendy’s. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, seeks compensation for incarcerated people who have been exploited by the state’s forced prison labor system. One of the 10 plaintiffs, Alimireo English, was denied parole last month. He told The New York Times that he is on call 24-7 and that his labor is unpaid. “They deny us parole to keep us doing the jobs."




Staffing Shortages

Marshall Project: New Data Shows How Dire the Prison Staffing Shortage Really Is
Prisons across the country have long struggled to recruit and retain staff, but the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the situation is particularly dire. In 2022, the number of people working for state prisons hit its lowest mark in over two decades. Meanwhile, state prison populations are rising. The number of people behind bars declined starting in 2013 and then drastically dropped during the pandemic, when states released people to ease COVID-19 conditions, and court systems slowed. But by 2022, the number of people held in state prisons started to bounce back to over 1 million people.




CoreCivic

New Jersey Monitor: New Jersey argues courts can’t stop it from shutting down private immigration jail
Courts cannot exempt private contractors from a New Jersey law barring immigration detention centers because that’s a role given exclusively to Congress, state officials argue in their appeal of a judge’s decision that allowed an Elizabeth immigration jail to remain open. The appeal stems from an August decision by a federal judge that allowed CoreCivic to keep its immigration jail in Elizabeth open despite a new state law that bars such prisons. The law, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2021, prohibits public and private entities from entering into contracts to house immigration detainees. CoreCivic has argued it is unconstitutional, and sued the state.

northjersey.com: NJ says judge erred in allowing ICE detention center in Elizabeth to stay open
New Jersey has appealed a federal court ruling allowing the state's last immigrant detention center to stay open, arguing that the facility in Elizabeth should not be immune from a law that would shut it down. The 66-page brief, filed Thursday in the 3rd District U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia by the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, seeks to reverse the decision in August by federal District Judge Robert Kirsch.

Citrus County Chronicle: CoreCivic not delivering for county
The Board of County Commissioners in Crystal River, FL, will reconsider the fines that they are leveling against CoreCivic for non-compliance with their contract with the county. These reduced fines have been going on for a long time and are so small that their financial impact on CoreCivic is negligible. It is cheaper for CoreCivic to pay the fines than to hire, train, and supervise new jail employees. Proper staffing levels keep inmates and the public safe. They also allow the jail to perform other activities stipulated in the contract.

Clairborne Progress: Audit report says DOC is overworked
In an audit from the Tennessee Comptrollers’ Office it was revealed that many of the CoreCivic facilities saw triple-digit turnover for fiscal year 2023, except for Whiteville, which saw a 61% decrease from the year before. The audit also found that CoreCivic housed potential sexual aggressors with potential victims of sexual abuse, in violation of Federal Prison Rape Elimination Act standard.




Correctional Health Care Vendors

Advanced Correctional Healthcare
Mansfield New Journal: Federal lawsuit filed against Richland County Jail medical staff over Bucyrus man's death
When Zachary Marshall first came into the Richland County Jail shortly after midnight Dec. 5, 2021, he complained he felt sick and showed signs of infection that only worsened over time. But a recently filed federal lawsuit alleges his condition was met with "deliberate indifference" by several medical staff members of the Richland County Jail. He was transported to a hospital and died Dec. 22, 2021, in the intensive care unit. A federal lawsuit has been filed naming Advanced Correctional Healthcare among others. This is the second federal lawsuit filed in 2023 against Advanced Correctional Healthcare Inc. at Richland County Jail.

Corizon/YesCare/Tehum Care Services
Reuters: Malpractice plaintiffs seek to end prison health co. bankruptcy
Lawyers for prisoners suing Corizon Health over allegedly substandard medical care in U.S. prisons have asked a bankruptcy judge to toss the Chapter 11 case of a Corizon subsidiary, saying the prison healthcare provider's bankruptcy was a fraud from the start. The Corizon subsidiary, Tehum Care, was created solely to get rid of medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits for "pennies on the dollar" through the Chapter 11 process, while allowing Corizon to rebrand itself as YesCare.

Times Herald: St. Clair County points finger at CHS TX in lawsuit over jail injury
Attorneys for St. Clair County have issued a response to a lawsuit that alleges it neglected a woman's medical needs when she reportedly fell from a bunk bed and broke her neck in the jail. The response asks the court to dismiss Lisa Brown's case against the jail and deputies, saying they do not bear responsibility for Brown's injuries, and to order CHS TX Inc.(formerly known as Corizon Health), the company that is contracted to handle the medical care at the jail, to cover any legal costs in the case, arguing the company is in breach of contract by not doing so.

PrimeCare Medical
Spectrum: Medical provider overcharged Broome County Jail by $250,000
An audit revealed that PrimeCare Medical had been overcharging the jail, and taxpayers to the tune of $250,000. According to Sheriff Fred Akshar, they were not providing the staffing the jail had been paying for, but still charging the jail the full contracted price. PrimeCare Medical must now pay back the $250,000 and provide full staffing levels for the remainder of its contract. But this issue isn’t exclusive to Broome County, as staffing levels in jails across the state have been a challenge.

Bucks County Courier Times: Bucks County Jail contractor tried to keep payout in inmate death secret.
The family of a Delaware County woman who died in the Bucks County Jail received $1 million from the county’s private correctional health care provider, newly unsealed court records show. The payout is the highest paid by PrimeCare Health to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. While the county released its settlement agreement in the case last year in response to a Right to Know request, PrimeCare had the court seal its agreement and as a private company it is not subject to the government transparency law.

Corrections 1: Judge rules lawsuit can proceed against jail’s medical provider, Pa. county over inmate’s paralysis
A federal judge’s ruling last week set the stage for more litigation on whether Centre County and the medical care provider at its jail bear liability for the treatment that left a man paralyzed from the upper torso down. Ten PrimeCare employees and two county jail corrections officers were also named as defendants.

Wellpath
bnn: Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Wellpath Over Diabetic Inmate’s Death
Andrew Bryce Irish who suffered from Type 1 diabetes, had been under the care of the jail’s health staff when he was found unresponsive in his cell. A wrongful death lawsuit alleges an alarming oversight: despite being aware of Irish’s condition, the healthcare team failed to check his blood sugar until four days after his admission. During this critical period, Irish experienced perilously high glucose levels, an issue compounded by the fact that these were not communicated to his physician.