Weekly Update: June 28, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: June 28, 2022

Highlighted Stories

CBS: Whitmer says "with the current legislature I have, there is no common ground" on abortion
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned Sunday that the current political makeup of state legislature makes it difficult to find common ground on reasonable restrictions on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court's seismic decision rolling back the constitutional right to an abortion. "With the current legislature that I have, there is no common ground, which is the sad thing. They've already introduced legislation to criminalize and throw nurses and doctors in jail. They've all endorsed the 1931 law. All of the Republican people running for governor, they want abortion to be a felony, no exceptions for rape or incest. That's the kind of legislature that I'm working with."

Office Of Congressman Tom Emmer: Emmer Speaks in Support of Mental Health Reforms
Congressman Tom Emmer (MN06) spoke on the House Floor in support of H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act. This bill contains key provisions from two Emmer-led initiatives. These include a part of the Due Process Continuity of Care Act allowing juvenile detainees to continue receiving existing Medicaid-funded mental health care while awaiting trial. Additionally, the bill includes a version of the Behavioral Health Coordination and Communication Act, which creates an office within the Department of Health and Human Services to streamline behavioral health crisis intervention.

Medicaid.gov: Biden Administration Announces First-Ever Funding Opportunity For Coordinated Approaches To Address Unsheltered Homelessness, Including Resources For Rural Communities
The Biden Administration through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today released a first-of-its-kind package of resources to address unsheltered homelessness and homeless encampments, including funds set aside specifically to address homelessness in rural communities. The $365 million package includes grant funds along with additional vouchers that will enhance communities’ capacity to humanely and effectively address unsheltered homelessness by connecting vulnerable individuals and families to housing, health care, and supportive services.

KHN: Sobering Lessons in Untying the Knot of a Homeless Crisis
Portland’s homeless problem now extends well beyond the downtown core, creating a crisis of conscience for this fiercely liberal city that for years has been among America’s most generous in investing in homeless support services. Tents and tarps increasingly crowd the sidewalks and parks of Portland’s leafy suburban neighborhoods. Portland offers a textbook example of the intensifying investment. In 2017, the year Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, took office, Portland spent roughly $27 million on homeless services. But as debate roils about how best to spend the growing revenue, Portland also offers a sobering lesson in the hard knot of solving homelessness, once it hits a crisis level.


Health Affairs: Medicaid Managed Care: Access To Primary Care Providers Who Prescribe Buprenorphine
Medicaid managed care insurers play a crucial role in facilitating access to buprenorphine to treat opioid use disorder. Using a novel set of provider directory and prescription claims data, this study examined variation in access to in-network buprenorphine-prescribing primary care providers among Medicaid managed care enrollees. Approximately 32.2 percent of enrollees had fewer than one in-network buprenorphine prescriber per 100,000 county residents. On average, there were a greater number of in-network buprenorphine-prescribing primary care providers in states with higher compared with lower overdose death rates.

Harvard Medical School: Brain Circuits and Addiction
Using a new technique known as lesion network mapping, Harvard Medical School researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have mapped addiction remission to entire brain circuits rather than specific brain regions, pointing to new targets for treatment. Neuromodulation therapies, such as deep brain stimulation, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and MRI-guided focused ultrasound, allow clinicians to directly target brain circuits and improve symptoms in ways that may not be possible through treatment with medication.

News Medical Life Science: Fines or jail time to penalize offenders' bad behavior may not be an effective deterrent, study suggests
Findings from a new University of California San Diego Rady School of Management study reveal people often hurt others because in their mind, it is morally right or even obligatory to be violent and as a result, they do not respond rationally to material benefits. The study has implications for the criminal justice system, suggesting that fines or jail time to penalize bad behavior may not be an effective deterrent as lawmakers hope. are based on multiple experiments with nearly 1,500 study participants. Subjects in an experimental group were paid a monetary bonus to punish others; however, when they were compensated for punishing, it actually made them less likely to do so.

Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts (FORE): Data and Policy to Drive Access to Evidence-Based Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
FORE’s first grantmaking program started in 2020 focused on promoting access to OUD treatment across the United States, with a particular focus on urban, rural, minority, tribal, and low-income communities that lack resources to meet patients and families’ needs. A number of these projects have completed the important work of generating current data on gaps in services and disparities, as well as identifying what’s most effective in reducing barriers to treatment, producing new information that can inform policymakers, payers, and providers.

Event Registration

Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Policy: Reforming Criminal Justice, Policy, and the Mental Health System
A large share of those with mental illnesses and substance use disorders get caught up in the criminal justice system often with tragic results. Kaiser Permanente's Institute for Health Policy is hosting a discussion on how the criminal justice and mental health systems can work together to identify innovative solutions. There are better ways, including the implementation of diversion programs that create partnerships between mental health, social service providers and the criminal justice system.

Rikers Island

New York Times: 3 N.Y.C. Detainees Die in Less Than a Week, Bringing Year’s Total to 9
In the week since a federal judge granted New York City at least another six months to reform its troubled jail system, three people who had recently been held at the troubled Rikers Island jail complex have died. The fatalities bring the number of people who have died after being held by the city this year to nine, three more than had died at this time last year. The deaths all came in the week after the judge, Laura T. Swain, had scheduled a status conference about the Rikers Island jail complex for November, likely forestalling any federal takeover of the troubled facility until the winter or later.

gothamist: Adams suggests latest Rikers deaths might be due to ‘pre-existing conditions’
Following a tour of Rikers Island, Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday delivered a forceful defense of his administration’s management of the troubled jail complex, where deaths and reports of inhumane conditions have renewed calls for the federal government to intervene. His visit comes during the same week when two inmates in city custody died on consecutive days, bringing the total to eight detainee deaths so far this year.

Conditions In Corrections

Crime Report: States Fail to Meet ‘Essential Health Needs’ of Incarcerated: Study
According to a new analysis of state prison data from the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), state prisons are mishandling and neglecting a large population of prisoners with chronic conditions, disabilities and illnesses. Nearly one in five inmates have not seen a healthcare provider since they were admitted. Data on state prisons’ management of inmates with hepatitis C is shocking: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that modern treatments for the viral infection—the cure more than 90 percent of cases. Yet in state prisons, 80 percent of people who have ever had hepatitis C still have it.

Solitary Confinement

Washington Post: A Black Army vet spent 16 months in solitary. Then a jury heard the evidence against him.
For 16 months and all but a random hour every other day, Andrew Johnson languished in solitary confinement in a California jail. The first day — Nov. 12, 2014 — was hardly different from the 479th day. Johnson, an Army veteran who had undergone Special Forces training, knew how to endure hardship. But Johnson had never been isolated from the world like this before. No one ever explained to Johnson why he was put in isolation. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the jail and was responsible for the decision, did not respond to requests for comment. It would take three years before Johnson got the chance to testify in his own defense. It would take just two hours for a jury to acquit him.

amNewYork: New report documents abuse of people with mental health needs in state prisons
The Halt Solidarity Campaign and Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement (MHASC) coalition released a report which documented long term abuse and extreme punishment of incarcerated individuals with serious mental health needs in New York State Prisons. The alleged abuse took place in prisons that are supposed to offer more therapeutic alternatives to solitary confinement. The report also made recommendations that NYS should stop incarcerating people with extreme mental health needs and cited enacting the Treatment Not Jails Act as a first step.

NBC: Why we didn't celebrate Gay Pride Month in women's prison
Research shows queer people in women’s prisons are far more likely to spend time in solitary than straight prisoners. After all, if you got caught showing any sort of same-sex affection, you could get written up and punished with anything from a loss of phone privileges to weeks in isolation, and the sort of negative disciplinary record that left you less likely to make parole.

End of Life

Cal Matters: California can find better ways of dealing with dying prisoners
People who are incapacitated or nearing the end of their lives are the most expensive to incarcerate and the least likely to reoffend. California law permits courts to resentence certain people who meet strict criteria on time served so that they may live their final months outside a prison. According to our analysis of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation data on compassionate-release applications, 31% of all incarcerated people who began the process between January 2015 and April 2021 died before it could be completed.

The Sentencing Project: Nothing But Time: Elderly Americans Serving Life Without Parole
Prisons are a particularly hazardous place to grow old. The carceral system is largely unprepared to handle the medical, social, physical, and mental health needs for older people in prison. Nearly half of prisons lack an established plan for the care of the elderly incarcerated. Warnings by corrections budget analysts of costs of incarcerating people who are older have gone almost entirely unheeded. Because compassionate release, whether based on chronological age or diagnosis of a terminal illness, typically excludes people serving life sentences by statute, the only option for an early release for people serving LWOP is executive clemency.


CBS: Family of son who died in Kalamazoo County Jail files lawsuit, seeks $150,000
A family whose son died in Kalamazoo County Jail is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the jail. The Kalamazoo County Jail ignored Lovell's "obvious and known mental health needs," the lawsuit claimed. Lovell was supposed to be constantly monitored with a camera and visited in person every 30 minutes, in accordance with jail policy, the lawsuit also claimed. His family is seeking at least $150,000 in damages for violations of his constitutional rights and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


gothamist: New York parole reformers, after seeing their policy push stall, now look past the November elections
After two major parole reform bills stalled in New York's legislative session, criminal justice advocates say they are now looking to regroup until after the November elections. Advocates had been building momentum over the last year to pass a package of reforms, including giving incarcerated people 55 years old and older, who have already served 15 years in prison, a chance to go before a parole board. Another measure would highlight a person's rehabilitation while incarcerated, rather than the convicted crime, as a standard for granting parole.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

KDFW: Dallas County’s mental health transfer waitlist costing taxpayers $13 million, commissioner says
There are 400 inmates deemed incompetent who should be in a state facility sitting in the Dallas County jail. Some have been there for longer than two years. The inmates are waiting to be transferred to a state mental health facility. The weight of it falls on the county's tax dollars. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price says it’s costing the county $13 million to take care of 400 people who should be at either the Vernon State Hospital or the Rusk State Hospital, but they aren't because there are no available beds.

Prison Contractors

Tennessean: Why CoreCivic is seeking to block a prominent attorney from speaking out about a prison it runs
CoreCivic wants to hide documents that show Tennessee's largest prison has never been in compliance with the staffing levels required by its state contract. The country's largest private prison company is pushing a federal judge to issue a gag order on Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz. They want to limit him from commenting on court documents publicly and to delete disparaging Twitter posts.

Open Secrets: Private prison industry shifts focus to immigrant detention centers, funding immigration hawks
Early in his term, President Joe Biden signed an executive order barring the Department of Justice from renewing existing contracts with for-profit prisons. Many activists and prison reform advocates hoped this signaled the beginning of the end of private prisons in America. But the private prison industry instead shifted focus to a different form of for-profit detainment: private immigration detention centers. The federal government’s immigrant detainment policy has continued to be a boon for private prison companies including GEO Group and CoreCivic, the two biggest companies in the field.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Ventura County Star: New contract promises better health care in county jails
Ventura County Sheriff's officials hope to lower recidivism and prevent suicides among inmates in local jails under a beefed-up contract for inmate health care approved last week. The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the five-year agreement with Wellpath. Public Defender Claudia Bautista says: "Will it work? I don't know. What has been done in the past isn't working." About 150 of the roughly 1,300 inmates are diagnosed with serious mental illness. Six inmates died in 2020, half by suicide, according to county Medical Examiner's Office records.

Winston-Salem Journal: Judge approves $3 million settlement in wrongful-death lawsuit over John Neville's death. Claims against nurse and Wellpath LLC are still pending.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles approved a $3 million settlement Thursday in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the Neville family in the Dec. 4, 2019 death of John Neville. Neville died after an incident at the Forsyth County Jail and the lawsuit and prosecutors allege that a nurse and five detention officers ignored Neville’s medical distress. The nurse, Michelle Heughins, and the five detention officers — Lt. Lavette Maria Wiliams, Cpl. Edward Joseph Roussel, Officer Christopher Bryan Stamper, Officer Antonio Woodley Jr. and Officer Sarah Elizabeth Poole — were charged in July 2020 with involuntary manslaughter. In April, a Forsyth County grand jury declined to indict the officers but did indict Heughins with involuntary manslaughter.

MPR News: More Minnesota jails weigh dropping controversial medical provider
Five months after a state board suspended the license of a doctor whose company has been under scrutiny for its role in the deaths of people held in jail, several Minnesota counties have taken steps to find a new jail medical provider. MEnD Correctional Care contracts with dozens of counties in Minnesota and other Midwestern states to provide health care for people incarcerated in jails.

In Observation Of Independence Day
COCHS Weekly Update Will Not Be Published Next Week