Weekly Update: February 22, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: February 22, 2022

Highlighted Stories

Council on Criminal Justice: The Health and Reentry Project
Bipartisan legislation under consideration in Congress would establish Medicaid coverage for eligible individuals 30 days before release from prison or jail. Even as federal policymakers consider this change, a handful of states have asked the Biden Administration to make similar policy changes administratively through Medicaid’s 1115 demonstration waiver process. Whether through statute or administrative action, it appears likely that changes extending Medicaid coverage to incarcerated individuals will occur in 2022. The Health and Reentry Project is led by Executive Director Vikki Wachino, who oversaw the Medicaid and CHIP programs as Deputy Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from 2015 to 2017 and served as CEO of Community Oriented Correctional Health Services.

Health Affairs: Racial And Ethnic Disparities In Patient Experience Of Care Among Nonelderly Medicaid Managed Care Enrollees
Medicaid managed care enrollees who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups have historically reported worse care experiences than White enrollees. Few recent studies have identified disparities within and between Medicaid managed care plans. Disparities were largely attributable to worse experiences by race or ethnicity within the same plan.

NIH: Student Suspensions Have Negative Consequences, According to NYC Study
Since the heyday of zero-tolerance student discipline policy, concern has grown, and research has tended to confirm, that excluding students from school, through suspension or expulsion, in many cases does damage to their later lives while yielding no overall benefit for students. An extensive study by the Center for Court Innovation of New York City (NYC) school students found that, once disciplined in school, students were more likely to face further discipline or justice-system involvement if they were male, Black, Hispanic, disabled, or poor.

New York Times: Florida Girl Arrested Over Threats She Didn’t Make Sues Her School
The family of a Florida girl who was held in a juvenile-detention center for 11 days after a classmate impersonated her on social media to make threats against their school has filed a lawsuit against the school and Instagram for their roles in the episode. The lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in state court in Broward County, accuses the girl's school, Renaissance Charter School at Pines, and Meta, the social media giant that owns Instagram, of failing to protect her. The lawsuit says the family is also planning to add the Pembroke Pines Police Department in the suit.

Office of Senator Jon Ossoff:: Sens. Ossoff, Braun Launch Bipartisan Working Group to Examine U.S. Prison Conditions, Promote Transparency
U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Mike Braun (R-IN) today launched the bipartisan Senate Prison Policy Working Group to examine conditions of incarceration in U.S. Federal prisons, protect human rights, and promote transparency. The Senate Bipartisan Prison Policy Working Group will work to develop bipartisan policies and proposals to strengthen oversight of the Federal prison system and improve communication between the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Congress, and other stakeholders.

PEW: Drug Arrests Stayed High Even as Imprisonment Fell From 2009 to 2019
More than 1.5 million people were arrested in 2019 for drug offenses, more than any other crime category, accounting for 1 in 10 arrests nationwide. Property crime, simple assault, and driving under the influence all saw just over a million arrests each—roughly two-thirds the number of drug possession arrests. These trends indicate both an ongoing reliance on the criminal legal system to address drug misuse and that this strategy is costly and ineffective.

COCHS Policy Analyst Opening

COCHS Is Hiring: A Policy Analyst
Would you like to improve health care for those involved with the justice system? COCHS is looking for a policy analyst who is ready to develop policy in the interface of our health and justice systems. Candidates will have a graduate degree in public health, public administration, public policy or any other appropriate terminal degree. Work will remain remote but travel to conferences and work sites will resume at some point COVID-permitting. If interested, send a cover letter and CV/resume to info@cochs.org.

COVID-19 in Corrections

CDC: Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities. This document provides guidance specific for correctional and detention facilities regarding COVID-19 and consolidates previous CDC corrections-specific guidance documents. The updated guidance is based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of COVID-19 as of February 10, 2022.

Salon: Inmates who died asked for release before falling ill with Covid
The deaths of three women imprisoned in West Virginia reflect a federal prison system plagued by chronic problems exacerbated by the pandemic, including understaffing, inadequate medical care, and few compassionate releases. The most recent statistics from the Federal Bureau of Prisons report 284 inmates and seven staff members have died nationwide because of covid since March 28, 2020.

OPB: COVID-19 outbreak grows at prison in southwest Washington
A Washington Department of Corrections bulletin Monday reported the number of active COVID-19 cases jumped to 41 among incarcerated individuals at Larch Corrections Center, a nearly 193% increase. Incarcerated individuals who test positive are being temporarily relocated to another unit to help stop the spreading of the virus, officials said. Corrections officials also said six employees are included in the outbreak total.

9News: 3 agencies investigating death of 71-year-old inmate
Three agencies are conducting investigations into why an inmate died in custody two days after his attorney begged the court to release him because of COVID. Taylor died on Feb. 9, two days after his attorney filed an emergency motion seeking medical release because of severe COVID symptoms. The motion was never heard by a judge.

Sacramento Bee: COVID updates: In-person visitation to remain suspended at California prisons
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on Tuesday announced that in-person visits to state prison inmates will remain “paused” at all facilities. Starting Wednesday, state prison institutions will be categorized as either in the “open phase” or in the “outbreak phase,” with the latter introducing tighter restrictions including limits on dayroom access and recreational activities; shutdown of congregate religious activities; and removal of video visitation options for those on isolation or quarantine housing.

VT Digger: Springfield prison locks down after 45 new Covid cases found in nearly every housing unit
Vermont’s Springfield prison is on full lockdown after 45 new cases of Covid-19 were detected, according to a Sunday press release from the Department of Corrections. The virus was found in eight of the facility’s 10 general population units, according to department spokesperson Rachel Feldman.

COVID-19 & Reentry

New Jersey Monitor: Early release for hundreds of ex-offenders across N.J.
New Jersey Reentry Corporation has set up a table in Peter Francisco Park, across the street from where the bus drops off the newly-released ex-offenders. This is where volunteers handed out fliers with information about accessing the group’s services and the number for its 24/7 hotline. “You need an ID to do anything in this state,” said Jim McGreevey, the former governor and prison advocate who runs the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. Without state identification, he said, people can’t apply for housing or jobs, secure SNAP and other benefits, or access health care

Rikers Island

The City: Cargo Hold: NYC Jails Official Sought to Ease Dress Code Established to Block Smuggling
Days after taking over the city’s beleaguered Department of Correction, a senior official under Commissioner Louis Molina sought permission to ease a rule banning officers from wearing cargo pants with multiple pockets. Criminal justice experts and advocates are worried Molina’s latest request is just one more example of the department becoming more friendly to staff at the expense of the safety and security of detainees.

The City: Rikers Lockups Stay Steady Under Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, Vexing Reformers
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg won election pledging to shrink the population of people held pre-trial on Rikers Island. But so far in Bragg’s first weeks in office, the number of new jail admissions has remained more or less the same as under his predecessor Cyrus Vance. And while his prosecutors are demanding bail less often, in the felony cases where they do request it they are asking judges to set it at much higher levels than before.

1010 WINS: Rikers healthcare worker says he was beaten by inmate while guards watched
A Rikers Island healthcare worker reports he was assaulted by an inmate after drawing his blood while guards stood by and watched. The anonymous worker said that an inmate punched him repeatedly in the head and kicked him on the ground. “There were two female officers there, and they did nothing,” said one co-worker. “After he beat the living crap out of him, the officer was just standing there screaming ‘stop, stop, stop.’”

Pregnancy in Corrections

Reuters: Pregnant inmates get healthcare help from Calif. Attorney General
California enacted the Reproductive Dignity for Incarcerated People Act in August 2020. Among other measures, the bill requires county jails to offer incarcerated and pregnant women more appropriate delivery conditions; menstrual products, obstetrics exams and prenatal care; lower bunk-bed assignments; and limitations on shackling pregnant inmates. Now, Attorney General Rob Bonta – who wrote the bill while he was a state lawmaker – is taking steps to ensure that local sheriffs and their jails are in compliance with the new law.

NC Health News: Accessing MAT in jail is an uphill battle for pregnant people
The medical community recommends MAT for pregnant people with SUD, as detox or chaotic drug use puts stress on the developing fetus. Despite research supporting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as the standard of care for all people with opioid use disorder, access to medications such as methadone and buprenorphine for people detained in North Carolina’s jails is spotty at best. MAT helps stabilize pregnant people while preventing them from experiencing painful withdrawal, which can put stress on both them and their unborn baby.

New York Times: Woman Sues Over Death of Child Born in Georgia Jail
A woman who went into labor at a jail in Clayton County, Ga., two years ago said the facility’s medical staff and sheriff ignored her pleas to be taken immediately to a hospital and are responsible for the death of her baby. The other defendants are CorrectHealth Clayton LLC; Charles Clopton, the jail’s doctor


PEW: Lifesaving Addiction Treatment Out of Reach for Many Americans
Drug overdose deaths skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic: Provisional data covering a 12-month period shows that overdose deaths reached the record-setting number of more than 100,000 fatalities as of June 2021. Results from a new study by The Pew Charitable Trusts show that geography and health insurance coverage, rather than medical need, often determine whether patients can access effective treatment for OUD. Pew’s 50-state analysis of OTPs found significant disparities in care from state to state.

KCUR: A few Kansas jails are finally allowing medical care for opioid addiction
A recent decision to let people continue treatment for drug addiction while in the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita reflects a significant shift in thinking at Kansas sheriffs’ offices that is gaining momentum. Sedgwick officials no longer take people off of their prescriptions for medications such as buprenorphine when booked into jail. Studies suggest two-thirds of prison inmates have substance use disorders. Allowing treatment for people in jails or prisons aims to break the cycle of incarceration — and to save lives.

Geriatric Care In Corrections

Miami Herald: In Florida, home of the 97-year-old inmate, prison healthcare costs spiraling
The average age of Florida prisoners has climbed from 32 in 1996 to 42 today, according to Florida Department of Corrections records. At the moment, Florida is currently incarcerating inmates as old as 97. One reason the prison population is getting old is that Florida effectively did away with parole. Over the past decade, the raw number of elderly prison inmates — defined as those over 50 — has nearly doubled, including 10 inmates 90 or older.

Fees For Incarceration

Daytona Beach News-Journal: Volusia County to consider daily 'subsistence fees' for those incarcerated in Daytona jail
Volusia County institutes some of Florida's highest fees for inmates in Daytona Beach jail. The Volusia County Council will consider a request from its corrections division to begin charging those incarcerated in the county jail $5 a day for their stays. Corrections Director Mark Flowers has requested a new policy of automatically debiting $20 "booking fees" for each inmate as well as $5-per-day "subsistence fees." The division said they would use the proposed fees to pay for food, clothes, and housing costs. The jail says each meal costs an average of $1.03.

Health Records

California Assembly Bill: AB-2526
AB-2526 would require, when jurisdiction of an inmate is transferred from or between the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the State Department of State Hospitals, and county agencies caring for inmates, those agencies to disclose, by electronic transmission when possible, mental health records. The bill would require mental health records to be disclosed to ensure sufficient mental health history is available for the purpose of satisfying specified requirements relating to parole and to ensure the continuity of mental health treatment of an inmate being transferred between those facilities.

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.

New York Times: Doctors Are More Likely to Describe Black Patients as Uncooperative, Studies Find
Medical records contain a plethora of information, from a patient’s diagnoses and treatments to marital status to drinking and exercise habits. Two large new studies found that such terms, while not commonly used, are much more likely to appear in the medical records of Black patients than in those of other races.

Mental Health Initiatives in Criminal Justice

St Louis Post-Dispatch: St. Louis program keeping mental health crises from resulting in jail, hospital stays, officials say
Behavioral Health Response pairs mental health clinicians with first responders. The 911 diversion program sends calls about mental health issues to Behavioral Health Response company to see if they can be addressed by specially trained employees instead of by sending police officers or an ambulance. The Crisis Response Unit, or CRU, puts a police officer with specially trained Behavioral Health Response staffers, the “purple shirts,” to respond to crises calls that can’t be handled over the phone.

Health Care Continuity

Record Eagle: GT board approves local provider for jail health care
A new health care model is coming to Grand Traverse County’s jail (MI) that will offer inmates care from local providers. County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to hire County Health Support Services to provide medical, mental health and psychiatric care in the jail, but not without some reservations — namely, the company’s lack of corrections experience. But Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Barsheff, jail administrator, said the benefits of having providers who are in the community and can offer a continuity of care is what sold a committee that chose the company from four that submitted bids.

Correctional Health Care Providers

Newsday: Mother of man who fatally overdosed at Nassau jail files $20 million wrongful death lawsuit
The mother of a West Babylon (NY) man who died from overdosing on fentanyl in Nassau's jail has filed a $20 million lawsuit alleging the 28-year-old's "agonizing and wrongful" death happened because county officials ignored a drug contraband problem at the facility and didn't treat his addiction. It names as defendants Nassau County and its jail, the Sheriff’s Department and former Sheriff Vera Fludd, unidentified correction officers and jail health officials, and Nassau Health Care Corp. — which runs the hospital where Rollins died and has the contract for inmate medical care.

Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Washington County praises jail doctor named in ivermectin suit
Washington County's justices of the peace on Thursday split over two resolutions, approving one praising the doctor providing medical services to the county jail and rejecting a second affirming the right of informed consent for medical treatment. The Quorum Court approved a resolution expressing appreciation to Dr. Robert Karas, the county's medical services provider for the jail.