Weekly Update: April 26, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: April 26, 2022

Highlighted Stories

White House: National Drug Control Strategy
The White House released its 2022 National Drug Control Strategy, which outlines a comprehensive path forward to addressing substance use disorder and the overdose epidemic. The strategy focuses on both untreated substance use disorder and drug trafficking. The report focuses significant attention on harm reduction and access to Buprenorphine as well as suggesting the expansion of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic model.

AP: Biden drug control plan stresses harm reduction, treatment
President Joe Biden is sending his administration’s first national drug control strategy to Congress as the U.S. overdose death toll hit a new record of nearly 107,000 during the past 12 months. The strategy is the first national plan to prioritize what’s known as harm reduction, said White House drug czar Dr. Rahul Gupta. That means it focuses on preventing death and illness in drug users while trying to engage them in care and treatment.

Forbes: Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Medical Care Falls Short Of Its Own Policy
When the BOP updated its Patient Care program statement, it had one lofty goal of creating something called Primary Care Provider Team (PCPT). It was designed to improve health care services. On paper, every inmate would be assigned to a medical team of health care providers. But the BOP till hasn't implemented PCPT teams as outlined in policy. A senior medical person at FDC Miami (FL) reports that that prison has been without a pharmacist for most of 2022.

New York Times: How a Race-Based Medical Formula Is Keeping Some Black Men in Prison
The race of patients is incorporated into an array of formulas that doctors use to evaluate data about everything from kidney function to whether to recommend C-sections. But using race to score kidney function is especially fraught because kidney disease disproportionately affects African Americans, who are more than three times as likely as white Americans to have kidney failure. A review of medical release cases suggests that many judges rule on the basis of prison medical records containing instructions that kidney test scores for African Americans should be adjusted, putting these scores on the healthy side.


O'Neil Institute: Employment as a Social Determinant of Addiction
The Addiction and Public Policy Initiative is partnering with the American Institute for Research on the AIR CARES’ webinar series, Social Determinants of Addiction. Please join us on April 28 at 1:00 PM ET for the third webinar, Employment as a Social Determinant of Addiction.


Health Payer Intelligence: Medicaid Expansion Boosted Coverage for Adults with Legal Involvement
To understand the impact that Medicaid expansion had on health insurance coverage for adults with criminal legal involvement, researchers gathered data from 2010 to 2017 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Following ACA implementation, 82.5 percent of low-income individuals with criminal legal involvement had health insurance coverage in states that had expanded Medicaid. In contrast, only 54.2 percent of adults in nonexpansion states were insured.

Indy Star: People in jail need health care. Removing this federal policy can help them
Not just in Marion County, jails across the country are struggling to meet the rising demand for medical and behavioral health care. This shortfall is the direct result of the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy, which denies patients access to their federal health care benefits while incarcerated and shifts the financial burden for their care onto the county. To fix this looming crisis in jail health care, we need a federal solution.


BMC: Study protocol of a randomized controlled trial comparing two linkage models for HIV prevention and treatment in justice-involved persons
Persons involved in the justice system are at high risk for HIV and drug overdose upon release to the community. This manuscript describes a randomized controlled trial of two evidence-based linkage interventions for provision of HIV prevention and treatment and substance use disorder (SUD) services in four high risk communities to assess which is more effective at addressing these needs upon reentry to the community from the justice system.

HIV.gov: CDC Recommendations for Correctional and Detention Settings
A new CDC resource summarizes testing, vaccination, and treatment recommendations for HIV, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and TB and highlights critical public health actions applicable at intake, during incarceration/ detention, and at release. Correctional health has a higher proportion of people in correctional settings have, or are at risk for HIV, viral hepatitis, TB, and STIs because of social and economic factors, mental and substance use disorders, a history of experiences with homelessness, sex work, or injection drug use.

State Prisons

Black Enterprise: Justice Department Investigation Condemns Mississippi State Prison, Finds Conditions Unconstitutional
The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a federal investigation into Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm, found the inhumane inmate conditions violated multiple constitutional rights. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke stated that the facility violated the 8th and 14th Amendments, including failure to offer acceptable mental health treatment, failure to protect those at risk of self-harm, failure to prevent inmate violence, and practicing extended periods of solitary confinement, which has widely been considered as torture.

Alabama Daily News: First prison construction contract signed
Last fall, the Alabama Legislature passed and Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a plan to spend $1.3 billion to build at least two new prisons and renovate old ones in an effort to address the state’s prison crisis. The plan is to build the new prisons through a “design-build” contracting process that allows the projects to start without bids. The Legislature and Ivey approved the borrowing of up to $785 million and the use of $400 million in state American Rescue Plan Act funds for prison construction.

The Lens: Bill limiting co-pays for prison health care fails to advance out of committee
A committee at the state legislature voted down a bill on Tuesday that would have limited the amount people incarcerated in state prisons are required to pay for healthcare by capping medical co-pays and waiving them altogether for prisoners with less financial resources. The 5-5 vote — short of the majority required to advance the measure — by the House Committee on Administration of Criminal Justice. But in spite of the bill’s failure to advance past committee, it is still possible that the changes sought could be implemented independently by the DOC through changes to internal regulations.

Prison Policy Initiative: New report, Beyond the Count, uses demographic data to show the social disadvantage of people locked up in state prisons
The Prison Policy Initiative has published Beyond the Count, a report that examines the most recent demographic data about people in state prisons and provides a view of the lives of incarcerated people before they were locked up. The report’s findings make clear that solving this country’s mass incarceration crisis will require policy changes that begin outside the prison walls and tackle the inequities and disadvantages incarcerated people face early in their lives.

Rikers Island

New York Times: Chaos at Rikers Could Lead to Federal Court Control, U.S. Attorney Says
The U.S. attorney in Manhattan raised the prospect on Tuesday of placing Rikers Island under a federal court’s control, an extraordinary step that would amount to a no-confidence vote in New York City’s ability to reverse the crisis that has intensified at the jail complex over the past 18 months. In a letter filed in federal court, the U.S. attorney, Damian Williams, wrote that the city had failed to say how it would remedy the chaos and added that if it did not make “dramatic systemic reforms” and bring in outside experts, his office would be “left with no other option but to seek more aggressive relief.”

Women In Corrections

AP : California bill aims to stop pregnancy loss prosecutions
Dora Perez spent four years in prison for the death of her stillborn child after prosecutors in California’s Central Valley charged her with murder for using drugs during her pregnancy. California lawmakers advanced a bill that would let people like Perez sue prosecutors for charging them with those crimes — crimes that the state’s Attorney General has said do not exist under state law.

Cision: Abused Inmates of New Jersey's Women's Prison Allege New Jersey Department of Corrections Failed to Meet Deadline for Payments
The attorneys for a class of thousands of women who suffered abuse at New Jersey's notorious Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women allege in a new court filing that the state Department of Corrections has failed to issue timely payments to the class, in violation of the settlement agreement. The enforcement action, filed yesterday in state Superior Court (Nobles et al. v. Anderson, et al. HNT-L-145-19, Brown et al. v. NJDOC et al., HNT-L-76-19), alleges the state failed to meet its April 11 payment deadline and that "judicial intervention is necessary to protect the rights of the class members."

New York Times: Charges Dropped Against Tennessee Woman Who Was Jailed Over Voter Fraud
A Tennessee prosecutor dropped all criminal charges on Friday against Pamela Moses, a Memphis woman with a previous felony conviction who was sentenced to six years and one day in prison in January after she tried to restore her right to vote in 2019. The voter fraud conviction from her trial was thrown out in February after a judge ruled that the Tennessee Department of Correction had improperly withheld evidence.

Opioid Epidemic

UMass Chan Medical School: Massachusetts jails found ‘innovative solutions’ to implement medical treatment for opioid use disorder
In two new papers, a team of Massachusetts researchers, including faculty from UMass Chan Medical School, examined the implementation of a groundbreaking opioid use disorder medication treatment program in seven jails across the state, part of a $155 million national effort to address the opioid crisis in criminal justice. Massachusetts passed legislation mandating a treatment program, including FDA-approved medication, for incarcerated people with opioid use disorder. The treatment program includes community-based care after detainees are released from jail.

Berkshire Eagle: Involuntary substance abuse programs at Mass. jails, prisons amount to 'inhumane' treatment, advocates say
Involuntary treatment programs at jails and prisons in Massachusetts for people with substance use or alcohol disorders can create “inhumane” settings and lead to relapses. That was the message at a rally outside the Statehouse by critics of a state law that allows civil commitments for treatment. Deborah Goldfarb, who works with Boston Medical Center’s Grayken Center for Addiction, said she has worked with “countless” men who have been involuntarily committed to treatment by medical providers. “These men suffer inhumane treatment and insufficient care while in these facilities, and quickly relapse post-release,” Goldfarb said.

American Journal of Psychiatry: Association of Medication Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder With Suicide Mortality
This article focuses on understanding the effectiveness of medication treatment for opioid use disorder to decrease the risk of suicide mortality may inform clinical and policy decisions. The authors seek to describe the effect of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) on risk of suicide mortality.

Fox 31: Denver inmates can leave jail with free Narcan and fentanyl test strips
The Denver Sheriff Department launched a program that sends released inmates home with tools to combat fentanyl overdoses. Statistics are fueling a need to do something about the fentanyl crisis in Denver County jails. When individuals leave both jail and prisons, they are 40 to 129 times more likely to die of overdose upon release within that two-week time period. The sheriff’s office has now put more than $110,000 in state grant money toward launching a new Harm Reduction Release Bag pilot program.

FlaglerLive.com: Flagler Sheriff’s Corrections Deputies Are Being Trained to ‘Rebuild Inmates’ Battling Addiction
Approximately 80-percent of the inmates in the Sheriff Perry Hall Inmate Detention Facility in Flagler County, suffer from both a substance use and mental health disorder. In partnership with the Opioid Response Network (ORN), the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) and C4 Innovations are delivering a two- phase training program to deputies working within the walls of the county jail.

LA Times: L.A. County homeless deaths surged 56% in pandemic’s first year. Overdoses are largely to blame
Deaths of homeless people in Los Angeles County soared by 56% in the year after the start of the pandemic, driven primarily by an increase in overdoses, according to a study published this month. Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, 1,988 deaths of people experiencing homelessness were reported, up from 1,271 in the 12 months prior.

Bail Reform

Courier Journal: How unnecessary time in jail costs public health and local budgets
In an op-ed, Mark Bolton and Julie Wertheimer, write: There’s mounting evidence that many people in jail could be safely released pending trial. Having been involved in the management of jail populations in Philadelphia and Louisville, we know that unnecessary time in jail can have serious health consequences. However, the rising median bail amount means that more people don't have the cash necessary to be released. There have been some efforts in St. Louis and Durham to reduce lengths of stay, such as identifying people in jail who are unable to make bail but could be safely released into the community.

Fox: Law enforcement question bail reform practices as more shootings reported nationwide
Bail reform is happening in major cities across the country, even as law enforcement officials sound the alarm that it could be fueling a spike in crime. The biggest complaints about this come from police chiefs and sheriffs nationwide. The latest to join the list are a police chief in Oakland, California who made his point with some startling videos of violent crimes in progress.

The Appeal: Does Bail Reform Lead to More Crime?
Between 2011 and 2019, proponents of bail reform won victory after victory across the country. But today’s movement is now at risk. Pro-carceral forces have made bail reform a scapegoat for rising crime. Many officials, apparently unswayed by the lack of evidence that recent increases in shootings and homicides are linked to bail reform, have begun turning on existing laws.


Department of Justice - Office of Justice Programs : Reentry Resources
Through various programs, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) helps state, local and tribal jurisdictions improve the capacity and effectiveness of their reentry programs to increase the success of those returning to their communities. Research and evaluation supported by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) covers a wide range of reentry-related issues. In particular, NIJ published a series of three white papers that discuss specific challenges in reentry — the payment of fines and fees, securing employment and access to human services post-release.

MSN: HUD unveils plan to help people with a criminal record find a place to live
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to make it easier for people with a criminal record to find housing – a move that could have widespread implications for nearly 1 in 3 Americans. In a memo sent out to staff on Tuesday, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge instructed the department to review programs and policies that may "pose barriers to housing for persons with criminal histories or their families."

Prison Fellowship: April is Second Chance Month
For far too many who have served time behind bars, release from incarceration brings a new kind of prison. Some 65 million Americans have a criminal record. This limits their access to jobs, education, housing and other things necessary for a full and productive life. Any hope and new identity found while incarcerated can be quickly lost upon release when faced with the "second prison"—the more than 48,000 documented social stigmas and legal restrictions that inhibit opportunities to rebuild someone’s life after paying a debt to society.

Public Safety Initiatives

VT Digger: Bill proposes confidential database of police officers with credibility issues
A police reform bill already stripped of a key provision in the Senate ran into some opposition in a hearing before a House panel on Thursday — mostly around the creation of a database of alleged police misconduct. The state’s top cop told the House Committee on Government Operations that the database provision wasn’t ready for prime time and needed more work before going live. Meanwhile, an advocate for a leading civil rights organization said the public should have access to the database

Witness LA: Supes Vote to Permanently Fund Program to Help the Families of People Who Die in Jail or Who Are Killed by Law Enforcement
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to continue operating and funding a program meant to provide compassionate support to people whose loved ones died in jail. In July 2018, the civilian commission overseeing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) initiated an investigation into reports from local families that the sheriff’s department failed to provide timely notification of deaths.

Mental Health Initiatives in Criminal Justice

WBAY: Local sheriff’s offices expand help for mental health, substance abuse issues
Law enforcement agencies in Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties are stepping up their mental health services. One department recently completed mental health training while the other is looking to add a social worker to its staff. Some jail staff in Winnebago County went through specialized mental health training, one of several initiatives underway locally by law enforcement to tackle mental health and substance abuse issues.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

VOX: What does it mean to take America’s “jobs of last resort”?
Darren Rainey was a mentally ill man who had been incarcerated. Prison guards had killed him. The guards had trapped Rainey in a shower and tortured him with scalding water until he collapsed. It’s a horrible crime. Certainly the guards who were involved in that crime should be held accountable, but it’s notable that, as in the Abu Ghraib story, no one of higher rank was held accountable.

Private Prison Contractors

Yahoo News: The Exploitation Of Blackness By Mass Incarceration Profiteers
JPay is only one of several companies that enjoy enormous profits from “correctional” facilities that are disproportionately comprised of Black and brown people. Others include Securus, JPay’s parent company, Global Tel Link, and Access Corrections. Those companies charge exorbitant fees to family members seeking to add money to their locked-up loved one’s commissary accounts. They have also made telephone calls and other forms of communication prohibitively expensive and have even advocated for the cruel end of in-person family visits because it increases reliance on their products.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

KARE 11: Counties cut troubled jail medical company
More than a dozen counties across Minnesota have already cut ties with – or are considering replacing – MEnD Correctional Care linked to recent jail deaths. In January, the state medical board indefinitely suspended the license of Dr. Todd Leonard, MEnD’s founder and owner. In Beltrami County in 2018 inmate Hardel Sherrell died on a cell floor. Sherrell’s pleas for help were often ignored. A former MEnD nurse practitioner who treated Sherrell, and who tried to get him help before he died, lodged a complaint against Leonard with the medical board, saying “I felt like I witnessed a murder.”

West Virginia Record: Lawsuit claims lack of medical care resulted in inmate's cancer diagnosis and death
The estate of an incarcerated man says he wasn’t given proper medical care, which resulted in him having cancer and leading to his death. Robin Campbell, administrator of the estate of Robbie Campbell, filed her complaint in Kanawha Circuit Court against Wexford Health Sources Inc. It accuses Wexford and the DOC of negligent hiring, retention and supervision as well as civil conspiracy to set up a medical system within the prison system that is designed to decrease the expenses of the State of West Virginia and maximize profits of for-profit prison medical companies.