Weekly Update: July 11, 2023

COCHS Weekly Update: July 11, 2023

Highlighted Stories

Office of Governor Jay Pritzker: Illinois Healthcare Transformation Demonstration
This Medicaid 1115 demonstration includes justice-involved community reintegration. The Medicaid goal is to improve and customize the coordination of care and supports available before and during transitions. Illinois is requesting expenditure authority to provide “community reintegration (i.e., reentry) services” up to 90 days before an individual’s release from incarceration.

SHADAC: Opportunities to Learn More About Serving Justice-Involved Individuals Through 1115 Demonstration Evaluations
This issue brief provides an overview of justice-involved 1115 demonstration initiatives, summarizes what is known from existing evaluations of these activities, and identifies a set of opportunities to design robust and equity-focused 1115 demonstration evaluation plans specific to justice-involved populations. It includes a “Spotlight on California” that paraphrases the state’s January 2023 approval letter, which provides insight into CMS’s expectations regarding evaluating California’s initiative.

Health Affairs: COVID-19 Restrictions In Jails And Prisons: Perspectives From Carceral Leaders
THe researchers explored how carceral decision makers grappled with ethically fraught public health challenges during the pandemic. Semistructured interviews were conducted with thirty-two medical and security leaders from a diverse array of US jails and prisons. Although some facilities had existing detailed outbreak plans, most plans were inadequate for a rapidly evolving pandemic such as COVID-19. Frequently, this caused facilities to enact improvised containment plans. Quarantine and isolation were rapidly adopted across facilities in response to COVID-19, but in an inconsistent manner.

Fresno Bee: San Joaquin Valley sheriffs do poor job of monitoring, reporting COVID data
California’s sheriffs are reluctant to disclose data on COVID-19 in their jails and no state authority has mandated that they do so. To date, there is little to no transparency on the pandemic’s impact on roughly 80,000 people who shuffle in and out of the 114 county jails in the state.

Health Affairs (Podcast): Jessica Adler on Jail Conditions and Death Rates
Health Affairs Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil interviews Jessica Adler from Florida International University on her recent paper examining the relationship between jail conditions and characteristics and death rates. She and Weiwei Chen found an association between certain conditions and these mortality rates.

Data & Statistics

Vera: People in Jail and Prison in 2022
Data compiled by Vera for 2022 shows that most county jails and state and federal prisons have started to refill. The national increase seen during 2022 is the result of a patchwork of different state and local trends. Between mid-2021 and fall 2022, a total of 34 states increased the number of people in prison, and some saw substantial growth: Mississippi and Montana both increased the number of people incarcerated in their prisons by about 9 percent.

OJJDP: Trends and Characteristics of Delinquency Cases Handled in Juvenile Court, 2020
In this data snapshot, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's National Juvenile Court Data Archive documents workloads of the nation's juvenile courts. Caseloads for all delinquency offense categories in 2020 were at their lowest level since 2005.


CNBC: Prison staff misconduct made it easier for sex predator Jeffrey Epstein to kill himself, DOJ watchdog says
“Significant misconduct” by federal Bureau of Prisons staff made it much easier for sex predator Jeffrey Epstein to kill himself in a New York jail in August 2019, a Department of Justice watchdog said in a new report. The report details how BOP employees failed to check in every 30 minutes on the 66-year-old investor in his cell, lied about their failure to do so and allowed him to have extra clothing.

NPR: New accounts of abuse at federal prison prompt renewed calls for investigation
Months after officials closed a violent federal prison unit in Illinois, a new report reveals more accounts of a pervasive culture of abuse inside and calls for an investigation of the officers involved. Many people described being beaten by officers while in shackles, a dangerous dearth of mental health care and a system that made it impossible to file complaints.

Customs and Border Protection

Los Angeles Times: Internal report details rampant diarrhea among children at overcrowded border facility
Diarrhea was rampant, children were losing weight, and parents had to clean soiled clothing in sinks because guards would not provide them with clean items, mothers at an overcrowded Texas border facility in Laredo told Department of Homeland Security investigators last month.


News Medical: Study finds high TB case rates and low detection in prisons
In the first global assessment of TB among incarcerated people, a new study found consistently high TB case rates and low case detection in prisons, suggesting the need for health organizations to increase efforts to reduce the spread of TB among this high-risk population. In 2019, incarcerated people across the globe developed tuberculosis (TB) at nearly 10 times the rate of people in the general population.

Opioid Epidemic

New York Times: They Followed Doctors’ Orders. Then Their Children Were Taken Away.
In 2014, child-welfare advocates began flagging an unfolding crisis: a generation of children growing up in families ravaged by opioid addiction, tens of thousands of those children exposed to drugs in the womb. Federal law had long required newborns vaguely identified as “affected by” illegal drugs to be flagged to child protective services. Butlawmakers removed the word “illegal.” Now, hospitals in the states receiving certain federal funds to support child-abuse programs were required to notify authorities any time a newborn was “affected by” any substance, legal or illicit.

State Roundup

Los Angeles Times: California promises better care for thousands of inmates as they leave prison
California has agreed to improve healthcare for newly released prison inmates who are disabled, including through a series of measures that advocates say will help almost everyone trying to make the transition from incarceration. The state agreed in June to release inmates with a 60-day supply of their prescription medications, up from the previous 30-day requirement, and promised to replace medical equipment lost within the first month of an inmate being released from prison. Officials will also submit applications for Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid, on their behalf at least 90 days before they’re discharged.

Los Angeles Times: California tried and failed to ban for-profit ICE detention centers. What does that mean for other states?
California’s landmark ban on private prisons and immigrant detention facilities saw its fate sealed when a federal court officially repealed the 2020 law. In a win for private prison contractors, a final judgment last month declared Assembly Bill 32 unconstitutional as applied to private detention contracts for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies, though the ban remains in place for private prisons in the state.

CDCR: CCWF is ‘Bridging the Gap’ between incarcerated, staff
Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) hosted a Bridging the Gap event, providing a normalized environment for staff and the population. The event falls in line with one of the California Model’s seven pillars of change: “efforts to normalize the environment.” Approximately 25 staff and nearly 100 incarcerated individuals worked and played side-by-side throughout the day.

Pleasanton Weekly: County grand jury pushes agencies to prioritize mental health building at Santa Rita Jail
Following an investigation by the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury into the delay of developing a mental health unit at Santa Rita Jail, the onus is now on county leaders to work with the sheriff's office to get the ball rolling on the project once more. After a consent decree issued by a federal judge last year, the jail is under court supervision to monitor a massive reform program that will begin to remake how mental health care.

Metro West Daily News: Building new prisons not needed, state rep. says in push for construction ban
There's a "groundswell" on Beacon Hill to implement a five-year jail and prison construction moratorium, state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, said during a committee hearing after more than 20 inmates testified virtually from MCI-Framingham on her bill, detailing a dearth of health care, education, skill-building, domestic violence counseling and other programming available to them.

Detroit News: State resumes monitoring troubled Wayne County juvenile jail
The Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility is again operating under state supervision less than a month after a public emergency order was lifted following the alleged sexual assault of a child and months of overcrowding and understaffing in the troubled facility. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has at least one employee at the county's juvenile jail during every shift.

FOX 2: Fewer incarcerated women report infections due to free tampons, pads
The state is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on feminine hygiene products for incarcerated women after a survey showed a good portion of the women behind bars were using homemade products. Before feminine hygiene products were provided for free at Missouri prisons, roughly 80% of incarcerated women reported they were using homemade tampons and pads, leading to infections.

New York
The City: State Prison System Stays Mum on Deaths Behind Bars
The state prison system has never put out the word to the media when prisoners die. Deaths are often an indicator of how the system is working. The lack of public notification in a timely manner frequently leads to confusion when a distant family member or friend struggles to reach someone behind bars, according to advocates for incarcerated people.

KTVZ: Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office partners with Medical Teams International to provide dental treatment at jail
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday it has partnered with Medical Teams International to provide dental hygiene treatment for inmates within the adult jail. Dental disease can be extreme in the jail environment, and for some, jail or prison is the only time in their adult lives when they will have seen a dentist.

WESA: Health care staff at Allegheny County Jail say they’re understaffed, allege ‘toxic’ work environment
Health care workers at the Allegheny County Jail report that the facility is understaffed, leaving them overworked and underpaid, and potentially putting incarcerated people at risk. Some staff members said they have been asked to do tasks that would put them at risk of losing their medical licenses. Others claimed jail administrators with no medical training routinely interfered with or overrode decisions. Complaints from health care staff mirrored statements from corrections officers earlier this year.

New York Times: ‘Man Down!’: Surviving the Texas Heat in Prisons Without Air-Conditioning
The weekslong June heat wave scorching Texas has been particularly brutal and dangerous inside the state’s sprawling prison system, where a majority of those incarcerated, and the guards who watch over them, have been struggling without air-conditioning. In more than a dozen interviews, current and former inmates, as well as their relatives and friends, described an elemental effort at survival going on inside the prisons, with inmates relying on warm water, wet towels and fans that push hot air.

KBTX: Legionella bacteria discovered in HVAC system at Brazos County jail
Brazos County officials received test results Wednesday indicating the presence of Legionella bacteria in the HVAC system of one of the housing units at the Brazos County Jail. When the Sheriff’s Office was notified of the test results, approximately 100 inmates were moved immediately as a precaution, according to the agency. Testing was initiated following an employee being diagnosed, said the sheriff’s office.

Houston Public Media: A man died while in custody at the Harris County Jail, raising this year’s death toll to 9 people
A man died over the weekend after suffering an apparent medical emergency in the Harris County Jail, officials said — marking the jail’s ninth reported death this year. This comes after two men died while in custody less than three weeks ago due to “preexisting health conditions,” according to the sheriff’s office. So far, at least nine people have died this year while in custody at the Harris County Jail.

The Hill: Washington state fined over $100M for failing to provide timely resources for mentally ill in jail
A federal judge ordered Washington state to pay more than $100 million in fines for failing to provide timely competency evaluations and treatment to mentally ill individuals. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman found that the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services had breached a 2015 settlement agreement that required it to cut down wait times for competency evaluations.

Department of Corrections Washington State: DOC Pledges to Drastically Reduce Use of Solitary Confinement
The Department of Corrections (DOC) is taking steps to address fewer incarcerated individuals reoffending and returning to DOC custody while also committing to reduce the use of solitary confinement in its prisons by 90% over the next five years. While it can be an effective way to deter violence, spending prolonged periods of time in isolation has devastating effects on an individual’s mental and physical health long after they leave our facilities.

Rikers Island

Gothamist: NYC buying $90,000 in submachine guns for officers at Rikers
The city Department of Correction, which this month eliminated $17 million in job training and social services for detainees due to budget cuts, is buying more than $90,000 in high-powered submachine guns. The purchase of heavy weapons is not actually for use inside the jails, as correction officers are forbidden from carrying weapons while working in its jail facilities on Rikers Island. The guns are needed by a specially trained team for extraordinary situations, not for daily use.

Gothamist: Detainee stricken with cancer dies in city custody after Staten Island courts refused his release
A 60-year-old man died at the Bellevue Hospital jail ward after a battle with cancer. It was the fifth death in city custody this year. The Legal Aid Society released a statement slamming the judges and prosecutors whom they said refused to release Howell last year while he was dying from stage four cancer.

Mental Health Initiatives

WDRB: Louisville jail employees undergo training to address growing mental health problems among inmates
Metro Corrections employees are learning how to handle a growing problem inside the jail. The training is being conducted by a National Institute of Corrections and the goal is to address a wide range of mental issues facing inmates.

Tahlequah Daily Press: Mental health court helps cut incarceration rates
The Cherokee County Mental Health Court is a specialty court offered through collaborative efforts between Cherokee County criminal justice providers, community supports, and CREOKS Behavioral Health. District Judge Joshua King presides over the court for Cherokee, Wagoner, Adair, and Sequoyah counties. Mental health court was first established in Oklahoma in 2002. Participation is voluntary, and many factors are taken into consideration to determine an individual’s eligibility.


New York Times: Ex-Prisoners Face Headwinds as Job Seekers, Even as Openings Abound
For economic policymakers, a persistent demand for labor paired with a persistent lack of work for many former prisoners presents an awkward conundrum: A wide swath of citizens have re-entered society — after a quadrupling of the U.S. incarceration rate over 40 years — but the nation’s economic engine is not sure what to do with them.


NIJ: Denver (Colorado) Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond Initiative (Denver SIB)
This is a program for individuals experience homelessness who are often in jail, to increase their housing stability and reduce their criminal justice involvement. Individuals in the treatment group had statistically significant reductions in arrest, jail stays, days in jail, and shelter stays and visits, and statistically significant increases in mental health services, compared with the control group, but there was no statistically significant effect on substance use services.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

WABE: Fulton extends contract with jail's medical provider amid allegations of medical neglect
Alabama-based medical provider NaphCare will continue providing physical and mental health services at the Fulton County Jail after commissioners voted unanimously to extend its contract. Both NaphCare and the Fulton County Jail gained national attention this year after the case of 35-year-old Lashawn Thompson came to light. An independent autopsy found that Thompson died in 2022 in a bedbug-infested cell on the psychiatric floor due to what the review called “severe neglect.”

Dayton Daily News: Jail medical provider responds to inmate deaths, says opioid problem 10x worse here than elsewhere
As the Montgomery County Jail Coalition calls for increased scrutiny of the health care provider at the Montgomery County Jail in the wake of six inmate deaths this year, the provider says the problem is this region’s opioid crisis. The NaphCare spokesperson stated that through the use of Narcan, health care staff at the Montgomery County Jail have helped more than a dozen people experiencing overdoses.But Montgomery County Jail Coalition leaders say more action is needed. This year has seen more jail deaths than 2021 and 2022 combined.

KOAA: El Paso County family calling for change after inmate death at county jail
On June 9, 2022, 18-year-old Dezaree Archuleta was found unresponsive and hanging in her cell at the El Paso County Jail. Archuleta was one of nine inmates who died in custody at the jail in 2022. The Colorado Springs People's Coalition (CSPC) is calling for immediate change at the jail. They are demanding the sheriff's office end its contract with Wellpath and replace it with a community-based non-profit healthcare model.

WBUR: Barnstable jail stops using private health care vendor, citing staffing issues
A Massachusetts sheriff will no longer use a private health care vendor for medical and mental health care services in a state jail. Barnstable County Sheriff Donna Buckley said she will not renew a contract with the provider Wellpath when the current contract ends in October. Instead, the Barnstable County Correctional Facility will operate with an in-house health care team.

Denver Gazette: Woman died of infection in Jefferson County jail without medical care for days, lawsuit alleges
The Jefferson County (CO) sheriff, board of commissioners and several health care workers face a new federal lawsuit over a woman’s 2021 death from a heart infection in the county's detention facility. The lawsuit alleges Abby Angelo, 29, died because she did not receive basic medical care as the infection spread. The case names Sheriff Reggie Marinelli, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners and Wellpath, the private health care provider the sheriff’s office contracted with at the time.

Marshall Project: A Texas Jail Delayed My Prenatal Care to Keep Costs Down. Then I Had a Miscarriage.
In 2019, after days of bleeding, cramping and begging to go to the offsite obstetrician, Lauren Kent had a miscarriage in Texas’ Collin County Jail. Two years later, she filed a lawsuit against the county and private medical provider, Wellpath, alleging that jail staff ignored her repeated requests due to a “cost containment program.”

WCBU: Despite horror stories and deaths, will Illinois keep expensive prison health care company?
Since 2011 Illinois has paid Wexford Health Sources well over a billion dollars to provide medical care to people in the state’s prisons. During that time, a federal judge determined the care was so poor it violated the US constitution. Fifty percent of the health care provider’s jobs are unfilled. Three Wexford doctors lack the proper credentials. And in a review of 17 deaths, an outside monitor found that medical staff gave two prisoners medications that contributed to their deaths.

YesCare! (formerly Corizon)
St Louis Post-Dispatch: St. Louis sues jail health care provider over $515,000 lawsuit settlement
The city of St. Louis filed suit Friday demanding its jail health care provider reimburse the city for a $515,000 settlement the city paid to settle another suit over an inmate death. The lawsuit, filed against YesCare and two insurance companies, argues the city had to settle the suit due to the negligence of jail health providers who failed to notify the jail that a man being transferred there from the city in 2014 was on suicide watch.