Previous What's New Postings

Former Rikers Island medical chief to lead study of San Diego County jails

San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego County has selected COCHS to perform a “best practices” review of the local jail system, a study the Board of Supervisors commissioned in response to a six-month investigation by The San Diego Union-Tribune into the high death rate among inmates. The San Diego study will be supervised by Dr. Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer at New York City Correctional Health Services who took over as the nonprofit’s president in January.

Think Debtors Prisons Are a Thing of the Past? Not in Mississippi
Marshall Project
Mississippi appears to be the only state where judges lock people up for an indefinite time while they work to earn money to pay off court-ordered debts. While there is no comprehensive data, legal experts who study fines, fees and restitution say Mississippi is unique. Judges have sentenced hundreds of people a year to restitution centers around the state, almost always ordering them to stay until they pay off court fees, fines and restitution to victims.

How Denver Health is helping inmates with opioid addiction get treatment

9 News

Jails, historically, aren’t known as places of drug rehabilitation. But Dr. Sasha Rai, the Director of Behavioral Health Services for the Denver Sheriff’s Department of Health Services, is providing people in the Denver jail that option. Dr. Rai launched a Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) program in Denver jails a couple of years ago with a small team of nurses and case managers from Denver Health. Last year, Rai’s team put 916 inmates on Opiate Withdrawal Protocol.

American Public Health Association - Supplement Issue
American Public Health Association
A supplement issue of the American Public Health Association examines the public health concerns surrounding mass incarceration, with research and perspectives on improving health outcomes for justice-involved populations, psychological distress in solitary confinement, the links between mass incarceration and climate change, the public health implications of criminal justice reform, and more. Included in this supplement is a review of Dr. Homer Venter’s book Life and Death in Rikers Island.

Three years after East Baton Rouge privatized jail health care, inmate death rate remains high
The Advocate
In August 2015 a group of nurses at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison described dire staffing shortages and inadequate mental health services that advocates blamed for an outsized inmate death rate in the jail. As a result, the parish Metro Council, contracted with CorrectHealth. But advocates, have so far been skeptical about CorrectHealth's accomplishments because people are still dying — double the national average. CorrectHealth 's internal investigations into the deaths are being withheld from public view.

County jail to adopt new healthcare system

The Madisonville Meteor

The Madison County jail will transform methods of providing healthcare to prisoners, as county commissioners accepted a proposal from Southern Health Partners to provide on-site and remote care for $62,120 a year. The change comes as a result of the Sandra Bland Act passed by the Texas legislature in 2017, which mandates county jails divert people with mental health and substance abuse issues toward treatment and requires that independent law enforcement agencies investigate jail deaths.

L.A. County can help thousands of mentally ill inmates avoid arrest and homelessness, study finds
The Los Angeles Times
More than 60% of the inmates with a mental illness in the Los Angeles County Jail would be eligible for diversion if there were more facilities providing supportive care. Such a move would save the county hundreds of dollars a day in incarceration costs for each inmate and, for many, end a cycle of being arrested and released, then becoming homeless and getting arrested again, said the medical director of the county’s Office of Diversion and Reentry, Kristen Ochoa.

Medicaid expansion linked to fewer opioid deaths

Modern Healthcare

New research suggests Medicaid expansion helped reduce opioid overdose deaths by facilitating access to treatment. The study, published Friday in JAMA Network Open, compared changes in opioid overdose rates in expansion states to changes within non-expansion states between 2001 and 2017, analyzing cause-of-death data from more than 3,100 counties across 49 states and the District of Columbia. The study found Medicaid expansion was associated with a 6% lower rate of overdose deaths compared with the rate in non-expansion states.

In Reversal, Counties and States Help Inmates Keep Medicaid
The Pew Trust
Federal law bars Medicaid recipients from accessing their full federal health benefits while incarcerated. But officials from both parties have pushed for changes to ensure little or no disruption of health benefits for pretrial detainees who have not been convicted of a crime and make up most of the 612,000 people held in America’s county jails. In recent years, officials have increasingly implemented a stopgap measure to help inmates reactivate their Medicaid coverage upon release from jail or prison.

Telemedicine Is Revolutionizing Prison Health Care
For inmates who have chronic conditions, getting regular access to a specialist can mean major improvements in their health. But the logistics of getting that access can be complicated. Telemedicine in prison significantly simplifies this care. Physicians who previously had to deal with long travel times and extensive security can now see their patients from their own office. And patients who’d been traveling offsite for care only need to leave the prison for appointments that require in-person care

Corrections budget shows savings due to Medicaid expansion...
Idaho Press
The Community-Based Substance Abuse Treatment portion of the Idaho Department of Correction budget shows a big drop in the governor’s recommended budget for next year – 29.7% less in state general funds. That’s almost entirely due to Medicaid expansion. Josh Tewalt, state corrections chief, said 93% of the parolees and probationers currently receiving services through the division are eligible for the newly expanded Medicaid program, so the state will save $2.8 million.

Marketing Psychiatric Drugs to Jailers and Judges
The Atlantic
During the twentieth century, pharmaceutical companies showed little interest in inmates. Then, in the 1980s and ’90s, “tough on crime” policies expanded the nation’s corrections population. Those developments had the unintended consequence of turning corrections into warehouses for the mentally ill. The relationship between drug companies and the criminal-justice system changed at the start of the millennium. Big pharmaceutical companies staged “product theaters” or “education luncheons” for correctional providers that show how their products could help treat inmates.

California jails use kinder approach to solitary confinement
69 News
More than a quarter of U.S. states and numerous smaller jurisdictions are looking for ways to reduce the use of solitary confinement which encourages alternatives to a practice, behavioral experts say is dehumanizing and can worsen mental illness. The new policies in California came after Prison Law Office sued seven of California’s 58 counties, alleging that conditions had grown inhumane as jails absorbed inmates who previously would have served their sentences in state prisons.

Ann McLane Kuster and Cory Booker: Medicaid should be available in prisons
The Washington Post
United States Representative Annie Kuster (D-NH) has teamed up with United States Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to sponsor a bill that would end the federal Medicaid Inmate Exclusion policy that bans inmates from participating and terminates those already covered by the program if they are incarcerated.

How America’s Health-Care System Makes Mass Incarceration Worse
New York Magazine
The prohibitive costs of America’s for-profit health-care system are well documented. Nowhere is this more evident than in Alabama. Sheriffs in 15 of its 67 counties of Alabama had issued so-called “medical bonds” to jail inmates — meaning they’d released sick detainees from custody when they needed medical treatment in order to avoid paying their medical bills.

A visit with my (incarcerated) mother
The Hill
In an opinion piece for The Hill, COCHS' Homer Venters writes that one of the hidden consequences of mass incarceration is its impact on families as they are separated from loved ones. Even when visitation happens, visitors are often forced to undergo harassment and humiliation as they navigate the visitation process. The impact of these practices falls disproportionately on women.