Coronavirus Could Cause ‘Public Health Catastrophe’ in Overcrowded Jails Warns Prison Reform Group The Sentencing Project
Crowded cells in jails across the U.S. could help the rapid spread of coronavirus, penal reform groups have warned. The Sentencing Project has called on public officials to release people in jail who do not pose a public safety risk, such as those housed in pre-trial detention or rehabilitated people. The Sentencing Project’s Nazgol Ghandnoosh said to Newsweek: Existing unsanitary and overcrowded prison and jail conditions will exacerbate the spread of the new coronavirus.
Healthcare IT News
How an inmate in Colorado receives mental health treatment while in custody directly affects both the quality and the cost of their care on release. In Colorado recent legislation spurred a pilot connecting county hospitals and jails via HIE. These networks enable a more seamless transition of care between outside and correctional medical care, say Kate Horle, Chief Operations Officer at CORHIO, and Danielle Culp, Health IT Exchange Coordinator with the Office of Behavioral Health.
San Francisco Chronicle
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office recently presented the results of the American Correctional Association’s (ACA) latest audit of Santa Rita Jail to a Board of Supervisors committee. Its glowing conclusions are absurd and indefensible. The ACA supposed purpose is to ensure that corrections facilities adhere to health and safety standards, however it endangers the lives of incarcerated people by offering a stamp of approval to prisons and jails regardless of the conditions within.
In an Op-ed for The Hill, the President of COCHS, Homer Venters, writes: When COVID-19 arrives in a community, it will show up in jails and prisons. People in the U.S. are incarcerated at a rate of about one million [per month], and the number of correctional staff and families who visit these places is even greater. Our efforts should focus on the reality that COVID won’t be kept out [of correctional facilities].
TASC is offering a series of briefs to help communities develop treatment capacity, address gaps in services, and deliver coordinated care. These briefs offer information and guidance to support communities in their planning efforts and strategies for action. They are intended to aid local planning groups, community leaders, and their partners in collaborative efforts to expand community-based substance use disorder treatment.
The modern iteration of the drunk tank is something called a sobering cell. This is a holding cell, usually in the intake area of a county jail, where a person who is thought to be acutely intoxicated will be held. One of the dangerous aspects of this practice is that the person thought to be intoxicated is often put into one of these cells before they receive the standard medical screening by jail health staff.
For those of us involved in criminal justice reform, it is thrilling to see policy makers on both sides of the aisle develop proposals to advance decarceration. Returning people home from prison will be only half of the battle, though. There are many factors that must come together for a successful re-entry, including housing, work, and family support systems. One factor that too often is ignored is access to health care.
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.
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.
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.
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.