Weekly Update: February 14, 2023

COCHS Weekly Update: February 14, 2023

Highlighted Stories

KFF: Section 1115 Waiver Watch: How California Will Expand Medicaid Pre-Release Services for Incarcerated Populations
While the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved California’s Section 1115 request to cover a package of reentry services for certain groups of incarcerated individuals 90 days prior to release, there are also 14 additional states seeking partial waivers to the inmate exclusion policy to provide pre-release services to some eligible incarcerated individuals. The parameters of these proposals may change to reflect the California approval and upcoming CMS guidance. Currently, these pending requests vary in scope by pre-release period, eligibility and benefits.

Georgetown Law O'Neil Institute: A National Snapshot Update: Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in U.S. Jails and Prisons
Upon reentry, individuals leaving incarceration are at heightened risk for experiencing an overdose. However, recent studies have shown that access to evidence-based treatment, including methadone and buprenorphine, in jails and prisons can help decrease the risk for overdose death by up to 80% following release from incarceration.

CDC: Drug Overdose Deaths Among Persons Aged 10–19 Years — United States, July 2019–December 2021
U.S. drug overdose deaths increased 30% from 2019 to 2020 and 15% in 2021, resulting in an estimated 108,000 deaths in 2021. Among persons aged 14–18 years, overdose deaths increased 94% from 2019 to 2020 and 20% from 2020 to 2021. Approximately 90% of overdose deaths involved opioids, and 83.9% involved illicitly manufactured fentanyls; however, only 35% of decedents had documented opioid use history.

PEW: Sending Kids to Court Doesn't Help Them. Here’s What Will.
In this video, experts explain how the current system is failing our kids and how diverting them from courts—which can range from community service to writing a letter of apology—can hold kids accountable without upending their lives.


Texas Tribune: Texans with mental illnesses are dying in Houston-area jails
Texas' network of county jails is the largest mental health system in Texas, according to the Texas Association of Counties. This is the devastating impact that decades of underfunding has on community mental health programs meant to keep people rooted in their communities. About 46% of the 114 individuals who died of unnatural causes in custody of Texas' jails had been flagged as potentially mentally ill at least once.

ABC 13: Families of Harris County inmates in Austin to advocate for loved ones who died in jail
The Texas Commission on Jail Standards says the death rate at the Harris County Jail is similar to what is happening at jails in other large counties across Texas. A large backlog for criminal cases that began with Hurricane Harvey and has gotten worse due to the pandemic. Jacilet Griffin told the commission it has been 323 days since her son, Evan Lee, died but she still doesn't know what happened inside the Harris County Jail.

KHOU: Expansion of Harris County Jail mental health program could reduce overcrowdedness, officials say
Harris County is expanding a jail mental health program designed to get inmates ready to stand trial. Many inmates can wait months, even years, in jail for a spot at a state psychiatric hospital to restore competency for trial. That's why Harris County commissioners approved $645,000 to expand the capacity of their jail competency restoration program so more inmates can get the help they need to go before trial.

Rikers Island

The City: Rikers Island Guards Probed for Alleged Time Card Scam
City jail officials are investigating a “pattern” of timecard abuses by officers pretending to be on duty, THE CITY has learned — just as the Department of Correction slowly rolls out a new digital timekeeping system. Many city workers have for years been using a more secure fingerprint system designed to make it much harder for staff to cheat on their timesheets and lie about overtime.

San Diego

San Diego Union-Tribune: County looks to keep jail population numbers low by exploring alternatives to incarceration
The county needs to stop using its jails “as a first-line response to dealing with so many of our social challenges and social ills,” such as drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness, Lawson-Remer said when she introduced the proposal. The San Diego Association of Governments is seeking input on where the county is falling short on alternatives to incarceration.

Strip Searches

CT Mirror: Strip searching is state-sanctioned sexual violence
In an op-ed, Katherine Hill, member of the Stop Solitary CT steering committee, writes: Over and over, regardless of one’s race, gender, age, or specific carceral setting, the same words came up when currently or formerly incarcerated people talk about their experience with strip searches: degrading, humiliating, dehumanizing, intimidating, inhumane, horrible, traumatic.

Public Defenders

Omaha World Herald: ‘Unconstitutional’ public defense systems upend lives, freedom across West
Across the West, public defense systems face crushing caseloads, historic underfunding, structural problems, and severe staffing shortages, imperiling criminal defendants’ lives and in many cases denying them their constitutional right to counsel. Defendants have lost jobs and homes while in jail waiting for attorneys to argue for a lower bail or for their release. They’ve had public defenders who were too busy to investigate their cases and felt pressured by their own attorneys to plead guilty when they said they were innocent.


Bennington College: Prison Education Initiative Celebrates $100,000 Grant from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation
Bennington College’s Prison Education Initiative (PEI) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation to continue and expand a program bringing quality liberal arts education to incarcerated students at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, a maximum-security men’s prison in Comstock, NY.


VT Digger: Despite state support, Vermonters struggle to find housing after prison
Advocates say there isn't enough support for people coming out of prison. The problems, they say, are shown in long waitlists for transitional housing, staffing problems within the department, and inconsistent support from caseworkers and probation and parole officers. The Department of Corrections, which provides transitional housing for some, has expanded those housing offerings. Officials point to data showing fewer people are staying past their minimum release date for lack of housing.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Life

PEW: More Than 1 in 9 Adults With Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders Are Arrested Annually
Policymakers are increasingly focused on justice system interactions with and outcomes for people with mental illness or substance use disorders. What has received less attention, however, is the extent to which people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders become involved with the justice system. Adults reporting co-occurring serious or moderate mental illness and substance use disorders were far more likely to be arrested compared with both those with mental illness alone.

Mental Health Initiatives in Criminal Justice

PEW: More Support for Behavioral Health Services Can Improve Probation
About 20% of people on probation have a mental illness, more than half of those have a co-occurring disorder—both a substance use disorder (SUD) and a mental illness. Whether an individual has a mental illness, SUD, or both, probation agencies often offer little assistance in accessing treatment or navigating complex behavioral health systems. All of these factors can place individuals at greater risk for a violation and potential incarceration.

New York Times: One State’s Effort to Keep Some Police Encounters From Turning Deadly
Cases involving people suffering from mental health emergencies are among the most volatile types of policing calls in New Jersey. The Arrive Together program seeks to build trust between the police and the community, and to reduce the time people in crisis wait before being connected to a mental health screener.

Behavior Health: Why Providers Are Teaming Up with Corrections Departments to Better Treat SUD
Partnerships have become crucial in helping people transition out of correction facilities with SUD treatment. For example, substance use disorder provider Groups Recover Together has partnered with several state correctional departments, including Indiana and Maine’s department of corrections to provide transitional care and reentry services for individuals transitioning out of incarceration.

Prees of Atlantic City: Atlantic County jail’s addiction approach spreading and succeeding
The Atlantic County jail and the John Brooks Recovery Center several years ago were among U.S. early adopters in using medication to treat addicted inmates. After state government officials confirmed their success, New Jersey supported similar efforts in other counties. State and national recognition soon followed. There is now a track record that shows an impressive level of success.

Salisbury Post: Rowan County sheriff’s deputies will be required to take crisis intervention training
All incoming Rowan County (NC) sheriff’s deputies must take a Crisis Intervention Team Training class before putting on the badge, a new requirement that was announced by Rowan County Sheriff Travis Allen. Deputies who are already serving with the sheriff’s office but have not taken the training will be required to as well. The training is provided by Vaya Health, an organization that manages Medicaid, federal, state and local funding for services related to mental health, substance use and intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Correctional Providers

CorrectionalNurse.net: Correctional Nurse Professional Practice: Manifesto Proposition Two: Staying Within the Scope of Practice
Unlike traditional settings, jails and prisons can seem like a place where the rules can be unclear and licenses can be on the line. Most nurses working in traditional settings have the protection of clearly defined boundaries of practice. In the correctional setting, however, nurses can work among those who are less familiar with the boundaries of licensure and have misconceptions about the knowledge and experience of the health care staff with whom they work. Differences between LPN/LVN and RN licensure can be blurred.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Washington Post: Inmate's estate reaches settlement with Arlington jail
The family of an inmate who died in a northern Virginia jail has reached a wrongful death settlement with the county sheriff and the jail’s former health care provider. The lawsuit filed by his estate alleged that the jail and Corizon Health (now YesCare), a contractor that provided healthcare services there, failed to treat his withdrawal symptoms and showed deliberate indifference to his medical needs.

In Observation Of Presidents' Day
COCHS Weekly Update Will Not Be Published Next Week