Weekly Update: August 9, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: August 09, 2022


Highlighted Stories

WFAE: Medicaid expansion breakthrough within reach in NC
After a decade of vigorous opposition, most North Carolina Republicans have now embraced the idea of expanding the state's Medicaid program to cover hundreds of thousands of additional low-income adults. Legislative approval finally appears within reach. During the General Assembly session that ended July 1, the GOP-controlled House and Senate passed separate, bipartisan measures by wide margins that would put the state on the path to Medicaid expansion.

Yahoo: Senators blasted BOP director for worsening conditions at the Atlanta federal prison
The outgoing Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal came under fire Tuesday as a bipartisan group of senators grilled the director over concerns about worsening conditions at a federal prison in Atlanta. Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said there are multiple reports documenting the unsanitary conditions and illegal drug use taking place at the prison, troubling allegations that come amid reports that the system has struggled to address suicides committed by incarcerated individuals at the facility.

AZ Central: Judge requests hearing in prison health care case
When U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver ruled in June that Arizona's prison health care system, and it's use of restrictive housing, was unconstitutional, she asked attorneys representing incarcerated people, and those defending the state, to propose experts to help her remedy the situation. After reviewing proposals from both sides, Silver said in an order filed Monday that she was “inclined to appoint” Dr. Marc Stern. Stern is no stranger to Arizona prison health care. Judge Silver previously hired the correctional health care consultant in 2018 to perform a review of the troubled system.

BJA: Second Chance Act Reentry Education and Employment
Signed into law in April 2008 and reauthorized in 2018, the Second Chance Act (SCA) aims to enhance public safety by reducing recidivism in and improving outcomes for people returning from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities to the community. This fact sheet describes three current Second Chance Act investments that support education and employment reentry strategies in 28 states and jurisdictions.



Monkeypox

Fox KTVU: San Francisco sheriff's office isolating jail inmate with suspected case of monkeypox
A jail inmate who has a suspected case of monkeypox will be isolated, San Francisco sheriff's office confirms. On Friday sheriff's office officials said the person was arrested and brought into their custody. San Francisco Department of Public Health said the suspected case was not acquired at the jail and that there are no cases among the jail population.



COVID-19

Health Affairs: The Impact Of COVID-19 On The Health Of Incarcerated Older Adults In California State Prisons
The number of older adults (age fifty-five or older) incarcerated in US prisons reached an all-time high just as COVID-19 entered correctional facilities in 2020. However, little is known about COVID-19’s impact on incarcerated older adults. This study compared COVID-19 outcomes between older and younger adults in California state prisons from March 1, 2020, to October 9, 2021.

Community 99: Mesa County sheriff’s deputy who nearly died from COVID-19 denied workers’ compensation
A Mesa County sheriff’s deputy who nearly died of COVID-19 in 2021 is suing the third-party benefits administrator who denied his workers’ compensation claims last year. “Sometimes I feel like it would have been better if I had just died,” said Travis Crawford, 34, who said he believes he contracted the disease while working at the prison. Crawford, who had worked as a county jail deputy since 2017, became ill with COVID-19 in June 2021. His illness was so severe that he spent almost three months in the hospital.



Opioid Epidemic

Medical Xpress: Almost 90 percent of people with opioid use disorder not receiving life-saving medication, new study finds
While the opioid overdose and death epidemic continues to worsen across the United States, medications such as methadone, buprenorphine and extended-release naltrexone are proven to reduce opioid overdoses by more than 50 percent. New findings led by researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine indicate the vast majority, or 86.6 percent, of people living with opioid use disorder (OUD) are not receiving these evidence-based, life-saving medications.

BJA: Residential Substance Abuse Treatment For State Prisoners (RSAT)
According to the most recent Bureau of Justice Statistics special report on substance use, dependence, and abuse in correctional facilities, 58 percent of state prison inmates and 63 percent of local jail inmates met the medical criteria for alcohol or substance addiction.1 However, only 28 percent of adults incarcerated in state prisons and 22 percent of adults held in local jails received any type of treatment services.



Mental Health

KHN: When Mental Illness Leads to Dropped Charges, Patients Often Go Without Stabilizing Care
In the U.S., criminal proceedings are halted if a defendant is determined to be incompetent. What happens after that varies from state to state. No one is tracking how often criminal charges are dismissed because defendants’ mental illness prevents them from understanding the court process to help in their defense. Some states have policies to transition hospitalized patients to independence after their criminal charges have been dropped. But in others, such as Montana, there are few landing spots for such patients outside of jail or a hospital to aid in that transition.



Sexual Abuse

MSN: ‘Night of terror’: Female inmates raped when male detainees bribed guard, lawsuit says
Female inmates at an Indiana jail were subjected to a “night of terror” when male detainees gained access to their cells, the women allege in a lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed Friday, July 22, by eight women against Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel and current and former Clark County Jail officers. It’s the second lawsuit filed this summer following the alleged incident, with 20 women filing suit in June, court records show.



Rikers Island

New York Times: City’s Admissions That It Can’t Care for Rikers Detainees May Propel Suits
The security-camera images tell a remarkable story: A man being held on Rikers Island collapses and is carried to a medical clinic — not by the correction officer outside his housing unit but by other detainees. The man, Herman Diaz, 52, who had choked on an orange slice, did not survive. The Board of Correction report that includes Mr. Diaz is among several documents in which the city has documented the way it struggles to care for those in its custody.

The City: Latest Rikers Death Highlights Both Mental Health and Oversight Issues
The night before Michael Lopez died of an apparent drug overdose on Rikers Island earlier this month, he spoke with his mother on the phone and asked her to put money into an app. Lopez was seen on video surveillance smoking a substance and snorting pills with several other detainees the night before he died, according to the jail source. “Why didn’t somebody do something about it?” Rosario-Megibow said through tears. “He was in the medical unit for darn’s sake.”



Attica

New York Times: Prison Officials Remove Ban on Attica Book, Except for 2 Crucial Pages
Last week, the state attorney general’s office wrote to a federal judge in Manhattan, saying Ms. Thompson’s lawsuit should be dismissed. The office said that corrections officials had decided that New York’s “incarcerated population” could now see the paperback edition of “Blood in the Water” — with one exception. A two-page map of the Attica Correctional Facility, which appears at the front of the paperback, will be excised for “security reasons,” the state lawyers wrote.



Early Release

New Jersey Monitor: N.J. Supreme Court clarifies when inmates can win compassionate release
Gravely ill inmates seeking freedom under the state’s new Compassionate Release Act don’t have to prove they are wholly, permanently physically incapacitated to get out of prison, the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday. The case was the first test of the statute, which lawmakers enacted in February 2021 after repealing a 1997 compassionate release law that was so restrictive hardly anyone used it.

The City: Heart Failure: Medical Runaround Keeps Man Locked in State Prison Two Years After Being Paroled
Not only was John Teixeria granted a rare “medical parole” in January 2020 but he’s also received standard parole every six months since then. But state prison officials say they have no place to send him in his condition. Prison reform advocates say his case highlights the lack of options for newly released incarcerated people who have serious medical needs. Many go straight into the city’s crowded homeless shelter system. Teixeria’s plight also brings attention to the state prison system’s inability to come up with an acceptable discharge plan nearly two years after he was released on medical parole.



Bail Reform

New York Times: Adams Won’t Let Up on Bail Reform, Putting Pressure on Hochul
Hours before Mayor Eric Adams held a news conference on Wednesday to argue that an “insane, broken system” allowed repeat offenders to keep getting arrested and then released without bail in New York City, Gov. Kathy Hochul issued something of a pre-emptive strike. Four months ago, the governor and the State Legislature tightened New York’s bail laws for the second time in three years, making more crimes bail-eligible and giving judges additional discretion to consider both the severity of a case and a defendant’s repeat offenses when setting bail.



Reentry

Nebraska Examiner: New report finds that social connection is key in turning inmates’ lives around
A new report on a Nebraska prison inmate rehabilitation program found that social support is more important in leading to a crime-free life than programs focused on changing one’s behavior. Michael Campagna, one of the co-authors of the study from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said that social support from those teaching the trades and re-entry skills was cited by many former inmates as important in giving them optimism and motivation to leave behind lives of crime.

Idaho State Journal: Idaho mentor program benefiting inmates preparing for community re-entry
An Idaho Department of Correction program that started in 2016 has been proving its value in helping inmates re-enter the community, says Jeff Kirkman, the program manager of the department’s Free2Succeed mentor program. Providing mentors for former prisoners returning to society helps them get through critical and difficult times and will help provide needed guidance and support for them.

Crime Report: Older People Less Likely to Reoffend After Prison
A study found older federal offenders to be far less likely to commit another crime upon release. According to the study, older offenders’ recidivism rates sat at 21.3 percent in 2021, well over half the rate of those under 50. The rate climbs to 53.4 percent for offenders under 50. In addition, older offenders had a less extensive criminal history than younger federal offenders.



Jail/Prison Construction

Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Opinions divided on jail expansion
Washington County voters are being asked to approve a sales tax increase to pay for a bigger jail. County voters will be asked to approve a 0.25% sales tax increase to pay for up to $113.5 million in bonds to expand the county's jail and up to $28.5 million in bonds to pay for improvements to the county's juvenile court facilities. The Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition has called for a moratorium on any new jail beds in both Benton and Washington counties, arguing that alternatives to incarceration have yet to be explored by either county and should take precedence over bigger jails.

VT Digger: State contracts with design firm to move forward on new women’s prison
The state of Vermont has contracted with a design firm to plan a new women’s prison and reentry facility, and to possibly reconfigure the state’s prison system over a 10-year period. In a report drafted for lawmakers in 2021, the global design firm HOK laid out options for the state to replace and consolidate some prisons and build lower-security reentry facilities. The agreement with HOK represents the next step in a years-long controversy over what to do with Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, the state’s only women’s prison.



Jail Conditions

Pennsylvania Capital-Star: Citations, fines, and terminated contracts: a look at the Allegheny Co. Jail health code violations
Since 2014, The Allegheny County Jail’s residential kitchen has received 162 health code violations from the Allegheny County Health Department. The jail has been cited for its pest management, plumbing, cleaning and sanitation, and handwashing facilities. In 2021, the facility was cited 42 times, the most citations the jail has received in a single calendar year. So far in 2022, the jail has been cited 21 times.



Staffing Shortages

WWNO: Expert says inadequate staffing is driving deaths in prisons across the Gulf South
In Alabama, eight people died a the William Donaldson Correctional Facility in July alone. The number of deaths at the prison is expected to surpass the 26 people who died there in 2021. In New Orleans, in June, the Orleans Parish Prison had an especially fatal weekend, when one man was stabbed to death with a makeshift weapon and another died in what’s been deemed a suicide. These deaths have been attributed, in large part, to staffing issues. Spikes in violence in jails and prisons have also been linked to rises in temperatures.



Correctional Health Care Vendors

WBUR: Little has been done to correct problems at Bridgewater State Hospital, report finds
The Disability Law Center (DLC) found that the Massachusetts Department of Correction, which operates the facility, illegally used chemical and physical restraints on people in custody, lacks adequate services for those who speak limited English and failed to provide enough information about efforts to remove mold in the hospital building. The report found both the Department of Correction and its medical provider, Wellpath, violated laws requiring appropriate medical care and documentation when force is used.

Bangor Daily News: Inmate health care provider pulls services from Kennebec, Androscoggin jails over bill dispute
The health services for inmates at the Kennebec County jail and the Androscoggin County jail have been abruptly suspended due to a dispute over a bill allegedly owed to the health care provider. Correctional Health Partners is reportedly seeking the estimated amount of $350,000 as part of an effort to provide premium pay to its nurses, but when jail officials sought documentation to justify the bill, they were reportedly presented a spreadsheet that did not contain any information on how that money had been allocated.