Weekly Update: November 7, 2023
New Studies: Prenatal Trauma & Arrest; Contraception In Corrections; Containing Contagion; Mass Incarceration’s Impact; Decline In Black Imprisonment

COCHS Weekly Update: November 07, 2023

Highlighted Stories

News Medical Life Science: Study finds link between parental trauma and child's risk of arrest and conviction
A study led by UCLA researchers found that the children of parents who experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)– such as abuse, neglect, violence in the home, or loss of a parent – are at increased risk of arrests and convictions by young adulthood. The authors report that their findings suggest that there is a crucial need for prevention of ACE exposure in the first place, as well as efforts to mitigate the impact.

BMC: Building an implementation framework to address unmet contraceptive care needs in a carceral setting: a systematic review
The provision of contraceptive care for incarcerated individuals has been largely inconsistent and has contributed to, at best, inadequate care, and at worst reproductive abuses, violence, and coercion. The compiled evidence identified a clear need for change regarding policies and practices pertaining to contraceptive care provision to incarcerated individuals in the United States. The study provides an initial blueprint for correctional agencies to implement the necessary changes for improving contraceptive care provision to incarcerated populations.

Forbes: Study Shows Challenges Of Managing Contagion Within Jails And Prisons
With COVID-19 in our rearview mirror, the time has come to reflect on lessons learned from the contagion that filled our hospitals with sick patients and killed millions worldwide. Nowhere was the pandemic more urgent than in U.S. prisons where both workers and prisoners struggled to control the contagion within secure, prison compounds. Decision makers generally approached quarantine and isolation protocols as a logistical challenge, rather than an ethical one.

Prison Policy Initiative: Ten statistics about the scale and impact of mass incarceration in the U.S.
The United States’ reliance on incarceration outpaces most of the globe: every single state incarcerates more people per capita than virtually any independent democracy on Earth. But the sheer magnitude and impact of a system so large can be hard to fully comprehend. On any given day, about 2 million people in the U.S. are locked up in jails, prisons, and other spaces of confinement. More than 79 million people in the U.S. have a criminal record, creating barriers to housing, jobs, healthcare, and food assistance, among many other collateral consequences.

Black Enterprise: Trends Show Black Prison Population Is On A Significant Decline
The total prison population has declined by 25% after reaching its peak in 2009, but the Black prison population has notably downsized the most, according to a new report. Over the past two decades, reforms of the past have reduced some of the burdens of this nation’s criminal legal system and its racial disparities. While all major racial and ethnic groups experienced decarceration, the number of imprisoned Black Americans decreased 39% since 2002, said researchers from The Sentencing Project.

Medicaid Expansion

KSN: Gov. Kelly stops in Wichita to host roundtable with law enforcement, mental health leaders
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly stopped at the Sedgwick County Jail in Wichita to host a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement and mental health leaders. Gov. Kelly sais that expanding Medicaid would improve public safety, leading to fewer arrests and reduced rates of re-arrest. Local mental health leaders also shared their opinions on the topic.

State Roundup

Alaska Public Radio: Alaska inmate led drug and money laundering conspiracy from behind bars, prosecutors say
Federal authorities have arrested a group of alleged drug traffickers in Alaska, including a woman already in prison who was its supposed ringleader. Christina Reyna Quintana, 38, led a group of nine others that brought at least 12 kilograms of the powerful opioid fentanyl to Alaska between February 2022 and July 2023. She pleaded guilty to leading a group that smuggled methamphetamine and heroin.

Press Enterprise: Should Riverside County supervisors ‘rein in’ sheriff’s department?
More than a half-dozen lawsuits have been filed in U.S. District Court in Riverside this year on behalf of inmates who died in the county’s five-jail system, including three filed since Oct. 11. One lawsuit was filed by the parents of a transgender woman they say was found beaten and strangled to death in her cell. In February, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his office would pursue a civil rights investigation into Bianco’s department over jail conditions and allegations of misconduct. In an emailed statement, Sheriff Chad Bianco defended his department, calling it “arguably one of the most professional and transparent organizations in the country, even outside of law enforcement.

NBC: Report shows Miami-Dade made major improvements in inmate safety
Miami-Dade’s Corrections and Rehabilitation Department has made big strides in improving conditions inside its jails, according to federal monitors overseeing the department as part of a consent agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ’s legal complaint against the county alleged the jails were violating the constitutional rights of inmates, pointing to a troubling pattern of inmates committing suicide and a lack of resources provided to those inmates with mental health issues.

FOX 5: Fulton County DA Fani Willis partners with Morehouse School of Medicine to help inmate's mental health
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis says mental health is a real problem that she cannot prosecute her way out of. Instead, she is turning to professionals at the Morehouse School of Medicine to help inmates transition to life outside, so they do not end up back behind bars.

WTTW: With Few Granted, Time Is Fleeting for People in Illinois Prisons Hoping for Medical Release: ‘My Hope Is Waning’
For the last two years, Illinois has had a law that allows people who are in prison and are dying of a terminal illness or are physically disabled the opportunity to petition for compassionate release. It’s called the Joe Coleman Medical Release Act. Under the law, people in prison can petition the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for early release But a recent report shows far fewer prisoners than expected are getting out. if they are terminally ill and likely to die within the next eighteen months.

PBS: This New Orleans ‘genius’ is on a quest to learn more about rising deaths in prisons
Andrea Armstrong has become a leading expert whose research sheds light on the harmful conditions people behind bars face in the United States. In October, she was named to the 2023 class of MacArthur fellows, often known as recipients of the prestigious “genius grants.” Armstrong authored a report that documented a nearly 50 percent increase in deaths from 2019 to 2021 in the state’s prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers.

Baltimore Banner: People with dementia are being assaulted, improperly housed in Baltimore jail, report finds
Incarcerated people suffering from dementia who are booked into Baltimore jails are ending up in isolation, at a detriment to their conditions, or improperly housed in general population, where they are sometimes assaulted or otherwise injured, according to a newly released report by the independent doctor monitoring medical care in the facilities.

Mississippi Today: How Mississippi’s troubled prison system has fared under Tate Reeves and Burl Cain
When Gov. Tate Reeves was sworn into office nearly four years ago, his very first priority was addressing the long-troubled Mississippi prison system. Reeves put Burl Cain in charge. Over 300 people have died in Missisisppi’s prisons since Cain became commissioner, with at least 50 of those deaths attributed to homicide, suicide and drug overdoses. But Mississippi’s prison system has made some gains. Incarcerated people still live among crumbling infrastructure. Gangs continue to hold power over inmates and staff.

Nebraska Examiner: Missouri official hired as new medical director for Nebraska Department of Corrections
The medical director for Centurion, afor-profit provider of health care for Missouri prison inmates began work as the new medical director for the Nebraska Department of Corrections. A check of court records indicate that Lovelace was among the medical staff sued in 2019 by a Missouri prison inmate who claimed that he had been denied treatment for hepatitis C, in violation of the applicable medical standard of care. Federal court records indicate that Lovelace, who had developed Corizon’s hepititis C treatment protocols, denied all allegations that he had provided substandard health care.

New Jersey
NJ Spotlight: NJ inmate complaints — property, health care, safety
The New Jersey Office of the Corrections Ombudsperson released its annual report detailing the concerns and complaints of people within the prison system. The latest report details issues with property, health care, housing and classification, communication with loved ones, and personal safety. Advocates say the report helps everyone understand where improvements still need to be made, including in health care.

North Carolina
NC Health News: State makes slow progress on NC prison air-conditioning upgrades
In North Carolina, an effort has been underway to design and install air-conditioning systems in 40 state prisons. Temperatures rose into the high 80s and 90s in some of the North Carolina prisons that lack cooling systems, and some inmates would soak their clothes in the showers so they could cool down enough to sleep.

South Carolina
New York Times: South Carolina Jails to Be Investigated After Reports of Abuse and Violence
The Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation of two troubled jails in South Carolina after reports of violent and unhealthy living conditions, failure to treat mentally ill prisoners and the abuse of inmates by guards. The department initiated a pattern or practice investigation into the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center near Charleston and the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Columbia after the deaths of 14 inmates over the past several years. In a statement, Sheriff Kristin Graziano of Charleston County said that criticism of the jail was “politically opportunistic.” She accused officials in state government of failing to provide enough resources to deal with mental illness.

US Department of Justice: Former Tennessee Supervisory Corrections Officer Sentenced for Civil Rights Offenses After Assaulting an Inmate and Ignoring His Medical Needs
Former supervisory state corrections officer, Kenan Lister, was sentenced today to two years in prison followed by two years of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to two civil rights offenses. Lister assaulted an inmate in a holding cell at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility in Hartsville, Tennessee. At the time, Lister was on duty as the facility’s security threat group coordinator. While the inmate was sitting calmly in a holding cell, Lister punched the inmate in the head, knocking him to the ground.

KSAT: Inside a Texas prison for a lockdown
For the first time in over a decade, Texas prisons were under a statewide lockdown from Sept. 6 to Oct. 16. Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said the lockdown was prompted due to the amount of violence, drugs, and contraband inside prisons being at an all-time high.

VT Digger: State employees union calls for ‘state of emergency’ to handle juvenile detention
The union representing Vermont state employees has called on Gov. Phil Scott to declare a state of emergency and deploy the National Guard to deal with the state’s shortage of adequate placements for justice-involved youth. But the union’s call for help nevertheless underscores the untenable situation both the children and adults in Vermont’s juvenile justice system find themselves in.

WBAY: Update on third inmate death during lockdown at Waupun Correctional Facility
The death of a third prisoner at Waupun correctional facility has been confirmed. A group of Waupun inmates filed a federal lawsuit in Milwaukee last week claiming conditions at that prison amount to cruel and unusual punishment. They say they can’t get access to health care, are only allowed one shower per week, and aren’t allowed in-person visits with their families.

WPR: Democratic lawmakers say bills will counter inhumane conditions in Wisconsin jails, prisons
Democratic lawmakers are introducing a package of legislation that they say will counter inhumane conditions in Wisconsin's prisons and county jails. Among the provisions, the bills would require prisons and jails to provide menstrual products free of charge and to allow incarcerated people to bathe at least four times a week with heated running water. Another bill would set aside money so that prisons could install HVAC systems within the next decade to ensure cell temperature remain within 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

WPR: Wisconsin prisons have large budgets, high racial disparities
Wisconsin’s incarceration rates are higher than the national average, especially for Black residents, and the state has one of the largest corrections budgets in the nation. The forum found 344 of every 100,000 Wisconsinites were in prison in 2021, compared to a national average of 316. The Wisconsin Policy Forum also found Black Wisconsinites are imprisoned at close to 12 times the rate of white Wisconsinites. Only New Jersey and California had larger gaps, at 12.8 and 15.6 times, respectively.

Rikers Island

New York Times: New York’s Embattled Jails Leader Gets a New Job in City Hall
New York City’s embattled jails commissioner will be moved to another position in Mayor Eric Adams’s administration after a tenure in which his failure to reverse the chaos and violence at the Rikers Island complex raised the possibility of a federal takeover. The commissioner, Louis A. Molina, will become the assistant deputy mayor for public safety.

FOX News: Ex-NYC prison guards avoid prison time after alleged negligence in teen inmate's suicide attempt
Two former New York City jail guards have avoided prison time for what authorities called their failure to intervene in a teenage inmate's suicide attempt for nearly eight minutes until it was too late to save him from serious brain damage. Prosecutors said jail guards were seen on surveillance video walking past Feliciano and taking no action for seven minutes and 51 seconds.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Tributary: Former Duval jail medical provider, Armor, says it can’t pay millions in debt
Armor Health Management, one of the nation’s largest jail medical providers, can’t pay its debts and has turned its assets over for liquidation, allowing another company to potentially take over its lucrative contract in a Texas jail and manage several of its other entities. The company has $153 million in unsecured debt, including its payments due to employees, consultants, lawyers and victims of its poor medical care who have won or settled lawsuits. In February, Corizon, another for-profit company that provided medical care in prisons and jails filed its own bankruptcy in Texas and moved most of its debts to a new company called Tehum Care Services, which then also declared bankruptcy.

VT Digger: Department of Corrections pulls security clearance for health contractor with opioid diversion record
One day after VTDigger published a report detailing a history of opioid diversion by the top health care contractor at the Springfield prison, the Vermont's Department of Corrections revoked his security clearance, preventing him from working in Vermont’s prisons. Because Robert Stevenson, the former Springfield health care leader, is a Wellpath employee, the department does not have the power to terminate him. Stevenson had served as the health services administrator at Southern State Correctional Facility. Public records showed that Stevenson’s nursing license had been suspended or revoked in North Carolina, North Dakota and New Mexico for diverting opioids.

Santa Barbara Independent: Homicide in the Jail?
John Paul Thomas (“JT”), an acutely mentally ill man from Santa Maria, died just 20 minutes after being admitted to Santa Barbara County’s Main Jail. The county has engaged Wellpath, a private contractor, to meet the health-care needs of jail residents. The sheriff is responsible to oversee Wellpath’s health care and required to annually report findings. Wellpath has issued no report for over a year, and the sheriff has not exercised appropriate oversight to ensure adequate health care in the jail.

WREG: Healthcare provider raises concerns about mental health services in jail
Shelby County is under scrutiny again for how it awards contracts to those wishing to do business with the county.Dr. Kaveh Ofogh said he wants to provide health care to the inmates at the Shelby County Jail but he got a rejection letter. The county had sent a congratulatory letter to Wellpath, the company that provided the cheapest bid. But was it premature? The County Commission has the final say on who will provide health care services, and right now, the vote has not even gone before the Commission. Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris told us Wellpath had a lower cost, but he wants to look at providing services so those with mental health needs don’t end up in jail in the first place.

KION: The Death Dilemma Inside the Monterey County Jail: Concerns Over Wellpath’s Medical Services
After six deaths at the Monterey County Jail this year, one as late as October has raised serious questions about the quality of medical care provided to inmates. According to the lawsuit, Wellpath's overall compliance decreased from 48.1% in March 2017 to 42.6% in October 2022. This decline in compliance is a cause for alarm as it indicates a failure to meet the standards and expectations outlined in the agreement between Wellpath and the county.

Legal Newsline: Lawsuit over death of California inmate faces dismissal motion
A company providing mental health services in California jails argues it shouldn't be held liable for the death of an inmate. Wellpath LLC filed a motion to dismiss Oct. 31 in a lawsuit brought over the 2019 death of John Adena. The motion to dismiss says Wellpath employees assessed his mental health and medical needs at least 15 times.

In Observance Of Veteran's Day
COCHS Weekly Update Will Not Be Published Next Week