Weekly Update: March 1, 2022

COCHS Weekly Update: March 01, 2022

Highlighted Stories

OPB: Oregon Medicaid proposal includes kids-under-6 rule change, services for some inmates
Oregon has submitted a new five-year proposal for big changes to the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program. The Oregon Health Authority wants to provide full Oregon Health Plan coverage for youth in county-run juvenile correctional facilities and for adults in county jails. Adults in state prison and in the Oregon State Hospital could receive some Oregon Health Plan benefits and transition assistance starting 90 days before their release.

The Crime Report: Prison Healthcare ‘Lacks Uniform Standards’
Since a 1976 Supreme Court ruling, incarcerated individuals are the only group of people in the United States to have a constitutional right to health care. But, who decides what is “reasonably adequate,” particularly when the healthcare system for patients in prison lacks uniform standards? The researchers contend that with multiple agencies at federal, state, and local levels possessing authority over correctional health care, standards of health care vary starkly across the U.S.

The National Council for Mental Well Being: Overdose Prevention and Response in Community Corrections
In this environmental scan, the National Council for Mental Well Being details how overdose prevention and response efforts are currently implemented in community corrections. This effort included a literature review, 19 key informant interviews and a roundtable discussion with a diverse group of individuals with experience in community corrections, overdose prevention or harm reduction.

CMS: Changes in Access to Medication Opioid Use Disorder Treatment during COVID-19 Telehealth Expansion and Disparities in Telehealth
In a report released earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) looked at access to medications for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) by Medicare beneficiaries before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS found that Medicare beneficiaries accessing OUD care had fewer inpatient or emergency department visits.

COVID-19 in Corrections

Spokane Public Radio: As pandemic continues in Washington's prisons, inmates, families fear long-term health consequences
As Washington State goes deeper into its third year of the pandemic, families of imprisoned people say their loved ones are more isolated than ever, and aren’t receiving needed mental health, or non-emergency medical care. Some fear the isolation and lack of preventative care could result in long-term consequences to the well-being of inmates.

Times Call: Coronavirus cases plummet at Boulder County Jail, Boulder Shelter for the Homeless
After months of continuous coronavirus cases, which were catalyzed by the rapid spread of the omicron variant, both the Boulder County Jail and the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless think the end is in sight. Boulder County sheriff’s Division Chief Jeff Goetz said there were 63 cases among inmates and 27 cases among staff members at the jail Jan. 6. He added that prior to the surge of cases, the highest number of inmates with COVID-19 at the jail was about 22.

Bakersfield.com: CDCR begins accepting inmates after pausing because of COVID-19 uptick in prisons
State prison officials confirmed two facilities in Kern County can start taking prisoners again, as local law enforcement officials worked last week to address a backlog of hundreds of state inmates in need of transfer who are being housed in local jails. Both police and sheriff’s officials recently shared the challenges created by the COVID-19-related capacity restrictions, which include not being able to house a number of their suspects, among other obstacles.

Governing: Montana Prisons, Jails Yet to Receive Any COVID Funds
Last summer, Montana created a list of more than a dozen upgrades for its state prison facilities to protect inmates and staffers from coronavirus infections, all of which would be paid for with nearly $2.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money. The holdup is the result of concerns that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised after reviewing the spending plan submitted by the state Nov. 8. The state’s budget included only Montana Department of Corrections facilities, with no information on how the state would help county jails or other community confinement facilities.

Criminal Justice Reform

Politico: Los Angeles prosecutors overwhelmingly want to oust their progressive boss
Rank-and-file prosecutors in Los Angeles have voted nearly unanimously to back the recall of District Attorney George Gascón — a rebuke of the embattled progressive that came just after Gascón reversed course on controversial sentencing policies. The Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles, a union representing line prosecutors, said 97.9 percent of its members had voted to back a burgeoning effort to oust Gascón a little over a year after he took office.

The City: Why Is New York’s Bail Reform So Controversial?
Ever since bail reform was passed by the state legislature in 2019, the law has been hotly debated. Weeks after those changes took effect in 2020, a spate of hate crimes against Jewish New Yorkers spurred a backlash. The recent shooting deaths of two NYPD officers, as well as the death of a teenage fast food worker in Upper Manhattan, have also intensified the controversy over the new bail laws.

NPR: The U.S. is limiting compassionate release in plea deals. Many say that's cruel
Federal prosecutors have been seeking to limit defendants' rights to win compassionate release from prison in plea negotiations across the country, a practice that advocates say undermines the intent of Congress and produces cruel outcomes. Two advocacy groups — Families Against Mandatory Minimums and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers — asked Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Tuesday to prohibit U.S. attorneys from including the "pernicious" language in plea agreements.

PPIC: Historic Law Aims to Improve Police Accountability and Transparency
This year, California joined 47 other states in creating a decertification process for law enforcement officers who commit serious misconduct—barring them from serving in any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. Following the murder of George Floyd, states across the country implemented a raft of reforms to increase officer accountability. One of the key goals of California’s law (SB 2) is to prevent “wandering officers”—those who commit misconduct and then move to another agency.

Health Care Lawsuits in Corrections

Truthout: This Prison in California Forced Incarcerated People to Drink Arsenic for Years
The EPA’s Safe Water Drinking Information System shows that from 2008 to 2012, Kern Valley State Prison's (KVSP water had arsenic levels consistently around 20 micrograms per liter, twice the EPA limit of 10 micrograms. In an unprecedented move, at least 18 people incarcerated at KVSP also risked retaliation and independently filed lawsuits over what they say was blatant intent to cause harm: The prison’s continued use of unsafe drinking water. Despite receiving multiple state- and county-level water quality violations, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) delayed remediation and did not provide alternate sources of water.

Corrections 1: Wash. to pay $3.75M for death of man whose cancer went untreated in prison
Washington state will pay $3.75 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the family of a man who died at Monroe Correctional Complex after his cancer went untreated despite repeated pleas. Kenny Williams, 63, died in June 2019 of breast cancer that had spread to his bones. If he'd received chemotherapy, as recommended by an oncologist, he'd likely have lived to his release date last fall, according to the lawsuit. Instead, as documented in a scathing November 2019 prison watchdog report, efforts by Williams and his family to obtain treatment were frustrated by a confused and at times coldly indifferent DOC bureaucracy, delaying proper care until it was too late.

CT Mirror: State needs to ensure that incarcerated receive adequate medical care
One can, and should, ask why the state is willing to invest millions of dollars to settle lawsuits that could have been prevented had the Department of Corrections upheld its legal duties and provided health care for affected inmates. Preventative health care saves thousands of lives and countless sums annually; these incidents show that preventative care is needed, as is a reorganization of how patient health care is considered. The cost of a single lawsuit settlement could be enough to fund significant improvements in care while reducing the frequency of future lawsuits alike.

Pregnancy, SUD, & Incarceration

Cal Matters: Meth, a mother, and a stillbirth: Imprisoned mom wants her ‘manslaughter’ case reopened
The 29-year-old woman was rushed to a Central Valley hospital on Dec. 30, 2017. Seven of her nine children had been born high on methamphetamine. This one, her 10th, was coming two weeks early. Doctors detected no fetal heartbeat at 9:30 p.m. At 10:14 p.m., she tested positive for methamphetamine. Eight minutes later, Adora Perez of Hanford delivered a stillborn boy. On the morning of Jan. 1, 2018 — the woman was released from Adventist Medical Center in Hanford and arrested. Charged with murder, she eventually pleaded guilty to “manslaughter of a fetus” and was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Opioid Pipeline Into Corrections

Washington Post: D.C. jail guard accused of smuggling narcotics, knives into facility
A correctional officer at the D.C. jail was arrested Thursday and accused of smuggling narcotics, knives and other banned items into the facility in return for cash bribes. The allegations came almost four months after the U.S. Marshals Service published a letter condemning conditions at the D.C. jail, which included Corrections staff denying detainees food and water as a form of punishment.

Corrections 1: Despite body scans and other preventative efforts, fentanyl-induced deaths on rise in Ariz. jail
From January 2021 to Feb. 2, 2022, the jail had 26 emergency-room send-outs for possible overdoses, according to a memo from Paula Perrera, the Pima county's behavioral health director. Narcan was administered in 22 of those cases, and 19 cases required multiple doses of the drug designed to reverse opioid overdoses. Pima County Public Defender Joel Feinman, who represents many of the inmates in the jail, is joining family members of the deceased in attempts to bring attention to the facility's deaths.


Bradenton Herald: Mississippi’s workforce gets boost from prison system
Job training and rehabilitation have become the focus at the state’s prisons, with dozens of new classrooms and training opportunities cropping up in Mississippi’s prisons over the past two years. Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain, who took the helm of the agency in 2020, has placed a large focus on creating a network focused on making inmates ready to re-enter society when their sentence is done.

Correctional Construction & Modifications

West Hawaii Today: Work begins on HCCC expansion
Construction began last month on a long-planned and controversial new housing module at the Hilo jail. HCCC is the most overcrowded correctional facility in the state, with an occupancy rate of 140.3% of design capacity. The plans, as approved, have been unpopular. It appears community sentiment against the current jail expansion remains the same as it was three years ago. Kiki Rycraft, president of the Halai Kumiai, a neighborhood organization, described the project at the 2019 meeting as “more or less, a lose-lose situation.”

VT Digger: Lawmakers consider $18.6M estimate to install air conditioning at all state prisons
Steve Howard, executive director of the Vermont State Employees’ Association, told members of the House Committee on Corrections and Institutions that controlling the temperature in the facilities is a health and safety issue as well as a matter of fairness for corrections staff. The higher-ups in the corrections department — who are setting policy and meting out discipline — work in an air-conditioned central office, he told the panel, while staff are “sweating to death in a brick oven, basically” as they work inside the prisons.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

Slate: Why It’s So Impossible to Get Decent Mental Health Care in Prison
Prison systems also deliberately blur the line between the health care and security staffs. Mental health care workers sign off on prisoners’ punishments. Guards often distribute prisoners’ medications. Health care workers in prisons are always “professional law enforcement officers first,” as the Federal Bureau of Prisons told the Marshall Project—security comes before health in their job description.

Mental Health Initiatives in Criminal Justice

Los Angeles Times: San Diego County Reimagines Response To Mental Health Calls
Telecare office of San Diego County’s Mobile Crisis Response Teams includes behavioral health clinicians who are dispatched to mental health and substance use emergencies instead of police. Every year, police respond to tens of thousands of calls about people in mental crisis. The crisis teams are intended to be a complementary program that expands the county’s ability to respond to those in crisis. Police leaders say it’s unclear how many mental health calls will be suitable for the new teams, but county officials expect their use to continue to grow as knowledge of the program spreads.

Private Prisons

Tennessean: Trousdale Turner inmate 'would not be dead' if CoreCivic staffed prisons properly, lawsuit claims
The family of a man killed at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center has asked the court for not only $10 million in damages, but for a path to radically changing or permanently closing the Tennessee prison facility run by for-profit prison company CoreCivic. A lawsuit filed this week by the mother of Terry Childress, killed while incarcerated last year, is the latest challenge to the way CoreCivic runs its institutions.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

13 NewsNow: Man to spend 3 years in prison, pay $35K after bribing former Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe
The founder and former CEO, Gerard Boyle, of Correct Care Solutions (CCS) that provide medical services to the Norfolk City Jail (VI) will spend three years in prison and pay a $35,000 fine for bribing former sheriff Bob McCabe. Prosecutors said Boyle provided McCabe with things of value, including gifts, cash, entertainment, travel, and campaign contributions. In exchange, McCabe, who also was found guilty on charges related to the case, performed official acts that favored CCS. Boyle's company obtained medical services contracts worth more than $3 million per year with the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office.

Duluth News Tribune: Inmate health in St. Louis County: Is jail getting best care?
Until recently, the St. Louis County Jail had enjoyed its time in the shadows. But the jail’s contract with a for-profit medical provider put the St. Louis County Jail under a spotlight this month, when the County Board voted 4-3 to maintain its existing contract with MEnD Correctional Care unless directed to an alternative by Sheriff Ross Litman. MEnD is under fire throughout the Midwest after its founder and medical director, Dr. Todd Leonard, had his medical license indefinitely suspended by the state in January.

Ludington Daily News: Inmate medical care vendor change raises ire
A change from one local vendor to a larger one to provide medical care to inmates at the Mason County Jail (MI) has the previous vendor wondering why a change was needed. Dr. Michelle Kuster, who owns and operates All Access Care in Ludington, had a presentation before the Mason County Board of Commissioners asking why the automatic renewal of her contract was stopped by the Mason County Sheriff’s Office earlier in February. The new contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare was approved on June 30, 2021. Kuster questioned whether it was strictly a business decision, but wouldn’t elaborate. Kuster said, “This decision has removed a local business owner who was providing quality and timely care to the inmates of Mason County.”