Weekly Update: November 9, 2021

COCHS Weekly Update: November 09, 2021

Highlighted Stories

Science: The predatory dimensions of criminal justice
Over the past 35 years, public and private actors have turned US criminal justice institutions into a vast network of revenue-generating operations. Today, practices such as fines, fees, forfeitures, prison charges, and bail premiums transfer billions of dollars from oppressed communities to governments and corporations. Guided by scholarship on racial capitalism, this study argues that to understand how and why criminal justice operates as it does today, one must attend to its predatory dimensions.

NPR: DEA takes aggressive stance toward pharmacies trying to dispense addiction medicine
Research in North Carolina and Kentucky has found that many pharmacists worry that ordering buprenorphine will trigger a DEA investigation. The DEA does not specify thresholds for controlled substances, but it requires wholesalers to flag suspicious orders. Once a pharmacy hits its self-established quota, it may rarely have openings for new patients.

PPIC: Racial Disparities in Law Enforcement Stops
Generally, traffic stops have the greatest Black-white disparities, especially among local law enforcement agencies. More than three times the share of Black Californians than white Californians are then searched by police and sheriff departments. When local law enforcement agencies make stops for traffic violations, Black drivers are more likely to experience more intrusive actions that white drivers.

Brennan Center for Justice: Independent Oversight Is Essential for a Safe and Healthy Prison System
Almost every country in the European Union has a government entity designated as a “National Preventive Mechanism,” responsible for inspecting all places of detention and reporting publicly on conditions. But the United States is an anomaly on the world stage. Prisons and jails in this country are among the most opaque public institutions. Information about deaths in custody remains elusive in many states. Even data about the spread and toll of Covid-19 behind bars is spotty and unreliable, and is virtually nonexistent in local jails.

COVID-19 in Corrections

capradio: Amid COVID-19 outbreak in Sacramento jails, advocates demand better care, emergency releases
The county’s jails are seeing their biggest COVID-19 outbreak since last winter. The latest outbreak began Oct. 18, according to county Director of Health Services Chevon Kothari. As of Tuesday afternoon, she said there have been 191 cases across both the main Sacramento County Jail and the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center. Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye said in a statement that quarantine protocols were in place and extensive testing was being done.

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento County supervisor asks if jail inmate release is needed to contain COVID outbreak
A Sacramento County supervisor, Phil Serna, this week asked whether health officials need to ask the court for the release of some jail inmates as a COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread the disease among those in custody. Serna sought a release from custody or home detention for some inmates awaiting trial on misdemeanor or “low risk” charges to contain the recent outbreak of nearly 200 confirmed COVID cases at both county jail facilities.

COVID-19 Vaccinations in Corrections

The Hill: Newsom joins corrections department in appealing prison vaccine mandate
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is joining the state's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in asking a federal court to pause an order requiring correctional staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The state is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to pause the order pending appeal, arguing that implementing it would lead to a mass exodus of correctional officers.

The Marshall Project: As Corrections Officers Quit in Droves, Prisons Get Even More Dangerous
At a Georgia state House of Representatives hearing on prison conditions, a corrections officer called in testified how dire conditions had become. On a “good day,” he told lawmakers, he had maybe six or seven officers to supervise roughly 1,200 people. He said he had recently been assigned to look after 400 prisoners by himself. There weren’t enough nurses to provide medical care. Staff shortages have long been a challenge for prison agencies. But the coronavirus pandemic — and its impact on the labor market — has pushed many corrections systems into crisis.

Hawaii News Now: Lawsuit: state officials disclosed vaccination statuses of hundreds of DPS employees
A lawsuit alleges that Hawaii officials unlawfully disclosed the COVID-19 vaccination statuses of nearly 300 Department of Public Safety employees. The Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers unions said in a lawsuit filed last week that vaccination statuses were “deliberately and intentionally released” in violation of medical privacy laws

AP: Arizona National Guard helps with Maricopa jail vaccinations
The Arizona National Guard is assisting with vaccinations in Maricopa County jails. Maricopa County Correction Health Services sent a request for assistance to the county's Emergency Management Department. A team of Army Guard Medics personnel are now administering COVID-19 vaccines, boosters, and flu shots to high-risk patients.

DC Jails

Washington Post: The D.C. jail is the city’s responsibility. You wouldn’t know it from the city’s response.
The U.S. Marshals Service conducted an unannounced inspection and found evidence of “systemic” mistreatment of detainees, including unsanitary living conditions and the punitive denial of food and water. The marshals who took the time to actually enter the facility discovered: “Detainees had observable injuries with no corresponding medical or incident reports.” “The smell of urine and feces was overpowering.” D.C. officials should be ashamed of professing their concern for inmates when it is apparent that they “don’t give a damn.”

Washington Post: Unacceptable conditions at D.C. jail lead to plan to transfer about 400 inmates, officials say
A recent surprise inspection of the D.C. jail by the U.S. Marshals Service found evidence of “systemic” mistreatment of inmates, including the punitive denial of water and food, unsanitary living conditions and detainees with “observable injuries” for which no medical reports were available. Those expected to be moved do not include Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendants. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s administration opposes the planned inmate transfers. The inspection, and the planned removal of federal prisoners, raises questions about the treatment of nonfederal inmates, who make up a vast majority of the jail’s population.

WUSA: Judge orders Proud Boy released from DC Jail over medical issues, fear of retaliation
In June, Judge Royce C. Lamberth rejected a bid by Christopher Worrell, a Proud Boy charged in the Capitol riot, to be released from jail over alleged threats he made against witnesses in his case. But the judge on Wednesday released Worrell over concerns he wouldn’t get adequate medical care. Lamberth said he had “zero confidence” D.C. corrections officials. Lamberth ordered Worrell moved to a detention facility in Alexandria while he works out a third-party custodian to supervise his pretrial release.


AZ Central: Arizona prison health care trial: Deputy warden says no limits for isolation in prison
The landmark trial Jensen v. Shinn is the latest chapter in an almost decade-long struggle to determine whether Arizona’s prisoners are getting the basic health care they are entitled to under the law. The federal trial pits Arizona against the people held in its prisons, who argue in a class-action lawsuit that the medical services they receive are so poor, they constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The state’s health care contractor, Centurion, is the latest in a string of companies that have failed to pass muster with the courts.

KOLD: KOLD Investigates Prisons on Trial: Arizona on trial over prison healthcare
Day four in the landmark trial on Arizona inmate healthcare wrapped up on Thursday, Nov. 4. Plaintiff’s witness, Dr. Pablo Stewart, a psychiatrist and an expert in correctional psychiatrist took the stand and described images taken from a video he reviewed of an inmate who is mentally ill. Stewart said the inmate suffered from a psychotic episode, banging his head against a wall, believing he needed to kill himself in order to save his daughter from being raped. Stewart said instead of calling in a mental health expert, the inmate was shot “at least four times with a semi-automatic pepperball launcher.”

12 News: Fathers for Justice: Is Arizona's prison system to blame for Elijah Al-Amin's death?
Elijah Al-Amin, 17, was attacked and stabbed to death by Michael Adams. Michael Adams had just been released from prison. His criminal record is lengthy and indicates a history of mental illness. Yet, court records show Michael’s medication stopped for several months in prison and that he asked for help before his release. Paul Adams, his father, is now suing some of Arizona’s prison health care providers and the former head of Arizona’s Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Re-Entry, claiming they didn’t do enough to treat Michael’s mental illness. Elijah’s family actually came to the same conclusion, filing a similar lawsuit a few days before Paul’s was filed at the end of June 2021.

Medicaid in Non-Expanding States

The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Florida Medicaid law has Volusia County spending hundreds of thousands feds would reimburse
Volusia County will lobby the state Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage for those incarcerated in the county jail, a measure that could save the county hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Florida is one of 12 states that has elected not to expand Medicaid eligibility since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014. The county spent an average of nearly $10 million per year for the past four years on contract expenses for inmates' medical care, though in 2021 that figure has already exceeded $13 million.

Women in Corrections

Nonprofit Quaterly: Report Calls for Systemic Change to Drive Down Women’s Incarceration Rates
Nationally, women are the fastest growing prison population. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there are now more than one million women nationwide behind b(such as through parole supervision). Since 1980, the rate of incarceration for women has increased by more than eight times—nearly twice as fast as for men.

ABC: Florida inmate dies weeks after breast cancer diagnosis; family wants change in prisons' health care
A prisoner’s death is prompting her family to share her story after she died of breast cancer less than two months after her diagnosis. The family blames a lack of preventative care and treatment. They now are pushing for change for other women in Florida prisons, and they say, speaking up for women who are too afraid to. As recently as 2018, the Department of Corrections own guidelines said female inmates would not receive a mammogram until 50 years old.


Illinois Policy: Illinois prison inmates to get ID cards upon release
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced Nov. 3 that individuals released from prison would walk out with a state identification card, making it easier for them to find a job, housing and other life essentials. The program is meant to streamline the documentation process after release, which often turns into a bureaucratic runaround.

NIJ: Term of the Month: What is desistance?
Desistance is generally understood to mean the reduction in criminal behavior over time. It is the process of individuals ceasing engagement in criminal activities. Varying definitions and measurement strategies have evolved over the years. Originally it was defined as the termination of offending or end of a criminal career as a discrete event. More recent definitions, however, suggest that desistance is instead a developmental process by which criminality declines over time.

Sheriffs In the News

Washington Post: Boosted by the pandemic, ‘constitutional sheriffs’ are a political force
Constitutional sheriffs claim that their power to interpret the law is above any state or federal authority — even the president. These unique powers are supposedly derived from being directly elected by voters, unlike police chiefs, who are generally hired and fired at will by city councils. In dozens of races around the nation, answering that question has become a key campaign topic, as the constitutional sheriffs movement has capitalized on anger at pandemic restrictions.

Mental Health Initiatives in Criminal Justice

US News & World Report: Montana Support Team Reduces Jail, Emergency Room Visits
The Missoula Mobile Support Team is funded by the county, the city and the state. Emergency medical technicians from the Missoula Fire Department and licensed behavioral health clinicians work with case facilitators to staff the team. They are trained to provide consultation, screening and brief intervention to individuals in crisis stemming from behavioral health issues. The team listens to dispatches and responds to calls with local law enforcement. The goal is to divert people from going to the emergency room or jail.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

St Louis Dispatch: Judge rules in favor of state, giving lucrative Missouri prison health care contract to new company
Cole County Judge Daniel Green issued an oral decision Thursday saying he would file a written ruling next week siding with the state in rejecting a challenge by Corizon Health, the longtime health care vendor. After a two-day trial, Green sided with the state, paving the way for Centurion to take over later this month. Corizon, in its lawsuit, said Centurion made “prohibited communications” with the administration to gain an upper hand in winning the contract.