Weekly Update: August 1, 2023

COCHS Weekly Update: August 1, 2023

Highlighted Stories

Editor's Note
As the first highlighted story below indicates, there can be substantial irregularities in the system of transferring an arrested person from police control to correctional facility control. Health issues can seriously impact this handoff.

For our subscribers, who are not familiar with a typical intake process at a correctional facility (please see COCHS’ Intake Process flow chart), it might be worthwhile to describe the typical steps involved. When a law-enforcement officer brings a detainee to a correctional facility, there will usually be an EMT or an LVN, before booking, that decides whether that person is safe to detain. If these correctional facility health providers determine that the person is not safe to detain, then typically it is the responsibility of the arresting officer to take that person to a hospital emergency room and wait until the emergency room provides clearance that the person is safe to detain. If clearance is given, the person is returned to the correctional facility, and booked (or in some cases returned to the emergency room to begin the process again). If the person does not receive clearance, then that person is admitted to the hospital under the supervision of the arresting jurisdiction.

As the system is supposed to work, it should protect the health status of the person arrested, and not overburden the correctional facility with medical emergencies. Regarding the article below, it is easy to see that there can be substantial holes in the system in which the arrested person is left on their own to navigate their way through their health challenges.

As access to expanded screenings and high-quality care through Medicaid systems become incorporated into the stages of arrest and booking, new opportunities for developing processes for understanding the needs of incarcerated people will arise. The reengineering of the process can support a better overall picture of a person's health status, safer entrance into the correctional facility, and even opportunities to divert the person into more appropriate community settings on re-entry.

AppenMedia: Driver arrested on warrant released over medical issue
An Atlanta woman, with a warrant out of the Douglasville Police Department, was denied entry to the North Fulton County Jail in Alpharetta based on undisclosed medical reasons. The woman was placed under arrest and transported to the North Fulton County Jail in Alpharetta, but she was denied entry by the jail’s medical staff. Officers advised that they would not transport the woman to the hospital and sit with her as she was medically evaluated. The woman also said she did not want to be dropped off at the hospital. Police transported the woman back to her vehicle and released her from custody.

Police 1: Custody transitions: Officer safety from intake through booking
Once a prisoner is taken into custody, staff are responsible not only for their immediate medical condition but for monitoring their “long-term” medical, mental health and security needs. This panel discussion reviews the training required for officers to manage custody transitions, as well as highlight strategies and technologies to improve safety during this process.

Yahoo: Health care, not handcuffs, says NC governor in pitch for Medicaid expansion funding
New Medicaid expansion backed by Gov. Roy Cooper (NC) would strengthen mental health care and substance abuse services for inmates, the North Carolina governor said Friday. Even though lawmakers have not yet approved the funding, Cooper’s Wednesday announcement on his administration’s plan to expand Medicaid on Oct. 1. Mentally-ill prisoners disproportionately experience mental or behavioral health issues and experts have said those in the jail population will especially benefit from expansion in North Carolina.

CHCF: CalAIM Explained: Caring for Californians Leaving Incarceration
This brief includes information and suggested actions health care providers and other stakeholders can take to collaborate with their communities’ correctional systems on reentry. This brief also can help health care stakeholders understand how the correctional system works, with a focus on community reentry. It also outlines practical suggestions on how to participate in community-based reentry planning processes in CalAIM.

Opioid Epidemic

Addiction Policy Forum: Addressing the Mental Health & Opioid Crises in the LEP, Ethnic, & BIPOC Communities
The Addiction Policy Forum has partnered with the Ethnic Communities Opioid Response Network – MO to engage people who use languages other than English (LOTE) to address the opioid crisis in our ethnic communities. There are many communities that are ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse that need services and support during the opioid crisis.


BMC: The impact of imprisonment on individuals’ mental health and society reintegration: study protocol
Research suggests that prison sentences have a null or a criminogenic effect on recidivism and a critical impact on inmates’ mental health, negatively interfering with their successful reintegration into society and recidivism. Prevalence rates of mental health disorders among individuals who commit crimes are high, but little is known about how incarceration perpetuates and/or worsens mental health symptoms. This study intends to have a meaningful impact on the understanding of imprisonment effects, giving important clues for developing and implementing evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to reduce recidivism.

Wiley: Community integration as reentry: Understanding functioning, vocational identity, and core self-evaluations
Given the high rates of disability and health concerns for individuals who have been previously incarcerated, this study explores the relationships between individual health functioning, vocational identity, core self-evaluations, and community integration.


HMA: Medicaid 1115 Justice Waivers and Special Populations: Meeting the Needs of Justice-Involved Youth
Transitioning youth from correctional facilities requires high quality transition planning services for successful reentry into the community. Part 5 of this webinar series will delve into the types of care and services needed for youth, so that a whole-person approach can be applied to facilitate successful reentry to the community.

Medical Xpress: Youth placed in adult prison have their lives cut shorter, study says
A University of Cincinnati co-authored study found that in the U.S. youth who are incarcerated in adult correctional facilities are at a 33% higher risk for an early death between the ages of 18 and 39. The study, published in JAMA Open Network, also found that formal encounters with the legal system put youth at risk for a shorter lifespan during those same years.

Los Angeles Daily News: Early troubles plague newly reopened Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall
Los Angeles County beat expectations when it managed to move 274 youth to the newly renovated Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in Downey on a narrow two-month schedule, but now the county has an even more momentous task before it: keeping Los Padrinos from getting shut down, too. The recent discovery of a gun on site just days after youth moved in and the poor conditions witnessed by visitors over the weekend suggest the move hasn’t resolved many of the deficiencies that forced the state to shutter Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar and Central Juvenile Hall in Lincoln Heights.

New York Times: 2 Supervisors at Juvenile Lockup in Bronx Are Charged in Beating of Teenager
Two supervisors at a juvenile detention center operated by New York City’s child welfare agency were charged by federal prosecutors on Wednesday with assaulting a 16-year-old resident who was awaiting trial and with then trying to cover up the attack. The charges were filed about a week after the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan called for an outside takeover of the city’s troubled jail system and were another sign of the problems that have plagued New York’s detention of adults and minors.

State Roundup

WSFA: Alabama correctional officer among 3 charged with inmate’s homicide
A correctional officer with the Alabama Department of Corrections and two state inmates have been charged with murder following the death of an inmate at Elmore Correctional Facility, according to the ADOC.

Los Angeles Times: Newsom’s plan to transform San Quentin prison lacks details but is moving ahead
Despite the initial fanfare over the project, lawmakers, prison closure activists and the Legislature’s own nonpartisan financial advisors grew increasingly alarmed in the weeks following the announcement over the plan’s murky details, rushed timeline and high cost. Much of the apprehension surrounding San Quentin’s transformation focuses on a damning May report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. The report warned lawmakers that total costs to reconstruct parts of the prison and operate its new programs were uncertain, and criticized the expedited 2025 timeline as “unnecessary and problematic.”

Marin Independent Journal: Gov. Newsom signs bill that will place incarcerated parents close to their children
There are thousands of children in California with a parent in prison, but most parents are housed in institutions more than 100 miles from home. Soon incarcerated parents housed in more than 30 state prisons around California could be moved closer to their children, now that the “Keep Families Close” bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday and will take effect in January.

Modesto Bee: Inmates at Chowchilla women’s prison say they’re sweltering as cooling systems fail
With an unprecedented heat wave baking much of the West, inmates at California’s largest female-only prison say they have been suffering in recent weeks because of faulty cooling systems that have left them sweltering. “This is the worst year it’s ever been,” said inmate Christine Loyd, 79, who has been housed at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla since 2012.

The Guardian: Oregon prison nurse guilty of sexually abusing nine women in custody
A former nurse at women’s prison in Oregon was found guilty of sexually abusing nine women while they were in custody. Tony Klein, 38, was convicted of 21 of the 23 federal charges, including 17 counts pertaining to sexual assault and four of making false statements under oath in a deposition.

New York Times: Voting by Formerly Imprisoned in Tennessee, Already Hard, Gets Harder
Tennessee has sharply restricted the conditions under which it will restore voting rights to people who have completed prison sentences for felonies, joining a growing list of Republican-controlled states that have rolled back access to the ballot by former felons. Tennessee had already been consistently rated as making it more difficult for all residents to vote than almost any state in the nation, a statistic that is reflected in the state’s lagging voter turnout rates.

ABC: Correctional Assistant at Weber County Jail charged for smuggling drugs into the facility
A woman working for the Weber County Sheriff’s Office was charged for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in a correctional facility. Three other employees are also being investigated. The investigations will determine if and to what extent other employees, volunteers, or incarcerated individuals in the Weber County Correctional Facility were involved.

Rikers Island

Yahoo: Former Rikers Island physician James Uhrig sues Mayor Adams, Correction Commissioner Louis Molina in job loss over jail criticism
A physician banned from Rikers Island for his outspoken social media posts on jail issues — costing him his contract job with the city’s Correctional Health Services agency — sued Mayor Adams and Correction Commissioner Louis Molina. Dr. James Uhrig, 69, claims Correction Commissioner Louis Molina revoked his security clearances in early November over posts on drug contraband in the jails and his support of a federal takeover of New York City’s jails.

New York Times: Once Praised, Jails Chief Draws Ire Over Lack of Transparency on Rikers
As pressure mounted earlier this year to show improvements in New York City’s troubled jails system, its commissioner, Louis A. Molina took over the Department of Correction unit that investigates deaths and serious injuries at the Rikers Island jail complex and put it directly under his control. The effect was immediate — but not on the conditions in the jails. The unit and the department resisted sharing information with federal officials overseeing reforms on Rikers,

Corrections 1: Rikers inmate tries to escape wearing stolen NYC correction officer’s uniform, DOC says
An assault suspect held in a Rikers Island jail somehow got his hands on a Correction Department uniform Thursday night and walked around pretending to conduct rounds in a possible attempt to escape, according to correction sources, officials and records. He walked into an intake area in the stolen uniform momentarily then left as if he was touring the housing area like an officer. He then was walking down a corridor when officers “recognized” him at about 10:25 p.m., records show.

The City: Rikers Supervisor Suspended, Accused of Check-In Lapse After Seventh Death This Year
A Rikers Island assistant deputy warden has been suspended following the latest death of a detainee. Multiple jail sources said the supervisor failed to properly check on people locked up in the housing unit where Curtis Davis was found lifeles. Patrick Ferraiuolo, president of the union representing captains, said there are currently approximately 100 captain vacancies throughout the department.

San Diego County

San Diego Union Tribune: ‘I’m in a little disbelief’: Diagnosed with a tumor just before going to jail, La Mesa man fights for long-delayed surgery
Clarence Hightower was weeks away from surgery to remove the cancerous tumor blocking his airway when he appeared in court for his criminal sentencing late last year. His defense attorney told him to expect probation, he said. He expected his January operation would proceed as scheduled. But Hightower was instead handed one year in jail. Since then the Sheriff’s Department has been slow to approve the surgery or even conduct the medical testing and evaluation he needs ahead of the procedure.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

Washington Post: Video shows 5 officers tackling mentally ill man. Experts question why.
Police jailed Delgardo Franklin and charged him with assaulting three officers. All of it while his father stood by, watching in disbelief as police overpowered an unarmed man he told them was in mental distress. Three policing experts who reviewed the dashboard-camera video and documents in the case told The Post the encounter was an example of how not to respond to a mental health crisis.


New Jersey Monitor: Prison operator waited too long to sue over law barring ICE contracts, state attorneys argue
A bid by a private prison operator to get New Jersey to stop enforcing a law that bans immigrant detention contracts should be rejected by a judge because it waited too long to sue, the Attorney General’s Office argues in a new court filing. CoreCivic’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the law came nearly two years after Gov. Phil Murphy signed the legislation and it went into effect, Deputy Attorney General David Chen notes in the state’s motion opposing a preliminary injunction.

Prison Contractors

Top Class Actions: JPay class action claims company took back tablets sold to inmates
Two Georgia inmates are suing JPay, alleging the company, which offers services to correctional facilities, operated a scheme to sell tablets to inmates and then take them back without reimbursement. Sometime in 2014, JPay entered into contracts with over 31 Departments of Corrections throughout the United States, including the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC), to provide incarcerated inmates with tablets similar to an Apple iPad that allow them to send JPay-approved emails to family, friends and lawyers, the lawsuit states.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

WUSF: National accrediting agency put Duval jail on probation over inmate medical care
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care warned the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office three months ago that the jail's medical care was deficient. In an email to former Corrections Director Tammy Morris on May 10, a National Commission on Correctional Health Care representative wrote that the organization reviewed the accreditation status of the facility and voted to place it on probation. Tamara Taylor, regional vice president for Armor Correctional Services — the company that ran the jail’s health care — wrote in an email that Armor “already started corrective action on the deficient areas.” The sheriff’s office ended its contract with Armor and signed a five-year $110 million contract with another for-profit, private company, NaphCare takes effect Sept. 1.

News4Jax: JSO details why it terminated its contract with private jail healthcare provider Armor Health
This week, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office announced it is terminating a $98 million contract with inmate healthcare provider Armor Health less than a year into the five-year contract. The termination letter obtained by News4JAX details the reasons why. In the termination letter signed Monday, Undersheriff Shawn Coarsey said Armor breached its contract because it failed to maintain accreditation with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, failed to meet reporting requirements, failed to comply with Florida’s Public Records Act and failed to disclose its criminal conviction.

New4Jax: New jail healthcare contractor didn’t go through competitive bidding process, thanks to little-known city law
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office ended its contract with Armor and has signed on with another company, NaphCare, that also has a history of scandals. Now, the tens of millions of dollars remaining on Armor’s contract will be going to, NaphCare. The company comes with its own baggage. It has been involved in hundreds of lawsuits, and even paid nearly $700,000 in 2021 to resolve false claims allegations that it lied about the level of care provided to upcharge taxpayers.

Prime Care Medical
PhillyBurbs: Settlement unsealed in 2018 inmate suicide at Bucks County jail. Here's what was paid
When Bucks County released documents last year detailing a $337,500 settlement for wrongful death claims involving an inmate who committed suicide in 2018 --the public only got half the story. Missing were the settlement details for its private correctional health contractor, which provides medical and mental health services at a cost of $8.2 million this year. What taxpayers didn’t know until July is PrimeCare Medical Inc. also agreed to pay $337,500 to settle wrongful death claims.

Apple Podcast: The Private Business Dominating Health Care in California Jails
Wellpath is the main provider of health care inside California jails despite facing lawsuits and investigations accusing the corporation of offering substandard medical care that results in neglect — and even deaths. Reporter Susie Neilson joins host Cecilia Lei to discuss those allegations, and why California does little to regulate the company.

San Francisco Chronicle: Its patients are ‘literally a captive market.’ Is this California health care giant failing them?
A health care company specializing in jails has rapidly expanded in California in recent years, securing dozens of lucrative public contracts while facing allegations in lawsuits and government investigations that it provides substandard care to its uniquely vulnerable clients. Wellpath provides health care in 34 of California’s 56 county jail systems, including in four of the Bay Area’s nine counties. The number vastly exceeds any other correctional provider in the state. Wellpath is owned by the global investment firm H.I.G. Capital.

Monterey County Weekly: A court battle over sealed reports detailing conditions at Monterey County Jail escalates.
Since settling a class-action lawsuit over poor conditions at Monterey County Jail in 2015, the county and Wellpath, its health care provider at the jail, have been required to allow court-appointed neutral monitors at the facility. On Friday, July 21, a U.S. District Court judge in San Jose ordered the release of the monitor reports with only limited redactions—denying arguments made by the county to keep the documents under seal. Later that day, attorneys for Wellpath filed a notice of appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as well a motion to stay the judge’s ruling.reports documenting the state of medical and mental health care at the jail, as well as other safety, security and welfare issues.

VT Digger: Sister alleges stroke patient held at Springfield jail denied proper medical care
Jay Orost had a stroke while in Vermont Department of Corrections’ custody last month that led to his hospitalization. Earlier this week, his sister said, he experienced signs of two more possible strokes. Medical care in Vermont’s prisons has received increased scrutiny since the death of David Mitchell at the Springfield prison in April. As of July 1, the Department of Corrections switched its health services provider from VitalCore to Wellpath.