COCHS Weekly Update: December 14, 2021

Highlighted Stories

CNN: Biden administration drug czar says it's time to treat drug addiction like a chronic disease
The White House announced a new push to encourage harm reduction measures that make illicit drug use safer. Its supplying $30 million in grants for services such syringe exchanges and naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote. Gupta said the Biden administration is prioritizing efforts including expanding the use of the opioid reversal drug naloxone, establishing syringe exchanges, and increasing the use of fentanyl test strips to test for the presence of the deadly drug.

Corrections1: Indiana's first Narcan vending machine to be installed in county jail lobby
The state's first Narcan vending machine is being installed in the lobby of the St. Joseph County Jail. The move is meant to reduce opioid overdose deaths, which have been on the rise in St. Joseph County. The vending machine, which is paid for by grants through Gov. Eric Holcomb's office, will be free for residents who need Narcan, or naloxone, which combats symptoms of opioid overdoses.

EMS1: Opioid deaths are up, but study shows ER doctors rarely prescribe medication-assisted treatment
Medication-assisted treatment such as naloxone or buprenorphine can save patients’ lives, but a new study suggests that emergency physicians could prescribe these drugs more often. A study analyzed almost 149,000 emergency department visits for opioid overdose between August 2019 and April 2021 to determine that naloxone was only prescribed within 30 days after one in 13 visits (7.4 %), and buprenorphine was only prescribed after one in 12 visits (8.5%). The team used Symphony Health’s Integrated Dataverse, which includes data from 5,800 hospitals and 70,000 pharmacies.

North Carolina Health News: NC jails report deaths, but what if you almost died while incarcerated?
The cluster of overdoses at the Alamance jail come at a time when there have been a record number of overdose deaths in the United States — and in North Carolina. An average of more than eight North Carolinians died every day of 2020 from a drug overdose, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. More than 28,000 North Carolinians died of a drug overdose from 2000 to 2020.

Chicago Sun Times: Oregon’s the first state to ticket narcotics users, but reform has yet to live up to what was promised
Since the Oregon law, Measure 110, went into effect in February, police officers have written more than 1,300 tickets for drug possession instead of arresting people. It also steers hundreds of millions of dollars into expanding treatment throughout Oregon, which regularly ranks among the worst states for substance abuse and mental health problems as well as access to care. But records show few have entered drug treatment through the ticketing system, which the law also was supposed to encourage.

My Central Oregon: Deschutes Sheriff’s Office Begins ‘Operation Angel’
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with Ideal Option, a national leader in outpatient medication-assisted treatment for addiction, to roll out their new program: Operation Guardian Angel. The program is aimed at diverting more people who possess illicit substances for personal use into recovery. A five-month study by the Oregon Department of Justice showed that out of 1,085 citations issued for drug possession since the Measure 110 was enacted into law last February, only three assessment/screening verifications were received and 400 people failed to appear for their court date.

Governing: Crime Prediction Software Promised to Be Free of Biases. New Data Shows It Perpetuates Them
Between 2018 and 2021, more than one in 33 U.S. residents were potentially subject to police patrol decisions directed by crime prediction software called PredPol. The company that makes it sent more than 5.9 million of these crime predictions to law enforcement agencies across the country—from California to Florida, Texas to New Jersey erver. Residents of neighborhoods where PredPol suggested few patrols tended to be Whiter; neighborhoods the software targeted for increased patrols were more likely to be home to Blacks, Latinos, and families that would qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program.

Healthcare in Corrections

The Hill: Utah prison health care system has 'systemic deficiencies': audit
The Utah prison health care system has "inadequate" services for inmates, according to an audit from the Office of the Legislative General released this week. The audit revealed the Clinical Services Bureau, the administration in charge of healthcare services for 5,000 inmates in the state, has "systemic deficiencies that negatively impacted patient outcomes," after investigators reviewed 76 cases for 47 inmates in the prison system.

NPR Illinois: Jury sides with Ill. inmate whose under-treated diabetes ended in leg amputation
A decade after Illinois Department of Corrections inmate Anthony Rodesky began developing the blisters that would eventually lead to a below-the-knee leg amputation, a federal jury in Peoria last week awarded him $400,000, finding the state violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in its treatment of Rodesky’s type 1 diabetes.

Rikers Island

gothamist: Man Dies Following “Medical Issue” On Rikers Island, 15th NYC Jail Fatality This Year
Malcolm Boatwright, 28, died this morning at Bellevue Hospital after experiencing a “medical issue” at a jail facility on Rikers Island, according to corrections authorities. The city’s medical examiner is currently probing the cause of his death. Boatwright’s passing marks the fifteenth death of a person incarcerated in New York City in 2021, making this year the deadliest in New York City jails since 2016.

gothamist: Judge Orders Greater Access To Medical Care At Rikers Island
Judge Elizabeth A. Taylor has ordered the New York City Department of Correction to give people incarcerated in city jails greater access to medical care. In a court decision filed Monday, the Bronx judge held that city jails must ensure detainees can go to on-site clinics at least five days a week and within 24 hours after a visit request. The judge also mandated that corrections authorities guarantee enough security staff to shepherd them to and from medical visits.

Barriers to Reentry

Cap: Fines and Fees Are a Barrier to Criminal Record-Clearing
One in 3 people in the United States has a criminal record. These individuals are subject to more than 44,000 legal sanctions and collateral consequences that create barriers to housing, job access, education, nutrition assistance, and many other necessary resources. Tthe deeply rooted discriminatory policies and practices of the criminal legal system disproportionately affect people of color, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities, among other vulnerable groups.

NBC: Banned from jobs: People released from prison fight laws that keep punishing them
Punishments last long after people have served their sentences. In many states, people with certain criminal records can’t serve on juries or become foster parents. Most of the more than 40,000 collateral consequences on the books, however, apply to employment. Sometimes the laws directly prevent people from getting the licensing they need for given jobs, like firefighters or plumbers. Other times, the laws work indirectly by banning certain employers — like nursing homes or drug rehab centers — from hiring people convicted of particular offenses, known as “barrier crimes.”

Solitary Confinement

Inquest: Seeing The Light
The main rationale the state offers to maintain this monstrous practice is a fig leaf: the need to maintain order. But a dirty secret of solitary confinement is that it’s not generally used in response to the most dangerous behaviors, but it’s instead a control mechanism for dealing with minor rule infractions.

Juvenile Criminal Justice

VT Digger: Lawsuit alleges ‘conscience shocking’ use of force at Vermont’s shuttered juvenile detention center
A lawsuit filed on behalf of several youth who had been placed in Vermont’s now-closed juvenile detention center alleges widespread neglect, abuse and retaliation by employees who worked in those facilities and those in charge of overseeing them. The lawsuit names about a dozen defendants, including many people who worked at the Woodside Juvenile Rehabilitation Center in Essex. Its nine counts include claims of excessive force, cruel and unusual punishment and retaliation against youth reporting abuse.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

LA Times: L.A. County to pay $2.75 million in deputy beating of mentally ill man
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to pay $2.75 million to a mentally disabled man who was beaten by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies. The payout settles a lawsuit filed by the man, Barry Montgomery, who was confronted in a Willowbrook park in July 2014 by deputies from the department’s Compton station.

Mental Health Initiatives in Criminal Justice

NBC News: 70 people in mental health crisis avoided jail due to new center
Mental health provider AltaPointe says its new Crisis Center is helping people experiencing a mental health episode avoid jail and get much-needed treatment. It costs $60 per day to house one inmate at Mobile Metro Jail. The warden says of the 1,350 inmates currently in jail, more than 300 of them are on medication for mental illness.

Prison Contractors

Law 360: JPay Founder, Money Manager Charged In $4M Trading Fraud
The founder of JPay, one of the largest technology providers to the U.S. inmate population, and a financial services provider were arrested and charged Wednesday in an alleged $4 million insider trading scheme, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Ryan Shapiro, who founded the company contracted to provide communications and money-transfer services for 1.9 million inmates and parolees in 34 states, and Kris Bortnovsky were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Prison Policy Initiative: Show me the money: Tracking the companies that have a lock on sending funds to incarcerated people
As people in prison are increasingly expected to pay for everyday costs (food, hygiene items, correspondence, etc.), the mechanics of how people send money to incarcerated people assumes heightened importance. Three companies dominate the correctional money-transfer market. The three dominant companies are JPay (a Securus subsidiary that was recently fined $6 million for improper practices in its release-card business), Global*Tel Link (which sometimes uses the tradename “Touchpay”), and Access Corrections.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Tennesean: CoreCivic settles lawsuit in 2017 Nashville jail scabies outbreak
CoreCivic has settled a 2017 class action lawsuit alleging Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility staff failed to provide proper medical treatment and retaliated against prisoners who sought treatment amid a widespread scabies outbreak. Hundreds of prisoners were treated for scabies, a parasitic mite that burrows under the skin, after the 2017 outbreak, which also spread to attorneys and staff at Nashville's courthouse.

Hays Post: Troubled Kansas prison faces uncertain future
Prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing at the troubled Leavenworth Detention Center should have new confines by the end of the year. CoreCivic, a publicly traded prison operator, owns the Leavenworth Detention Center, which has been the center of a number of controversies in recent years. They range from reports of poor conditions to authorities eavesdropping on phone calls between prisoners and their attorneys.

Augusta Free Press: Department of Corrections to proceed with medical services contract cancellation
The Supreme Court of Virginia denied an emergency motion to stay and petition for review filed by the Virginia Department of Corrections’ outgoing medical services contractor, Armor Correctional Health. VADOC can now proceed with the termination of its existing contract as it moves to de-privatize healthcare services in its facilities.

VT Digger: Alleging racism and negligence, estate sues state over death of incarcerated Black man
Two years after Kenneth Johnson suffocated to death in a northern Vermont prison infirmary, his estate has filed suit against the state government, its former medical contractor, and eight people involved in his care and incarceration. The wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit further alleges that the department and its then-medical contractor, Virginia-based Centurion Health, discriminated against Johnson, a 60-year-old Black man, due to his race.