COCHS Weekly Update: October 11, 2022

Highlighted Stories

New York Times: The Deadly Collision of Racism and Mental Illness
Talking openly about the role that mental illness may play in racially motivated violence seems overdue and necessary. But there are reasons conversations on this subject are also dangerous and fraught. Some people may fear that having such discussions will reinforce negative stereotypes, in particular by playing into the widespread perception that the mentally ill are violent and dangerous. Another danger is that mental illness may be invoked to deflect attention from the rhetoric and ideas that inspire acts of violent extremism.

Healio: Philadelphia apologizes for 'inhumane' Holmesburg Prison experiments
The city of Philadelphia has issued a formal apology for the experiments conducted by the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia’s Holmesburg Prison from the 1950s to 1970s. These experiments intentionally exposed incarcerated inmates at the prison to various pharmaceuticals, viruses, fungus, asbestos and dioxin, a component of Agent Orange. According to the release, the majority of these inmates were Black men, and many of them were illiterate.

University of Michigan Law School: Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States 2022
Race is central to every aspect of criminal justice in the United States. The conviction of innocent defendants is no exception. Thousands of exonerations across dozens of years demonstrate that Black people are far more likely than white people to be convicted of crimes they did not commit. The National Registry of Exonerations listed 3,200 defendants who were convicted of crimes and later exonerated because they were innocent: 53% of them were Black, nearly four times their proportion of the population, which is now about 13.6%. Judging from exonerations, innocent Black Americans are seven times more likely than white Americans to be falsely convicted of crimes.

Marshall Project: What an Alabama Prisoners’ Strike Tells Us About Prison Labor
Incarcerated people, in Alabama and across the rest of the country, perform a tremendous amount of labor both within prison walls and beyond them. Exploitation is rife in all of these systems. This summer, the Arizona Republic published an investigation on how private businesses were paying the state up to $12.80 per hour for prisoner labor, but workers were only netting about 50 cents per hour after the state’s profit-taking and fees.

HuffPost: Alabama Prison Strike Organizer: ‘They’re At War For Their Life And Freedom’
Conditions in Alabama violate Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, according to the Department of Justice, which took the rare step in 2020 of suing the state for failing to protect the people in its custody. People incarcerated in Alabama face excessive force from correctional officers, a high risk of death, physical violence and sexual abuse from other prisoners and are forced to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, DOJ wrote in its complaint.

The Hill: Three steps to setting federal prisons on the right path
The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) is by most accounts failing in its mission. Members of Congress have described the agency as “crisis plagued.” BOP’s recent history includes allegations of sexual assault against inmates and female staff at several institutions, staff misconduct and discipline issues at all levels of the agency, serious staffing shortages, and failures to implement policies under the three-year-old First Step Act (FSA).

Federal Register: Public comments requested on the proposed BJS data collection: National Prisoner Statistics program
BJS encourages comments for 60 days through November 18, 2022, on the proposed collection: National Prisoner Statistics Program

Louisville Kentucky

Spectrum News 1: Louisville jail director discusses addiction, mental health 'crisis'
The Louisville jail is being impacted by a mental health and addiction “crisis” Louisville Metro Department of Corrections Director Jerry Collins reported. Since last November, 12 people who were in LMDC custody have died. They include overdose deaths and deaths by suicide, according to LMDC. “As we talk about this loss of life, I want to be intentional in recognizing that each life lost is a father, a son, a mother, a friend, a spouse, a person that someone loves and whose loss creates great pain,” he said.

WHAS 11: ACLU calls on city to end jail health contract
In the midst of a news conference addressing health care concerns at Louisville's downtown jail, community leaders learned of the latest death inside the facility. The ACLU had gathered with activists from Black Lives Matter and Louisville Standing Up for Racial Justice to call on the city to cancel the jail's contract with Wellpath. The company provides physical and mental healthcare services inside the jail, and those who came to speak Tuesday said the company isn't doing an adequate job.

WDRB: Consulting firm highlights 'poor practices' inside Louisville's jail
In a 20-page report, an outside consultant hired to investigate Louisville's jail calls the facility obsolete, poorly designed, and riddled with "poor practices." Gary Raney, the president of GAR, Inc. Justice Consulting, spent three days at Louisville Metro Corrections. In his observations, Raney said the jail is not ADA compliant, has dimly lit cells, and has not been maintained well, creating a "disordered environment" for inmates. Inside the jail, Raney said observation checks are "routinely late, poorly conducted and fraudulently logged."

Spectrum News 1: Former jail officer in Kentucky convicted of unlawful force
A former jail officer in Kentucky has been convicted in federal court of using unlawful force on an inmate, the Justice Department said Friday. Darrell Taylor, 32, a former officer with the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, was found guilty by a federal jury in Louisville. The detainee, who suffered serious injury, including a broken and displaced jaw, did not testify, the agency said in a news release.


Sacramento Bee: 4 years ago California ‘integrated’ prison yards. A judge paused the policy, citing violence
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge this week restricted prisoner transfers in California, saying the state corrections department ran afoul of rulemaking procedures and introduced the potential for violence with a policy change it made four years ago. In 2018, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began housing general-population prisoners with a previously separated group including gang members, high-profile prisoners, informants and others with special needs. The policy, aimed at reducing altercations and preparing prisoners for life after release, created violence of its own, Judge James Arguelles said in an Oct. 3 order.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

Corrections 1: Inmate suicides approach record high in N.C. prisons
The number of people dying by suicide while locked inside North Carolina prisons is at a historic high so far this year. Since Jan. 1, nine inmates have ended their lives in the prisons, an average of one a month, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Only once in the past 30 years — in 2018 — have North Carolina prisoners committed suicide so frequently.

The Charlotte Observer: Shackles, depression, 100 days in solitary: Records shed light on NC prison suicides
Nine North Carolina inmates have died by suicide so far in 2022 — an unusually large number. Four deaths happened inside Bertie Correctional Institution, a short-staffed maximum-security prison in eastern North Carolina. Authorities are still investigating some of the deaths. But autopsies, medical examiner reports and other records shine light on five.

Mental Health Initiatives In Corrections

Corrections 1: Program aims to address staff, inmate mental health in Idaho prisons
The Idaho Department of Correction recently received $500,000 to launch a pilot program aimed at helping staff members and prison residents deal with trauma, burnout and stress. The money was approved during the 2022 legislative session and was included in the department's budget. It was part of Gov. Brad Little's Leading Idaho plan that expanded mental health resources in the state by $50 million. The governor's request was fully funded by the Legislature.


Prison Policy Initiative: New report reveals how bail bond companies exploit legal systems to profit while avoiding risk
Piecing together evidence from 28 states where bail companies have routinely avoided paying bonds “forfeited” to courts due to their clients’ non-appearance, the report shows that these incidents are not isolated local scandals. Instead, they are part of a systematic problem with commercial money bail, a problem that has been intentionally created by the industry to protect its profits.


The Good Men Project: After Prison, Individualized Reentry Plans Are Cutting Recidivism
The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities funds the Justice: Release, Reentry, and Reintegration initiative. This reentry initiative began in April 2020, it has served 125 individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities from 13 state prisons. Currently, 86 percent of program participants have not reoffended and returned to prison. According to the NC Department of Public Safety, it costs an average of $35,009 in taxpayer funds to house one person in prison for a year. Staff from the Alliance of Disability Advocates say that even with the program’s $300,000 annual price tag, it’s a terrific return on investment.

Fines & Fees

SSRN: Estimating the Earnings Loss Associated with a Criminal Record and Suspended Driver’s License
As states pass reforms to reduce the size of their prison populations, the number of Americans physically incarcerated has declined. However, the number of people whose employment and related opportunities are limited due to their criminal records continues to grow. Another sanction that curtails economic opportunity is the loss of one’s driver’s license for reasons unrelated to driving. While many states have “second chance” laws on the books that provide a growing body of research has documented large “second chance gaps” between eligibility and delivery of relief due to the poor administration of second chance relief.


HIMSS: HI-BRIDGE HIE, Wellpath partner on Georgia Correction's EHRs
A new Wellpath alliance with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the HI-BRIDGE Health Information Exchange will share real-time correctional patient health information to improve inmate patient care delivery across 70 Georgia corrections facilities through Wellpath's Electronic Records Management Application (ERMA).

StateScoop: North Carolina prisons add dentistry to telehealth program
The North Carolina Department of Public Safety this month is expanding a telehealth initiative to begin offering dentistry services to inmates from afar. Inmates at state prisons will soon be able to visit virtually with dentists and learn if their issues warrant a visit to a dental office or if they can be resolved without leaving their facilities. With the purchase of specialized scopes and lenses, officials said they’re hopeful that the addition of dentistry to the decade-old telehealth program will reduce the number of inmates who travel unnecessarily.

Institute for Innovation in Prosecution: Beyond Big Cities Initiative Paper Series
The IIP, in partnership with the Urban Institute, has published its new report, Data Capacity: A Best Practice Guide for Prosecutors in Smaller Jurisdictions. The report is the third paper in a series produced through the IIP's Beyond Big Cities Initiative. The guide identifies barriers and provides creative solutions geared toward those smaller offices that are early in their data collection journeys.

Daily Beast: Texas Man Pleaded Guilty to Using a Drone to Smuggle Phones and Drugs Into a Prison
A man pleaded guilty to flying a drone loaded with drugs, prepaid phones, MP3 players, and other contraband materials into a Fort Worth prison yard. Just before midnight on May 4, Bryant LeRay Henderson, 42, flew a drone over Federal Medical Center Fort Worth. However, it crashed inside the yard. Prison staff found the device loaded with methamphetamine, tobacco, THC, two prepaid smartphones, and nine mp3 players.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

Voice of Monterey Bay: Another Scandal at the Jail
Alarming developments about sexual harassment at the Monterey County Sheriff’s Department are now being compounded with new reports of a commander placed on leave for allegedly receiving drugs illegally obtained for him from the jail’s stockpile. The head of special operations for the Sheriff’s Office, was placed on administrative leave while others in the department investigated his relationship with a woman terminated as regional director for Wellpath, the company that provides medical services in the jail. The woman had been removed from her Wellpath position last week for allegedly pilfering drugs from the jail stockpile and providing them to the commander.

Santa Fe New Mexican: Officials allowed man to die of withdrawals in jail
The family of a man who died in 2020 at the Rio Arriba County jail in Tierra Amarilla is suing the county and its inmate health care provider, saying he would be alive if it weren’t for their negligence. Attorneys for Juan Archuleta’s family filed a civil complaint in state District Court recently accusing the defendants — including Vital Core Health Strategies and former jail director Larry H. DeYapp — of wrongful death, medical malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.