COCHS Weekly Update: November 15, 2022

Highlighted Stories

JAMA: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Buprenorphine Treatment Duration in the US
Racial and ethnic minority patients are more likely to discontinue buprenorphine treatment earlier than White patients. To our knowledge, no nationally representative studies have examined buprenorphine treatment duration over time across racial and ethnic groups. This information is needed to close the racial and ethnic gap in treatment retention for MOUD.

Health Affairs: Racial And Ethnic Inequalities In COVID-19 Mortality Within Carceral Settings: An Analysis Of Texas Prisons
What is not well known is the degree to which COVID-19 outcomes differ among incarcerated populations, especially by race and ethnicity, where significant differences have been found among the US population as a whole. This knowledge gap is, in part, due to a lack of reporting of COVID-19 outcomes by race and ethnicity by most state prison systems. To shed light on this topic, we analyzed mortality patterns of the population incarcerated in Texas state prison facilities during both the year before (beginning April 1, 2019) and the first year of (beginning April 1, 2020) the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington Post: La. voters keep ‘slavery’ at Angola prison, once and still a plantation
On Tuesday, voters considered a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to say, “Slavery and involuntary servitude are prohibited,” which would have ended forced labor at the infamous prison, officially called the Louisiana State Penitentiary but commonly known as Angola or “the Farm.” The measure failed. Similar measures on the ballot in four other states — Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont — all passed on Tuesday.

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: Higher arrest and incarceration rates for Florida girls vs. boys
Two-thirds of the state’s justice-involved girls but roughly one-third of boys — 66% versus 38% — were arrested for non-felony offenses. Two-fifths of girls and almost one-fifth of boys were incarcerated for non-felonies, according to the center’s analysis of data from Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Dashboard. Black girls — 21% of Florida’s general population — accounted for 45% all juvenile female arrests; 45% of juvenile female incarcerations; and 52% each of juvenile females on probation and of those whose cases were transferred to adult courts.

Safety In Corrections

Davis Vanguard: Santa Rita Jail Continues to Face Allegations Regarding Mistreatment, Security, and Health Concerns
A number of lawsuits have been filed against Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail concerning the rumored mistreatment of incarcerated people and the facility’s inability to hire trained officers qualified to be employed in their department. Inspections within Santa Rita Jail have found that the facility failed to provide adequate security between the incarcerated and their visitors. As cited in Alameda County’s Grand Jury Final report of 2021-2022, the detention center has frequently allowed individuals inside without checking for legitimate I.D. or searching outside items that were brought in.

Rikers Island

NY Times: Lawyers for Rikers Detainees Will Ask Judge to Impose Federal Control
Lawyers for people detained on Rikers Island intend to ask a federal judge to take control of the jail complex away from New York City, according to a letter filed with the court on Monday, setting the stage for a potentially pivotal hearing this week. The decision whether to appoint a receiver rests with the judge presiding over the case, Laura T. Swain. The Justice Department said that it might join the detainees’ lawyers in their request for a receiver later or submit its own request for other measures to remedy the problems at Rikers.

NY Times: Three Correction Officers Accused of Faking Sick Leave
Three New York City correction officers were charged with lying about being sick and taking leave for more than a year, in the midst of a severe staffing emergency that helped plunge the city’s jails into a crisis of violence. Around one in three jailers were failing to show up for work each day as of late January, a federal monitor overseeing the jail complex reported, a wave of staff absenteeism that allowed violence to run unchecked at Rikers.

Los Angeles Sheriff's Department

Pasadena Now: Hearing Set on Possible Contempt Finding Against Sheriff Villanueva
A judge has ordered Sheriff Alex Villanueva to appear before her next month and explain why he should not be held in contempt for allegedly ignoring three subpoenas in 2021 to testify before the Civilian Oversight Commission. The judge noted that the contempt proceeding is criminal in nature and depending on her finding could result in a maximum fine of $3,000 and jail time of up to 15 days. The subpoenas issued in September, October and November 2021 required Villanueva to provide sworn virtual testimony.

ABC: LA County sheriff's race: Robert Luna grows lead again for margin of nearly 260,000 votes
Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna widened his lead over Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva for a margin of nearly 260,000 votes. Updated totals from the Tuesday election released Saturday by the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office showed Luna about 59% of the vote and Villanueva with around 41%. The updated count released Saturday had Luna with 867,704 votes to Villanueva's 608,520.

Daily Beast: Los Angeles Deputy Charged With Shooting Suicidal Man Already on the Ground
A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) deputy is facing two felony counts for continuing to fire on a suicidal man who had already been shot by police and was lying on the ground, District Attorney George Gascón announced Thursday. Remin Pineda, who also happened to turn 38 on Thursday, stands charged with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and assault under color of authority for the on-duty shooting death of 34-year-old David Ordaz Jr. last year.

San Diego Sheriff's Department

CBS 8: Family of a man who was wrongly arrested and beaten to death inside a San Diego jail filed lawsuit
The father of a 38-year-old man who was beaten to death inside a San Diego County jail cell by a violent offender has filed a federal lawsuit. William McCoy claims the Sheriff's Department wrongly arrested his son Dominique for a probation violation when, in fact, he was not on probation, and then as Dominique waited to be released, put him inside a cell with a known violent man who viciously beat his son to death. The lawsuit is now the latest in a series of wrongful death claims and lawsuits filed by families of people who have died while in custody. It also comes as the county agreed to pay $4.35 million to a woman who tore both eyeballs out during a mental health crisis while incarcerated.

Drug Reform

Illinois Delivered: New Illinois drug reform law gives cops choice not to jail people for small amounts of drugs
The Pretrial Fairness Act, which is part of the sweeping SAFE-T Act, is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. The law changes the rules for how the police can handle people accused of Class 4 drug possession felonies, which involve having less than 15 grams of cocaine, heroin or other controlled substances. Under the new law, a police officer who catches people with small amounts of drugs will have discretion to release them with a citation that orders them to show up in court on a specific date within 21 days.

Marshall Project: Prosecutors Who Want to Curb Mass Incarceration Hit a Roadblock: Tough-on-Crime Lawmakers
When Deborah Gonzalez campaigned in 2020 to become the first Latina district attorney in Georgia, she wanted to upset the status quo. She promised to lock up fewer people and curb low-level drug prosecutions. But pushback was swift. First, the governor tried to cancel the election. He failed, and she won. Then, conservatives pushed to redraw her two-county district in their favor.


Colorado Sun: To keep people from returning to jail, Mesa County follows other communities’ reentry roadmap
Many people transitioning from jail or prison struggle to reenter society without support. Mesa County’s new program helps with housing, jobs, transportation and mental health services. Mesa County has enlisted three agencies to provide services to help people with reentry: Amos Counseling, a Grand Junction-based counseling service; Foundations 4 Life, an organization that provides substance use disorder and mental health services to people involved in the justice system; and the Freedom Institute, a nonprofit that offers WAGEES (Work and Gain Education and Employment Skills).

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

King 5: Record number of defendants with mental illness 'decompensating' in Washington jails
Washington is experiencing the biggest backlog in state history of mentally ill defendants sitting in jails, waiting for required services to restore what’s called “competency.” That means giving defendants the help they need to understand the charges against them and to participate in their defense. In October 2021, approximately 350 defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial were waiting for a bed at Western State Hospital in Lakewood or Eastern State Hospital outside of Spokane. In October 2022, the number was about 850 people, a 142% increase in one year, state records show. The numbers include people waiting both in and out of county jails.


Detroit Free Press: New Wayne County Jail dashboard offers statistics, charts in push for transparency
The public, along with the law enforcement community, can get a daily snapshot of the inmate population at the Wayne County Jail thanks to a new online database. The launch of the free, online database providing demographic figures, mental health data and other information on the jail population was announced Thursday by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

VT Digger: Groups allege corrections department fails to meet requirements for treating hepatitis C patients in custody
The Vermont Department of Corrections is not meeting the requirements of a settlement over treatment of incarcerated individuals with hepatitis C, according to the attorneys who brought the lawsuit that led to the agreement. The lawsuit names as defendants top officials with the Agency of Human Services, including Nicholas Deml, the corrections commissioner, and VitalCore Health Strategies, under contract with the state to provide prison health care.

Albuquerque Journal: County asks jail medical provider to address care issues
Bernalillo County has also expressed concerns about YesCare’s quality of care at the Metropolitan Detention Center. While the jail now has two medical doctors, a site physician and a medical director – as is required in its contract – it went several months with those positions vacant, according to a letter from the deputy county manager for general services to YesCare’s senior vice president that was sent in September.

Yahoo: GTC sheriff: Jail health services a 'nightmare'
The Grand Traverse County Commission could approve a new company Monday to deliver medical and mental health care services in the jail. The company, Advanced Correctional Healthcare, turned in a bid of $1.223 million for services starting Jan. 1 through the end of 2023. The current jail provider, County Health Support Services, turned in a bid for $2.231 million — much higher than the jail's healthcare services budget of $1.326 million.

AZ Central: 'He didn't deserve to die': Family sues Pima County after late teen overdoses twice on Fentanyl within week in jail
Sylvestre Inzunza didn’t survive one week in the Pima County Adult Detention Complex. A correctional officer found Inzunza lying on his bed unconscious and noticed he was pale and sweating profusely.On Tuesday, Inzunza’s family filed a lawsuit against Pima County, Sheriff Chris Nanos, four additional Pima County Sheriff’s Department employees, NaphCare and all corrections officers at Pima County Adult Detention Center in federal court.