COCHS Weekly Update: November 22, 2022

Highlighted Stories

Yale: The Intersection of Addiction and the Criminal Legal System: Drug Screening for People on Probation and Parole
On December 12th, 2022, 12 PM - 1:30 PM ET, the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice at the Yale School of Medicine will host a webinar focused on the intersection of addiction and the criminal legal system. The webinar will provide an overview of pressing issues around drug screening for individuals on probation and parole.

Stat: Top U.S. addiction researcher calls for broad deregulation of methadone
The U.S. government’s top addiction researcher is calling for broad deregulation of methadone, a key drug used to treat opioid use disorder. American doctors should “absolutely” be allowed to prescribe methadone directly to patients, Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, advocated. “There’s absolutely no reason why not,” Volkow added.

NCCHC: Webinar Clinical and Legal Issues for Corrections After the Dobbs Decision
The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned nearly 50 years of legal precedent, ruling that there is no constitutional right to abortion, giving states full authority to regulate abortion care. How will this change in the legal status of abortion impact correctional facilities? This webinar will review potential clinical and legal implications for correctional facilities.

PEW: Mental Health in America: The Intersection of Mental Health and Justice
Personnel from America’s emergency response systems are on the front lines answering calls from individuals experiencing mental health crises. In this episode of “Mental Health in America,” Julie Wertheimer, project director for Pew’s work on mental health and justice partnerships, discusses the current state of these response systems and their impact on our criminal justice system.


NACo: Bipartisan group encourages passage of legislation before the end of the year
Led by the National Association of Counties (NACo), a bipartisan group of nearly 150 county elected officials last week urged congressional leaders to pass key behavioral and mental health policies before the end of the year. County leaders outlined support for policies that would: Amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP). Counties are integral to the nation’s behavioral health system, both funding and coordinating behavioral health services, including those provided in county-owned and operated community health facilities.


PEW: Many Jails Are As Full As They Were Before COVID-19 Pandemic
Jail populations dropped in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic but have now rebounded in many facilities to levels seen in early 2020 or higher, according to figures from the Jail Data Initiative (JDI). At the peak of COVID-19 precautions—between March 1 and May 1, 2020—the population in these jails fell by 26%, according to JDI. However, as of Sept. 30, 2022, the populations in these jails had risen to somewhat higher levels as March 1, 2020.

AJHP: SARS-CoV-2 Mitigation Strategies, Testing, and Cases at 254 Jails in the US Southeast, October 2020 to May 2021
Jail systems play a complex role in American society, and these pandemic challenges are evidence of how much public health relies on institutional support. Research shows that the strongest impact on the health of people who are incarcerated often run into strong structural roadblocks. A survey of more than 250 jails across Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina found that strategies with low barriers to implementation, such as screening for symptoms at intake, making masks available and limiting off-site transport, were almost universally reported. But strategies with higher barriers to implement, including requiring masks, testing for infection, enforcing quarantines and isolation, and reducing jail population size, were less common.


Arnold Ventures: Arnold Ventures Pledges $7.4M for Nationwide Prosecution Research
Arnold Ventures announced $7.4 million in research grants to rigorously study prosecutor office policies, and provide greater awareness and insights into the decisions made every day by prosecutors across the United States. Arnold Ventures is specifically focused on how prosecutors can use their discretion to promote racial equity, transparency and data-driven decision-making, use punitive measures sparingly, and prioritize a holistic approach to community safety.

The Marshall Project: Prosecutors in These States Can Review Sentences They Deem Extreme. Few Do.
Louisiana is one of five states that has recently passed prosecutor-initiated resentencing laws, along with California, Washington, Illinois and Oregon. Five others — New York, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Georgia and Maryland — considered similar bills this year, though none were brought to a vote. But their reach so far has been concentrated in the offices of a few district attorneys, mainly in urban areas, according to a review by The Marshall Project. One reason is the high cost of reviewing old cases, prosecutors say.

Violence/Sexual Abuse In Corrections

NY Times: Hundreds of Women Set to Sue New York Over Allegations of Prison Sex Abuse
Hundreds of women who have accused prison guards of sexual abuse going back decades plan to sue New York State under new legislation that allows survivors to take legal action no matter how many years have elapsed. The Adult Survivors Act, passed in May, gives people who say they were sexually abused a one-time opportunity to file civil suits long after the statute of limitations for most criminal cases has expired.

NY Times: Georgia State Agency Investigating Jail Beating Caught on Camera
The Georgia Bureau of Investigations said this week it would review the beating of a detainee caught on camera at a jail in Camden County, after videos of the incident, showing multiple correction officers repeatedly punching the man, circulated on social media. The footage made it “absolutely clear that these officers beat Jarrett Hobbs like a dog for no reason other than they could.”

The Guardian: Jail guards shown beating Black Georgia detainee must be fired, lawyers say
Attorneys for a Georgia jail detainee shown on security footage being punched by guards repeatedly in the head and neck have called for the deputies to be fired and arrested, insisting the videos show the violence was unjustified. “There is no way in hell that anybody should be beaten the way this man was beaten,” Harry Daniels, an attorney, told reporters. “I don’t care what he did. I don’t care if he knocked the damn door down. You don’t beat a person like that.”

FOX 5: Senate panel finds 'extraordinary disturbing' medical procedures at closed Georgia immigration jail
U.S. immigration authorities didn’t do enough to adequately vet or monitor a gynecologist in rural Georgia who performed unnecessary medical procedures on detained migrant women without their consent, according to results of a Senate investigation. A Senate panel highlighted results of the 18-month investigation of off-site health care for migrants previously held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the privately owned and operated Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia.

Vera: Violence, Torture, and Isolation: What It’s Like to Be Trans in Prison
Patricia Trimble’s friend Vanna told her that she did not expect to survive another stay in her prison’s administrative segregation unit. The United Nations condemns long-term solitary confinement as torture, yet it is common for U.S. prisons to use punitive solitary confinement cells to isolate transgender women who are incarcerated in men’s prisons, as Trimble and Vanna were

West Hawaii Today: Ex-HCCC guard sentenced to 12 years for assaulting inmate
A former Hawaii prison guard was sentenced to 12 years in prison for assaulting an inmate. Jonathan Taum supervised three other guards while transporting an inmate at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in 2015. According to U.S. prosecutors, the inmate became frightened and the correctional officers took the inmate to the ground and punched and kicked him repeatedly.

Health Care In Corrections

The Guardian: ‘I don’t have the funds’: a diabetic prisoner pleaded for insulin supplies before his death
Poor healthcare behind bars is a chronic problem across the US, where 2 million people are imprisoned; thousands die while locked up each year and incarceration has been shown to significantly reduce life expectancy. For years, families have complained that DOC has prioritized cost-cutting in prison healthcare, and investigations and lawsuits have exposed significant deficiencies. A prison medical director was fired in 2019 after an inquiry found that six incarcerated patients had suffered due to her inadequate care, including four who died, one due to an infected surgical wound.

Opioid Epidemic

NC Health News: Vending machines dispensing free, life-saving medication
In September, a passerby in downtown Winston-Salem noticed someone who was unresponsive on the street. That passerby had heard about a new vending machine in the lobby of the county jail that had free naloxone administration kits for anyone to use. They ran inside, got one of the kits, then ran back to the person who had overdosed to give them the naloxone. By the time EMS workers arrived, the person was awake and talking.

News And Tribune: State looks for opportunities to reduce overdose deaths
To tamp down on the growing number of opioid overdose deaths, Indiana stakeholders hope to explore ways to intervene earlier by analyzing "touchpoints" between Hoosiers and healthcare or criminal justice systems. For the second year in a row, Indiana hit a record high for the number of overdose deaths, with 2,755 Hoosiers dying in 2021

Criminal Justice Reform

Vera: Filling Out Federal Student Aid Applications Behind Bars
Next year—for the first time in nearly three decades—all incarcerated people who are academically eligible will be able to apply for Pell Grants to help fund their college education. This hasn’t been the case since 1994, when the Crime Bill banned incarcerated people from receiving this federal financial aid. In 2020, Congress passed the FAFSA Simplification Act, a landmark package of legislation that restores Pell eligibility to people in prison and significantly changes the FAFSA form and the methodology by which aid is determined.

Louisiana Weekly: Louisiana has saved $150M from 2017 criminal justice reform legislation package
Louisiana has saved over $150 million thanks to a package of criminal justice reform measures passed by the legislature in 2017, according to a recent report produced by the state’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement. The savings are tied to a significant drop in the state’s prison population — which was down by almost 10,000 people in 2021 compared 2016. Both the savings and the reduction in prison population show that the reforms are having their intended impacts.

Reentry New Orleans program steers women leaving prison to careers in health care
Reentry and other prisoner programs are often geared toward the much larger male populations, said Susan Dewey, a University of Alabama criminology professor who studies incarcerated women. Operation Restoration currently offers a bachelor's program in partnership with Tulane University to women prisoners. Through grants, Operation Restoration also provides laptops, child care, rides and other support to help recently incarcerated women land on their feet.

Criminal Justice's Detrimental Impact On Mental Health

Corrections 1: DOJ launches probe into Oklahoma City PD's response to mental health crises
A civil rights investigation into the treatment of people with mental illnesses by the state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City and Oklahoma City police was announced Thursday by the U.S. Justice Department. “We will determine whether the state discriminates against mentally ill adults in Oklahoma County,” where Oklahoma City is located, in violation of federal law “by relying on institutional settings to serve adults when they could be served in the community,” assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.

The Appeal: Internal Report Details Severely Malnourished Detainees at Atlanta-Area Jail
Early on the morning of Sept. 13, an officer at the Fulton County Jail in Georgia found a man slumped over on the floor of his cell in a unit that houses people with mental illness. He was covered in lice and feces, the officer wrote in an incident report. In the days before the man’s death in the Fulton County Jail, officers had become alarmed by his condition and attempted to have medical staff intervene. The latest revelations about detainee mistreatment contained in the NaphCare report come as community leaders, the sheriff, and local officials continue to fight over plans to address overcrowding at the facility.

KSTP: DHS violating Minnesota’s ‘48-hour law’ for mental health treatment
Court records shows Department of Human Services has repeatedly violated Minnesota’s “48-hour law” in the last two years. The law requires the DHS to transfer inmates to a state-run facility within 48 hours of a civil commitment. The violations recently led to sharp rebukes from sitting judges who ordered DHS officials to appear in court to explain why the state’s largest agency cannot follow the law.

Mental Health & Executions

NPR: Carrying out executions took a secret toll on workers
Most of the workers involved with executions that NPR interviewed reported suffering serious mental and physical repercussions. There's a difference between servicemen who kill for the government in warzones and execution workers who do it at home. Veterans have access to free, lifelong health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Execution workers have no comparable support system.


Crime Report: Reducing Recidivism Through Drug Court Technology
Despite their demonstrated effectiveness in reducing substance use and criminal recidivism, drug courts often struggle with several common challenges, including how to identify individuals for whom drug court may be most appropriate. Risk and Needs Triage (RANT) software was developed to directly address many of these challenges using a reliable, evidence-based framework. Utilizing a standardized tool like RANT substantially reduces the subjectivity and bias. Implicit bias has long been documented as a major concern in the criminal justice system.

Data Breach

ABC: Data breach impacts 5.3k Sacramento County Correctional Health patients
For nearly five months, thousands of Sacramento County Correctional Health patients had their information exposed to the public internet in a data breach by a county contractor, Sacramento County announced Thursday. Between Jan. 2 and July 6, two unsecured folders containing the health information of 5,372 Sacramento County Correctional Health patients was exposed to the internet by CorrectCare Integrated Health Inc., a county contractor.

Newstrail: Cole & Van Note Announces CorrectCare Data Breach Investigation
Cole & Van Note, a leading consumer rights law firm, announces today its investigation of CorrectCare Integrated Health, Inc. on behalf of its consumers/clients, arising out the company’s recent data breach. According to the company, the private information of a massive number of people may have been stolen in the hacking of its information network.

Private Prisons

The Marshall Project: Prison Company Must Pay $2 Million for No-Show Workers
Mississippi’s state auditor on Monday demanded a private prison operator pay nearly $2 million after the company improperly billed the state for thousands of prison guard shifts that were never actually worked. An audit found that Management & Training Corporation, the country’s third-largest private prison company, did not notify or credit Mississippi’s Department of Corrections when staffing at a prison run by MTC fell below minimum requirements, as agreed to in their contract. The auditor is demanding about $1.4 million for unfilled shifts between 2017 and 2020, and just under $600,000 in interest and recovery costs.

Prison Contractors

Prison Policy Initiative: Scanned Mail Benefits Private Companies, Not Incarcerated People or Their Families
In recent years, many prison systems have either tried or fully implemented a policy that interferes with incarcerated people’s mail in a way we haven’t seen in our many years fighting to protect family communication behind bars: Prisons are increasingly taking incoming letters, greeting cards, and artwork, making photocopies or digital scans of them, and delivering those inferior versions to recipients. Prisons and jails often switch to scanning mail not out of any concern for safety, but at the encouragement of the same private companies that dominate the prison technology industry.

Correctional Health Care Vendors

The Ticker: GT County To Switch Jail Providers
Commissioners previously unanimously agreed in February to select County Health Support Services to handle all healthcare services in the county jail, including medical, mental, and psychiatric care. But this “step of faith” taken by Grand Traverse County commissioners earlier this year to entrust healthcare services for the county jail to a new company didn’t pan out as hoped, commissioners and staff agreed at a special meeting this week. While care itself has appeared to improve, cost overruns and administrative shortfalls prompted staff to put out a request-for-proposals (RFP) to find a new provider.

KMIZ: ACLU of Missouri Files federal lawsuit against Advanced Correctional Healthcare and Pettis County
The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit in the federal court Nov. 8 against Advanced Correctional Healthcare and Pettis County for allegedly denying an incarcerated individual access to life-saving medication after he was diagnosed with HIV. The ACLU seeks a preliminary injunction from the Court to ensure that their client has continued access to antiretroviral therapy medication.

Albuquerque Journal: Medical concerns at MDC must be addressed pronto
The crisis at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque is an apparent failure to provide proper medical care to the jail’s population. Brentwood, Tennessee-based YesCare, the jail’s medical provider, went several months without meeting its contractual obligation to have two doctors present at the jail. A recently released report by medical expert Muthusamy Anandkumar found the jail’s medical team out of compliance regarding screening for and managing inmate withdrawal symptoms.