COCHS Weekly Update: January 24, 2023

Highlighted Stories

Forbes: Federal Prisoners Concerned Over End Of CARES Act National Emergency Declaration
Since March 2022, approximately 12,000 minimum security prisoners were allowed to serve a portion of their prison term on home confinement instead of in a federal prison as a result of The CARES Act. The CARES Act Home Confinement Provision was based on the President’s COVID-19 National Emergency Declaration. The Public Health Emergency runs until April 11, 2023. But prison populations continue to experience spread of the disease.

CCJ: The Public Safety Impact of Shortening Lengthy Prison Terms
Long sentences are often imposed with an expectation that they will prevent some crime by incapacitating individuals and deterring them from engaging in future crime after release. Modest reductions in the length of long prison stays would likely result in relatively few additional arrests. Estimates show that reducing time served by one, two, or three years for the 376 individuals released annually in Illinois would result in 11 to 37 additional arrests. Reducing time served by 10%, 20%, or 30% would result in an estimated 17 to 63 additional arrests in Illinois.

Inquest: Data-Driven Decarceration
Decarceration isn’t one thing. There are many ways to reduce prison populations, each with important tradeoffs that would help and hurt different people at different times and in different ways. This tension between the harms of crime and the harms of prison contact is exacerbated by a critical fact: We cannot shrink the prison population, even by half, by decarcerating nonviolent offenses alone.

Psychology Today: Why Aren't Compassionate Release Laws Used More?
Few outside of the criminal justice system know that elderly prisoners typically have the physical health challenges of someone who is 10 to 15 years older. For these reasons, correctional practitioners and researchers classify inmates in their 50s as older or elderly prisoners. The annual cost to incarcerate one elderly prisoner is, on average, $65,000 to $75,000.

United States Sentencing Guidelines: Proposed 2023 Amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are non-binding rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for defendants convicted in federal court. The Guidelines are not mandatory. Judges must consider them when determining a criminal defendant's sentence. When a judge determines within his or her discretion to depart from the Guidelines, the judge must explain what factors warranted the increased or decreased sentence.

Legal Reader: Access to Mental Health Care Greatly Reduces Recidivism, Study Shows
Many times, individuals who are released from prison after many years behind bars find it difficult to adjust back to civilian life. Research demonstrates that overdose, recidivism, and death are all common in the weeks and months following release. A new study shows that access to mental health services shortly after release can reduce incarceration rates.

National Governors Association: 4 States to Participate in NGA Learning Collaborative on Strategies to Support the Development of State-Level DPAD Initiatives
Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania will participate in the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Learning Collaborative on Strategies to Support the Development of State-Level Deflection and Pre-Arrest Diversion (DPAD) Initiatives. This Learning Collaborative is a six-month-long opportunity designed to support the Governor’s office and other senior state officials in the development and implementation of a sustainable state-level DPAD initiative addressing the needs of individuals with substance use disorders (SUD).

Opioid Epidemic

Clinical Pain Advisor: Increased Overdose Risk Among Previously Incarcerated With Opioid, Stimulant Use Disorders
Among individuals with a history of incarceration, those with opioid use disorder (OUD) and/or stimulant use disorder (STUD) were found to be at increased risk for fatal and nonfatal overdose. Risk for overdose on the basis of OUD and/or STUD during a 5-year follow-up period was evaluated among a subset of individuals (N=6816) who were released from a correctional center between 2010 and 2014.

State Roundup
Now This News: Only 10% of Alabama Inmates Granted Parole In 2022, a Record Low
According to new data released by the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles, the number of incarcerated individuals in Alabama state prisons who were granted parole has reached a new low, with 90% being rejected during the 2022 fiscal year. Alabama’s 3-member parole board reportedly granted parole to 409 individuals and denied it to 3,593 others.

CT Insider: 80% of CT prison inmates have mental health or substance abuse issues requiring treatment, report shows
The state Department of Correction needs nearly $5 million to provide adequate health care in Connecticut's prisons where 80 percent of inmates suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues that require treatment.

New York Times: Ex-Correctional Officers in Hawaii Sentenced in 2015 Inmate Beating
Four former correctional officers in Hawaii have been handed prison sentences ranging from one to 12 years for beating an inmate in 2015, breaking his jaw, nose and eye socket, and trying to cover up the abuse. The inmate, a man who was held at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center and whose name federal prosecutors did not release, was kicked in the face, head and body.

VT Digger: Lawmakers propose reforms at Vermont sheriffs’ departments
Vermont sheriffs’ departments have drawn scrutiny recently after a few in their ranks were charged with criminal offenses yet remained on the job. That scrutiny is expected to grow more intense after a group of key state senators introduced legislation that would eliminate the policy that allows sheriffs to take administration fees for their department’s contract work.

Rikers Island

New York Times: 3 Rikers Officers Charged With Covering Up Attack on a Detainee
Three New York City correction officers were charged on Tuesday with covering up an assault on a Rikers Island inmate, another sign of the problems plaguing the troubled jail complex. The officers were arraigned in State Supreme Court in the Bronx on charges of official misconduct, offering a false statement for filing and falsifying business records, prosecutors said.

New York Times: At Rikers, Piling Up Sick Days While Investigating Sick-Leave Abuse
Two New York City investigators responsible for rooting out sick-leave fraud and other corruption at the Rikers Island jail complex are now themselves under investigation over whether they abused sick time, officials with the Department of Investigation said. They and several other investigators have taken so many sick days that they could have been classified by the city as “chronic sick” — a designation that can bring increased scrutiny.

Women & Justice Involvement

19th News: More women are being detained as jail populations near pre-COVID levels
Jail populations throughout the country have reverted to nearly pre-pandemic levels after seeing big declines in the early months of 2020. Though women represent a small percentage of the country’s total incarcerated population, their jail incarceration rates have increased more quickly than men’s from 2021 to 2022.

New Beginnings: A New Beginning For Formerly Incarcerated Women
Prison Policy Initiative research makes clear that women returning home have “a significantly higher need for services than men,” and that “reentry supports should be responsive to the particular needs of justice-involved women.” These women face more economic marginalization and poverty than men; they need specific trauma-informed and gendered health and mental health care as well as help to reunify with children. Additionally, they often lack stable housing.

Correctional Provider Experience The unspoken contract between doctors and patients: Navigating mental illness in the jail setting
I am a jailhouse psychiatrist, working with some of the most mentally ill individuals today. Those with serious mental illness (SMI), such as schizophrenia or severe bipolar disorder, often suffer from a lack of insight into their own illness. This means that they cannot understand or be convinced that their thoughts are incorrect, even when faced with evidence to the contrary. This is known as a delusion – a fixed belief that cannot be changed. Correctional Nurse Professional Practice Update: Ethical Dilemmas in Correctional Nursing
Involvement in inmate discipline can result in an ethical dilemma. For the most part, healthcare staff should not be involved in disciplinary action or disciplinary committees determining actions in the facility in which they work, unless their role is one of advocate (for example, providing supportive information about the patient’s mental health to a disciplinary committee).


San Francisco Chronicle: Court orders officials to reconsider mentally ill homeless man’s application for SSI benefits
Anyone who’s had engagement with the federal bureaucracy knows it’s difficult to understand. Add poverty and mental illness, and it makes it essentially impossible. in 2016 that nearly 2,000 homeless people in San Francisco were potentially eligible for SSI but were not receiving it.