My good friend and excellent attorney, Steve Hampton, sent me this article. I choose to post it nearly in its entirety because it is so important. However, I have omitted several pages detailing gruesome deaths, which appear often in reports like this one. Just click at the end on “The Whole Story” for those tragic details.
Thank God for the diligent and determined team of reporters at Reuters, trying to shed light on the scope of the problems I have been addressing for years!
Excerpts from the Article:
The U.S. government collects detailed data on who’s dying in which jails around the country – but won’t let anyone see it. So, Reuters conducted its own tally of fatalities in America’s biggest jails, pinpointing where suicide, botched healthcare and bad jailkeeping are claiming lives in a system with scant oversight.
Harvey Hill wouldn’t leave John Finnegan’s front yard. He stood in the pouring rain, laughing at the sky, alarming his former boss’ wife. Finnegan dialed 911. “He needs a mental evaluation,” the landscaper recalls telling the arriving officer. Instead, Hill was charged with trespassing and jailed on suspicion of a misdemeanor offense that could bring a $500 fine. It was a death sentence.
The next day, May 6, 2018, Hill’s condition worsened. He flew into a rage at the Madison County Detention Center in Canton, Mississippi, throwing a checkerboard and striking a guard with a lunch tray. Three guards tackled the 36-year-old, pepper sprayed him and kicked him repeatedly in the head. After handcuffing him, two guards slammed Hill into a concrete wall, previously unpublished jail surveillance video shows. They led him to a shower, away from the cameras, and beat him again, still handcuffed, a state investigation found. The guards said Hill was combative, exhibiting surprising strength that required force.
Video showed Hill writhing in pain in the infirmary, where he was assessed by a licensed practical nurse but not given medication. Mississippi law dictates that a doctor or higher credentialed nurse make decisions on medical interventions. But Hill was sent straight to an isolation cell, where a guard pinned him to the floor, removed his handcuffs, and left him lying on the cement. Hill crawled to the toilet. Then he stopped moving.
No one checked him for 46 minutes. When they did, he didn’t have a pulse. Within hours, he was dead. And he had a lot of company.
Hill’s is one of 7,571 inmate deaths Reuters documented in an unprecedented examination of mortality in more than 500 U.S. jails from 2008 to 2019. Death rates have soared in those lockups, rising 35% over the decade ending last year. Casualties like Hill are typical: held on minor charges and dying without ever getting their day in court. At least two-thirds of the dead inmates identified by Reuters, 4,998 people, were never convicted of the charges on which they were being held.
Unlike state and federal prisons, which hold people convicted of serious crimes, jails are locally run lockups meant to detain people awaiting arraignment or trial, or those serving short sentences. The toll of jail inmates who die without a case resolution subverts a fundamental tenet of the U.S. criminal justice system: innocent until proven guilty.
“A lot of people are dying and they’ve never been sentenced, and that’s obviously a huge problem,” said Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture and other inhuman punishment, after reviewing the Reuters findings. “You have to provide due process in all of these cases, you have to provide humane detention conditions in all of these cases and you have to provide medical care in all of these cases.”
The U.S. Constitution grants inmates core rights, but those provisions are hard to enforce. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees fair treatment to pre-trial detainees, but “fair” is open to interpretation by judges and juries. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel punishment forbids “deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners,” but proving deliberate negligence is difficult. The Sixth Amendment assures speedy trials, but does not define speedy.
The Reuters analysis revealed a confluence of factors that can turn short jail stays into death sentences. Many jails are not subject to any enforceable standards for their operation or the healthcare they provide. They typically get little if any oversight. And bail requirements trap poorer inmates in pre-trial detention for long periods. Meanwhile, inmate populations have grown sicker, more damaged by mental illness and plagued by addictions.
The 7,571 deaths identified by Reuters reflect those stresses. Most succumbed to illness, sometimes wanting for quality healthcare. More than 2,000 took their own lives amid mental breakdowns, including some 1,500 awaiting trial or indictment. A growing number – more than 1 in 10 last year – died from the acute effects of drugs and alcohol. Nearly 300 died after languishing behind bars, unconvicted, for a year or more.
As with much of the U.S. criminal justice system, the toll behind bars falls disproportionately on Black Americans, such as Hill. White inmates accounted for roughly half the fatalities. African Americans accounted for at least 28%, more than twice their share of the U.S. population, a disparity on par with the high incarceration rate of Blacks. Reuters was not able to identify the race of 9% of inmates who died.
Jail deaths typically draw attention locally but escape scrutiny from outside authorities, a gap in oversight that points to a national problem: America’s system for counting and monitoring jail deaths is broken.
America’s 3,000-plus jails are typically run by county sheriffs or local police. They often are under-equipped and understaffed, starved for funds by local officials who see them as budgetary burdens. A rising share have contracted their healthcare to private companies.
Yet there are no enforceable national standards to ensure jails meet constitutional requirements for inmate health and safety. Only 28 states have adopted their own standards to fill the gap. And much of the oversight that does exist is limited by a curtain of secrecy. The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics has collected inmate mortality data for two decades – but statistics for individual jails are withheld from the public, government officials and oversight agencies under a 1984 law limiting the release of BJS data. Agency officials say that discretion is critical because it encourages sheriffs and police to report their deaths data each year.
The secrecy has a cost: Local policy makers can’t learn if their jails’ death rates are higher than those in similar communities. Groups that advocate for inmates’ rights can’t get jail-by-jail mortality data to support court cases. The Justice Department’s own lawyers, charged with taking legal action when corrections facilities violate constitutional standards, can’t readily identify jails where high death counts warrant federal investigation.
“If there’s a high death rate, that means there’s a problem,” said Julie Abbate, former deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section, which enforces civil rights in jails. Publicizing those rates “would make it a lot harder to hide a bad jail.”
The Justice Department does issue broad statistical reports on statewide or national trends. But even those fatality numbers don’t always tell the full story. Some jails fail to inform BJS of deaths. Some report them inaccurately, listing homicides or suicides as accidents or illnesses, Reuters found. Justice Department consultant Steve Martin, who has inspected more than 500 U.S. prisons and jails, said that in all the cases he’s investigated, he recalls only one homicide being reported accurately. The others were categorized as “medical, respiratory failure, or whatever,” he said.
Methodology: How Reuters tracked jail deaths
The Data Behind the Deaths
Other jails find other ways to keep deaths off the books, such as “releasing” inmates who have been hospitalized in grave condition, perhaps from a suicide attempt or a medical crisis, so they’re not on the jail’s roster when they die. Sheriffs sometimes characterize these as “compassionate releases” that allow inmates’ families a chance to spend their final hours together without law enforcement supervision.
In all, Reuters identified at least 59 cases across 39 jails in which inmate deaths were not reported to government agencies or included in tallies provided to the news organization.
The Justice Department has grown more secretive about the fatality data under the Trump administration. While BJS never has released jail-by-jail mortality figures, it traditionally has published aggregated statistics every two years or so. The 2016 report wasn’t issued until this year. And, a Justice spokesman said, there are “no plans” to issue any future reports containing even aggregated data on inmate deaths in jails or prisons.
The report delays are “an outrage,” said Representative Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat who co-authored the original reporting law in 2000 with a Republican colleague. Scott said secrecy was never the goal. He co-authored a 2014 update, which restricts federal grant money when jails don’t report deaths and shifts data collection to a different Justice Department agency that would not be restricted from releasing jail-by-jail data. The updated law has yet to be implemented.
“The whole point,” Scott said, “is we suspect a lot of the deaths are preventable with certain protocols – better suicide protocols, better healthcare, better guard-to-prisoner ratios. You’ve got to have information at the jail level. You have no way of really targeting corrective action if you don’t.”
Because the government won’t release jail-by-jail death data, Reuters compiled its own. The news organization tracked jail deaths over the dozen years from 2008 to 2019 to create the largest such database outside of the Justice Department. Reporters filed more than 1,500 records requests to obtain information about deaths in 523 U.S. jails – every jail with an average population of 750 or more inmates, and the 10 largest jails or jail systems in nearly every state. Together, those jails hold an average of some 450,000 inmates a day, or about three out of every five nationwide.
“You’ve got to have information at the jail level. You have no way of really targeting corrective action if you don’t.”
One finding: Since the last Justice Department report, for 2016, the death rate in big jails has continued to climb, leaving it up 8% in 2019, the highest point in the 12-year period of 2008-2019 examined by Reuters. In that time, the suicide rate declined as many facilities launched suicide awareness and response initiatives. But the death rate from drug and alcohol overdoses rose about 72% amid the opioid epidemic.
The data also reveals scores of big jails with high death tolls, including two dozen with death rates double the national average.
Such data “would have actually been very helpful for enforcement purposes,” said Jonathan Smith, who ran the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section from 2010 to 2015.
Detailed insight into jail deaths can save lives. In 2016, the Justice Department began investigating the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Virginia, after state Attorney General Mark Herring and local civil rights groups called for a probe following several inmate deaths. Reuters found the jail, which serves five jurisdictions, averaged 3.5 deaths per thousand inmates over the years 2009 to 2019, more than double the national average of 1.5 deaths.
In December 2018, the Justice Department said the 900-bed jail violated inmates’ rights by failing to provide adequate medical and mental healthcare. The regional authority that manages the jail agreed to a “consent decree,” enforced by a federal judge, to ensure improved treatment of prisoners. Inmate deaths dropped after the agreement, which required increased staffing, better training and enhanced medical services. The jail reported two fatalities in 2019 and one through this May, down from an average of five a year in the prior four years.
That was one of the Justice Department’s last jail investigations. From 2008 to 2018, the department opened 19 investigations into jails, three during President Trump’s tenure.
Yet since 2018, it hasn’t opened any. A memo circulated in November 2018 by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions put hurdles in the way of entering consent decrees for overhauling jails. In a telephone interview, Sessions told Reuters the policy he set forth adhered to Supreme Court standards on when consent decrees could be entered, allowing them when “appropriate” and “justified.”
In the absence of federal oversight, states have a patchwork of guidelines. Seventeen states have no rules or oversight mechanisms for local jails, according to Reuters research and a pending study by Michele Deitch, a corrections specialist at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. In five other low-population states, all detention facilities are run by state corrections agencies. The other 28 have some form of standards, such as assessing inmates’ health on arrival or checking on suicidal inmates at prescribed intervals. Yet those standards often are minimal, and in at least six of the states, the agencies that write them lack enforcement power or the authority to refer substandard jails for investigation.
Without jail-by-jail mortality data, even jails with extraordinary death rates can escape official intervention for years, and local officials can remain blind to the seriousness of problems their facilities face. One example is the Marion County Jail in Indiana, a decrepit 65-year-old facility nicknamed “The Fossil” within the sheriff’s department. Overfilled and understaffed, the Marion County jail had at least 45 deaths from 2009-2019. Yet local officials rejected pleas from two consecutive sheriffs for additional funding to bolster staffing and build a new facility. Reuters found that the jail is among the two dozen with an average death rate, 3.5 deaths per 1,000 inmates, at least double the national average from 2009 to 2019. And its record was troubling on one of the most challenging problems plaguing jails: suicide, which accounted for more than a quarter of all U.S. jail deaths.
“We’re not built to be the largest mental health hospital in the state,” said Colonel James Martin, who oversees the jail. “We’re not built to be the largest detox facility in the state.” Yet the jail has “more detox beds than any single hospital in the state.”
The jail’s shortcomings have been documented, including a county-commissioned review in 2016 that found the Fossil “antiquated,” with inadequate staffing and design flaws that severely hamper inmate monitoring. In 2018, after another independent study highlighted the jail’s challenges, the county approved a new $580 million criminal justice complex, with dedicated facilities to treat mental illness and substance abuse. In 2022, the Fossil will be history.
An autopsy ruled Hill’s death a homicide, however. The report showed that abrasions speckled his head and chest. Severe internal bleeding swelled his neck. His liver had been lacerated.
The state medical examiner, citing a backlog, didn’t release the findings to the family until this June, 25 months after he died and 13 months after the statute of limitations had expired for litigation involving assault. The family filed its ongoing lawsuit last February, before receiving the autopsy.
How Reuters tracked and analyzed deaths in America’s largest jails
By GRANT SMITH and PETER EISLER
The Reuters examination of deaths in U.S. local jails represents the largest collection and publication of inmate mortality data undertaken outside the federal government.
The news organization filed more than 1,500 public records requests to collect data on inmate populations and deaths from more than 500 local jails. That universe includes the 10 largest jails in each state, as well as any jail in the country with an average daily population of 750 or more inmates.
In all, the Reuters data captures about 60% of the total inmate population in the nation’s 3,000-plus jails. Similarly, Reuters data accounts for about 60% of all inmate deaths nationwide, based on the latest national data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. BJS issues national-level and state-level data on jail deaths, but no statistics for individual jails. The Reuters investigation is the first to provide individual jail death data on a national scale.
Reuters calculated annual death rates at more than 500 jails by dividing the total number of deaths in a given year by the average daily population in the same year – the same formula used by BJS and other experts in criminal justice statistics.
Number of inmates in jails surveyed by Reuters who died without getting their day in court
States and local law enforcement agencies have varying definitions for what constitutes a jail death. Reuters counted all deaths that occurred in a jail, as well as deaths of inmates who were hospitalized for injuries or conditions incurred at the jail. When inmates are in life-threatening condition, some jails release them and do not count their subsequent death as an inmate fatality. Reuters, like many jurisdictions across the country, included those cases in its tally of jail deaths.
Reuters received responses from more than 95% of the jurisdictions from which it sought public records. Not all jails were able to provide accurate data on inmate populations for every year covered by the analysis, particularly the earlier years. Data was not available on race for about 9% of inmates who died and for conviction status for about 17% of fatalities. In cases where data was available for adjacent years, Reuters used that information to estimate inmate populations for the years in which no data was provided – a statistical method also used by BJS.
Reuters also used court records and news accounts to identify deaths that were not documented in jails’ responses and, in many other cases, to augment information jails did provide. Several dozen unreported deaths were identified in this manner and added to the Reuters tally. Court records and other official records, such as autopsy reports, also were used when available to fill in data that some jails declined to provide, such as cause of death or age.
Reuters also collected information on how healthcare services are provided in each jail, identifying those that relied on private companies to manage and deliver that care. Reuters only considered jails to have privatized or contracted care if they relied on a company to manage and staff the facility’s entire healthcare operation. If a jail contracted with individual practitioners for discreet medical services or hired staffing agencies to provide clinicians, Reuters still considered that care to be publicly managed, just as it would if the jail was running its own healthcare operation or relying on a public health agency.
The data captures jails in 44 states plus the District of Columbia. It does not include six other states – five where all detention facilities are managed by unified state corrections agencies (Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont), and Alaska, which uses a hybrid model that also relies largely on a network of state-run facilities.
My good friend and great lawyer, Steve Hampton, sent me this article. Second only to “the war on drugs”, privatization is the worst thing to happen to our criminal justice system.
Excerpts from the Article:
Hefty fees for services such as drug testing and electronic monitoring are weighing down low-income people moving through the criminal justice system, according to a report by the American Bar Association.
The report, “Privatization of Services in the Criminal Justice System,” which was released in June, provides a comprehensive look at the effect of the private industry growing out of the nation’s criminal justice system, noting that about 10 million low-income residents owe more than $50 billion in often unaffordable additional costs.
The figures reflect the increased prevalence of user fees throughout the criminal justice system, and the degree to which those fees are charged by private companies, often for profit. Court fines and fees are compounded by supervision fees for both pretrial and post-sentence supervision. These fees balloon as private companies add revenue-enhancing requirements such as courses, regular drug and alcohol testing, counseling, periodic background checks and electronic monitoring.
The report, from the ABA’s Working Group on Building Public Trust in the American Justice System, represents a comprehensive overview of the role private companies play throughout the criminal justice system and how they affect low-income individuals. The report builds upon the “Ten Guidelines on Court Fines and Fees,” which were adopted as policy by the ABA House of Delegates in 2018.
The guidelines are intended to “provide practical direction for government officials and policymakers” so that the criminal justice system, particularly for relatively minor offenses, “does not punish people for the ‘crime’ of being poor.” They stress the “amount imposed, if any, should never be greater than the ability to pay or more than the actual cost of the service provided.”
The report cites numerous examples of individuals charged fees by private companies while working to resolve even minor criminal cases. Among them:
In 2015, police pulled over South Carolina resident Antonio G. for failing to use a turn signal, arrested him and took him to the local jail. The next day, his mother posted the $2,100 bail and the judge ordered, as a condition of his release on bail, that he wear and pay for an electronic monitoring device. The for-profit company that provided the monitor charged a set-up fee of $179.50 and $9.25 per day, or nearly $300 per month.
The cost of drug tests can be as little as $12 or as much as $80 or more for lab-confirmed results. At $25 per test, an individual ordered to test once a week during a 12-month term of probation will incur costs of over $1,250 for drug tests alone.
In about 40 Illinois counties, bad-check writers, in addition to restitution, must pay an administrative fee of $25 to $35 and a fee of $125 to $175 for a “financial accountability” class. In addition, there are fees for enrolling in a payment plan or rescheduling a missed class. As a result, someone who bounces a check for as little as $5 can end up paying as much as $300.
“Our criminal justice system should prioritize public safety,” said Rob Weiner, chair of the working group. “The fees in the criminal justice system disproportionately harm minority communities and, particularly when driven by profit, fuel the distrust these communities feel toward that system. We must take steps to eliminate these fees, ensure that all programs are equally accessible to those who need them and guarantee that nobody is trapped in the criminal justice system by virtue of inability to pay.”
The report represents the views of the working group and has not been approved by the ABA House of Delegates or the Board of Governors.
The best change is the state’s new banking law, though it is likely to have little effect until the FEDS change their ridiculous marijuana criminal laws!
Excerpts from the Article:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a handful of marijuana bills into law on Tuesday, making a series of small adjustments to the nation’s largest legal cannabis system. More sweeping proposals such as overhauling the state’s marijuana regulatory structure will have to wait until next year, the governor said.
Among the biggest of the new changes are revisions to banking and advertising laws. With many legal marijuana businesses are still unable to access financial services, Newsom signed a bill (AB 1525) to remove state penalties against banks that work with cannabis clients. “This bill has the potential to increase the provisions of financial services to the legal cannabis industry,” Newsom wrote in a signing statement, “and for that reason, I support it.”
Democrats in Congress, meanwhile, have been working for months to remove obstacles to these businesses’ access to financial services at the federal level. A coronavirus relief bill released by House Democratic leaders on Monday is the latest piece of legislation to include marijuana banking protections. Past efforts to include such provisions have been scuttled by Senate Republicans.
In his signing statement on the banking bill, Newsom directed state cannabis regulators to establish rules meant to protect the privacy of marijuana businesses that seek financial services, urging that data be kept confidential and is used only “for the provision of financial services to support licensees.” Another bill (SB 67) the governor signed on Tuesday will finally establish a cannabis appellation program, meant to indicate where marijuana is grown and how that might influence its character. The system is similar to how wine regions are regulated. Under the new law, growers and processors under the new law will be forbidden from using the name of a city or other designated region in product marketing unless all of that product’s cannabis is grown in that region. Similar protections already apply at the county level.
Newsom also last week vetoed a bill (AB 545) that would have begun to dissolve the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, which oversees the legal industry. In a statement, the governor called that legislation “premature” given his plans for broader reform. “My Administration has proposed consolidating the regulatory authority currently divided between three state entities into one single department,” Newsom wrote, “which we hope to achieve next year in partnership with the Legislature.”
Earlier this month, the governor signed into law one of the industry’s top priorities for the year—a measure (AB 1872) that freezes state cannabis cultivation and excise taxes for the entirety of 2021. The law is intended to provide financial stability for cannabis businesses in California, where taxes on marijuana are among the highest in the nation.
The state’s leading marijuana trade group, the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA), applauded the governor’s moves. All the bills approved by Newsom this week had the industry group’s support.
“We thank Governor Newsom for prioritizing these bills, which seek to reduce regulatory burdens, improve enforcement, expand financial services and enhance the state’s cannabis appellation’s program,” CCIA Executive Director Lindsay Robinson said in a message to supporters on Wednesday. “Like so many, the cannabis industry has faced a series of unexpected challenges and setbacks in 2020. We look forward to continuing to work with the Newsom Administration, and the Legislature, as we pursue a robust policy agenda in 2021.”
The Whole Story
PART OF MY JOB IS TO EDUCATE FOLKS. KIDS WITH MH ISSUES ARE FAR MORE LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. THIS WILL HELP PREVENT THAT.
Lord knows there is a huge need for more of this. With all of the stress brought on by the pandemic, kids need this more than ever. The mental health of all Americans is largely ignored, with many having undiagnosed illnesses.
It was tough enough on kids b4 the pandemic; I have given numerous talks to kids groups – one on The Dangers of Drugs, What YOU Should Know, and the other is How to Get and Maintain a Positive Attitude … aimed at lessening teen suicides.
Medical people in every state should set up programs like this one! The program links pediatric primary care providers with free psychiatry consultations and assistance to streamline behavioral health care for children and youth.
Excerpts from the Article:
There’s a large and unmet need for children whose behavioral health is “a little more complicated” than what most general pediatricians can handle.
Those children often don’t have access to many psychiatrists in the area, said Dr. Stacey Fox, a general pediatrician for Beacon Pediatrics in Rehoboth Beach. She described the frequency of children needing behavioral health help as “all day.”
“And much more now with COVID,” she said. “We have tons of kids who are experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression. It’s really starting to hit everybody, with what’s been going on with COVID and the changes in school and everything. We have a lot more kids. So even more unmet need.”
It was mostly this reason that paved the way for the Delaware Child Psychiatry Access Program, a project under the mantle of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families. The program links pediatric primary care providers with free psychiatry consultations and assistance to streamline behavioral health care for children and youth.
“Well, the biggest shortage area in medicine right now is child psychiatry,” said Dr. Richard Margolis, DCPAP project director and medical director for the state Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services. “There is a recent article published in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which estimates that there are only about 20% of the child psychiatrists that we need. So a lot of the burden of treating children with behavioral disorders falls on the primary care practitioners. I’m a child psychiatrist, and there are not enough of us to go around.”
Many behavioral health issues present themselves in the primary care setting, said Mindy Webb, a licensed clinical social worker and behavioral health care coordinator for the program. “That’s the patient’s medical home. That’s where they’re having services most often, as opposed to taking specialized services for behavioral health needs that they may not know they have or are not treating for a number of reasons,” she said. “It could be access, insurance, transportation, knowledge of where to go or what services are available.”
Because of that, DCPAP connects pediatricians with child psychiatrists who offer consultations, continuing medical education and behavioral coordination.
The consultations are private, with the consultants not knowing patients’ names or any personal information, Dr. Fox said. “They’re there to provide support to us and to give us advice as providers, but there’s no concerns about privacy issues at all,” she said.
Patients are able to be treated at their primary care office, with the input from DCPAP’s consultation.
“It improves accessibility, and we’re also looking to improve the skill and knowledge base of primary care practitioners in the area of behavioral health,” Dr. Margolis said. When he and Joseph Hughes, project manager, first wrote the grant — which is for five years — they had estimated connecting with 150 primary care providers in Delaware. But since beginning to register providers in September 2019, they’ve exceeded that, with 175 pediatric primary care practitioners working with the program, said Mr. Hughes.
There are more than 800 providers registered with the Medical Society of Delaware, and DCPAP is in the process of reaching out to those, with the goal of gaining 300 to 400 registrations to their program, he said. In the past, Dr. Fox said practitioners at Beacon could handle the “basic stuff,” such as stimulants and antidepressants. If the patient needed something beyond that, however, they would be referred to one of the few psychiatrists in the area and would have to wait until they could be seen, she said. “Now that we have the DCPAP, we can manage a lot more,” she said. “We can go to the next step, and, if we’re struggling at all, instead of just referring and crossing our fingers that the child will get the care they need — and know that they often won’t — we can provide that care, with the support of the DCPAP.”
Beyond working with the practitioners through consultations, DCPAP is offering training sessions through the fall and early next year, which will grapple with youth suicide, bipolar disorders, trauma, PTSD and autism spectrum disorder.
Interested providers, including pediatricians, family physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants caring for patients up to age 21, can register for DCPAP by calling 513-0929 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Enrolled providers will also have access to a newsletter, information and webinars.
The Whole Story
They should do this in every state! It is insane that in 2020 …. almost 2021, we still are locking people up, and ruining lives with arrest records for POT!
Thanks to Grace Alexander on MeWe for sending me this article!
Excerpts from the Article:
People who have been convicted of possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in Colorado are being pardoned by Gov. Jared Polis.
Polis signed an executive order on Thursday issuing the pardons, according to a news release from the governor’s office. “We are finally cleaning up some of the inequities of the past by pardoning 2,732 convictions for Coloradans who simply had an ounce of marijuana or less. It’s ridiculous how being written up for smoking a joint in the 1970’s has followed some Coloradans throughout their lives and gotten in the way of their success,” Polis said.
“Today we are taking this step toward creating a more just system and breaking down barriers to help transform people’s lives as well as coming to terms with one aspect of the past, failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”
The action comes of the heels of the passage in June of a bill authorizing the governor “to grant pardons to a class of defendants who were convicted of the possession of up to two ounces of marijuana,” according to the release. The new law went into effect this month, the release states.
The pardon applies to state-level convictions as identified by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, according to the release. Those who have been convicted do not need to apply for pardons. Anyone who has been convicted of municipal marijuana crimes, or has been arrested or issued a summons without a conviction, is not included in the pardons.
Colorado was the first state in the nation to allow for the sale of recreational marijuana in 2014, and it was the first place in the world where marijuana was regulated from seed to sale.
The marijuana industry has been profitable for the state, with Colorado cannabis shops reporting $1.75 billion in sales during 2019, netting more than $302.4 million in tax revenue.
THE LETTER BELOW WAS PUBLISHED on p. A 4 of The Delaware State News of 10/10/20. 🙂
I must keep ever alert, keeping an eye out for significantly misleading statements like several in this article.
First, I know from the calls, letters and emails which I receive daily (and my calls to two guards, who refuse to speak publicly for fear of unlawful retaliation), and my frequent contact with other prison reform advocates, that health care in America’s prisons remains a disaster. Don’t be deceived by statements like: “We will continue to expand upon these innovative ideas to provide the highest quality and cost-effective care to offenders.” High quality health care never has existed in our prisons.
The head of D O C also says: “Every offender in DOC custody receives medical screenings that identify treatment needs. Inmates with chronic and recurring conditions receive ongoing-care planning and follow-up treatment, according to the news release.” The “screening” is grossly inadequate, with inmates still dying within a few days of arrival and their initial screening, from various health issues, including drug overdoses which either went undetected or blatantly ignored when the inmate told the medical screener and guards something like: “I am suffering from an overdose of … meth, coke, etc. … and I feel terrible and need a doctor”! No shit, folks, it is that bad!
Instead of this statement by Dr. Johnny Wu, Centurion’s chief of clinical operations: “Centurion is committed to leveraging proven best practices from our national network of caregivers and health care partners to provide excellent care to our Delaware patients and support their well-being,” this clown should have said: “Centurion is committed to leveraging its proven propensity for lying and covering up its abysmal failures to ensure as much profit as possible for the corporation and its officers, like me.”
Excerpts from the Article:
The Delaware Department of Correction said today that innovative wound care being provided by its correctional health care provider is showing promising results in improving treatment for inmates. Inmates have a wide variety of routine and recurring health care needs, and newly arriving inmates may have open and infected wounds from a variety of conditions, including injection drug use, uncontrolled diabetes, obesity and physical trauma, according to a DOC news release. Skin irritation from opiate withdrawal and other causes, such as parasitic infestations, can also prompt prolonged scratching that exacerbates open wounds, the DOC said.
Through an “innovative” wound care service brought to Delaware by Centurion Health, the state’s correctional health care provider, inmates are receiving enhanced treatment and are recovering faster from skin wounds compared to traditional courses of treatment, according to the DOC.
“DOC has made a concerted effort over the past year to improve the quality of medical care inmates in our custody receive, and Centurion’s specialized wound care treatment is just one more example of our renewed focus on strengthening prison-based health care services,” said DOC Commissioner Claire DeMatteis.
“With the national expertise Centurion brings to the Delaware DOC, inmates are recovering more quickly and need fewer visits to outside emergency rooms and hospitalizations, which reduces the strain on our health care system. We will continue to expand upon these innovative ideas to provide the highest quality and cost-effective care to offenders.”
Every offender in DOC custody receives medical screenings that identify treatment needs. Inmates with chronic and recurring conditions receive ongoing-care planning and follow-up treatment, according to the news release.
Previously, according to the DOC, inmates with open wounds and wound-related skin infections received standard wound care treatments. DOC’s medical provider Centurion Health, which was awarded the contract to provide health care to Delaware inmates this spring, focused early on improving inmate access to high-quality and specialized wound care services.
As the nation’s largest provider of correctional health care, Centurion had employed the national wound care service MyWoundDoctor in other states. It began leveraging MyWoundDoctor services in Delaware four months ago and has experienced noticeable results improving patient outcomes, the DOC said.
Through this treatment service, prison-based medical staff employed by Centurion provide patient information, case notes and photographs electronically to MyWoundDoctor, whose wound care specialists design an individualized treatment plan using a variety of evidence-based approaches, the DOC said.
Treatment materials and a wound care package that takes into account the patient’s underlying chronic health conditions, present condition of the wound and location of the wound are prepared individually for each patient and delivered by express mail. Prison medical staff administer the specially designed course of treatment and closely monitor the patient’s condition. Regular updates are transmitted electronically to MyWoundDoctor specialists, who adjust the treatment protocol as needed, the DOC said.
“Centurion is committed to leveraging proven best practices from our national network of caregivers and health care partners to provide excellent care to our Delaware patients and support their well-being,” said Dr. Johnny Wu, Centurion’s chief of clinical operations.
The Whole Story:
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission – Keep Alert! 10/1/20
I must keep ever alert, keeping an eye out for significantly misleading statements like several in a recent article about Delaware D O C “healthcare”.
First, I know from the calls, letters and emails which I receive daily from inmates and their loved ones (and my calls to two guards, who refuse to speak publicly for fear of unlawful retaliation), and my frequent contact with other prison reform advocates, that health care in America’s prisons remains a disaster.
Don’t be deceived by statements like: “We will continue to expand upon these innovative ideas to provide the highest quality and cost-effective care to offenders.” High quality health care never has existed in our prisons.
The head of D O C also says: “Every offender in DOC custody receives medical screenings that identify treatment needs. Inmates with chronic and recurring conditions receive ongoing-care planning and follow-up treatment, according to the news release.”
The “screening” is grossly inadequate, with inmates still dying within a few days of arrival and their initial screening, from various health issues, including drug overdoses which either went undetected or blatantly ignored when the inmate told the medical screener and guards something like: “I am suffering from an overdose of … meth, coke, heroin, etc. … and I feel terrible and need a doctor”! No fooling, folks, it is that bad!
Whether the much touted new wound treatment works, I do not yet know, but time will tell.
I am not “bitching in the newspaper”; I am simply telling the public the truth, for they deserve no less.
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! SEARCH “The top ten newspapers” in (your state!).
The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067! My “bcc” list is now about 400 papers, all over America!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 weeks, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
CLICK ON THE TAB ON OUR WEBSITE “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. OPEN “ARTICLES”, THEN CLICK THAT TAB FOR HUNDREDS OF SAMPLE LETTERS!
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! email@example.com .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
Unlike most of the recent killings of Blacks by police, there is no good cause for anger – or for prosecution – against the police in this case. They are not to blame; the system is to blame. They entered with a “no knock warrant”, and when the occupant heard them coming, he opened fire. He fired a shot, not knowing who they were.
The problem is with no knock warrants, which should be eliminated, because they almost never are really needed. The risk of harm to cops and to civilians far outweighs any benefit.
Watch the Video Here:
Corizon is notorious for its awful “health care”! Here again we see that a short sentence for drug charges nearly resulted in death due to prison officials’ medical incompetence and cruelty.
Excerpts from the Article:
A woman who says she suffered a life-threatening infection after Idaho’s prison staffers denied her antibiotics following dental surgery is suing state officials and Corizon Health, claiming she was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
Christina Bergstrom says she was hospitalized for two weeks – part of that time in intensive care – after she developed a rare, rapidly spreading and potentially fatal infection after her wisdom teeth were removed. She’s asking a federal judge to order Corizon to pay her an unspecified amount of damages.
Officials with Corizon Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said the department doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Bergstrom was told shortly after she arrived at the Pocatello Women’s Corrng the surgery. Two days later, she said her mouth started swelling and bleeding and she could “taste the infection,” where the tooth was removed. Though she said she was in extreme pain and couldn’t sleep or eat, she said prison staffers denied her pain medication and antibiotics, at one point telling her that they thought she just wanted drugs.
Over the next several hours she said the swelling continued, her skin became hot and red to the touch and she developed a fever and a rapid pulse. Her face became so deformed by the swelling she could barely pronounce words, according to the lawsuit. Still, Bergstrom said, prison staffers denied her requests for medication.
Four days after her wisdom teeth were removed, Bergstrom contends, she was having trouble breathing because of the swelling in her throat. That’s when she was taken to the prison’s medical center and then to the regional hospital, where she had to undergo emergency surgery and spend three days unconscious in the intensive care unit.
Doctors diagnosed her with Ludwig’s Angina, a rare, rapidly spreading infection of the tissue in the mouth and neck that can quickly kill if left untreated. After six days in the hospital, doctors had her flown to a larger medical center in Salt Lake City for additional treatment, according to the lawsuit.
“The infection was too deep to be treated with antibiotics due to the delay in providing treatment,” Bergstrom’s attorney Howard Belodoff, wrote in the lawsuit. She had another surgery and was hospitalized for several more days, kept in shackles and accompanied by a correctional officer throughout her stay.
Bergstrom arrived in prison in April of 2018, ordered to serve at least two years on drug charges. She was released earlier this year.
She’s since been released from prison but still suffers complications from the ordeal, including a large scar on her neck, numbness and swelling on her face and pain when she turns her head, according to the lawsuit.
Bergstrom also contends that other inmates have also had infections, swelling and pain after prison health care providers pulled their teeth, and also were denied adequate medical care.
Corizon has not yet filed a formal response to the lawsuit.
The Whole Story:
This is a drop in the bucket compared to what should be done, but some progress. Remember too that federal inmates are only 15% of our inmate population. The states need to do much more reform in this area.
Excerpts from the Article:
Fewer increased penalties for recidivists were imposed during the first year of the federal First Step Act, the U.S. Sentencing Commission says in a new report. The report suggested that the law was having its intended effect so far, but not seeing a large impact on the federal criminal justice system as a whole.
Summarizing the initial results of some of the law’s sentencing provisions, the commission said the number of federal offenders who got increased sanctions because of a record of previous offenses dropped by 15.2 percent, from 1,001 in fiscal year 2018 to 849 in the first year of First Step.
Few offenders were subject to more severe penalties because of previous convictions of “serious violent penalties,” the report said.
Of the 849 offenders subject to that provision of the law, only 36 had been convicted of one or more qualifying “serious violent felony” offenses. And only 11 were subject to enhanced penalties based on one or more convictions for crimes like weapons offenses, robbery, and aggravated assault.
Under the First Step Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in 2018, offenders were more likely to avoid a mandatory minimum penalty or get a reduction in their sentences because of the law’s expansion of eligibility for a “safety valve,” the commission said.
Of 13,138 drug trafficking offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, 41.8 percent did not get the mandatory minimum penalty, up from 35.7 percent in the year before First Step went into effect.
The law also limited “stacking” of penalties in which offenders with a second firearms offense got a 25-year prison term. In the year before First Step, there were 117 such cases in the federal court system. Under First Step, there were only five.
The commission said that sentences of five, seven or ten years “typically replaced what would have been a 25-year penalty” before First Step.
The First Step Act allowed offenders to seek “compassionate release” from prison by going to court rather relying on the federal Bureau of Prisons.
The commission said 145 inmates were granted compassionate release in the First Step Act’s first year, a five-fold increase from the 24 granted in fiscal year 2018, before the law was in effect.
Commenting on the report, sentencing expert Douglas Berman of Ohio State University’s law school said in his Sentencing Law and Policy blog that the law’s provisions “largely achieved their intended goals and impacted a lot of cases, though they still have a relatively small impact on a massive federal criminal justice system.”
Berman noted that although the “safety valve” change helped about 1,250 additional federal drug defendants, the federal system during First Step Year One.”“any system-wide benefit would seem to be largely eclipsed by the fact that the federal government brought roughly 1400 more drug cases into the system.
He added, “When some federal drug sentences go down slightly, but the overall number of defendants being sentenced for drug cases goes up (and especially if the federal caseload increase involves mostly lower-level offenders), it is hard to get too excited about the impact of reform.”
As a former addict – clean 14 and a half years now – naturally this caught my attention among the hundreds of articles I get monthly. The article reminds me of some philosophy classes – much talk, many questions, no answers! I don’t agree with the characterization of many “likes and dislikes” as “addiction”.
Some of the author’s attitudes are formed by the structure/principles of NA and AA. I have long argued that addiction is not a “disease” – it is a phenomenon, but the creators of AA did not know the science of how drugs affect the brain, so they labeled it a disease. And, it IS curable!
She does hit the nail on the head in saying that to beat addiction you must know yourself.
Excerpts from the Article:
A recovery process is supposed to be a bridge to normal living.
It takes a while – this normal living. It happened for me when I stopped measuring my normalness against others idea of what normal and abnormal is. On reflection, aren’t we all living pretty normal lives? We believe that a normal life is functional, happy, untroubled and balanced.
But if you look around in our society, none of that is normal, and probably never has been. We have created an ideal view of normalcy, perpetuated by a mostly Christian viewpoint that has infiltrated every part of our society without us consciously noticing. This normal is totally unobtainable for most, and leaves us dealing with a lifetime of feeling shame because we don’t measure up. In fact, the normal for most people involves experiencing trauma frequently, struggling to make ends meet and worrying about how to provide our basic needs. Experiencing these everyday events does not make anyone inferior, bad or maladjusted. It makes you human!
Addiction these days is the most normal, accepted and encouraged state of being there is.
Even if our needs are being met, we are consumed by competing. Being the best, prettiest thinnest—and definitely making sure the rest of the world knows we are all those things. Addiction is the most normal, accepted and encouraged state of being there is.
You’re probably thinking I’m exaggerating, and I really wish I was. But in actuality, most everyone on the planet has an addiction to something. Maybe not drugs or alcohol, but definitely other things like money, self-righteousness, sex, being acceptable – the list is endless, and the consequences are as equally devastating.
Everyone has a go to behaviour that helps us distort reality. Nobody is free of addiction. The only difference between one addicted person and another is that one addiction is more attractive to them than another.
Even some people in recovery become addicted to recovery. Is this a good or a bad thing? For me it would be problematic. Segregating ourselves from the rest of the population and labeling others as “normies” and ourselves as addicts—not like them, different, special in some way—is burning bridges rather than crossing them.
Sticking labels on myself made me feel disconnected and abnormal from the general population. Sometimes, in certain situations, it made me feel superior, because I was led to believe people in recovery had a greater understanding of life, God and the world than the rest of the population. It helped me to focus on my very human behaviour, the part of me that needed an addiction. It showed me where I was dysfunctional and fearful, and using obsessive behaviours as coping tools.
But going into meetings and referring to myself as an addict and an alcoholic started to feel very uncomfortable to me. I began to feel like I was lying. I didn’t like the “us versus them” idea because as I grew mentally and emotionally and became compassionate, I saw that everyone is struggling with something. Even the people who had abused me and damaged me irrevocably were attempting to ease their own horrific pain.
I knew I had to widen my experience of the world to truly recover… and actually understand why I had chosen self harm instead of self love. I read relentlessly about human nature and its deepest taboo concepts. People like Carl Jung, Ken Keys and Carlos Castaneda opened up the truth and expansiveness of my humanness. The parts that are too strange for most of us to even look at. I had to be fearless and thorough—a grossly underused and undervalued 12 step concept.
To really recover, I had to learn about the darkest parts of myself and understand that these are the areas that drive my being. I had to have deep conversations with people right across the world who lived authentically, embracing these parts of themselves. People who didn’t pretend that love and light was the way out of addiction, but who understand that making friends with our darkness is the fastest route. Ignoring our own darkness makes us very judgmental, fearful people.
I had to explore, expand and truly learn about my own magnificence and power without shame. As I grew, I was rejected by those in my recovery community, by lovers, by friends who turned out to be nothing more than acquaintances; some who were using me as their own addiction. I looked at my own ill effective behaviours more deeply than I ever thought possible and I learned to love them and celebrate them as much as my socially acceptable traits. This is the most empowering, spiritual process I have ever encountered.
In my quest to know myself, I found that I am a very normal human being.
Not different. I found that I am unique as a spirit and a soul, but not unique in my experiences. There are strange and exciting parts of myself that anyone can discover, if we are not suppressed with rules and dogma. I opened my mind. And I opened my heart. I went to any lengths and I found my normalcy. I found myself. And I discovered that if I am an addict, then so are you.