Daily Dispatch 3/1/2019


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InAlienable
Daily Dispatch

March 1, 2019


TPS for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan Extended until January of 2020

As the result of a lawsuit brought by TPS holders from these four countries, TPS has been extended until at least January of 2020. The extension is automatic – if TPS holders are currently registered, they do not need to re-register, but simply print this notice from the Federal Register. Lawyers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti had briefed us on this several weeks ago, as it was much anticipated. For more detail you can check our earlier report.

Healthcare crisis in U.S. jails and prisons

There are over 2 million people held in jails and prisons around the country. As the result of a Supreme Court ruling in a 1973 case, they all have a constitutional right to access healthcare. Nevertheless, healthcare is routinely denied or inadequately provided. Writing in The New Yorker, Steve Coll provides a detailed history of healthcare provision in prisons and jails, and breaks down elements of the current crisis.

The rapid expansion of people held behind bars (from 300,000 in 1980 to 2.3 million today), and the trend toward contracting with private companies to deliver healthcare has proved to be a deadly combination. The author examined 1,500 lawsuits brought over a 5-year period against just two companies. The pattern is clear: incentives to cut cost, often by understaffing, lead to inadequate service provision. Prisoners are also rarely afforded the benefit of the doubt by law enforcement officials when claiming illness, and thus may never get to see a healthcare professional at all.

The crisis is more acute in jails, which hold 700,000 people. Most of these folk are awaiting trial – i.e., they have not been convicted of a crime – and simply cannot afford bail. Others are serving shorter incarceration terms. The number of people suffering from mental health problems is extremely high in jails, and many are suffering medical complications as a result of being forced to break addiction to hard drugs. These are well documented, and thus predictable needs, to be served, and yet training and staff resources are lacking. From the report:

According to a study released in 2017 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly half the people held in jails suffer from some kind of mental illness, and more than a quarter have a severe condition, such as bipolar disorder. The same year, the bureau reported that about two-thirds of sentenced jail inmates suffer from drug addiction or dependency; that number was based on data from 2007-09, so it does not take into account the recent catastrophic rise of opioid addiction.

Similar patterns of abuse have been uncovered in immigrant detention facilities. 

A report from Human Rights Watch documents many patterns of neglect and denial of health services to people in detention. For profit companies are often at the root of the problem, as 75% of people in detention are held by private companies.See this video for a brief description of some of the issues:

 

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