Health and the Justice System

Indiana Senators Push Law Enforcement Mental Health Bill

Apr 25, 2017
Brandon Smith/WFYI

Indiana U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) are pushing legislation to help get law enforcement better access to mental health services.

Andrea Muraskin/Side Effects

It’s not something you expect to see in a courtroom: 35 women, chatting, laughing, eating lasagna. But brunch before the session is a weekly tradition at an unusual court in Columbus, Ohio.

Once the plates are cleared away and everyone sits down in a semi-circle facing the bench, a probation officer steps to the center of the room, with an empty plastic bin and a big smile.

“You know I love you so much, right?” she says, as she collects everyone’s cell phones, to a chorus of groans.

Mental Health Courts Are Popular But Effectiveness Is Still Unproven

Dec 28, 2015
Eric E. Johnson via Flickr

Mental health courts are popular in many communities, and it’s easy to understand why. Rather than sending someone who’s mentally ill to an overcrowded jail that is poorly equipped to manage his condition, mental health courts offer treatment and help with housing and other social services. The community saves on the cost of locking someone up and offenders get support to stay healthy and may have their charges expunged. Everybody wins, right?

This story was originally produced by Kaiser Health News

Biking Behind Bars: Female Inmates Battle Weight Gain

Oct 15, 2015

The gym at Riverside Correctional Facility in Philadelphia is through the metal detector, two heavy doors and down the hall.

There's a basketball court like one you'd see at any high school, except there's a corrections officer on guard near the 3-point line.

Sixteen stationary bikes are set up in a half-circle in the corner. On bike No. 2, Lakiesha Montgomery, 32, from Philadelphia, is pedaling fast and singing along to the Nicki Minaj song "Fly."

"I didn't think I'd be able to keep up; I'm not the skinniest thing in the bunch," she says.

Prisons And Jails Forcing Inmates To Cover Some Medical Care Costs

Sep 29, 2015
tOrange.us

Correctional facilities are responsible for providing health services to people who are jailed, but that doesn’t mean that prisoners don’t face financial charges for care. In most states they may be on the hook for copayments ranging from a few dollars to as much as $100 for medical care, according to a recent study.

Rebecca Smith / KBIA/Side Effects Public Media

In August, the Pulaski County, Missouri, police captain Johnny Burgess ran his team through a new kind of training exercise. Divided into pairs, each officer practiced plunging a nasal atomizer into the nostril of the other. Burgess cautioned them not to push too hard: “You’re not digging for gold.”  

They were learning to dose a potential victim with intranasal naloxone, or Narcan, a drug that can instantly reverse an opioid overdose. The training was the culmination of months of effort by the Pulaski County Sheriff’s department to overcome logistical hurdles and outfit its officers with the overdose antidote.


Robin Rocke, the drug evaluation classification coordinator for the Colorado Department of Transportation, works with a state trooper during a weeklong class on drug recognition.
AP

Washington State Patrol Sgt. Mark Crandall half-jokingly says he can tell a driver is under the influence of marijuana during a traffic stop when the motorist becomes overly familiar and is calling him “dude.” 

This story was originally published by Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts. 

Elvert Barnes/Flickr

States with higher rates of gun ownership are more dangerous to police officers, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Despite their training and protective gear, law enforcement officers still get killed, mostly with guns. The authors of the study found that gun ownership in a given state seems to be an important risk factor: States with high rates of gun ownership had three times the rate of officer homicides than low-gun states.  

Pain Patients Say They Can’t Get Medicine After Crackdown On Illegal Rx Drug Trade

Aug 5, 2015
Lesley Young testified that she has driven 100 miles to try to find a pharmacy that would fill painkiller prescriptions for her husband Chris.
Jessica Palombo / KHN

The accident happened 10 years ago when Chris Young was 35. He owned a salvage yard in Maui, Hawaii, and his employee had hoisted a junker on a machine called an excavator when the hydraulics gave out. The car fell on him from above his head, smashing his spine.

“He was crushed accordion-style,” says his wife Lesley.

The accident left Young with a condition known as “partial paraplegia.” He can’t walk and he needs a wheelchair, but he does have some sensation in his legs. Unfortunately for Young, that sensation is often excruciating pain.

 

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