The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office in Florida created two tools to help mitigate the COVID-19 disease. The first is a short, one-page intake screening tool that covers an inmate’s travel and contact history.
The second is a sign that is being posted at all entrances to the jail. These are two great tools that you are welcomed to copy or use as needed at your facilities.
In other sheriff- and jail-related news, the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) has created a law enforcement and corrections emergency coordination and information sharing program to support Sheriffs’ offices in responding to the COVID-19. You can find these resources here: https://www.sheriffs.org/coronavirus.
United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that nearly $60 million in Department of Justice grants is available to help communities address public safety by supporting the successful reentry of adult and juvenile offenders who have served their prison sentences.
The funding is available through the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the federal government’s source of public safety funding and crime victim assistance in state, local, and tribal jurisdictions.
“Providing offenders who have paid their debt to society with functional ways to reintegrate into their communities is an important piece of the Department’s strategy for promoting public safety,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “And what we have learned from our District’s reentry program – Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) – is that these programs work. For example, in our District, statistics show that the recidivism and revocation rates of offenders who graduate from the STAR program are significantly lower than offenders residing in our District who did not participate in the program.”
While most organizations and individuals are doing their part to responsibly combat the effects of the pandemic, some are taking advantage of the opportunity to make money. Don’t miss the National Sheriff’s Association’s upcoming webinar, “Combatting COVID-19 Fraud and Price-Gouging,” Wednesday, April 29 at 8:00 am PDT, to learn how to avoid these scams. Registration is required to join this event.
If you think you are a victim of a scam or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With incarceration at higher rates in the United States than any other country, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, flattening the curve during the COVID-19 pandemic in jails and prisons is a significant challenge. This challenge is exacerbated by restricted movement, confined spaces, and limited medical care, according to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Journal’s article details not only the unique challenges inmates face but also the staff that cares for them. The article suggests three levels of preparedness:
The virus needs to be delayed as much as possible from entering correctional settings; if in circulation, it needs to be controlled as quickly as possible; and jails and prisons need to be able to handle a high burden of disease. The article’s authors recommend releasing as many incarcerated as possible, particularly those least likely to commit additional crimes as well as the elderly and infirm. To read the full article, click here.
There’s no doubt the pandemic is having a negative financial effect on almost every area of the economy and that includes community-based organizations that provide services to people involved in the criminal justice system such as reentry programs, health services, and more.
To help these organizations, the Justice Center for the Council of State Governments compiled a list of financial resources from federal legislation, private foundations, and financial institutions that small businesses and nonprofits can access as they weather the pandemic storm. The list covers everything from federal assistance to ways to keep payroll running as well as sources for emergency loans and tax credits for retaining employees.
Harvard University researchers and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) recently released a comprehensive report on the effects of COVID-19 on U.S. correctional facilities.
The report is based on surveys from more than 320 facilities housing approximately 10 percent of the country’s inmates across 47 states and the study is still being conducted. NCCHC sent the initial survey and a daily follow-up questionnaire to jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities nationwide. Among the key findings, according to NCCHC:
- Correctional staff are at risk for contracting COVID-19 infection with a higher infection rate than inmates.
- Many protocols call for screening inmates and staff for COVID-19 on a regular basis, but a significant number of facilities still lack access to lab testing.
- The nationwide shortage of PPE as well as ancillary supplies (such as cleaning products and thermometer probes) is also a problem for correctional health care operations.
According to NCCHC, results are yielding insights into the pandemic’s presence among the incarcerated population as well as the challenges correctional health staff face as they respond to the virus.
“By definition, jails and prisons are closed environments and therefore potential hotspots for virus spread,” said Deborah Ross, NCCHC chief executive officer. “As corrections grapples with the challenges of the pandemic, this study provides very important data in an area that is often overlooked.”
The collaboration between Harvard and NCCHC will continue to collect data on the pandemic’s effect on correctional facilities, as well as other correctional health care topics, in the months ahead. Information and reports are posted here. The researchers urge all facilities to participate.
In these unprecedented times, The Moss Group, Inc. wants to ensure we are available to you and your organization in any way you need us. We have compiled a list of resources specifically for the corrections community that you can find here and that we will continue to update as more become available.
In addition, TMG offers numerous services that can be conducted remotely. Do you need help with policy review and development? We’ve helped scores of organizations create and update policies that align with best practice and your agency mission. We also have a cadre of experienced practitioners that can provide leadership development and coaching through phone calls, Go To Meeting, Zoom, teleconference, and numerous other virtual platforms.
TMG also specializes in curriculum development, strategic planning, operations, and many other services. All of these services can be implemented virtually as we navigate these difficult times. We are here for you, dedicated to serving as your correctional consulting partner. Please reach out to Ike Eichenlaub, Vice President, at email@example.com for any questions or concerns.
TMG is proud to be working with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and other select partners to improve corrections training through the BJA-funded Improving Institutional Corrections Academy Training initiative.
The objectives of this award are as follows: conduct a national scan of state corrections agencies regarding the focus, content, and quality of their academy training programs and the extent to which jails and prisons use this training, identify high quality curricula and gaps in available resources, and develop guidance for supporting the development of the key skills and knowledge needed by today’s corrections workforce.
“The BJA, in collaboration with The Moss Group and other industry partners, is committed to supporting the development of the essential skills and knowledge needed to reflect the unique and demanding challenges of training today’s corrections workforce,” said BJA in a statement.
With roughly 2.3 million inmates incarcerated across the United States, COVID-19 presents some unique challenges. That’s why national correctional health care experts and sheriffs shared their perspectives and answered questions from participants on COVID-19 during a recent webinar sponsored by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC).
Panelists (see list below) discussed common concerns for corrections, including employee and inmate health, security, and facility operations. To hear and view the webinar, click here.
Moderated by James Martin, MPSA, CCHP, vice president of program development
- Brent Gibson, MD, MPH, CCHP-P, Chief Health Officer, NCCHC
- Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, King County, Wash.
- Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, Middlesex County, Mass.
- Anne Spaulding, MD, MPH, CCHP-P
Michelle Duhart has joined The Moss Group as managing director. Prior to joining TMG, she served as the associate director supporting the National PREA Resource Center’s Training and Technical Assistance division. Ms. Duhart has worked in the training and technical assistance field for over 20 years for several corporations where she managed several Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice, and Delinquency Prevention projects.
“I feel very fortunate to have her join the team and she is already making her mark,” said President and CEO Andie Moss.
Ms. Duhart also delivered training and technical assistance for 20 years in the areas of community and youth development, strategic planning, organizational development, community policing, and risk-focused prevention as well as other health and human service initiatives.