Incarceration, Substance Abuse, and Addiction

Items in the News Archive provide an opportunity to explore issues related to incarceration and health of justice-involved individuals in the United States from a media perspective. Please note that the articles listed below are by no means exhaustive. They represent a collection of relatively recent news items staff deemed relevant to the Center and its work. For more in-depth academic resources related to this topic, please select the corresponding category under the Educational Resources tab.

Jail Officials, Doctors Divided on Care of Opioid-Addicted Inmates
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 8 , 2016
“Research has shown that maintenance treatments like methadone and buprenorphine reduce relapse and overdose. Because these drugs are opioids themselves, though, many jails are reluctant to provide them to anyone except pregnant women, who can miscarry during withdrawal. Fewer than 40 correctional facilities nationwide offer such drugs, according to a Pew Stateline study.”

Anti-Obamacare States Struggle More to Fight Opioid Crisis
Governing, June 16 , 2016
“Medicaid expansion would bring billions of federal dollars into Missouri and other states, but opposition is fierce in GOP-controlled legislatures, where lawmakers argue Medicaid is unaffordable. That has left Missouri trying to cobble together money for addiction recovery programs from other federal grants and state tax revenues. Those funds are limited, however, and waiting lists remain long for many programs, state officials say.”

Science Needed for Fentanyl Crisis
Huffington Post, June 13, 2016
“Fentanyl is an opioid 50 times more potent than heroin, and has been added to U.S.-destined heroin from Mexico, China, and in clandestine labs domestically, mostly to increase illicit profits. Low-level dealers and users are often unaware of the presence of fentanyl in illicit prescription opioid pills and heroin. Against that backdrop, this highly potent opioid and its chemically related versions have contributed to over 5,000 overdose deaths in the United States since late 2013.”

Connecticut to Expand Methadone Treatment for Prisoners
Associated Press, April 17, 2016
“The effort comes as heroin overdoses have soared nationwide. In Connecticut alone, heroin was detected in 415 people who died from accidental overdoses last year, up from 174 in 2012. A total of 723 people died from drug overdoses in the state in 2015, 44 percent of whom had a state Department of Correction record, according to the state prison and budget agencies.”

Roadblocks to Recovery
The Sentinel, January 7, 2016
“If a drug offender is going to relapse after leaving prison, it usually happens less than three days after release, according to Stephen Rosenberg, executive director of Community Oriented Correctional Health Services. However, Pennsylvania, like many states, makes it harder for the most vulnerable offenders to access much-needed treatment by cutting off federal benefits, including to individuals who have not been found guilty of a crime.”

Drug Offenders Make Up Nearly One Third of New Prison Admissions
Washington Post, November 27, 2015
“[A new analysis] points out that while drug offenses account for only 20 percent of the prison population, they make up nearly one-third — 31 percent — of the total admissions to prison. The reason for the difference? Drug offenders typically serve shorter sentences than, say, murderers or other violent criminals. So simply looking at the number of people in prison at a given point in time understates the true impact of drug laws on incarceration.”

Death by Detox
Al Jazeera America, October 26, 2015
“Municipalities across the U.S. have quietly shelled out tens of millions of dollars to settle wrongful death suits resulting from in-custody fatalities attributed to untreated drug or alcohol withdrawal. Over the past five years alone, families in at least six states have been awarded nearly $11 million in compensation for loved ones who died while being denied routine detoxification care in local jails.”

Who Does, and Who Doesn’t, Get Drug Treatment in Prison
Pacific Standard, August 20, 2015
Research has consistently shown how important it is for inmates who come into prison with drug addictions to get treatment behind bars…But new research also shows that, even when drug treatment is available to prison inmates, not everyone actually takes advantage of it

Addict Amnesty: Police Give Heroin Addicts Support, Rehab
Associated Press, August 14, 2015
Gloucester is taking a novel approach to the war on drugs, making the police station a first stop for addicts on the road to recovery. Under a policy launched in June, heroin and opioid addicts who voluntarily turn themselves in at the station are fast-tracked into treatment services through a team of police officers, volunteers and trained clinicians.”

Florida State Prisons Health Service Provider Retools Amid a Struggle
The Gainesville Sun, July 6, 2015
“The first round of reviews found a variety of problems, from improper paperwork to mistreatment of infection. The contract requires Corizon to maintain an industry standard for the way medical staff at the Lake Butler Reception and Medical Center — DOC’s only prison hospital — treats an inmate’s infection, but it failed during a review performed in August 2014, according to one audit.”

Needle-exchange program promotes safety, trust to fight HIV, hepatitis
The State Journal-Register, April 4, 2015
“An average of seven times each weekday, someone walks into Springfield’s Phoenix Center to pick up a packet of free syringes that includes alcohol swabs, an elastic tourniquet and tubes of sterile water. The center’s staff takes care — with facial expressions, words and body language — not to make any judgments about the clients seeking clean needles and other supplies to make intravenous drug abuse as safe as possible.”

Prisons Are Making America’s Drug Problem Worse
Politico, March 12, 2015
“ After two decades of rapidly rising incarceration rates—rates that continued to rise even as crime sat at record historic lows—America today has nearly 2.2 million adult inmates in local, state and federal jails and prisons, including about 300,000 who have a history of heroin addiction. Even federal prisons know that their inmates need medication-assisted therapy. So why aren’t they changing?”

West Virginia Senate votes to give addicts medicine to reverse overdoses
West Virginia Gazette, February 3, 2015
“The legislation would authorize doctors to prescribe the medicine — called naloxone — to drug users, as well as their friends and family members, who also could legally administer the medication for the first time. West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.”

Some correctional facilities treating addicts with medication
Baltimore Sun, January 23, 2015
“As the state grapples with what many call a heroin epidemic, a growing number of correctional facilities are starting to treat addicted inmates with medication in an effort to prevent fatal overdoses.”

Women suffer disproportionately under harsh California laws

LATimes, October 14 2014
“She’s probably told her story thousands of times, but when we talk, Susan Burton’s tale comes spilling out of her as if it’s the first time she’s shared it: in and out of prison for years for possessing small amounts of crack cocaine, never offered drug diversion or help with housing or work. When Burton argues that Proposition 47, a ballot initiative that would reclassify many small-time felonies as misdemeanors, would have spared her years of a “turnstile” life, she is persuasive.”

Eldridge and Sannicandro: Focus on treatment over punishment
The MetroWest Daily News, November 23, 2014
With the reality that drug addiction is a problem in every single community in Massachusetts, we as state legislators are beginning to ask tough questions about society’s current response to this epidemic, and have begun proposing solutions that will create change, and make a difference in the lives of people and their families struggling with addiction. Our communities are reeling, some at near critical levels, and we are beginning to understand that it will take a strong and steady approach to put us on a path toward healing our families and neighborhoods.

From Broken Homes to a Broken System
The Washington Post, November 28, 2014
She sits alone in a cinder-block cell, an Oglala Lakota teenager with a long braid and tattoos. For five months she has been locked up on this remote prairie reservation for drinking and disorderly conduct.

When she behaves, she can watch television. Mostly, though, she passes the time with two books — a Bible and “The Hunger Games” — and her journal, in which she records the monotony of her long days. The journal, with an eagle on the cover, also holds the names of nearly a dozen friends and relatives who have died — some from drugs, violence or suicide.

Why Texas is closing prisons in favour of rehab
BBC, December 1, 2014
The US is known for its tough criminal justice system, with an incarceration rate far larger than any comparable country. So why is it that Republicans in Texas are actively seeking to close prisons, asks Danny Kruger, a former speechwriter for David Cameron.

States Gear Up to Help Medicaid Enrollees Beat Addictions
Stateline/Pew Charitable Trusts, January 13, 2015
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of low-income adults last year became eligible for Medicaid and subsidized health insurance for the first time. Now states face a huge challenge: how to deal with an onslaught of able-bodied, 18- to 64-year olds who haven’t seen a doctor in years.