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Assessing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on correctional institutions

first_imgThis is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.Across the country and the world, communities are working feverishly to measure the coronavirus pandemic’s impact — struggling with shortages of tests and depleted health care capabilities to gauge the numbers of the infected, the sick, and the dead.Accurate data is the first vital step in understanding the scope of the problem and developing and calibrating the best response. But, as the world moves to lockdown and social isolation, what is happening to the approximately 2.3 million people behind bars in the United States and to the tens of thousands who work in those facilities — line officers, administrators, nurses, therapists, doctors?Harvard Kennedy School Professor of Public Policy Marcella Alsan and Harvard Law School Professor of Law Crystal Yang have teamed up with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) to conduct the first detailed survey on the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the country’s prisons, jails, and juvenile detention facilities. HKS discusses their groundbreaking work, what it tells us about the spread and treatment of the disease among some of the most vulnerable populations, and how this valuable data can guide practitioners and policymakers.Q&ACrystal Yang and Marcella AslanHarvard Kennedy School: How did you both come to find yourself working with the NCCHC as the pandemic struck?Crystal Yang: Marcella and I are both economists who are interested in using policy to improve outcomes for vulnerable and underrepresented populations. We have been collaborators for some time on issues at the intersection of the criminal justice system and the health care system. We each bring a complementary skill set to the table, with Marcella’s dual training in medicine and economics and my dual training in law and economics. Prior to the start of the pandemic, we had partnered with the NCCHC to better understand the unique health care needs of incarcerated populations and the role that health care standards and accreditation can play.Once the pandemic struck, we were gravely concerned about the impact that COVID-19 would have on inmates, correctional officers, and health care staff. But we quickly realized that nationwide, real-time data did not exist. To address this data deficit, we quickly worked together with our partners at NCCHC (including CEO Deborah Ross and Brent Gibson, their chief health officer) to develop high-frequency surveys in order to assess the needs and preparedness of correctional facilities across the United States in dealing with the pandemic.Gibson notes: “This partnership has been extraordinary, and I don’t use that word lightly. The Harvard team is as responsive and knowledgeable as any I have worked with in my nearly 20-year medical and public health career. The tools and expertise they bring have made this whole effort possible.” “As the pandemic continues to spread, policymakers should implement criminal justice policies that can protect the health of inmates and correctional staff without endangering public safety.” — Crystal Yang Prison education at Harvard HKS: What are you finding?Marcella Alsan: So far, we have collected data from more than 320 facilities housing approximately 10 percent of the country’s inmates across 47 states. While not necessarily representative of all correctional institutions, the results nonetheless are vital for policymakers responding to the pandemic in their own states and communities. NCCHC has assured me that even this level of response is extremely encouraging, as correctional programs are not always willing to share information.In terms of specifics, we found that, between the initial survey on March 25 and the latest follow-up on April 3, the number of reported COVID-19 cases among participating correctional facilities increased rapidly. The highest number of reported cases was among correctional staff — including health care staff and correctional officers. Specifically, the number of COVID-19 cases among staff increased from 136 to 245 among approximately 100 facilities that consistently reported on a daily basis. During the same period, the number of cases among inmates increased from 32 to 67 among approximately 100 facilities that consistently reported. In addition, there were two reported deaths among correctional staff.Combining the survey data with COVID-19 case data from The New York Times, we found that states that have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, such as Michigan and New Jersey, are also locations where correctional officers are more affected. At the state level, reported correctional staff cases are also correlated with reported cases among inmates. In addition, about two-thirds of facilities stated they had adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and 60 percent said they had access to lab testing. Correctional administrators and frontline staff underscored that these levels, though slowly growing over time, are still insufficient to protect both staff and inmates from disease spread. In prisons, a looming coronavirus crisis Judging a book The formerly incarcerated, activists, and academics convene to discuss University’s programs, ties center_img HKS: What are the key takeaways for health care delivery in correctional facilities?Alsan: What’s striking to me about these findings so far is that correctional staff are also at high risk, either because of community exposure or exposure in the facilities themselves. Therefore, keeping visitors out is unlikely to be a failsafe method to prevent infectious spread. Staff also need to have access to protective equipment and testing. In addition, many of the facilities surveyed recounted they were screening inmates using the only method they had readily available: temperature and symptom screening. Since COVID-19 can be transmitted asymptomatically, it would be much safer to empower all facilities to screen people using rapid lab tests. We also have anecdotal evidence that it may prove challenging for staff to practice social distancing in a correctional institution. NCCHC has assembled some practical guidance that will be helpful in addressing this.HKS: What are the key takeaways for the criminal justice system?Yang: Our findings suggest that as the pandemic continues to spread, policymakers should implement criminal justice policies that can protect the health of inmates and correctional staff without endangering public safety. Qualitative comments from participating facilities in our survey indicate a range of sound responses to the pandemic, including releasing medically vulnerable inmates, limiting pretrial detention for individuals charged with nonviolent or misdemeanor offenses, quashing nonviolent minor arrest warrants, and increasing the use of summons in lieu of arrests for nonviolent offenses.Alsan and Yang are faculty affiliates of the Kennedy School’s Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. They are both economists. Alsan also has degrees in medicine and public health, and has held hospital fellowships in global health equity and infectious disease. Yang served as a federal prosecutor and is also a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Related For D.C. writer Clint Smith, a prison reading program confirms the power of fiction to drive ‘radical empathy’ Harvard professors call for reducing populations, warning of rapid spread amid crowded conditions and large numbers of older inmates with chronic conditions last_img read more

NCUA gets tough on secondary capital

first_img continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr You can be forgiven for wondering if NCUA woke up on the wrong side of the bed when it decided to issue its 23 page guidance to its staff detailing the minimum standards they must use when evaluating the proposed uses of secondary capital by Low-Income Credit Unions (LICUs). Since 1996, secondary capital has been authorized for LICUs to enable them to better serve low-income communities where it may be difficult to raise funds by solely relying on membership growth. In contrast, it is clear after reading this guidance that NCUA has grown weary of how this capital has been used. The bottom line, get ready for some extensive work if you are hoping to incorporate secondary capital into your credit union plans.Since it has been a while since I’ve blogged on this, let’s go over the basics. LICUs are credit unions, the majority of whose membership is comprised of members with a family income at or below 80% of the Federal Poverty Level. Secondary capital is a type of subordinated debt offered by a LICU to non-member organizations and businesses that can be used for capital. The key is that it is uninsured and must have a maturity of at least five years.When the authority was originally granted to credit unions, they didn’t even have to get prior approval from the NCUA. My, how times have changed. Starting in 1996, NCUA had to grant approval of secondary capital plans and now this regulation, I mean guidance, imposes detailed planning requirements and underscores the broad power that regional examiners have to reject such plans or insist on modifications in the name of safety and soundness. For example, in addition to the already extensive list of criteria that credit unions must submit with their capital plans pursuant to Section 701.34, NCUA sites its “implicit” safety and soundness authority pursuant to put credit unions on notice that it can demand that they provide information over and above that which is mandated by the regulations. For example, “the NCUA expects LICUs to provide supporting due diligence documentation that adequately captures all aspects of the financial strategies associated with the deployment of secondary capital in the plan.”last_img read more

Memorial held for Viterbi staff member

first_imgOn Monday afternoon, the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering held a memorial service in honor of late staff member Mary Francis.Taking flight · People gathered together for Mary Francis’s service released red ballons into the air to symbolize letting go of grief. – Mariya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanFrancis, a budget analyst for the Viterbi School of Engineering, worked at the school for 13 years before she passed away on June 22, 2014.The memorial service included Francis’s mother, as well as her colleagues and students that were touched by her kindness throughout her time at Viterbi.Gloria Halfacre, who is part of the signal and image processing staff at Viterbi and was one of Francis’ closest colleagues at the electrical engineering department, said that the school decided to postpone the memorial until the fall so that students and faculty would be able to pay their respects.Shrikanth S. Narayan, a Viterbi professor, delivered a few words of remembrance during the service.“Mary was extremely caring — personally, it’s been a huge loss for me,” Narayan said.He went on to describe how he would look forward to their conversations early in the day.“I miss that every morning,” Narayan said.After a conference Narayan’s students participated in Singapore this year, the team dedicated all their research papers to Francis.Francis was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in early 2014. Several of the students that were close with Francis immediately formed a group to assist her. All Francis had to do was text the group, and one of the students would immediately come to help her.One of the students in that group was Dogan Can, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science. Can recalled Francis’s attitude during her illness.“She was physically different but her personality was the same,” Can said.He recalled that when some of the 16 students in the group visited Francis at the hospital, she would cut visits short by pretending to be tired when the topic of her illness would come up. Can said that Francis did not want others to feel awkward.“That was just the kind of person she was, completely selfless,” Can said.Even though the cancer had already spread through her body by the time of the diagnosis, people around said she remained the upbeat, positive and helpful person she always was.Matthew Black, who graduated with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2012, remembered Francis for her kindness and warmth.“She was kind of like a mother figure to me,” he said. “The joke with engineers is that we try to avoid people at all times, but I kind of went out of my way to talk to her.”The final goodbye to Francis came when all of the guests released red balloons into the sky in her memory.“Releasing the balloons symbolizes the soul taking flight to heaven and letting go of grief,” Halfacre said.last_img read more


first_imgJason Haughey arrives at Letterkenny District Court on crutches: Pix NewPixIrlA 22 year old man has been remanded in custody charged with trespassing at a house in Letterkenny.Jason Haughey appeared at Letterkenny District Court this morning using crutches and appearing to have serious injuries to his face. Haughey is charged with two separate incidents of trespassing at Castle Street, Letterkenny on January 23rd and also at Glencar Road, Letterkenny on February 4th.The court was told that Haughey, of 5 Rosemount, Kilmacrennan, was already on bail after being charged with assault causing harm on December 10th last.Inspector Kevin Gately told the court he was objecting to bail because Haughey had breached his previous bail conditions – to be of good behaviour.However solicitor Patsy Gallagher said his client had not been proven to have broken his bail conditions.“My client and all other people in this State enjoy the presumption of being innocent until proven guilty.“Nothing has been said to deny Mr Haughey bail. IN the eyes of the law, Mr Haughey has not breached any of his bail conditions,” he said.In response, Inspector Gately said the fact that this case was before the court was evidence that Haughey was not being of good behaviour.However Judge Paul Kelly said he was satisfied Haughey should be remanded in custody.Haughey will appear in court again in Letterkenny tomorrow.* Due to legal restrictions, we are unable to allow comments on this site in an ongoing case.MAN ON TRESPASSING CHARGES APPEARS IN COURT ON CRUTCHES was last modified: February 5th, 2013 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:MAN ON TRESPASSING CHARGES APPEARS IN COURT ON CRUTCHESlast_img read more