Lessons from Disaster: Assessing the COVID-19 Response in Youth Jails & Prisons

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Madalyn K. Wasilczuk. The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the cruel and inhumane conditions that persist in U.S. jails and prisons. Headlines have highlighted the lack of access to adequate cleaning supplies and personal hygiene materials, restrictions on hand sanitizer, under-resourced medical facilities, and the costliness of phone calls and video visits for people in custody. Jails, prisons, and detention centers are some of the most virulent hotspots for transmission, and lawyers, activists, and family members have mobilized to depopulate carceral facilities as a mitigation measure. Less attention has been paid to the plight of the approximately 48,000 children confined away from home on any given night. Of those children, about 20% are held pre- adjudication, meaning they have not been adjudicated delinquent for any offense. Though state…
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Pandemic as Opportunity for Competence Restoration Decarceration

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Susan A. McMahon. Before the pandemic, a defendant found incompetent to stand trial was often stranded in jail for weeks or months as she waited for an inpatient bed to open at a psychiatric facility. While there, she usually received no treatment, her mental health deteriorated, and she was astonishingly likely to be abused and neglected. She almost certainly came out of jail in a worse state than she was when she went in. The pandemic has made this desperate situation even worse. Now that wait in jail is both longer, as many psychiatric facilities stopped accepting new patients as they dealt with outbreaks or imposed social distancing measures, and more dangerous. Jails have been the sites of some of the worst virus outbreaks in the country. Full Article.  Twitter…
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Learning from the Past and the Pandemic To Address Mental Health in Tribal Communities

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Heather Tanana. The United States’ response to the coronavirus pandemic has been widely criticized. The federal government failed to provide leadership and to fully appreciate the seriousness of the virus until it had reached all corners of the country. For many Americans, the lack of federal leadership may not have had a direct impact on their access to health care during this time. However, Tribal communities generally rely on the federal government for their health care services. When COVID-19 hit, it was not surprising that it devastated Tribal communities. Based on past federal policies, American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer various health and socioeconomic disparities that make them not only more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, but also more susceptible to negative outcomes once infected. Full Article. Linkedin
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Mental Health and Vulnerable Populations in the Era of COVID-19: Containment Measures Effects on Pregnancy and Childbirth

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
R. Paricio del Castillo & A. Cano Linares.The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a profound impact on the human rights of everyone across the world.It has particularly affected, as always, the most vulnerable groups and sectors. The pandemic and the measures adopted by governments have worsened the existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty.Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently in all areas, from health or economy to security or social protection. Efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 are disproportionately affecting women. For example, the closure of schools as a measure to control transmission has a differential effect on women, who provide most of the informal care within families, with the…
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COVID-19 and Tribes: The Structural Violence of Federal Indian Law

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Aila Hoss. Like countless other health conditions, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in inequalities. People of color are experiencing not only higher rates of COVID-19 infections but also worse outcomes from the infection. American Indians and Alaska Natives are experiencing COVID-19 infections at higher rates than other groups across several states including Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. The Navajo Nation, in particular, has been adversely impacted by COVID-19. As of the 2010 census, Navajo citizenship is around 300,000 people although more recent numbers cite citizenship population at over 350,000. The Tribe has had over 10,780 cases with 571 deaths as of October 14, 2020. By May 2020, the Navajo Nation had displaced New York City as having the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 infections in all the United States.…
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COVID-19, Telehealth, and Substance Use Disorders

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Stacey Tovino. A number of federal and state determinations, proclamations, statutes, regulations, executive orders, and notices of enforcement discretion (hereinafter authorities) have supported the rapid and unprecedented de-regulation of telehealth and telemedicine in the United States during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. On January 31, 2020, for example, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex M. Azar II (Secretary Azar) used the authority vested in him under Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act to formally determine that a public health emergency (PHE) existed in the United States. On March 6, 2020, President Donald Trump (President Trump) signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (CPRSAA), which included the Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Acts of 2020 (TSDCEPA), into law. On March 13, 2020, President Trump used…
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COVID-19 in American Prisons: Solitary Confinement is Not the Solution

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Nicole B. Godfrey & Laura L. Rovner. As of November 12, 2020, at least 182,593 people incarcerated in American prisons, jails, and detention centers have tested positive for COVID-19; 1,412 incarcerated people have died. As the disease spread rapidly across the country (and world) in March 2020, public and prison health experts warned that jails and prisons could become incubators of the highly infectious disease. Recognizing the risk posed to the nation’s incarcerated population, public health officials issued interim guidance meant to assist prison officials seeking to protect the health and safety of incarcerated people. Simultaneously, prisoners’ rights advocates across the country filed lawsuits seeking to ensure prison systems protect incarcerated people from the risk posed by COVID-19.  In response to these lawsuits and the public health guidance, crowded prison…
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Mental Health and the Aged in the Era of COVID-19

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Barbara Pfeffer Billauer. Before CoVid felled the planet, the number of new cases of dementia every year tallied at ten million, or one new case every three seconds. Alzeheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia—which is fatal—affected 10% of Americans over sixty-five, some 4.7 million people. In recent years Alzheimer’s deaths rose 55%, 4 expected to quadruple by 2050. COVID-19 has dramatically exacerbated the situation. “At least 15,000 more Americans . . . died in recent months from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than otherwise would have . . . .” This is about 18% higher than average. The CDC reported that between mid-March and mid-April, “about 250 extra individuals suffering from some form of dementia were dying each day.” In Wales, excess non-coronavirus related dementia deaths was 54% higher. In England, official figures tallied almost 10,000 unexplained…
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Enabling the Best Interests Factors

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Adrián E. Alvarez. For over a century, state courts and other child welfare agencies in the United States have been applying the “best interests of the child standard” to all decision-making concerning children. The standard is also enshrined within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)—a treaty that every nation in the world has ratified except the United States. Notwithstanding its widespread adoption in family law, the standard is, with only a few exceptions, noticeably missing from American laws and policies pertaining to children in the immigration system. Full Article. 
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COVID-19 and Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: Tragic Realities and Cautious Hope

2020, Online, Online Volume 2 (2020) COVID-19 Symposium
Samuel J. Levine.  The COVID-19 pandemic has cast the United States, along with the rest of the world, into a time of crisis and uncertainty unlike any other in recent memory. Months into the pandemic, there is scant agreement among scientists, government officials, and large segments of the public, both domestic and abroad, as to determining the causes and workings of the virus, designing appropriate and effective responses to the outbreak, and constructing accurate assessments of the future—or even of the present. Indeed, the availability of concrete information about the virus and its effects is grossly inadequate and often replaced by anecdotal or impressionistic depictions, not infrequently accompanied by rumor and speculation. Perhaps at some point in the future, with the benefit of the passage of time and access to…
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