The End of the Open Market for Lethal-Injection Drugs

The New Yorker, online 21 May 2016
Author: Lincoln Caplan
“Last week, the global drug company Pfizer announced sweeping new restrictions on the distribution of seven of its products, preventing them from being used to carry out the death penalty. Pfizer came into possession of those products, which include sedatives, paralytics, a pain medication, and a drug used to prevent or treat low levels of potassium in the blood, when it acquired the pharmaceutical company Hospira, in September. Its decision is an enormously significant one for the death penalty in the United States, and ends a long and chaotic chapter in which governments, drug companies, and activists worldwide have gradually closed the open market for the federally approved drugs that have been used for lethal injections.”
Find article here.  Find Pfizer statement here.

Decriminalizing Mental Illness — The Miami Model

N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1701-1703 May 5, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1602959
Author: John K. Iglehart
“U.S. correctional institutions, local courts, and police officers frequently encounter people with untreated or undertreated serious mental illnesses, often coupled with substance-use disorders. These encounters usually stem from the alleged commission of a misdemeanor — trespassing, panhandling, petty theft — or a minor, nonviolent felony. Each year, about 11.4 million people are booked into local U.S. jails, where on any given day, 745,000 of them are held. An estimated 16.9% of jail detainees have a serious mental illness,1 which means that nearly 2 million people with such illnesses are arrested each year.”
Find article here.

How the justice system fails people with disability—and how to fix it

Ockham’s Razor, ABC Radio National, 18 April 2016
Author: Eileen Baldry
“More than 30,000 Australians are imprisoned every year. Many have disabilities, many are Indigenous—and the system cannot cope. Eileen Baldry argues the problems are both predictable and preventable, and outlines a plan to begin fixing them.”
Find story here.

Mental health care in French prisons

The Lancet, Volume 387, No. 10028, p1592, 16 April 2016
“Last week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a disturbing report, Double Punishment: Inadequate Conditions for Prisoners with Psychosocial Disabilities in France. It describes the deplorable conditions that prisoners with severe depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia experience, and the lack of adequate mental health care in French prisons.”
Find editorial here.

Many eligible federal inmates won’t get new hepatitis treatment

CMAJ, online 29 Match 2016
Author: Paul webster
“Faced  with  a  huge  increase  in  the  number  of  inmates  eligible  for  treatment  with  new,  more  easily  tolerated  drugs,  Correctional  Service  of  Canada  (CSC)  has  decided  to  add  50  patients  to  its  current  target  of  240  in  treatment  annually  —  a  figure  that  out-side analysts say could exclude as many as 1700 eligible patients from treatment.  “Although  CSC  would  prefer  to  treat  everyone, the cost of the drugs makes this impossible,”  CSC  spokeswoman  Lori  Halfper  explained  in  a  statement  to  CMAJ.”
Find article here.

Secretary of State for Justice v Black [2016] EWCA Civ 125

Judgement 8 March 2016
“[1] The issue that arises in this appeal is whether Part I of the Health Act 2006 (“the Act”), which contains prohibitions on smoking in certain places and introduces various mechanisms by which such prohibitions are to be enforced, applies to Crown premises, and in particular whether it applies to HMP Wymott (a state-run prison in which the claimant is detained).
[2] The claimant sought to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse to provide confidential and anonymous access at that prison to the NHS Smoke-Free Compliance Line. The main basis for the challenge was that the Secretary of State had misdirected himself in law, by concluding that the ban on smoking set out in Chapter 1 of Part 1 of the Act did not bind the Crown and that the Act did not therefore require HMP Wymott to implement the ban.”
Find judgment here.

Sydney University forced to reveal emails in Chinese organ-donation link scandal

SMH, 7 February 2016
Author: Kirsty Needham
“The head of China’s organ-transplant program cautioned the University of Sydney that controversy over his appointment to an honorary position could damage reforms to end China’s horrific practice of removing organs from executed prisoners.”
Find article here.

Hunger strikes in prisons in Israel and the occupied territories

ICRC, statement 21 January 2016
“Hunger strikes are not a new form of protest, but since 2012, a number of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and, as of 2015, in Palestine increasingly turned to hunger strikes to protest their detention or conditions of detention. While the ICRC does not judge the reasons and choices for such forms of protest, just as it does not generally take position on the reasons for which people are detained, as a humanitarian organization, it follows up very closely on hunger strikers’ health condition and well-being.”
Find statement here.

Mental health care for prisoners could prevent rearrest, but prisons aren’t designed for rehabilitation

The Conversation, 19 January 2016
Author: Jennifer Reingle Gonzalez
“In the 1970s, the Supreme Court supported the rights of prisoners to receive physical health and mental health care. In fact, this right is now law, and denial of care would be considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is prohibited under the Eighth Amendment. This law came about because prisoners were contracting contagious and communicable diseases from one another. Infectious disease screenings are now commonplace in prisons. While prisoners have access to basic health care, treatment for mental health conditions is less broadly provided. The quality of treatment that is available in the penal system, including counseling and medication for chronic mental illnesses, remains poor.”
Find article here.