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California Jails Struggle with Increased Violence

County jails in California struggle to maintain order.

County jails in California struggle to maintain order. Jim in SC/Shutterstock

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | A Connecticut legal battle over regulation of pregnancy centers ... A county in Illinois started a prescription medication pickup program … North and South Carolina teachers plan another strike.

Many California county jails are struggling to deal with increasing violence and deaths as they expand to accommodate more state prisoners, reporting by the Sacramento Bee and ProPublica shows. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered California to downsize its prison population, but the corresponding reorganization of the criminal justice system has strained county jails. In an effort to reduce overcrowding in the state prisons, many county jails have taken in people with longer sentences, often those who are dealing with mental health issues and convicted of violent crimes. In the seven years since the realignment, Fresno County Jail has seen the most stark increase in violence, with 47 deaths in jail custody, more than double what they had experienced in the seven years prior to the realignment. The Marshall Project also found abuse issues in the Sacramento County jail, particularly around inmate health care. The news of increased jail deaths and abuses comes at the same time as a federal judge ordered San Francisco Bay Area county jails to allow their inmates more time to sleep, the Fresno Bee reports. To the south, in Texas, a new report also shows that the deaths of inmates in pretrial custody soared in 2018. [Sacramento Bee; ProPublica]

CONNECTICUT LEGAL BATTLE | A bill in the Connecticut legislature would require staff at faith-based pregnancy centers to disclose if they had a medical license. It would also require centers without a licensed medical provider on staff to post a sign saying so in their entryway. The city of Hartford adopted this policy in 2017, but is now being sued in federal court by a pregnancy center who opposes the change. Connecticut state legislators told the Connecticut Mirror that the lawsuit in Hartford will not affect the progress of the statewide bill. [Hartford Courant; Connecticut Mirror]

MEDICATION PICKUPS | The Dupage County Sheriff’s Office unveiled a new program to pick up unused medications from people who are not able to get to one of the County’s drug drop-off areas. If residents schedule a pick up, they will be visited by a member of the DuPage County Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education Task Force, known as HOPE, the Chicago Tribune reports. The rural counties in Illinois, including Dupage, have been hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic, and will receive most of the $15 million that Illinois received last week from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to combat the opioid epidemic. Dupage has seen a 92% increase in opioid-related deaths since 2015. [Illinois Public Media; Naperville Community Television; Chicago Tribune]

NEW BUSINESSES | Ohio saw a surge of new businesses opening this month. At 13,700 filings, it was the greatest growth of local businesses that the state has seen in a single month. State senators credit the new small business tax cuts as a central reason for the increase. News of the growth comes just in time for the Ohio Business Matchmaker, an annual event that allows small businesses to hear about upcoming government projects and to put in bids for contracting. [News 5 Cleveland; Dayton Daily News]

TEACHER STRIKE | For the second time in four months, South Carolina teachers are planning a strike calling for better pay, smaller class sizes, duty-free lunch breaks, and more social workers. SC for Ed, the teacher activist organization planning the protest, said that almost 400 teachers have signed up for the strike so far, with more expected to join. The strike follows an announcement of a potential state budget that would give all teachers a 4% raise, far below the 10% that teachers asked for in January. There is a demonstration planned for May 1 at the State Capitol in Columbia and North Carolina teachers are expected to hold a mirror protest in Raleigh on the same day. [CNN; Charleston Post Courier; Raleigh News & Observer]

Emma Coleman is the assistant editor at Route Fifty.

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