Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kimberly Sue

Kimberly Sue is the author of Getting Wrecked: Women, Incarceration, and the American Opioid Crisis.

From her NPR interview with Emily Vaughn:

What are some of the arguments that jail is not the best public health solution to opioid use?

Incarceration in many cases harms people. We know that, for example, having been in solitary confinement increases your risk of death after release — like in the case of Kalief Browder, a young Bronx man who killed himself after three years at Rikers.

And the rate of opioid overdose in the first two weeks after people leave prison and jail is between 30 and 120 times higher than the general population.

In most of the county-level jails in this country, people are forced to withdraw off lifesaving, stabilizing medications [like methadone] against their will. Methadone is a treatment for opioid use disorder that you cannot access in jails in many places in this country.

There are documented cases of suicide around the country — including in my book — of people who are going through withdrawal in jails and either committing suicide or dying as a combination of medical neglect and loss of body fluids related to dehydration.

Can you describe that example from your book?

One of the women I took care of and interviewed at MCI-Framingham, a women's state prison in Massachusetts, was in the health services unit — where they send people when they're first coming in — and she heard someone withdrawing from methadone. That person was screaming — she was, you know, in agony. And then...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue