The Jail Healthcare Crisis
The New Yorker by Steve Coll
The opioid epidemic and other public health emergencies are being aggravated by failings in the criminal-justice system.
As a child growing up in Pueblo, Colorado, Jeremy Laintz travelled widely with his father, an aeronautics engineer at Lockheed Martin, who sometimes took his four kids along on business trips. Family vacations included tours of aerospace facilities and, on one occasion, a trip to watch a space-shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral. Laintz’s mother managed a bakery, and Laintz, the youngest child in the family, recalled enjoying a warm home life. He played soccer and football, and spent summers hunting and fishing on a ranch that his family owned in North Dakota. As a teen-ager, though, he slipped into trouble—he was arrested first for driving under the influence, and then, in his late teens, for felony car theft. He spent a year in prison, where he learned to weld, and a few more years in halfway houses. Then, in 2003, he moved to Alaska, where he joined a Christian fellowship and took seasonal jobs welding, repairing roofs, and working in a fish-processing plant. He often made good money, and his life seemed back on track.
Six years later, though, when he was thirty, he returned to Colorado and, while working in a warehouse, tore a tendon in his wrist. A doctor prescribed opioids for the pain, and Laintz immediately started abusing them. Then a friend persuaded him to try heroin, and soon he was addicted. He was arrested on a charge of possession and, while out on bond, in early October of 2016, failed to show up for a court-ordered drug test. He was arrested again and booked into the Pueblo County jail.
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