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Adams County jail
Brighton, Colorado
Nov 25, 2018
Nearly $4M Settlement Reached In Adams County Jail Death
BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A medical provider to jails and prisons has agreed to pay $3.7 million to the family of a man who died while in custody at the Adams County Jail in 2015. Adams County itself has agreed to pay $200,000 to the family of Tyler Tabor, bringing the total settlement amount to $3.9 million. The settlement agreement in the federal lawsuit was only made public this week, according to documents reviewed by CBS4.
  Reached by phone Tuesday morning, David Lane, the attorney for the Tabor family, said he could not comment pursuant to terms of the settlement agreement. Tabor was booked into the Adams County Jail on two misdemeanor warrants on May 14, 2015. He told medical personnel he was addicted to opiates. The lawsuit said his withdrawal symptoms began immediately and that his life could have been saved if authorities had administered an IV. A deputy later found the 25-year-old man lying the floor of his cell after Tabor had vomited. He was pronounced dead May 17. The lawsuit claimed Tabor’s death was preventable and claimed employees of medical provider Corizon Health were deliberately indifferent and stood by while Tabor’s condition worsened. According to newly unsealed court documents, Corizon and the Tabor family reached an agreement to settle the case in June, with the medical provider paying $3.7 million and Adams County chipping in another $200,000. The agreement contains a “non-disparagement and confidentiality” clause calling for the Tabor family and their attorneys to not disparage Corizon in any public statements or on social media. Additionally, the families’ attorneys agreed not to hold a press conference or “media blitz in any form” although the agreement says that has been their past practice. The written agreements say that attorneys fees and costs in the case amount to $1,645,021.63. Court documents say Corizon has so far paid $1 million but says it has a “cash flow” problem and will need to pay the balance in installments by next February. Attorneys for the Tabor family wrote that they are “fearful that Corizon may be on the verge of bankruptcy given their inability to pay.” Tabor was married and had a 6-year-old son.

Alabama Department of Corrections
Mar 19, 2016
Alabama: Partial agreement on fed lawsuit over health care
A partial agreement has been reached in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 25,000 Alabama inmates who attorneys say have been denied medical treatment. In 2014Chillicothe Correctional Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed the 140-page complaint against the Alabama Department of Corrections, then-ADOC Commissioner Kim Thomas (current Commissioner Jefferson Dunn has since inherited the suit) and Ruth Naglich, ADOC associate commissioner of health services. Forty-two prisoners were named as plaintiffs in the suit, though the suit is still awaiting class action certification. MHM Correctional Services, Inc. and Corizon Health, Inc, which were contracted by ADOC, are also movants in the suit. The complaint contains a laundry list of allegations rooted in ADOC’s “routine and systematic failure” to provide adequate medical care, which the complaint says has led to the death and severe injury of multiple inmates. A significant portion of the suit was aimed at ADOC’s noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It states that prisoners with disabilities are often housed in facilities that do not accommodate them, and illustrates this by citing an instance when an inmate in a wheelchair had to maneuver deeper into Kilby Correctional Facility during a 2014 fire to access a ramp. Defendants have denied most of the allegations, stating in a court filing that the plaintiffs’ complaint, “reveals inflammatory, self-serving statements that inaccurately characterize inmates’ medical and mental health conditions, ... and demonstrate a basic misunderstanding of technical medical or mental health terminology.” The portion of the suit that addresses solely disabled inmates is that part that’s initially been settled. Mapped out in the settlement is an outline for reform with treatment of disabled inmates - including improved housing, more thorough screening and the implementation of a tracking system. Full copies of the settlement agreement will be made available to inmates in all ADOC prison libraries, a court document states. “This agreement is an important commitment by the Alabama Department of Corrections to address the discrimination and hardship these prisoners have faced for far too long,” said Maria Morris, SPLC senior supervising attorney in a press release. “Prisoners with disabilities must have an opportunity to serve the sentence they have received – not the sentence they must endure because the state fails to respect their legal rights.” The agreement is awaiting approval by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who will hear oral arguments today for motions filed regarding this suit. Three of those motions were filed by the plaintiffs. They ask Thompson to compel the defendants and movants to provide “ improperly withheld documents” from Corizon, documents relating to Corizon’s mortality review and documents about prisoners who were sent to the E.R. or hospital. The remaining elements of the lawsuit, which claim ADOC’s “indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners in their custody” and “failure to provide mental health care” to inmates, are expected to go to trial Oct. 17.

Jan 28, 2015
Alabama gave a series of failing marks to the medical provider now at the center of the lawsuit over inmate care. The Alabama Department of Corrections has not released those failed internal audits to the public. Instead, an executive for Corizon, which provides inmate health care to Alabama's 25,100 inmates, talked about the audits at length in a May 2013 deposition obtained by

Larry Linton, Corizon's vice-president for operations, acknowledged the failed audits, but cast doubt on their conclusions. He called them "contract compliance" documents that do not focus on patient outcomes. "It really looks bad to a layperson who doesn't understand all this," Linton said. "And it would seem odd to me that a company would come in here and never pass an audit and yet still be here. How is that possible? And I say it's possible because, in reality, the overall care that's provided is pretty good." The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama in June, alleging that prisoner health care is inadequate and unconstitutional. It is set to go to trial in 2016. As part of the lawsuit, the ADOC agreed earlier this month to stop giving inmates in mental health unit access to razor blades, as they had in the past. Corizon, which signed a three-year $224 million contract with the state in 2012 after submitting the only bid for the work, agreed to pay the legal costs for the suit. Twenty-nine health care audits have been performed at different prisons in the past four years. Timely and consistent access to services; continuity of care; infection control; documentation; and other criteria are measured in the audits. To pass an audit, Corizon must meet 85 percent of standards outlined in the contract. The ADOC declined to release the audits last month citing pending litigation after requested them in September. Legally, there may be no justification to withhold the records, according to Alabama Press Association general counsel Dennis Bailey. While state open meetings law does provide an exemption for pending litigation, state open records law does not. Since then, the ADOC has not responded to multiple requests from to cite a legal exemption that allows them to withhold the reports. An ADOC spokesman said on Thursday that their legal counsel may have an answer as early as next week. "A public record does not become protected because of litigation," Bailey wrote in an e-mail. "If these audits were done before litigation they are not transformed into secret documents after litigation is filed." Released in other states, audits have shown mismanagement and insufficient health on the part of Corizon. In Florida, audits of Corizon's medical care led the state's department of corrections secretary, Michael Crews, to assail the firm in a letter to Corizon chief executive officer Woodrow A. Myers, Jr. The firm had put together a "corrective action plan" to fix the problems outlined in the audit. "All too often, we are finding that these corrective action plans are not being carried out and that the level of care continues to fall below the contractually required standard," Crews wrote. According to the Associated Press, an audit last year in Minnesota found that inadequate communication between prison staff and Corizon doctors during overnight hours "may have been a contributing factor to inmate deaths." Maria Morris, Southern Poverty Law Center managing attorney, said her agency has asked for the audits as well. The ADOC has yet to turn them over. "I would not think there is any reason for it," Morris said. Morris deposed Linton as part of a separate federal lawsuit filed by inmate Larry Shepherd against Corizon and its predecessor firms in April 2012. Shepherd claimed that the medical care provided to him was cruel and unusual punishment. The case was dismissed is August 2013. In the deposition, Linton insisted that the care provided by the company was adequate. He says the prison system takes into account "health outcomes," rather than just the audit results. "On the other hand, I fully understand the Department of Corrections' position," Linton said. "They don't tell us how to practice medicine, just like we don't tell our doctors how to practice medicine. "They believe that if we do all of these things, that it leads to a better product for us, and they are right about that. But we believe looking at outcomes gives us a better handle on it." A Corizon spokeswoman issued a statement on Thursday that the ADOC audits "focus on administrative matters that are not designed to assess the quality of inmate care." "To assess the quality of care, Corizon Health continually monitors medical outcomes for its patients, based on objective standards used by the health care industry at large," the statement said. "We are proud of the results we have achieved. The statement also said they take the ADOC's compliance reviews seriously and that Corizon is "proud to have met the established criteria during the current audit cycle." Asked for a copy of the most current audit, the Corizon declined, saying that it is up to the ADOC to release. Here are some other highlights from the deposition: Linton also mentioned how the use of chain gangs at Limestone prison in the 1990s sabotaged an ADOC attempt to get the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to accredit the facility. Subsequently, the agency told the ADOC commissioner that they "wouldn't be back." "And I think old memories die hard sometimes," Linton said. Linton said that Alabama's prison system, with its aging facilities, could not pass an American Correctional Association accreditation. "They are just too old, and you can't make the corrections that need to be made without great expense," Linton said. One of Corizon's predecessor companies rednegotiated its contract with the ADOC in 2008 or 2009 for two more years. As part of the deal, Corizon received less money, Linton said. "... My belief is the quality of care was improving enough to where our costs were going down, and that was rebated essentially, through the renegotiation, back to the client," Linton said. In turn, the questioning attorney responded, "so ADOC said we'll pay you less because you're providing better care?" "It's more likely that Corizon said, 'we're willing to negotiate the price down because the care we're providing is good enough that our costs are reduced, if you'll give us those two years,'" Linton said.

Aug 17, 2014
Powerful firm lobbies for Alabama prison health contractor, then defends company in court Initially hired to politick for inmate health care provider Corizon, the powerful Alabama firm is now defending the quality of the company's medical care in federal court. is examining the ties between the state's $224 million prison health care contract with Corizon and it supporters in light of a lawsuit filed against the state. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the suit in federal court two months ago that claimed the medical care provided to the state's 25,000 inmates was unconstitutional. Corizon and MHM Health Services, the prison system's mental healthcare provider, tapped the law firm Maynard, Cooper & Gale to fight the case at no cost to the state. Maynard Cooper & Gale employees Linda Maynor and Clay Ryan lobbied for Corizon in 2012, and 2013 and 2014, respectively, Alabama Ethics Commissions reports show. Both lobbyists are veterans of Alabama politics. Ryan served as special counsel to Gov. Robert Bentley three years ago, a volunteer position. Maynor, a volunteer on Bentley's campaign finance committee, earned the designation of "super ranger" after raising more than $300,000 for President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, her Maynard Cooper & Gale profile states. In 2003, she was named Alabama Republican of the Year and she served as the Alabama Republican Party's finance chair. When Maynor worked as a lobbyist for Corizon in 2012, the firm won a 34-month $224 million contract to provide health care for the state's 25,000 inmates. It was the only firm to submit a bid for the work. Corizon and MHM Health Services, the state's inmate mental health care provider, hired Maynard Cooper & Gale to defend the state against a lawsuit the Southern Poverty Lawsuit filed against it in June that claimed the medical care provided to inmates was unconstitutional. A report the SPLC released in the wake of the lawsuit described gruesome prison stories about amputated feet and toes, gangrenous testicles treated only with ice, scabies outbreaks, and staph outbreaks. The Alabama Department of Corrections, ADOC Commissioner Kim Thomas, and the prison system's top health care official Ruth Naglich, a former executive at two of Corizon's predecessor companies, are all named as defendants in the SPLC lawsuit. previously reported that two firms that employed Naglich's husband were hired by Corizon to X-ray Alabama inmates since 2007. State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, vowed to question prison officials in the upcoming weeks about the quality of Corizon's healthcare and the X-ray work. The Lobbyists In addition to serving as Bentley's special counsel, Ryan served as Bentley's transition coordinator, where he oversaw cabinet hiring and inauguration planning, his Maynard Cooper & Gale website profile states. He was also counsel for the governor's emergency relief fund, which was established by Bentley to aid those harmed by the 2011 tornados, Maynard Cooper & Gale's website shows. Jennifer Ardis, Bentley's spokeswoman, said Ryan de-registered as a lobbyist when he volunteered as Bentley's special counsel. Maynor has been active in politics since 1986 and has managed political campaigns and fundraised for Republicans at the state and federal levels. Former Gov. Bob Riley selected her to serve on his Education Spending Commission and Riley also appointed her to serve on the Alabama Certificate of Needs Board. Maynor also works with members of the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Bentley's campaign spokeswoman, Rebekah Mason, said Maynor helps raise money for Bentley "like hundreds of other volunteers who believe in the Governor's successful record of job creation." Messages for Corizon, Ryan and Maynor were not returned.

December 1, 2009 Huntsville Times
State prison officials today released a 795-page report showing Farron Barksdale, who killed two police officers, died from hypothermia after being heavily medicated with anti-psychotic drugs. Barksdale, 32, of Athens, sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to capital murder in the shooting deaths of two Athens police officers, died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his prison cell. After he was rushed to a Montgomery hospital, it was discovered he had several large, fresh-looking, bruises around his waist, arms, legs, elbows and knees. But Sarah Geraghty, senior attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said questions still remain about how Barksdale received such extensive bruising. The report said Barksdale was given several different drugs that could cause bruising. And they noted the special seat belts used to transport Barksdale from the Limestone County Jail to the Kilby Correctional Facility could also have been responsible for some of the bruises. When a private ambulance company was summoned to take Barkdale to the hospital after he collapsed, according to the report, paramedic Angela Anderson said she "found patient lying on treatment table by himself with distressed respirations, unresponsive; no medical personnel in room; saw bruises on his body on abdominal and pelvic area; noted they were unusual for size and location . . . "Patient had no oxygen therapy being (administered and) there was no medical personnel in the room (with) the patient the entire time while on scene only DOC personnel. Patient had several bruises throughout body major-sized bruises noted anterior on lower abdomen/pelvic area measuring in comparison to a salad plate covering most of the area from hip joint area to umbilicus. "Color of bruises indicate newly sustained. Patient also had bruising to both forearms posterior area in same color as ones noted to abdomen/pelvic area." In addition, Heath Bruner, an EMT, was quoted in the report as noting "massive" bruising on both sides of pelvis. He also noted there were no nurses present in the room with Barksdale at Kilby. Barksdale's mother, Mary, earlier this year won $750,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit against former Kilby Warden Arnold Holt, Dr. Joseph McGinn of MHM Correctional Services in Vienna, Va., and Dr. Arnold Holt of Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn. Ken Williams, general counsel for the Corrections Department, said Tuesday that McGinn was responsible for prescribing the drugs to Barksdale and leaving him in an unairconditioned cell rather than transferring him to an air-conditioned mental health unit.

September 24, 2009 Huntsville Times
The mother of an inmate who died a few days after entering a state prison was awarded $750,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit against prison officials and a mental health provider. The money was awarded to Mary Barksdale, the mother of Farron Barksdale, 32, of Athens who died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his Kilby Prison cell. "We reached what we believed to be a fair settlement in light of what we knew of the troubling circumstances surrounding Mr. Barksdale's demise while in state custody," Sarah Geraghty, senior attorney for the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, said Wednesday. "Some facts surrounding the death, however, remain a mystery to this day due to the department's policy against releasing records on deaths in custody." Jake Watson, a Huntsville attorney who also represented Mary Barksdale, said Wednesday, "In light of all the circumstances, I think that was the best settlement." The state Department of Corrections was not a defendant in the case. According to the settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, former Kilby Warden Arnold Holt was ordered to pay $300,000 to the settlement, Dr. Joseph McGinn of MHM Correctional Services in Vienna, Va., was to contribute $370,000, and Dr. Arnold Holt of Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., was to pay $80,000. MHM provides mental health services for the Department of Corrections. The suit alleged that Barksdale, who suffered from schizophrenia, died because of "the deliberate indifference, medical neglect and negligence" of the prison staff.

September 23, 2009 Huntsville Times
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of an inmate who died just 12 days after entering prison has been settled with the state Department of Corrections, her lawyers said Tuesday. Though the terms were not disclosed, the settlement was also confirmed by state prison Commissioner Richard Allen. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery on behalf of Mary Barksdale, the mother of Farron Barksdale, 32, of Athens, who died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his Kilby Prison cell. Barksdale, who pleaded guilty to capital murder in the shooting death of two Athens police officers, had been transferred to the prison just three days earlier to begin serving a sentence of life without parole. Mary Barksdale, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, was represented by Sarah Geraghty, an attorney for the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, and Huntsville attorney Jake Watson. Geraghty and Watson confirmed that Mary Barksdale was awarded a cash settlement, but they would not disclose the amount. The defendants in the suit were former Kilby Warden Arnold Hold, Drs. Michael Robbins and Joseph McGinn, two unnamed correctional officers, an unnamed medical worker and Vienna, Va., based MHM Correctional Services. MHM provides mental health services for the Department of Corrections. The suit alleged that Barksdale, who suffered from schizophrenia, died because of "the deliberate indifference, medical neglect and negligence" of the prison staff. "Mr. Barksdale was medicated with an unusually large dose of psychotropic medications that made his body unable to withstand high temperatures, confined to an isolation cell with a medically dangerous degree of heat and left there without adequate monitoring," the complaint said. "He fell into a coma and died." The complaint said Barksdale was not placed in Kilby's mental health unit, which is air-conditioned. On the day he was found unresponsive in his cell, the temperature in Montgomery was 106 degrees. Kilby is located just east of Montgomery. On that day, the complaint said, correctional officers found Barksdale in a coma, "snoring and moaning," with a temperature of 103.1 degrees. He was taken to the hospital but never regained consciousness after eight days. An autopsy said he died of pneumonia and complications from hypothermia and a blood-clotting problem, and that bruises on his upper body and hip did not contribute to his death. A state prison inmate later wrote in an Oct. 24, 2008, letter to Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eugene Reese that Barksdale was severely beaten by four prison guards. Allen asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Corrections' Department of Investigations and Intelligence to reopen the investigation into Barksdale's death, but the results of that probe have never been released. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Department of Corrections must comply with the state's Open Records law and make records available on crimes committed within prisons. The Southern Center for Human Rights had sued over that issue. Despite the high court's 5-0 ruling, Allen said Friday state attorneys may ask for a rehearing.

September 6, 2007 Huntsville Times
The state corrections commissioner was questioned by legislators Wednesday over a $233.73 million contract for health care for Alabama's nearly 26,000 inmates. Commissioner Richard Allen is seeking approval of a three-year contract with St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc. CMS would take over a contract now held by Prison Health Services Inc., of Brentwood, Tenn. Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, a retired physician, endorsed the CMS contract, which would have two potential one-year renewals. "I have a keen interest in (prisons), particularly the health care," Griffith told the committee. "We're rapidly moving into the baby boomers going through the prison system just like we're going through it outside the prison system." Griffith said health care for convicts is a "major, major cost factor" for the state, but he added that "we're capping it with this contract and I think it's well thought out." The committee has the power to delay the contract for 45 days but cannot stop it from being enacted. Some members of the Joint Legislative Contract Review Committee questioned Allen about members of his staff who formerly worked for the two private companies and were involved in the selection process for CMS. A third company that submitted a proposal, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, was represented by an attorney who said he will ask for an explanation of the grading process when the committee meets again today. Allen acknowledged that Wexford's bid was about $6 million lower than CMS. "We evaluated the contracts very carefully," said Allen. "All the bidders were told that price would be 40 percent of the score and other things - innovations, cost savings, those types of things - would be scored 60 percent." Allen said Wexford scored third. Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, said he was concerned that Department of Corrections employees who formerly worked for CMS and PHS were on the team that graded proposals submitted by the three companies. But Allen defended the process, calling prison health care "a very narrow specialty." "If you look at the resumes of these (DOC) people, they have worked for several companies, not just this company (CMS)," he said. "Nobody in our department has worked for this company in the last six or seven years. They've also worked for PHS. They've also worked for about a dozen other companies. They go back and forth between the companies and state service."

August 17, 2007 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc. said Thursday that its Prison Health Services subsidiary would lose its contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections. The contract expires on Oct. 31. PHS provides medical services to inmates. Brentwood-based America Service Group said it would update its fourth-quarter earnings estimate later. It had projected revenues from a renewed contract of $12.3 million in the three months ending Dec. 31.

April 16, 2007 The Press-Register
Some members of a legislative oversight committee contend that Gov. Bob Riley's administration broke the law on three no-bid contracts by failing to submit them to the panel months ago. "If you have got a law, all departments in the Riley administration have to follow the law," said state Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, a committee member. "The same law applied to Don Siegelman that applies to the Riley administration." During Riley's 2002 campaign for a first term, the Republican blasted then-Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, for his administration's handling of no-bid contracts. Ken Wallis, legal advisor to Riley, said recently that the administration is "absolutely" following state law regarding all contracts, including the three questioned by some lawmakers. One of the three was an emergency contract -- for prison health services -- that was used for four months before the administration submitted the permanent deal to the committee. Panel members said they learned about the other two contracts through reporters. The prison contract totaled more than $56 million, while each of the others was for $60,000 or less.

February 23, 2006 Montgomery Advertiser
The fact that incoming prison commissioner Richard Allen, who takes over next week, has no previous experience in corrections has been widely noted. Given Allen's demonstrated abilities throughout a distinguished career, there is no reason Alabamians should be concerned about that. In fact, the fresh perspective he will bring to the Department of Corrections is likely to be an asset. Allen surely will be attuned to apparent conflicts of interest such as the one involving a prison health care monitor. In that case, the Birmingham News reported this week, a nurse hired by the department to monitor health care delivered under a contract with an outside provider came directly from that provider. One day he was working for the provider, and the next day he was being paid to monitor the work of that provider. That was a dubious arrangement in itself, but the situation was made even more questionable when the nurse resigned his monitor's job with DOC after working only a few weeks to return to his former employer. He has since rescinded the resignation and remains with DOC. This is an unacceptable situation that cannot engender any confidence in the proper delivery of health care to inmates or the proper oversight of health care delivery by the prison system. In order to have any credibility, a monitor cannot have such ties to the operator being monitored. Allen will have a stack of problems on his desk when he walks in for his first day as commissioner on Wednesday, foremost among them the chronic overcrowding of the prison system. As he wrestles with that daunting challenge, however, he also must take a newcomer's clear-eyed look at issues such as too-close connections between the department and outside contractors.

February 18, 2006 Birmingham News
A nurse hired by the state prison system last month to monitor its medical contract had until then worked for the company he was hired to keep tabs on. After a few weeks on the job, nurse Brandon Kinard resigned from the state to return to Prison Health Services, then rescinded his resignation Friday. Despite earlier plans to go back to the company, Kinard will remain a regional clinical manager with the Department of Corrections assigned to make sure PHS does an adequate job, prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said. The state pays Kinard a $59,000 annual salary. He is one of several regional managers who oversee quality control, protocols and contract compliance, specifically DOC's $143 million contract with PHS, a Tennessee-based company that has come under scrutiny in several states on allegations of placing economic interests above patient care. Kinard's boss at DOC, Associate Commissioner Ruth Naglich, ultimately is in charge of making sure the company lives up to its contract. She also has ties to PHS, where she was vice president for sales and marketing before taking the state job. Kinard's employment falls within a gray area of state ethics law, officials say. Attorneys who represent prisoners treated by PHS say it's a conflict of interest even though it may be legal. "I don't know if it violates any state laws. But effective monitoring of a private company by the state Department of Corrections needs to be done by people who are independent of the medical company and independent of the DOC, and this is ..... something that would seem to prevent effective monitoring," said Joshua Lipman, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights. Previous state monitoring efforts have resulted in DOC's withholding payments to PHS because the company failed to fulfill minimal contract staffing levels. The state withheld $1.2 million last year when monitors found the provider did not have enough doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff in the prisons, and later withheld $580,000 as a performance penalty. Kinard first worked for PHS at Hamilton Aged and Infirm. He worked both as a director of nursing and in an administrative position, making decisions about patient health care. He'd been with the company since November 2003, when PHS received the Alabama contract. He also had worked in prison medicine with companies that previously contracted with the state. Kinard began his job at DOC the first week in January. In early February, he submitted his resignation, effective Feb. 24, to return to PHS. A day after The News contacted PHS about the situation, Kinard rescinded his resignation, staying with the DOC job. Alabama ethics law prevents state employees from immediately accepting jobs at companies they audited, investigated or regulated for the state, said Hugh Evans, general counsel at the Alabama Ethics Commission. There has not been a ruling on whether that includes returning to jobs they came from. "Under the ethics law, if you are involved in auditing, investigating or regulating a private entity, that would include monitoring or awarding a contract to a private entity, you can't go to work for them for two years," Evans said. However, he said, "The issue is somewhat muddied, if that person is returning to the status quo. It could be a cause for concern."

July 16, 2005 AP
A court-appointed monitor warns that erratic treatment of HIV-positive inmates in an Alabama prison could develop into treatment-resistant AIDS.  A new report by Dr. Joseph Bick issued that warning. It came a year after the state Department of Corrections agreed to improve medical treatment for the HIV-positive prisoners.  Bick documented four types of "sub-optimal" HIV treatment at Limestone Correctional Facility, where more than 200 HIV-positive inmates are housed.
A California expert in prison medicine, Bick was appointed by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Ott to visit Limestone four times a year and evaluate whether the state and its medical contractor provided dozens of improvements required in a lawsuit settlement.  Although state officials promised in the settlement last year to hire an HIV specialist for the men, there has not been one during much of the year, leading to erratic treatment.  Tennessee-based Prison Health Services, the private company that oversees care in Alabama prisons, says many of the problems Bick found were related to that position's being vacant.  "It's difficult to recruit a highly qualified HIV specialist, especially to a rural area," the company said in a statement Friday.  Two specialists PHS previously hired left the job within weeks or months.  Bick warned that the mistakes in previous care could have irreversibly harmed patients.  During his week-long visit in late May, Bick found: substitute doctors who mixed drugs that were not supposed to be used together; patients with rising viral loads who had not been seen for treatment changes or whose failing regimens were changed only one drug at a time; and doctors who made treatment changes without telling the patient.  Bick's reports have noted some improvements but he has continued to focus on the inability of keeping doctors and of keeping critical positions filled.  "Due to the fragile nature of this medical program, I recommend that every effort be made to retain physicians once they are hired," Bick wrote in the new report.  Besides the HIV population, Limestone houses 1,800 other prisoners and has one physician and one nurse practitioner to provide their care as well as care for 135 work-release prisoners in Decatur. Bick called this "by all measures ... inadequate" and recommended three full-time physicians.  PHS has hired several doctors over the last year, including HIV specialists, who have not stayed long. The company also said that negative press coverage has frustrated its efforts to hire a specialist.

June 3, 2005 Decatur Daily
With its magnifying glass focused on inmate health expenses, a legislative committee came up with as many questions as answers Thursday for the spiraling medical costs for state prisoners. High hospital costs for ill inmates, concerns about the company that provides on-site medical services at state prisons and a prison population that is close to double capacity all complicate the challenge for the Department of Corrections. The committee questioned, but approved, two contracts for medically related inmate care.
In a $60,000 part-time contract, Cullman internist Dr. George Lyrene will review all deaths at state prisons and give court testimony related to the deaths for $1,100 to $1,250 per day. In a second contract, the state will pay Rebecca Jones, a registered nurse from Wetumpka, up to $40,000 for inmate-specific diabetes education and meal monitoring at state prisons. Committee members also questioned the performance and expenses of Prison Health Services, the Tennessee company that currently has the contract to provide medical care for inmates. "The provider has major, major problems, and there are deep concerns among members of the committee about them," Morrison said after the meeting. Morrison said Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell and Naglich are working to solve the problems. Morrison said some of the health costs are the result of actions before the time the Tennessee company took over inmate care in Alabama. "We are still in lawsuits related to the previous provider," Morrison said. "With some things, we can only go as fast as the courts allow."

May 26, 2005 AP
Seeking to save money, the Department of Corrections has signed a contract to send inmates with chronic illnesses to a South Carolina hospital specializing in treating prisoners. Alabama prison system officials announced Thursday the inmates would be sent to Columbia Care Center ,
rather than to regular community hospitals in the state. The hospital in Columbia , S.C. , currently has space to treat up to 50 Alabama inmates who need long-term care, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or kidney dialysis, but the number to be sent initially has not been determined. There is no set cost for the contract - DOC pays Just Care as the hospital's services are needed. Department officials said the prisons are not equipped to treat inmates who need certain specialized treatments for highly advanced cancers, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Those limitations force the DOC's health care provider, Prison Health Services, to refer the inmates to outside hospitals for repeated treatments, said DOC spokesman Brian Corbett. In fiscal year 2004, the prison system had to pay $9.4 million for treatments that fell outside PHS's responsibility, officials said. The DOC has refused to pay $1.2 million to PHS, saying the company has not provided enough doctors and nurses at the prisons. That issue is under mediation, but is unrelated to the decision to team up with Just Care, Corbett said.

April 17, 2005 Birmingham News
By the time Teresa Morris died, her legs were so badly swollen that the prison shackles dug into them. A 53-year-old diabetic serving time for domestic violence at Tutwiler Prison for Women, Morris spent the hours before her March 6 death shackled in a hospital bed in Montgomery. Prison officials say she died of natural causes. Morris's family believes the prison medical staff, employees of private contractor Prison Health Services, provided inadequate care for her diabetes. They say she was taken off her insulin shots, for reasons the family does not understand. Her death is the latest in a series of red flags suggesting that Prison Health Services is not providing sufficient quality medical care to many Alabama prisoners, according to interviews with prisoners' attorneys, former PHS employees and reports from independent physicians who monitor care at some of Alabama's prisons. "I can't say whether or not she was given insulin," said Ben Purser, the company's vice president for ethics and chief compliance officer. "It was an expected death; that is about the best thing I can say to you."
Morris's death certificate says she died from diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and Hepatitis C. But she was not being treated for the last two, Freeman said. Last November, Dr. Michael Puisis, court monitor for the Tutwiler medical settlement, visited the prison and reviewed treatment records for several prisoners. Of Morris's care, he wrote: "She was seen every three months, but not by a doctor. ... Liver function tests were abnormal but not investigated. An incomplete physical examination was done." Even after the legal settlements mandating better care at Tutwiler and Limestone, there have been severe shortages of doctors and nurses at the prisons. Nearly a year later, critical reports by court monitors continue to come out of both places. "These records reflect thousands of doses of medications ordered by physicians that have either not been given, or have been given without being documented," Dr. Joseph Bick, monitor in the Limestone case, wrote after visiting the HIV Unit in February. "Interviews with patients, chart reviews and feedback from physicians support the concern that patients are not consistently given the medications that have been ordered for them for serious life-threatening conditions." What was even more disturbing, the doctor wrote, was that Prison Health Services provided documents showing that nurses had recently been trained on this issue. It was Bick's third visit to the prison. Each was followed by a report showing the state was out of compliance with several key medical provisions of the 2004 settlement. A constant failing at Limestone is doctor and nurse shortages. The prison, with 2,200 people, has become a revolving door for physicians. One physician left in late 2004. Another, Dr. Valda Chijide, an infectious disease specialist, was placed on administrative leave after writing her superiors about constrictions placed on her that made it impossible to do her job. She resigned in February. Prison Health Services then brought in a doctor from a temporary agency, but by early April she, too, decided not to return, PHS' Purser said. During vacancies, Dr. Will Mosier, Prison Health Services' Montgomery-based medical director, fills in at Limestone and other prisons when needed. There are provisions in the company's contract for the state to deduct payment to the company if its staff numbers are down, and the Corrections Department monitors staffing levels on a regular basis, Corbett said. How much money the state is owed for empty positions is under debate, he said.

Some of the sickest men in Alabama prisons live in drafty cells in a building with broken windows. They must stand in line in the middle of the night for their pills. And several have died prematurely because of gaps in medical care, according to a report released Thursday as part of a lawsuit against the prison system. Dr. Stephen Tabet, an infectious disease specialist from Seattle, first documented the harsh conditions at Limestone prison's HIV unit last year. When he returned for a follow-up visit, he found few improvements. His August 2003 report documented conditions leading to 39 deaths since 1999. Thursday's follow-up looks at five new deaths in five months. One patient dropped a third of his weight in five months, to 110 pounds, before dying in February. A doctor prescribed a high protein supplement for 35-year-old Gerald Lewis, but the kitchen wouldn't provide it. Another man arrived at Limestone with active tuberculosis, but his medical records from another prison did not follow. Alfred Thomas, 42, was placed with all the other HIV patients, potentially exposing them to the disease. No one at Limestone knew about his TB until an autopsy following his October death. (Birmingham News, March 12, 2004)

Albany County Jail, Albany, New York
Apr 23, 2016
Albany County makes $1.1M deal to end jail death lawsuit
The husband of a French citizen who died after Albany County jail medical staff denied her proper doses of medications to treat her chronic heart failure has settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the private firm that ran the jail medical unit. A settlement notice filed in federal court does not reveal the amount of the settlement with the estate of Irene Bamenga or otherwise detail the terms. But a person familiar with the agreement told the Times Union that the portion associated with Albany County's role in the case is about $1.1 million. Danielle Garten, a New York City attorney who represented the county, declined to comment. Mary Rozak, a spokeswoman for the county, said no taxpayer money would be used to pay the settlement. Michael Lurie, the Boston attorney who represented Bamenga's husband, Yodi Zikianda, also declined to comment citing confidentiality agreements. Bamenga, 29, died in the Colonie jail July 27, 2011, after having been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to await deportation for an expired visa. Bamenga, who had been living outside Boston with her husband on an expired visa, was taken into custody July 15 while trying to cross into Canada on the Peace Bridge in Buffalo so she could fly home to Paris from Toronto that evening, the lawsuit alleged. Bamenga was refused entry to Canada because she lacked a current visa stamp and then detained while trying to re-enter the U.S. side of the bridge, Lurie said. Eventually, she was transferred to the Albany County jail on July 21. Court filings in the case revealed she never saw a doctor between then and when she was found unconscious in her dormitory area just after midnight on July 27. Court filings also revealed Bamenga had pleaded with medical staff in writing less than 48 hours before her death because she was missing doses of the six medicines that she took to treat her cardiomyopathy and chronic congestive heart failure, and was experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. At the time, the jail's medical unit was run by the private company Correctional Medical Services, now known as Corizon Inc. The firm's lone doctor at the jail, who was on vacation for much of Bamenga's incarceration, testified in a deposition that the staff was "overwhelmed." Corizon was also a named defendant in the suit; its attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A separate settlement was struck last month with Allegany County, where Bamenga was held between July 15 and July 21 and where she was also allegedly denied medication. The terms of that settlement also have not been disclosed. "It was an absolutely avoidable outcome," Lurie said. If the case had gone to trial in May, he said, several experts were "prepared to testify that if she had received the care that she was seeking and that she knew she needed, she would not have died." Bamenga's death, Lurie said, should prompt municipal officials to question the wisdom of hiring for-profit companies that receive fixed rates to provide medical care to people like jail inmates who have no other choice "because the incentives are to withhold care." The State Commission of Correction ruled that Bamenga died of natural causes, but an investigation commissioned by ICE identified the missed medications and incorrect doses as "significant factors that contributed to the decompensation of her congestive heart failure" and her death was preventable. ICE was not named in the lawsuit, but Lurie said the case also documented that the agency's leadership had urged field staff to use discretion about detaining people before deportation — especially those, like Bamenga, with serious medical conditions and without criminal records. "They didn't have to take her into custody," Lurie said. "At least on two scores, they had a reason to just let her go." A Bronx woman who delivered a live baby in a jail toilet in 2001 after her premature labor allegedly was ignored for days has filed a federal civil rights claim blaming Albany County officials and a former jail nurse for her son's death.  Ajadyan Venny was at least 5 months pregnant when she was jailed on a drug charge on Aug. 30, 2001, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court Thursday.  The 30-page lawsuit alleges the following chain of events:  The 22-year-old was given a cursory exam and pregnancy test and then left on her own as pain in her abdomen and back spiked over the next 10 days.  A female jail nurse who is employed by Prison Health Services, Inc., told Venny repeatedly that the pain was a normal result of being pregnant in jail, which is a stressful environment.  Venny was supposed to see an obstetrics consultant on Sept. 4, 2001, but her appointment was canceled. Five days later, on Sept. 9, her screams woke the dorm at 5 a.m.  At 6:30 a.m., correction officers told Venny she couldn't get help until the 7 a.m. shift change. By then, she could no longer walk on her own. The nurse told guards she couldn't leave her post.  A concerned correction officer finally radioed his sergeant, who ordered the nurse to see to Venny, who now was sitting on the toilet in her cell and bleeding profusely. But the nurse was ineffective, court papers said: "At approximately 7:15 a.m. nurse Hunt responded to the dorm, bringing with her only a blood pressure cuff to attend the plaintiff, who was in the end stage of labor."  The nurse attempted to console Venny rather than render medical assistance. She told officers at 7:18 a.m. that Venny had miscarried in-utero and ordered an ambulance. It was only after a Colonie EMS workers asked if there was a baby that a guard went back to check the toilet "and found a sac containing a child who had been unattended for a substantial period of time."  Correction officers freed the baby and cut his umbilical cord.  After two days in Albany Medical Center Hospital's neonatal unit, the struggling newborn, Scott Mayo Jr., died at 3 a.m. on Sept. 11.  "This was a full-grown, viable baby," attorney Kevin Luibrand said. "It was not a fetus. She was probably much further along than she thought."  State correction officials later faulted Prison Health Services Inc. for their handling of the situation.  The county did not renew its contract with the company in Feb. 2002, saying it would go with a less expensive provider.  Officials at the jail declined to comment on the lawsuit. Richard Wright, president and CEO of Prison Health Services, also declined to comment.  The Brentwood, Tenn.-based company recently was dismissed from an eight-year contract with the Schenectady County Jail after the death of an inmate.  (Times Union, September 4, 2004)

Allegheny County Jail, Pittsburg Pennsylvania
Jul 8, 2017
Documentary calls for improving or closing Allegheny County Jail
A county that can’t or won’t care for inmates in its jail should work toward closing its lockup entirely, argues a documentary set to be screened by an advocacy group Tuesday. The Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project will present “No Bars to Healthcare,” a film by James Tedrow, on Tuesday at the Homewood Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, starting at 5 p.m. The screening of the half-hour film will be followed by a panel discussion about the health care at the jail, and whether the facility can ultimately be closed. The film focuses largely on Corizon Health, a Tennessee company that ran the jail’s infirmary from September 2013 through August 2015. It features the case of Frank Smart, a 39-year-old man who died in the jail in January 2015. In the film his mother, Tomi Harris, 60, of Verona, says he did not get his seizure medication, echoing accusations in a lawsuit filed by Mr. Smart's daughter. "My son goes in the building -- there was no fire, no flood -- and didn't come out,” Ms. Harris says, in one of the film’s poignant moments. "My son begged for his medication for over six hours,” but didn’t get it, she says, adding that “no one need die of a seizure." “Corizon was bad. That was a mistake from day one,” Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David Cashman said in an interview Friday. He now chairs the county’s Jail Oversight Board. He was not on the board when Corizon was hired. “That was an entity that was fueled and energized by money, and they didn’t care,” the judge said. He said the current health care arrangement, in which the county teams with Allegheny Health Network, is doing better. Corizon did not respond to a request for comment. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald hired Corizon, then opted not to retain the company beyond its initial two-year stint. His office declined comment Friday. The documentary acknowledges improvement since Corizon left the jail in 2015, but suggests that problems remain. The film’s closing moments note that the jail saw two deaths in April, including one suicide. There has since been another suicide, in June. The ultimate solution, the documentary contends, is “the elimination of the modern prison system" and replacement with "a more humane and effective system that addresses poverty, police brutality, and mental health."

May 6, 2017
Mother of inmate who died at Allegheny County Jail sues county, Corizon, officials
The mother of an inmate who died at the Allegheny County Jail two years ago has sued the county, the jail’s former health care provider and numerous jail and medical officers. Andrea Crawford of Homewood, mother of Monty Crawford Jr., 23, said in a federal complaint that the jail and Corizon Health ignored her son’s psychiatric conditions and did not give him his required medications for a month before he died. He was found dead in his cell on May 21, 2015. His death was one of several at the jail that prompted the county to terminate its contract with Corizon, according to the suit. Shelley Leininger, 50, holds a picture of herself and son Timothy at her home in Ross Township on Friday. Shelley's son, Timothy Leininger, 27, was pronounced dead Thursday at UPMC Mercy Hospital after being jailed at Allegheny County Jail. Mr. Crawford was arrested in December 2013 after a teenage girl said he forced her into sex acts over five years. He was charged with rape of a child and other offenses and was awaiting trial when he died. Ms. Crawford said her son repeatedly told officials and medical personnel that he needed his medications and that he heard voices telling him to kill himself. The suit says the staff was “willfully indifferent” to his medical needs in not giving him his anti-psychotic medicines. The wrongful-death suit is asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Ms. Crawford’s Philadelphia lawyer, Wayne Ely, could not immediately be reached.

Dec 24, 2016
Daughter of Pittsburgh man who died after jail stay sues county, Corizon in federal court
The daughter of a schizophrenic and severely ill Pittsburgh man who died in 2014 after 10 days at the Allegheny County Jail has sued the lockup, its top officials and Corizon Health, which runs the jail’s infirmary, alleging federal civil rights violations. Cynthia Jewett Whitlow of Birmingham, Ala. on Friday filed the 10-count suit in U.S. District Court, nearly two years after the death of her father, Clarence Jewett. The suit claims deprivation of civil rights, wrongful death, professional negligence and corporate negligence. It asks for compensatory and punitive damages. Named individually are jail Warden Orlando Harper and Deputy Warden Latoya Warren. Amie Downs, the county’s spokeswoman, today declined comment, saying the county does not discuss lawsuits. Martha Harbin, a spokeswoman for Tennessee-based Corizon, said today, “Due to the litigation cited and patient privacy laws, we are unable to provide you with a statement offering our perspective on the merits of this case.” Pittsburgh police had arrested Mr. Jewett, 62, for screaming profanity on the street outside his house in the West End. He was taken to jail Dec. 16, 2014 and died Dec. 26 at UPMC Mercy. He was transported to the hospital after being found face down in his cell in his own vomit, according to the suit. But Mr. Jewett should have been seen by doctors for both physical and mental health problems long before that, both of which were apparent when he arrived at the jail, claim Ms. Whitlow and her attorney, Steven M. Barth, of Pittsburgh. “He wasn’t eating, he wasn’t communicating. It looks like they just put him in a room and said, ‘We’ll look at him.’ That’s it,” Mr. Barth said today. An autopsy showed that Mr. Jewett died from acute peritonitis due to esophageal perforation which, in turn, resulted from severe erosive esophagitis. The county medical examiner’s office ruled that his death was from natural causes. The suit claims that Mr. Jewett might not have been seen by any medical personnel at the jail until two days after his arrival, based on records Mr. Barth obtained. And when Mr. Jewett was seen, no physical was performed and “no history was acquired,” the suit claims. Records and the suit say that Mr. Jewett was seen by various medical staff, including a nurse practitioner, a mental health specialist, a psychiatrist and a physician assistant. He was given medication and observed. But all that was not enough, Mr. Barth said. Mr. Jewett did not eat. He sang, cursed and yelled. He became unresponsive. “He was in a full mental breakdown,” Mr. Barth said. “This was pretty extreme — a person coming in in this state.” All that behavior, according to Mr. Barth, clearly indicated psychiatric and physical problems and should have prompted the jail staff to send him to a facility where he could be properly evaluated and treated. The defendants “did not have a policy to deal with mentally incompetent inmates and only advocated the policy of putting them out of sight,” according to the suit. For several days, the suit said, Mr. Jewett was under close observation. But that ended for some reason on Dec. 22 even though Mr. Jewett “still was not communicating and/or eating or drinking,” the suit said. The suit claims that the jail and Corizon should have had a wealth of information about Mr. Jewett, including prior medical conditions and details about being hospitalized during a prior incarceration in the lockup in 2013. Ms. Whitlow’s suit called Mr. Jewett’s death “preventable.” It claims that the defendants had policies to not perform a timely review of an inmate’s medical history during intake and screening. As well, the suit claims, there was a contract between the defendants “which promote the policy and procedure to not send inmates out to outside medical providers...”

Oct 15, 2016
Lawsuit alleges jail staff failed to provide tube feedings to inmate
A man whose esophagus was severed from his stomach in a shooting three years ago is suing the medical staff at the Allegheny County Jail and Corizon Health after he said they failed to provide his required five daily tube feedings, resulting in his being hospitalized twice for malnourishment and related health problems, including a heart attack. Christopher Wallace, 30, of Lincoln-Lemington, was arrested Feb. 12, 2015, on charges that he robbed two banks two days earlier. Bret Grote, the attorney representing Wallace in his lawsuit, said his client’s Medicaid had been discontinued, and he could no longer get the tubes he needed to receive nutrition. Wallace robbed the banks, Mr. Grote said, to get money to buy the feeding tubes. At the time of Wallace’s arrest, he was taken to UPMC Mercy, where hospital records showed that the 6-foot 4-inch man weighed 77 pounds, the lawsuit said. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, also names as defendants jail Warden Orlando Harper, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Dr. Abimbola Talabi, who was interim medical director at the jail. The lawsuit says Wallace was released from UPMC Mercy on Feb. 16, 2015, with instructions to jail medical staff to provide five tube feedings each day. Mr. Grote contends the nurses and physicians “acted with deliberate indifference” to Wallace’s medical needs and failed to feed him properly, providing him with less than half of the required feedings per day, and on some days, the complaint said, not feeding him at all. “Mr. Wallace complained to these nurses about his need for tube feedings. His complaints were ignored and no measures were taken to ensure that he was provided with his medically prescribed tube feedings,” the complaint said. On March 2, 2015, Wallace lost consciousness in the jail infirmary and was rushed back to UPMC Mercy, diagnosed with emphysema, severe malnutrition, hypoglycemia and hypothermia, among other conditions, the lawsuit said. “UPMC medical records indicate that Mr. Wallace was suffering from ‘severe protein-calorie malnutrition [consistent with] starvation,’” Mr. Grote wrote. “His condition was further described as ‘emaciated.’” A week later, Wallace was returned to the jail, and, the lawsuit alleges, he was fed even less. “On some days he was not provided any tube feedings, and on others he received less than half of what he was prescribed,” according to the complaint. “There are no records that Mr. Wallace was provided any tube feedings during this period.” A week later, he was again rushed back to Mercy, having a heart attack in the ambulance on the way there, Mr. Grote said. He was kept at Mercy for 19 days and released back to the jail on April 3. According to the complaint, from that date until his release from custody on May 30, 2015, he received all of his feedings. “In addition to the deliberate indifference of medical staff, the severe and nearly-fatal injuries plaintiff suffered were the result of systemic deficiencies in the provision of medical care at ACJ during this time that were caused by policies and practices that ACJ, Corizon, and Allegheny County officials knew were resulting in constitutional violations,” Mr. Grote said. Mr. Fitzgerald, in 2015, refused to renew the county’s contract with Tennessee-based Corizon after repeated problems were reported — including the death of seven inmates in 2014. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner issued an audit in 2014, reporting that Corizon failed to maintain required staffing levels, failed to keep complete and accurate medical records and was failing to provide appropriate care to inmates. Because of that audit, Mr. Grote alleges, county officials knew of the potential danger inmates at the jail faced. “County Executive Fitzgerald ... had been repeatedly contacted about health care issues at ACJ by other government officials in the months leading up to Mr. Wallace’s incarceration. He took no action to remedy the situation,” the lawsuit said. “Warden Harper received reports from staff and inmates constantly about health care inadequacies. He took no action to remedy the situation either.” A spokeswoman for Mr. Fitzgerald said she could not comment on pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Corizon also would not comment, citing the lawsuit and patient privacy laws. The lawsuit includes claims for medical malpractice and for due process violations under the 14th Amendment, including deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. Wallace is scheduled to plead guilty to the bank robbery charges Nov. 14.

Jul 12, 2015
Family suing jail, health care provider after inmate's death

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The family of an inmate who died in a Pittsburgh jail earlier this year is suing the jail and its health care provider. Tiara Smart, one of the children of 39-year-old Frank Smart Jr., of Pittsburgh, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Friday against Allegheny County Jail and Corizon Health Inc. over Smart's death. The complaint alleges that Smart's requests for medication were ignored and that he was handcuffed and shackled while having a seizure. He was taken to UPMC Mercy, where he died shortly after midnight on Jan. 5. George Kontos, Tiara Smart's attorney, said the jail failed its duty to provide for Smart's safety. The county medical examiner ruled this week that Smart died from his seizure disorder, but that being restrained was a "significant condition" in his death. The manner of death remains undetermined. A Corizon spokesman said the Tennessee-based firm hasn't seen the complaint, but stands by its statement Thursday that Smart's medicines were ordered within 10 minutes of his arrival at a medical intake center and administered properly. Kontos, however, said that Smart's death from the seizure disorder "certainly belies their contention that he was appropriately medicated at the appropriate time." Smart's death and others in the past 18 months prompted the county to not renew Corizon's contract past its Aug. 31 expiration date. Allegheny Health Network, a Pittsburgh-based hospital chain owned by health insurer Highmark Inc., will take over Sept. 1. A county spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Jun 7, 2015
Allegheny County controller plans new audit of contract with jail health care provider

As Allegheny County moves closer to the end of its contract with Corizon Health, the controller’s office will perform a second audit of the county’s contract with the embattled jail health care provider. Controller Chelsa Wagner made the announcement at the jail oversight board meeting Thursday, nearly two weeks after county officials announced they will not renew the contract with the Tennessee-based firm that expires at the end of August. The agreement included three one-year options that could have moved it into 2018. “I think we need to memorialize exactly where we are as Corizon is leaving,” said the board’s chairman, Common Pleas Judge Joseph Williams III, who requested the audit. Fieldwork for the audit, set to begin Wednesday, will follow the same process as one last year that found continuing problems with the medical care at the jail. An entrance conference with Corizon is scheduled for June 17. Corizon oversaw an inmate mortality rate here that was double national norms for jails last year. Four inmates have died this year. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced May 22 that the county will bring the jail infirmary operation in-house, but he has yet to name what Judge Williams’ called Thursday the “medical giants and universities” set to be involved. In May, the judge said Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC and Allegheny Health Network “have agreed that they’ll partner in different ways to help us get on track as to where we ought to be with respect to health care” at the jail. Judge Williams told reporters after the meeting that he wasn’t sure how much the new system would cost but was certain it would include more doctors and more psychiatrists and some current staff. The county paid Corizon $11.5 million for its first year running the infirmary. Also during the meeting, Bret Grote, legal director for the Abolitionist Law Center and other advocates from the Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project, called for the resignation or firing of jail Warden Orlando Harper. Austin Davis, executive assistant to Mr. Fitzgerald, said the warden has the “full support of our administration.” County Councilman John DeFazio said a public hearing on jail health issues is forthcoming.

May 25, 2015

Pennsylvania: Two more dead, Corizon is out

In the wake of the deaths of two Allegheny County Jail inmates in one day this week, county Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced Friday that he will not renew the contract with jail infirmary manager Corizon Health, allowing it to expire at the end of August. The contract included three one-year options that could have taken it into 2018. The county instead will bring the jail infirmary operation in-house, working with as-yet-unnamed medical professionals, he said. “We have been working with … some of these folks in the community in our ‘eds and meds’ environment to put together an organizational structure that would allow this to happen,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “In light of what happened just this week, we think it was important to make this announcement publicly.” The latest two deaths bring to four the number of county inmates who have died this year. In 2014, a total of seven died. The decision not to renew the Corizon contract, building for months, came one day after the two deaths, one at a local hospital and the other at the lockup. Neither Timothy James Leininger, 27, nor Monty Crawford Jr., 23, had adult criminal records. Both were awaiting trial and had documented mental health issues. Autopsies were pending the results of lab tests. Mr. Leininger was arrested Jan. 9 by University of Pittsburgh police and charged with terroristic threats. On the date of his arrest, David Yankura, a psychiatrist at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, asked Pitt police Officer Mallory Skrbin “what would happen if an individual was charged with terroristic threats,” she wrote in a criminal complaint. Dr. Yankura and a colleague told the officer that Mr. Leininger was brought to Western Psych that day for an evaluation and became “agitated,” the complaint says. The worker reported that Mr. Leininger told him he wouldn’t go to a shelter. “I'm gonna stab Becky, and I’m gonna smash you,” Mr. Leininger said, and “jumped up from the couch, clenched his fists and arms, stepped towards” the worker, the complaint continued. Below: Criminal complaint by University of Pittsburgh police against Timothy Leininger Later Dr. Yankura told police that Mr. Leininger “needed to be incarcerated,” according to the complaint. UPMC, which includes Western Psych, declined to talk Friday about protocols for handling patients who make threats. Of roughly 100 Pitt police officers, 32 have undergone training in dealing with mental health crises since 2010, according to the county Department of Human Services. Pitt Police Chief James K. Loftus wants all of his officers to eventually get the training, according to a university spokesman. Mr. Leininger was taken to jail and failed to make bail set at $10,000. “Why didn’t Western Psych put him in the hospital instead, because he needed help,” said his mother, Shelley Leininger. “I don’t think he should have been put in jail for that.” Marc Cherna, director of the Department of Human Services, noted that the jail has become a “revolving door” for many mentally ill residents since the 2008 closure of Mayview State Hospital in South Fayette. Court records show that Mr. Leininger was evaluated by a psychiatrist a month after the arrest. She cleared him with recommendations, including that he comply with a treatment plan and live with his mother. Efforts to get him out of jail and home pending trial culminated in a hearing Thursday at which bond was reduced to zero. But by that time, Mr. Leininger was at UPMC Mercy. On Tuesday, detectives told the family that ​Mr. Leininger had been rushed to the hospital, unresponsive and in cardiac arrest after a “medical emergency” at the jail, his grandmother, Barbara Leininger, said. He died Thursday at 3:47 p.m. Ms. Leininger said her grandson had behavioral problems for years and had made threats before. The family links at least some of his mental health issues to a benign tumor at the base of his brain that caused him nausea and headaches as a child and, doctors say, can lead to behavioral and learning problems. Mr. Leininger had surgery to remove the tumor last year and took steroid pills after, which his mother said he would have had to take the rest of his life. He lived most of his life with his mother and grandmother in Ross. “He’d be here for a while, but when he felt insecure, he would go to the hospital,” Ms. Leininger said, though she wasn’t sure exactly what led him to Western Psych in January. She said they last saw him in December. Mr. Leininger leaves behind an 18-month-old son named Karol, who the family said is in the foster system in New York. Mr. Crawford was arrested in December 2013, when a 13-year-old girl accused him of repeatedly, over five years, pushing her into sex acts. He was charged with rape of a child and nine related charges. In May 2014, the county Behavioral Assessment Unit deemed him incompetent “and not likely to regain competence,” according to his court file. An October follow-up report indicated that he “would benefit from education in the legal process.” By March, the unit found that he regained competency following a “lengthy stay” at an inpatient facility. His trial was set for July 13. Andrea Crawford, 46, of Homewood, said that when she last spoke with her son on Sunday, he did not report anything out of the ordinary. He died Thursday at 8:20 p.m. The other two inmate deaths this year were 49-year-old Timothy Melvin Haskell, of West View, in April, and Frank Smart, 39, of the Hill District, in January. Warden Orlando Harper said the jail has drafted a policy for “compassionate release” under which staff would ask judges for permission to release certain very ill inmates. Tennessee-based Corizon took over the infirmary Sept. 1, 2013, and last year saw seven inmate deaths — a mortality rate double the national norms for jails. Corizon shaved about $1 million from the cost of health care at the jail, bringing it to $11.5 million a year. The jail infirmary had been run by a nonprofit entity tied to the county Health Department. Contributing to the cost savings were the dismissals of most of the doctors who had served the jail. Inmates complained about long waits for appointments and medicine. In a statement, Corizon said the decision to part ways was mutual.

May 9, 2015
As an advocacy group called for replacement of Corizon Health as medical provider at Allegheny County Jail, the Tennessee-based company announced Thursday that it has hired a permanent medical director. The firm, which was hired at the jail in September 2013, has been under fire for months over the level of care provided at the jail, where the death rate for inmates is about two times the national average for jails. On Thursday, a group known as the jail’s Health Justice Project called for replacement of the for-profit company at a rally and in a letter to members of Allegheny County Council. “Enough is enough. We’ve been seeing this for years,” said Julia Johnson of the advocacy group, citing jail deaths as far back as 2010 that she called “appalling.” In particular, the group focused on the Jan. 5 death of Frank Smart, who — according to his mother, Tomi Harris — died at UPMC Mercy after he failed to receive seizure medication at the jail. Amie Downs, spokeswoman for county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, said the county hadn’t received the letter and would have no comment. The group also carried its concerns to the monthly meeting of the county’s Jail Oversight Board. There, Judge Joseph Williams, president of the board, said the county is working to deal with inmates who come to the jail with health issues, a complex “matrix” that begins with other societal ills like drug addiction and unemployment. “We don’t have the capacity to deal with this the way we should,” he said, telling protesters they were “shallow” if they thought the jail could solve the problems itself. Judge Williams said the county has been working on a plan to supplement the work of Corizon with help from area health facilities, but he said that plan isn’t ready yet. After the meeting, he said the county is moving “as fast as we can” to address the situation. Warden Orlando Harper told the board the county recently took one step in that direction, hiring Nora Gillespie to monitor Corizon’s compliance with its contract. Meanwhile, Corizon told the board it has hired a new, permanent medical director. Since December, Abimbola Talabi has served as interim director. She told the board that a new medical director, Donald Stechschulte, will start on a part-time basis this month and begin full-time duties in August. In a statement, Corizon said it treated Smart “quickly and efficiently.” In general, it said, the jail receives inmates with myriad health problems and “we are committed to doing all we can to restore them to health.”

April 3, 2015

A spokesman for Corizon Health., the Tennessee-based firm that took over the Allegheny County jail infirmary in 2013, said in a statement, in part: “We are confident in the care we provide." Up to four local institutions are exploring a partnership with Allegheny County to help with its embattled health care system at the county jail. But no one can say exactly what that could mean for health care there. Common Pleas Judge Joseph K Williams III, head of the jail oversight board, announced at its monthly meeting Thursday that Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC and Allegheny Health Network “have agreed that they’ll partner in different ways to help us get on track as to where we ought to be with respect to health care” at the jail. He could provide almost no details about the partnership, though, and the county would say only that it’s “continuing to have conversations with various stakeholders” about the matter. Spokeswoman Amie Downs said in a statement, in part, that the hope is “that we can come to agreement to help facilitate medical services” at the jail. Allegheny Health Network spokesman Dan Laurent said in an email that officials there have been discussing a “potential partnership with the County regarding health services at the jail and that we are working with County executives to explore how best we can provide assistance.” Representatives from the other institutions were unable to immediately provide information without more details. A spokesman for Corizon Health., the Tennessee-based firm that took over the infirmary on Sept. 1, 2013, said in a statement, in part: “We are confident in the care we provide, and we welcome the opportunity to work with local universities, medical systems and Allegheny County on a collaborative approach to medical care.” It’s been nearly three months since county manager William McKain told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the county is “considering a number of options, as well as the inclusion and engagement of additional stakeholders in the conversations about improving the delivery of medical services” at the jail. Corizon oversaw an inmate mortality rate that was double national norms for jails last year, and a scathing audit by county Controller Chelsa Wagner’s office cited continuing problems with the medical care there.

Mar 28, 2015

Fired psychiatrist at Allegheny County Jail: Contraband rules unclear A psychiatrist fired from the Allegheny County Jail says guards put security rules ahead of inmate welfare. Dr. Charolette Hoffman, the jail's only full-time psychiatrist, had a week of training and saw patients for a day when guards caught her bringing in contraband — cigarettes, lighters, matches and scissors — for a third time. Warden Orlando Harper revoked Hoffman's security clearance March 4. Hoffman, 68, of Portersville said she wasn't trained properly on what she could and couldn't bring into the jail. “There were a lot of rules that you only found out when you screwed up,” Hoffman said Thursday. “It doesn't have to work that way. Ideally, there would be some flexibility, especially in an area of such concern. It seems like the security is a greater concern than the inmates.” Harper said Hoffman received training about contraband and that he and the deputy warden spoke to her after her first two violations. The jail's contraband policy follows a national standard, Harper said. “The Allegheny County Jail takes very seriously the responsibility to provide health care to inmates, including psychiatric care. That responsibility also includes ensuring that the safety and security of the facility is protected and balanced against the other needs, which is what the contraband policy is intended to do,” Harper said in a statement. Hoffman said there is a great need for a psychiatrist at the jail. The few patients she worked with hadn't seen a psychiatrist in months, she said. Corizon Health, the Tennessee-based company running health care at the jail, has started a national search to fill Hoffman's spot. Hoffman said she doesn't want her old job back. She now works for NHS Human Services in Penn Hills providing in-house psychiatric care. “It is as wonderful as the jail was terrible,” Hoffman said.

Jun 8, 2014

Nurses tasked with medicating nearly 700 inmates per shift at the infirmary at the Allegheny County Jail are not sleeping at night due to "trepidation" over facing their daily workload, their colleagues testified Thursday before the county's Jail Oversight Board. Board members said they want to form a subcommittee to examine staffing concerns and questions about inmate care arising after Corizon Health Inc. took over management of the infirmary Sept. 1. Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III -- presiding over the meeting in the absence of Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, board president and Common Pleas judge -- said county officers, board members and Corizon officials could "put their heads together" and come up with strategies to present at the board's next meeting, scheduled for September. He said he believes Judge McDaniel intends to have these discussions over the summer. "This is the third time I've been here, and I've heard innuendo that care is being compromised," Judge Williams said. "I'm not interested in Corizon's philosophy of care. I'm interested in dealing with the reduction in staff and smaller inventory of drugs available." Two nurses at the infirmary, Teresa Latham and Sister Barbara Finch, said nurses dispensing medication are responsible for six or seven pods apiece, each of which includes 100 inmates. Because nurses do not pre-pour the medication, they said, rounds are considerably arduous and time-consuming. Corizon officials presented board members with a health services report detailing improvements in intake procedure and pre-screening. Jail medical director Michael Patterson said doctors are working with the Allegheny County Health Department to develop more comprehensive screenings for sexually transmitted infections. Currently the infirmary only screens based on symptoms presented. That practice may miss a portion of the jail's "high-risk population," he said. Dr. Patterson added that a persistent concern is the long waiting list for referral for psychiatric care at Torrance State Hospital. Close to 20 inmates are currently awaiting mental health treatment at the state hospital, though that number has recently been as high as 30 or 40, Corizon officials said. Though Corizon's mental health director recently resigned, the Tennessee-based firm is looking for a replacement, officials said. They also reassured board members that a mental health nurse is available at the jail even off-shift and during weekends. "Recruitment is not the same as hiring," Marion Damick, the Pittsburgh representative of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, said in frustration. Board member Claire Walker, former executive director of the Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation, thanked Corizon officials for the report, saying the level of attention and transparency was "so much better" than when the for-profit firm first took over last fall. No mention was made at Thursday's meeting of the suspension of five jail guards following an incident in which an employee entered the jail with a personal handgun. Ms. Walker said personnel issues are the province of jail management, not the oversight board.

Mar 15, 2014

Allegheny County restored the security clearance of a union organizer who worked at the county jail, allowing her to return to her former position, county spokeswoman Amie Downs confirmed Tuesday. Sister Barbara Finch lost her county security clearance at the jail in January, a move she interpreted as a firing. Finch was a lead organizer among employees of Corizon Correctional Healthcare, a Tennessee-based medical contractor that serves the jail. Corizon and the United Steelworkers are expected to begin contract negotiations soon, according to a joint statement from both organizations. In a prepared statement, Corizon's interim chief operating officer, Carla Cesario, said the company had no control over the removal of Finch's security clearance. “We are moving forward and will remain focused on our mission of providing quality care,” Cesario said.

Mar 2, 2014

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced today that she plans to conduct an audit of the contract between the county and Corizon Health Inc., which was hired last year to run the infirmary at the Allegheny County Jail. Earlier this month, Ms. Wagner sent a letter to the CEO of Tennessee-based Corizon, saying she had “grave and serious concerns” about health care and working conditions at the jail. In a statement from her office today, she said she remains concerned. “I remain gravely concerned by the credible reports our office has received regarding substandard care at the jail,” she said in a statement. “I’ve raised these concerns publicly, including at the Jail Advisory Board and in writing to Corizon. Yet, the responses to my questions have likewise been substandard and certainly not what I would expect from an entity that receives more than $11 million in taxpayer money annually.” Corizon, which is a national prison health care provider, signed a contract with the county last summer that pays $11.5 million for the first year. Its management of health services at the jail began Sept. 1. The audit will cover the period from Sept. 1 through today. “We have received the letter indicating the Controller wants to conduct an audit," said Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern. ."It’s important to note that we are working in close partnership with the county and jail leadership to fulfill our mission. Our focus remains on supporting our staff who provide quality care to patients in the jail every day.” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said his office welcome's the audit. "We welcome audits of any department that result in recommendations that add value, are measurable and improve our county operations," county spokeswoman Amie Downs said in a statement. "This contract just was entered into in September of 2013, so it may be difficult to measure its compliance with such a short window being available for review, but we look forward to the results."


Feb 15, 2014

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner threatened to penalize the jail's new health care provider if it does not improve its performance. Wagner said her office has received complaints that Tennessee-based Corizon Health Inc. failed to distribute medication and treat inmates with some mental health problems, according to a letter she sent to Corizon CEO Woodrow A. Myers. Corizon started offering care Sept. 1, but its “period of transition” has expired, Wagner wrote in the letter dated Monday. “I regard the current situation as intolerable and outrageous, and I fully expect necessary changes to be urgently implemented,” Wagner wrote. A Corizon spokeswoman said the company plans to respond to Wagner's concerns in writing. “We certainly share her focus on taking good care of patients at the Allegheny County Jail,” spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said. Wagner, who is on the county's Jail Oversight Board, said the county could impose financial penalties outlined in Corizon's contract. Wagner's office could withhold payments to Corizon and audit its work at the jail, she said. Corizon's five-year contract could cost the county more than $62.55 million. Wagner expected a response soon and said waiting 60 or 90 days would be “stretching it.” Corizon officials did not attend the board's Feb. 6 meeting. Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel, head of the oversight board, met with Corizon Tuesday. McDaniel did not return calls. Corizon employees at the jail are to vote Friday on whether to unionize under a branch of the United Steelworkers. Wagner said she supports the efforts of workers to unionize. Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

Feb 8, 2014 Pittsburg Post-Gazette

A nun who worked for five years as a registered nurse at the Allegheny County Jail infirmary was fired last week for spearheading unionization efforts, an organizer for the United Steelworkers union said Monday. Sister Barbara Finch, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, had her security clearances revoked and was dismissed from her job Thursday after she expressed concerns about staffing, safety issues and patient care during meetings at the jail, said Randa Ruge, the union organizer. "It became clear that she was one of the leading activists in the organizing drive," Ms. Ruge said, referring to ongoing unionization efforts at the jail. Ms. Ruge described Sister Barbara as a "sacrificial lamb" and said that the union is "concerned that taxpayer dollars are being used for union-busting." The Steelworkers union on Friday filed an unfair labor practice charge against Corizon Health Inc., the Tennessee-based firm that manages county jail health services. The charge, sent to the National Labor Relation Board, is that Corizon dismissed her in retaliation for participating in union activities. "This is a clear case of intimidation and union-busting at its worst," United Steelworkers International president Leo W. Gerard said in a statement. "Sister Barbara has been an outspoken advocate of change for these courageous workers and their patients, and this kind of illegal and unjust action, unfortunately, is par for the course with Corizon." "It is our policy not to discuss personnel issues in the news media. I can confirm that we abide by all labor laws; if there is a question to address with the NLRB, we will do so," said Susan Morgenstern, a Corizon spokeswoman. An Allegheny County spokeswoman also declined comment. Union members, jail employees and other union advocates held a protest Downtown Monday, bringing attention to Sister Barbara's complaint and making known their support for the right of workers to unionize. Corizon took over management of Allegheny County Jail health services in September, after signing a contract with Allegheny County last summer for $11.4 million a year. Steelworkers representatives have said that, since Corizon took over, they've received reports of bad working conditions. In January, the union filed a labor petition to unionize about 110 members of the Allegheny County Jail medical staff. The National Labor Relations Board has scheduled an election Feb. 14.


December 8, 2013 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The company hired to improve health care and cut costs at the Allegheny County Jail has struggled with one of its basic functions -- distributing medicine -- due to difficulties staffing the busy infirmary. Tennessee-based for-profit firm Corizon Health Inc., hired to replace the nonprofit Allegheny Correctional Health Services, would not discuss the problems last week, nor its decision to slash physician staffing at the jail to roughly one-third of its prior level. Emails between county jail staff and Corizon, though, document a string of medication distribution problems that one jail watcher called "terrifying." "I was just informed by the Captain on shift, the majority of the jail has not received medication AT ALL," wrote Deputy Warden Monica Long in an email to Corizon and jail staff on Nov. 17 at 1:03 p.m. "Staffing is at a crisis." The Post-Gazette obtained the internal emails and other documents through a request to the county under the right-to-know law. Asked about the emails on Thursday, following a meeting of the county Jail Oversight Board, Lee Harrington, Corizon vice president of operations, claimed no knowledge of any problems. "We're constantly adjusting our services to make sure that we provide the services as contracted," he said. He declined to detail the adjustments. Reading the emails, frequent jail visitor Marion Damick, the Pittsburgh representative of the Pennsylvania Prison Society, called the problems "abnormal. That never happened under Allegheny [Correctional], never. "That's terrifying, actually. There is absolutely no reason that they would ever miss medication," she said, adding that such shortcomings can only increase costs in the long run. She added that she is "not hearing bad news" about Corizon from inmates to date. Corizon took over the jail infirmary Sept. 1, following a lengthy process meant to pick the successor to Allegheny Correctional. Allegheny Correctional drew a steady stream of lawsuits stemming from inmate deaths and injuries, including some related to alleged failures to give inmates the right medicines. The nonprofit, which ran the infirmary since 2001, also allowed annual costs to creep up to around $12.5 million a year. Corizon agreed to take on the 2,500-inmate jail for $11.5 million the first year, with annual increases of 4.25 percent. Corizon said it would do a better job of staffing the infirmary. In a pre-takeover email dated Aug. 16 explaining why some Allegheny Correctional employees would soon lose their jobs, another Corizon vice president of operations, Mary Silva, wrote that "I ... really feel it is imperative to have adequate staffing on ALL shifts, not just day shift." After Corizon's Sept. 1 takeover, though, staffing did not stabilize. That led to disruptions to the daily "medication passes" to the jail's 35 pods. An Oct. 10 email from Ms. Long to Mr. Harrington and others asked for a "plan for successful implementation of medication passes" -- the term for the nursing staff's several-times-daily distribution to pods of medicines in packets stamped with the names of the receiving inmates. On Oct. 21, Warden Orlando Harper wrote to Mr. Harrington and others: "We are continuing to experience issues pertaining to the following: 1. Staffing, 2. Medication distribution." An email from Ms. Long complained that on Oct. 18 and 19, medication on Level 3 was passed out "after 11:00 p.m.," and on Oct. 20, "2 pods did not receive medication at all." She added that two pregnant inmates were "left in intake 24 hours" because Corizon nurses "did not know what to do" with them. An inmate on oxygen who "was supposed to be processed immediately" was left in the intake area for two shifts, she wrote. On Nov. 16, a jail sergeant wrote that "Level 7 hasn't received Medication" by almost 2 p.m. "This is on going [sic] problem." That day the person charged with solving the problem, longtime jail nursing director Kim Mike-Wilson, quit with no notice, according to the emails. The next day, Ms. Long characterized the situation as "a crisis." In a response email, Corizon assistant health service administrator Michael Barfield blamed the day's crisis on Ms. Mike-Wilson's departure and a nurse's mid-shift departure due to illness. The county declined to provide a list of Corizon staff inside the jail, indicating in a response to a right-to-know request that such information "is not directly related, or even relevant to" a contractor's performance of a governmental function. A Nov. 20 meeting of jail and Corizon officials on medication passes and other issues failed to iron out the problems. Ms. Long wrote to Mr. Harrington two days later saying she "Just received another call that [pod] 5E has not received medications thus far." Reached by phone Friday, Mr. Harper declined to detail his staff's interactions with Corizon. "Right now we're doing everything possible to make sure that our inmates receive the proper medical care," he said. In an email response to questions Friday, county manager William D. McKain wrote that Corizon's leadership has been responsive to concerns. He added that when transitioning from Allegheny Correctional to Corizon, "we expected that there will be a period of time in which there are problems and issues to be addressed.." There are often disruptions when a jail changes its medical provider, said Mark Stern, former medical director at the Washington Department of Corrections, now an assistant affiliate professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health. "It's not acceptable," said Dr. Stern, who worked briefly around 2000 for a company that merged into 35-year-old Corizon. "This is not [Corizon's] first rodeo. These problems are predictable and preventable." Failing to deliver necessary medicines regularly would be "a serious violation of the constitutional right of inmates," he said. "There are some medications where a deviation of a few hours or even a day or so may not make a difference. There are other medications were the timing is much more critical. "If we're treating tuberculosis and we don't treat it well in prison, then when they get out in the community, they're going to spread it." Mr. Barfield told the Jail Oversight Board Thursday that Corizon had "ramped up the clinic visits." He said the key was hiring more nurse practitioners. Jail medical director Michael Patterson highlighted for the board his focus on detecting and treating diabetes. Dr. Patterson appears to be the lone remaining full-time physician in the jail under Corizon. The firm's contract calls for one additional part-time physician, and former jail medical employees who quit recently said that Eugene Youngue is filling that role. Both Dr. Patterson and Dr. Youngue served the jail full time under Allegheny Correctional, along with physicians Lucille Aiken, Miguel Salomon and part-timer Morris Harper. Dr. Aiken in September filed a state Human Relations Commission complaint against the county and Corizon, claiming that she was sent packing before the firm's takeover as retaliation for her efforts to ensure quality care for inmates, and because of her gender and status as an immigrant from Italy. Allegheny Correctional also employed three psychiatrists and one psychologist. Corizon's contract requires that it provide one full-time psychiatrist and a part-time psychologist. Mr. Harrington would not provide a raw number of physicians working in the jail following the board meeting Thursday, and on Friday failed to respond to an email and hung up when reached on his cell phone. "We have a full complement of doctors," he said Thursday. "That's what we are contracted to provide."

American Service Group
, Brentwood, Tennessee
May 18, 2013

Prison health management company Corizon is going after a former consultant for testifying against it in a Florida court case. Brentwood-based Corizon claims in a U.S. District Court of Middle Tennessee filing that it hired Lindsay Hayes, a Massachusetts-based prison expert, for consultation work in 2005. Then, unbeknownst to the company, he allegedly served as an expert witness in a court case against the company in 2008. Corizon executives also claim that Hayes was serving as an expert witness against them in a separate case when they brought him back for more consulting work in 2010. Hayes didn’t tell Corizon about the conflict of interest, the suit claims. The complaint is seeking to enforce the confidentiality agreement Hayes signed as part of his consultant work. Corizon also is requesting an injunction to prevent him from further testifying at the Florida trial. Hayes couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

March 3, 2011 The Street
America Service Group Inc. (NASDAQ: ASGR), the parent company of PHS Correctional Healthcare, Inc., and Valitás Health Services, Inc., the parent company of Correctional Medical Services, Inc., announced today the signing of an agreement and plan of merger (the “Merger Agreement”) under which the two companies would be combined, bringing together two leading companies in the correctional healthcare field – America Service Group's PHS Correctional Healthcare and Valitás’ Correctional Medical Services. Upon completion of the transaction, the combined company will have approximately 11,000 employees and independent contractors and will serve more than 400 correctional facilities. The combined company’s annual revenues are expected to total approximately $1.4 billion for 2011.

March 2, 2010 Tennessean
America Service Group reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $236,000 compared with net income of $1.2 million a year earlier The recent quarter’s net income would have been $4.3 million excluding after-tax costs related to a shareholder litigation settlement during the quarter. Healthcare revenues from continuing contracts rose 36.7 percent to $160.8 million. For all of 2010, the Brentwood-based prison health care company expects net income of $10.1 million, or $1.08 a share, on revenues of $635 to $645 million.

October 29, 2009 AP
Shares of Psychiatric Solutions Inc. plunged nearly 23 percent on Wednesday, a day after the behavioral hospital operator reported disappointing results for the third quarter and cut its expectations for the rest of 2009. The Franklin-based firm's stock dropped $5.47 to close at $18.67 per share in Nasdaq trading. Psychiatric Solutions said profits haven't lived up to the company's own goals and revenue per patient per day hasn't grown as much as expected. Profits at its management-contract segment did not meet its forecasts either. In a note to clients, Raymond James analyst John Ransom downgraded the stock to "market perform" from "strong buy." He said tight state budgets and uncertainty about future profits probably will pressure Psychiatric Solutions' stock over the next few months. Psychiatric Solution reported third-quarter net income attributable to its stockholders of $28.2 million, or 50 cents per share, on revenue of $455.3 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected profits of 56 cents per share on revenue of $462.2 million. The company this year expects to earn $2.11 to $2.14 per share, down from a previous forecast of $2.16 to $2.24 per share. In other health-care related earnings Wednesday: • Community Health Systems Inc. reported third-quarter net income of $59.7 million, up 18.5 percent from $50.4 million a year earlier. Per share results of 65 cents for the recent quarter beat the average forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters by 3 cents. Revenues rose 12 percent to $3.09 billion, better than the $3.02 billion that analysts had forecast. For all of next year, the Franklin-based hospital chain expects profits of $2.80 to $3 per share. • America Service Group in Brentwood lowered its full-year earnings forecast to 65 cents a share from 88 cents, citing the effects of large inmate medical claims in Michigan in the third quarter and unrelated litigation costs. But the prison health-care provider still more than doubled its net income in the third quarter. Net income rose to $716,000 from $348,000 a year ago.

July 15, 2009 PR Inside
A lawsuit on behalf of purchasers of America Service Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR) stock between September 24, 2003 to March 16, 2006, alleging America Service violated Federal Securities Laws is pending at the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. On March 31, 2009, Federal Judge William J. Haynes, Jr. granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motion to dismiss. If you purchased America Service Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR) before March 2006 and currently still hold your ASGR shares, you have certain options and you should contact the Shareholders Foundation, Inc at email: mail(at) or call us at: +1 (858) 779 - 1554. According to the complaint the plaintiff alleges that that America Service Group and its top executive officers engaged in accounting fraud and violated the federal securities laws by misleading investors and failing to disclose between September 24, 2003 to March 16, 2006 that “ (1) America Service was not charging its customers in accordance with their contracts; (2) America Service failed to properly credit customers with discounts, rebates, and price concessions; (3) America Service failed to provide customers with appropriate credits for returned pharmaceutical products; and (4) America Service inappropriately established and utilized reserves to help it more closely meet budgeted results”. The complaint further alleges that after the markets closed, on March 15, 2006, America Service Group announced that as a result of the findings of an internal investigation, it would restate earnings for the years ended December 31, 2001 through December 31, 2004 and for the first six months of 2005 and issue refunds of $3.6 million, plus interest, to customers for instances in which it failed to credit them with discounts, rebates or price savings to which they were entitled. On this news, so the lawsuit, the price of America Service Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR) fell $5.65, or almost 29%, to close at $13.95 per share. America Service Group Inc., a Delaware corporation headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee with a $141 market cap, through its subsidiaries Prison Health Services, Inc. , EMSA Limited Partnership, and Correctional Health Services, LLC, contracts to provide and/or administer managed healthcare services to over 120 correctional facilities throughout the United States. America Service Group reported in 2007 Total Revenue of $464million with a Net Income of $2.81million and in 2008 Total Revenue of $497.74million with a Net Income of $3.83million. Shares of America Service Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR) traded recently at $15.84 per share, down from a 52weekhigh of $17.22 per share and almost $30 per share in 2005.

August 17, 2007 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc. said Thursday that its Prison Health Services subsidiary would lose its contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections. The contract expires on Oct. 31. PHS provides medical services to inmates. Brentwood-based America Service Group said it would update its fourth-quarter earnings estimate later. It had projected revenues from a renewed contract of $12.3 million in the three months ending Dec. 31.

April 12, 2007 Business Wire
America Service Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR) announced today that it has executed an asset purchase agreement for the sale of certain assets of its indirect subsidiary, Secure Pharmacy Plus, LLC (SPP), to Maxor National Pharmacy Services Corporation (Maxor). Additionally, as a part of the transaction, Maxor and Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS), the Company's primary operating subsidiary, have entered into a long-term pharmacy services agreement pursuant to which Maxor will become the provider of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to PHS. The asset purchase agreement is to be effective April 30, 2007, subject to standard closing conditions. The pharmacy services agreement will commence May 1, 2007, subject to the closing of the asset purchase agreement. America Service Group Inc., based in Brentwood, Tennessee, is a leading provider of correctional healthcare services in the United States. America Service Group Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides a wide range of healthcare and pharmacy programs to government agencies for the medical care of inmates. More information about America Service Group Inc. can be found on the Company's website at or

December 11, 2006 AP
Prison health care and pharmacy service provider America Service Group Inc. lowered its 2006 guidance again on Monday, but said it expects "stronger, more consistent performance from its contract portfolio in 2007." The company now sees adjusted 2006 earnings of $5.3 million, or 50 cents per share, on sales between $640 million and 650 million. In October, the company forecast adjusted earnings in a range of 58 cents to 61 cents per share, on sales between $650 million to $655 million. In August, America Service said it saw profit of 72 cents to 75 cents per share on revenue between $650 million and $660 million for the year. The company said its lower 2006 outlook is due mainly to the Florida Department of Corrections' decision to "reject all bids to provide comprehensive health care services in its Region IV," and to expected cost increases, including professional liability expenses. Looking toward 2007, the company sees adjusted earnings of $8.2 million, or 86 cents per share, on sales in the range of $570 million to $580 million. Shares fell 91 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $14.69 in after-hours trading. The stock had closed unchanged at $15.60 on the Nasdaq.

October 24, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
With a stern warning and a promise to levy stiff fines for past failures, Florida's top prison boss said Monday he would allow a controversial Tennessee company to continue providing health care to 17,000 South Florida inmates. The Department of Corrections announced that Prison Health Services is the only one of three competing companies that submitted a qualifying bid for the nearly $800 million, 10-year health-care-services contract. However, in a letter to PHS executives, DOC Secretary Jim McDonough noted the company's abrupt pullout from an original contract it signed last year. Company officials said they were losing money on their $645 million bid because they dramatically underestimated the cost of hospitalizing sick inmates. ''Having been disappointed by you in the past, I will be doubly vigilant in regard to both your performance and your attitude providing proper health services to the men and women under my care,'' McDonough wrote. ''You can expect that the next time, it will be me, not you, who moves abruptly to exercise the withdrawal option.'' McDonough also warned that the company faces ''significant fines'' for ''shortcomings of services provided by you under the original contract." McDonough has been under pressure from Democratic legislators who sit on committees that oversee prison spending. Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres and Walter ''Skip'' Campbell of Tamarac recently sent letters to McDonough demanding to know why the department has been slow to fine PHS for poor performance. In a letter McDonough issued Monday to the lawmakers, he said he did not want to reveal the amount of fines PHS faces to prevent companies from changing their bids. ''To have issued such a letter earlier could have impacted the current (bidding) process, resulting in adjusted bids that might have raised the bottom line to the taxpayer,'' McDonough said. Aronberg said Monday that he did not object to allowing PHS to compete again for the contract. But he didn't expect PHS to win the latest competition. ''I'm surprised because of the way the last contract was handled and terminated and because they were not the lowest bidder. My concern has always been making sure that the state fulfilled its end of the contract by imposing the fines,'' Aronberg said.

August 23, 2006 Gainesville Sun
One of the state's largest privatization efforts is ending abruptly with Prison Health Services' decision to end work with the Florida Department of Corrections nearly eight years before the contract was to expire. PHS, a Tennessee-based company that handles health care needs for local- and state-run jails and prisons around the country, announced on Monday that it would end its contract providing services to nearly 14,000 prisoners in more than a dozen South Florida prisons. "The contract has underperformed financially," a news release states, "primarily due to a higher than anticipated volume of off-site hospitalization services. The company's decision to terminate the contract was made only after diligent efforts on the part of both PHS and Florida Department of Corrections representatives to reach agreement on provisions that would allow the contract to continue on mutually beneficial terms." PHS will cease providing services for DOC on Nov. 20. DOC spokesman JoEllyn Rackleff said that was enough time for the agency to maintain prisoner well-being in the transition. DOC Secretary James McDonough has previously said he is willing to end privatization efforts and return oversight of certain programs to the agency. PHS won the South Florida contract last year, despite protests from some lawmakers that the bid was too low to provide quality service. PHS was set to receive more than $790 million over 10 years for the work.

August 21, 2006 Yahoo News
America Service Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR - News) announced today that its primary operating subsidiary, Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS), has formally delivered written notice to terminate its contract with the Florida Department of Corrections, effective November 20, 2006. As previously announced, the contract has underperformed financially, primarily due to a higher than anticipated volume of off-site hospitalization services required for this patient population. The Company had been in discussions with the Florida Department of Corrections as to potential alternatives that could improve the future financial performance of the contract. The Company's decision to terminate the contract was made only after diligent efforts on the part of both PHS and Florida Department of Corrections representatives to reach agreement on provisions that would allow the contract to continue on mutually beneficial terms.

August 2, 2006 Nashville Business Journal
America Service Group Inc. saw its earnings for the second quarter plummet 81 percent compared to results for the same period last year. The provider of prison health care and pharmacy services showed a profit of $514,000, or 5 cents per diluted share, in the quarter ended June 30 compared to $2.8 million, or 26 cents per diluted share last year. Though earnings were down, the second quarter saw the company return to an operating profit - something that hasn't occurred since the second quarter last year. Nevertheless, the company's stock dropped nearly 19 percent, trading at $11.66 at 10:20 a.m. The 52-week range of the stock is $11.32 to $23.20. Brentwood-based America Service (NASDAQ: ASGR) lowered its guidance and now expects revenues to fall between $650 million and $660 million and earnings to range between $7.7 million to 8 million. The company cited an underperforming Florida Department of Corrections contract as the cause of the reduction. The company's previous guidance called for revenues between $660 million and $680 million and earnings between $9.4 million and $10 million. Second-quarter revenues were on the upswing, coming in at $160 million compared to $139 million in the second quarter a year ago. Expenses increased to $150 million in the quarter compared to $128 million in the second quarter last year. The company also recorded $1.0 million in charges associated with an audit committee investigation of its Secure Pharmacy Plus subsidiary. On March 15, the company said an investigation into financial improprieties at its Secure Pharmacy Plus unit found that the company failed to properly credit customers with discounts, rebates and savings and failed to give customers proper credit for returned pharmaceuticals. Expenses related to the audit amounted to $4.6 million through the first half of this year and the company expects it will spend another $400,000 to $900,000. The company continued its stock repurchase program approved in July of last year to repurchase and retire 217,000 shares at a value of $3.0 million. The repurchase was suspended during part of the second quarter when the company received a third-party proposal to acquire pharmacy services subsidiary Secure Pharmacy Plus. Ultimately, a deal wasn't reached.

June 22, 2006 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc. says it has received notice that its stock won't be dropped from the Nasdaq National Market. Last month, after two directors quit, the Brentwood-based prison health company said it had received notice that it was no longer in compliance with Nasdaq rules requiring a majority of independent directors. On June 14, ASG added four independent directors. On Wednesday, it said Nasdaq had determined the company is now in compliance with rules governing board membership and corporate oversight.

June 14, 2006 Tennessean
Brentwood’s America Service Group Inc., the prison health company whose stock was in danger of being dropped by the Nasdaq National Market, named four new independent members to its board today. The move should bring the company back into compliance with Nasdaq’s rules requiring a certain number of outside directors and allow the stock to continue to be listed, company officials said this afternoon. Two outside directors bolted from America Service Group’s board earlier this year after they unsuccessfully tried to oust CEO Michael Catalano. New board members are: • John C. McCauley, assistant vice chancellor of risk and insurance management at Vanderbilt University. • William E. Hale, formerly president and chief executive of Beech Street Corp., a preferred provider organization. • John W. Gildea, managing director of Gildea Management Co., and a former board member of America Service Group from 1986-1999. • William M. Fenimore, managing partner of BridgeLink LLC, Swiss-based capital advisors.

May 30, 2006 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc., the beleaguered prison health-care company, expects to beat a June 14 deadline to fill at least one vacancy on its board of directors so its stock won't be dropped from the Nasdaq National Market. Under Nasdaq rules, the departure this month of two board members who quit after trying to oust CEO Michael Catalano meant the company no longer complied with a requirement that a majority of its directors be independent. A third independent director left in December. Only two of its four remaining directors have no other ties to the company. ASG has until its next annual meeting, scheduled for June 14, to address the vacancies on its board. Catalano said the company would fill at least two of the three vacant seats by that deadline. "We're confident we'll come back into compliance," he said. But this month's departure of two board members and Nasdaq's threat to drop or delist the Brentwood-based company's stock as a result aren't its only problems. It has come under fire in several states over the quality of medical care it provides to inmates. The Washington Post in an editorial recently called on officials to keep a closer eye on the company's Prison Health Services subsidiary after the Associated Press reported that some inmates in Virginia had said medical care there was so shoddy that they feared for their lives. Last spring, a report by the Metro Health Department blamed the death of a diabetic inmate at Metro Jail on myriad failures by the jail's nurses, who were employed by PHS. Catalano wouldn't comment on the specific allegations against the company but said competitors get similar complaints about the quality of care they provide.

May 19, 2006 Nashville Business Journal
America Service Group Inc. announced today it received an expected notice on May 17 from NASDAQ Listing Qualifications indicating it no longer complies stock exchange's independent director and audit committee requirements. The company received the notification due to the resignation of Michael E. Gallagher and Carol R. Goldberg on May 6 and May 8 from the company's board of directors. NASDAQ rules requires that a majority of board members be comprised of independent directors and that the company's audit committee be comprised of at least three members, each of whom are independent. Gallagher and Goldberg were members of the company's audit committee. The addition of one qualified independent director to serve on the audit committee will allow the company to regain compliance. The company is actively conducting a search for at least two independent directors to serve on its board of directors and audit committee, according to a release announcing the NASDAQ notice. Gallagher is the director of Edgar Group LLC, a health care consulting firm and was a partner in Shamrock Investments LLC, a health care advisory firm. Goldberg is president of AVCAR Group Ltd., a management consulting firm. Brentwood-based America Service (NASDAQ: ASGR - News) provides prison health services through its subsidiaries Prison Health Services and Secure Pharmacy Plus.

May 11, 2006 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc. says two members of its board quit after saying they'd lost confidence in the company's chief executive officer. Michael Gallagher, who led the board's audit committee, which recently looked into mismanagement at the company's prison pharmacy unit, submitted his resignation on Friday. Carol Goldberg, who led the board's compensation com- mittee, resigned on Monday. Brentwood-based ASG, which is being sued by shareholders in federal court over the problems at its Secure Pharmacy Plus subsidiary, disclosed the resignations in a regulatory filing after the markets closed Tuesday. According to the filing, the company's remaining board members met Tuesday and "confirmed their view that the company's chief executive officer should continue to serve in that capacity." CEO Michael Catalano, who chairs the board, "abstained from consideration of this matter," the company said in its filing. On Wednesday, Catalano said in a statement that the company wouldn't allow itself to become distracted by the developments. "While the public filings from America Service Group Inc. speak to the issues of two directors' resignations, I think it is important to know that our focus remains unchanged," Catalano said. "The dedicated health-care professionals representing our company are committed to the mission of providing quality medical care to the patients we serve in jails and prisons nationwide." Gallagher and Goldberg, who couldn't be reached yesterday, told a meeting of the board's governance committee they believed "the company would be better served by replacing its chief executive." Gallagher apparently resigned soon after the meeting. Goldberg e-mailed her resignation letter to the company on Monday. She said simply, "I hereby tender my resignation as a director of America Service Group Inc., effective today. I wish the company the best in its future endeavors." In his letter, Gallagher wrote that because "my fellow independent board members are unwilling to make a change … I have no other alternative but to hold true to the courage of my convictions and resign. "It is my business judgment that while there are many good people in the executive ranks of the company there nonetheless needs to be a change at the top," Gallagher said. "Such change is urgently needed in order to maximize the probability of successfully meeting the company's challenges and to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations resulting from the recent investigation (into Secure Pharmacy Plus)," he said. In March, the company said the audit committee recommended strengthening the company's internal controls and compliance functions after finding that problems at Secure Pharmacy Plus caused the company as a whole to post inflated earnings over a four-and-a-half-year period. ASG, which provides health services at jails and prisons nationwide, said that problems with the subsidiary had caused the company as a whole to overstate profits by $2.1 million for 2001 through the second quarter of 2005. It also agreed to refund $3.6 million to clients who were overcharged for prescription drugs. It found that some clients weren't properly credited with discounts or rebates on drug purchases and others weren't properly credited for prescription drugs that were returned. The resignation of two board members was "just one of those unfortunate things following a hard year," said Anton Hie, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in Nashville. In a research note to clients, he maintained his "hold" rating on the stock. ASG said in its quarterly earnings filing on Wednesday that it had 104 health-care and pharmacy contracts as of April 1, five fewer than it had a year earlier. It posted a net loss of about $1.1 million in the first quarter, compared with a profit of $3.9 million in the first quarter of 2005. Still, shares of the company were up Wednesday, climbing 44 cents, or 3.4 percent, in moderate trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market to close at $13.42 a share, well below its 52-week high of $23.81.

May 3, 2006 Nashville Business Journal
Prison health services provider America Service Group Inc.'s troubles with its Secure Pharmacy Plus business helped push the company into a first-quarter loss. The company posted a loss of $1.4 million in the quarter ended March 31 compared to a profit of $3.9 million in the first quarter a year ago. Revenue from health care services were up nearly 26 percent to $167 million, but expenses to provide those services rose nearly 30 percent. Further denting the first-quarter numbers was a $3.6 million charge associated with an audit committee investigation into financial improprieties at Secure Pharmacy Plus. Brentwood-based America Service (NASDAQ: ASGR) expects to record another $200,000 to $700,000 in expenses related to the audit this year. That audit found that the company failed to properly credit customers with discounts, rebates and savings and failed to give customers proper credit for returned pharmaceuticals. The investigation also found that SPP inappropriately created reserves over the past five years to ensure the company's reported earnings matched budgeted results. The company restated its earnings going back to 2001. Excluding that charge, income from operations prior to income tax, interest and discontinued operations, would have been $2.4 million. Income from operations in the first quarter a year ago amounted to $6.2 million. The company also saw a $1.6 million increase in selling, general and administrative expenses, with $1 million of that coming from share-based compensation expense. The company has affirmed its guidance for 2006 and expects total revenue to be in the range of $660 million to $680 million. Earnings per diluted share are expected to be in the range of 90 cents to 96 cents. The revised 2005 number was 39 cents.

April 11, 2006 Nashville City Paper
A Brentwood prison health company’s announcement that it will restate earnings because of internal problems in its pharmacy subsidiary has spawned a shareholders’ lawsuit by a union pension fund. The Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 51 Pension Fund filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court in Nashville against America Service Group, which provides health care services to prisons. The complaint stems from the company’s March 15 disclosure of an internal investigation that uncovered several problems with its Secure Pharmacy Plus (SPP) subsidiary, which contracts with governments to distribute medications to inmates. The announcement “shocked the market,” the suit states. The company’s stock price fell nearly 29 percent, or $5.65 per share, to close at $13.95. The pension fund claims that America Service Group, through its public statements and filings, knowingly misled shareholders about the company’s financial health, which artificially inflated ASG’s common stock. The pension fund’s law firms — Barrett, Johnston & Parsley of Nashville and Lerach, Coughlin, Stoia, Geller, Rudman & Robbins of New York — are seeking class-action status on behalf of shareholders of common stock between Sept. 24, 2003, and March 16, 2006. The suit asks for unspecified damages.

April 7, 2006 Tennessean
The law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP said yesterday that a potential class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court here on behalf of investors who bought stock in America Service Group Inc. between Sept. 24, 2003, and March 16, 2006. Attorneys said the suit stems from the Brentwood-based prison health services company's internal investigation into the business practices of its Secure Pharmacy Plus subsidiary. Last month, ASG said an investigation into the unit had caused the company as a whole to overstate profits by $2.1 million for 2001 through the second quarter of 2005. ASG also said it would refund $3.6 million to clients who were overcharged for prescription drugs. It found that some clients weren't properly credited with discounts or rebates on drug purchases and others weren't properly credited for prescription drugs that were returned.

March 29, 2006 Tennessean
Brentwood-based America Service Group Inc. has named Richard Hallworth as chief operating officer. He will also serve as president and chief executive officer of the company's wholly owned subsidiary, Prison Health Services Inc. Hallworth previously held several executive positions with Tufts Health Plan, a managed care company. He began his career as a certified public accountant, first with Coopers & Lybrand and then as a partner with Ernst & Young LLP. He will replace former executive vice president Trey Hartman as president of Prison Health Services, which provides medical care to jail and prison inmates. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, America Service Group said Hartman was fired for cause in December in connection with an internal probe into whether the company’s Secure Pharmacy Plus subsidiary had overcharged for drugs and failed to follow proper accounting procedures. Hartman was a former head of the pharmacy unit.

March 16, 2006 Nashville Business Journal
Prison health care services company America Service Group Inc. has released the findings of an internal investigation into financial improprieties at its Secure Pharmacy Plus subsidiary. The results: restated earnings going back to 2001, a stock price plunge and a $3.7 million bill for the investigation. Last October, the company announced that the audit committee of its board of directors would conduct an investigation of SPP over pharmaceutical pricing and accounting practices. Independent forensic accountants conducted the investigation and found that SPP failed to properly credit customers with discounts, rebates and savings and failed to give customers proper credit for returned pharmaceuticals. Brentwood-based America Service (NASDAQ: ASGRE) plans to refund $3.6 million, plus interest, to customers as a result. Management of SPP also inappropriately created reserves over the past five years to ensure the company's reported earnings matched budgeted results. Auditors determined the company's pre-tax income was $355,000 higher than previously reported. Auditors also found that SPP charged some of its customers less than it should have to the tune of $5.9 million. The company will try to collect that money, but is uncertain of how much success it will have doing so. The news slammed America Service shares. At 12:40 p.m., they were trading at $13.90, down more than 29 percent their closing price Wednesday. The 52-week range of the stock is $12 to $26.10. On Dec. 7, the company fired Grant Bryson, president and CEO of SPP, in connection with the investigation. Two days later, it sent packing Trey Hartman, president and chief operating officer of Prison Health Services Inc., a move also connected with the investigation. Hartman was with SPP when America Service bought the company in 2000. Kendall Lynch is now CEO of SPP. In a statement announcing the results of the investigation, America Service said both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee are conducting informal inquiries. The company says it will continue to cooperate with both. As it wrapped up its own investigation, the company had delayed reporting its third-quarter results. Those financials were released after the market closed March 15 along with fourth-quarter and full-year numbers and restated earnings going back to 2001. Fourth-quarter results show America Service with a loss of $1.2 million compared to restated earnings of $4.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2004. Revenue for the quarter ended Dec. 31 came to $149 million compared to $130 million the year before. The fourth-quarter loss includes $3.3 million in expenses related to the investigation. During the third quarter ended Sept. 30, the company also posted a loss of $1.2 million compared to restated earnings of $81,000 last year. Revenue for the quarter came to $140 million compared to $135 million last year. Third-quarter results include $370,000 in expenses related to the investigation. Other restated earnings: The company's earnings for the first two quarters of 2005 were $6.7 million instead of the $7.1 million that was reported. Revenues for the two-quarter period were $273 million instead of $315 million. In 2004, the company had a profit of $9.9 million instead of the $9 million that was reported. Revenues for the year were $517 million instead of $665 million. Earnings in 2003 were $11.3 million instead of the previously reported $11.9 million. Revenues for the year were $380 million instead of $517 million. In 2002, the company's profit was $11.3 million instead of $11.9 million. Revenue for the year was $293 million instead of $410 million. The company's loss in 2001 was $46.5 million rather than the reported $45 million. Revenue for the year was $299 million instead of $397 million.

January 16, 2006 Tennessean
Prison health care services provider America Service Group Inc. will continue to be listed on NASDAQ. The company had received notice from the stock exchange in November that it was subject to delisting because it had failed to make timely financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company delayed its third quarter financial reports pending the conclusion of an internal investigation by its audit committee of a subsidiary, Secure Pharmacy Plus. On Jan. 10, the company received a letter from NASDAQ that it would continue to be listed on the exchange provided it files its quarterly report for the third quarter ended Sept. 30 by March 15, according to a statement released by the company. The company also must provide the final report of the internal investigation by Feb. 28. The investigation was to "determine whether SPP provided pricing of pharmaceuticals in accordance with" client contracts and whether accruals and reserves maintained by the company were in line with accounting principles, according to a Oct. 24 statement by the company. America Service Group fired Grant Bryson, president and CEO of Secure Pharmacy, on Dec. 7 in connection with the internal investigation. On Dec. 9, the company also fired Trey Hartman, president and chief operating officer of Prison Health Services Inc. His termination also was based on the ongoing internal investigation. Hartman formerly served as the head of Secure Pharmacy. The trading symbol for the company currently is "ASGRE." The "E" will be removed from the trading symbol when the company has fully complied with NASDAQ filing requirements.

December 13, 2005 Tennessean
Brentwood-based America Service Group Inc. said today that it has fired two people in connection with an ongoing investigation into the billing practices of its prison pharmacy subsidiary. The company fired Trey Hartman, its executive vice president, on Dec. 9 and Grant Bryson, head of Secure Pharmacy Plus, on Dec. 7. Hartman also was president and chief operating officer of Prison Health Services, which provides medical services to jail and prison inmates. He previously ran America Service Group's pharmacy unit. The company said Hartman and Bryson were terminated for cause. Bryson had been on paid leave. He wasn't an executive officer of the company. America Service Group also said that Richard M. Mastaler would resign from the company's board of directors on Dec. 30 to pursue other interests. The company said his resignation is unrelated to its internal investigation of the pharmacy unit. The company announced in October that it was looking into whether its pharmacy operation overcharged for drugs and failed to follow proper accounting procedures. It said its audit committee had hired outside counsel who, in turn, had brought in a team of independent auditors to review the books of Secure Pharmacy Plus. Secure Pharmacy's former controller, who recently resigned, had identified the issues that are under investigation, the company said.

November 17, 2005 Tennessean
NASDAQ notified the company on Nov. 11 that its stock may be delisted because of a delay in filing its third-quarter report. ASG announced late Monday that it had received the notice. It informed the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday. The Brentwood-based jail and prison health-care company said on Nov. 9 that it would be late in filing its quarterly financial report because of a previously announced internal investigation into a pharmacy subsidiary. On Tuesday, the company's stock symbol changed from "ASGR" to "ASGRE." Shares in the company were at $16.27, down 83 cents, or 4.85%, in early trading today. If the company is dropped from the stock exchange, its shares would be traded over the counter. Some institutional investors have policies against owning shares in companies that aren't traded on one of the major exchanges, analyst Anton Hie said. If these investors are forced to sell a large amount of stock, the price would probably fall sharply, said Hie, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. in Nashville.

October 25, 2005 Tennessean
Shares in America Service Group Inc. plunged 28% yesterday on news that the company is looking into whether its pharmacy unit overcharged for drugs and failed to follow proper accounting procedures. The Brentwood-based prison health-care company said its audit committee had hired outside counsel who, in turn, had brought in a team of independent auditors to review the books of Secure Pharmacy Plus. Secure Pharmacy's former controller, who recently resigned, had identified the issues that are under investigation, the company said. The unit's president, Grant Bryson, has been placed on paid leave. America Service Group didn't name the former controller, and there was no controller listed on the unit's Web site yesterday, but an earlier version of the site, saved on, identified him as Randy Beaman. Beaman would not comment on issues under investigation. Because of the probe, America Service Group has withdrawn its earlier financial guidance and warned that it will delay filing its quarterly earnings report.

October 24, 2005 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc.'s stock tumbled in early trading today on the disclosure that its audit committee is investigating the company's pharmacy subsidiary. The Brentwood-based prison health company said in a news release this morning that the inquiry is being conducted to determine whether Secure Pharmacy Plus is providing pricing of prescription drugs in accordance with the terms of its contracts. America Service Group also is looking into whether some of the unit's financial accounts were established and utilized in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. By mid-morning, the company's stock was trading at $13.31 a share, down $4.85, or nearly 27%, from Friday's closing price of $18.16 on the NASDAQ Stock Market. Jeffries & Company analysts Anton Hie downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy" and lowered his target price to $20 from $22.50. The internal investigation is only the latest setback for America Service Group. Since its stock closed at $30 a share in February, the price has dropped on a string of bad news beginning with a series in The New York Times that month that claimed the company's care was "flawed and sometimes lethal." It also has lost several large contracts since the first of the year, including one to treat inmates at Nashville's Metro Jail. The company's nurses were blamed in the death of a diabetic inmate there last winter.

October 24, 2005 Yahoo
America Service Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR - News) announced today that the Audit Committee of its Board of Directors is conducting an internal investigation into certain matters related to its subsidiary, Secure Pharmacy Plus ("SPP"). The Company said the investigation primarily is being conducted to determine whether SPP provided pricing of pharmaceuticals in accordance with applicable client contract terms and whether some of the accruals and reserves maintained by SPP were established and utilized in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. "We take allegations of impropriety very seriously, and we are conducting a thorough investigative process to determine if the issues described in this press release, as well as any other issues which may be identified as a result of the investigation, will impact the Company's previously reported financial results," said Michael Gallagher, a member of the Company's Board of Directors and Chairman of its Audit Committee. "We will report on our findings as soon as the investigation is complete." Secure Pharmacy Plus provides pharmacy services to the Company, in facilities where the Company provides correctional medical services, as well as to third party clients who provide their own correctional medical services. The Audit Committee's inquiry into whether SPP charged its clients in accordance with applicable contract terms includes reviewing whether discounts received from wholesalers, rebates received from manufacturers or wholesalers, certain temporary price reductions from alternate vendors and distributions received from a group purchasing organization of which SPP is a member should have been credited, under the terms of the contracts, to such clients. The Audit Committee also is examining whether returns of unused pharmaceuticals were appropriately credited to clients.

September 25, 2005 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc., whose business is built around providing care for sick or injured inmates, is having a rough year. Or, it's doing OK. It depends on your point of view. Since its stock closed at $30 a share in February, the price has fallen about 45% on a run of bad news — beginning with a series in The New York Times that month that claimed the company's care was "flawed and sometimes lethal." Based in Brentwood, the company has lost at least six contracts since the first of the year, including one to treat inmates at Nashville's Metro Jail. The company's nurses were blamed in the death of a diabetic inmate there last winter. Recently, it warned Wall Street of lower profits. Originally, the company expected to earn $1.45 to $1.52 a share on the year, but last month, on a Friday night, it disclosed the loss of yet another contract and lowered its earnings estimate by 2 cents. Its stock fell an additional 8% the following Monday. Only about a third of the country's correctional health services are provided by for-profit companies, said Michael Catalano, America Service Group's chairman, president and chief executive. But every year, more agencies privatize their medical services in hopes of reducing costs and improving the quality of care. It's not clear whether privatization improves the quality of correctional care; but since the 1970s, a growing number of public officials have decided that "it's much easier to turn it over to a health consortium, and they can handle the whole nine yards," said Ken Kerle, managing editor of American Jail, the magazine of the American Jail Association. America Service Group has 21% of the outsourced correctional health market, behind Correctional Medical Services, which has an estimated 22%, Catalano said. CMS, a privately held company based in St. Louis, underbid America Service Group by about 10% in Maryland, about 14% in Idaho and about 21% in Indiana. Catalano said he doesn't understand why CMS believes it can provide adequate care for less money. "We're there providing services," he said. "We know what it costs." Catalano said, "The most significant rebids we haven't won this year have been based upon price." But this month in South Carolina, the Richland County Council voted unanimously to fire Prison Health Services after the deaths of three mentally ill inmates. One council member told The State newspaper of Columbia the treatment of the prisoners was "unacceptable and inhumane." Richland County officials didn't return calls to The Tennessean. And locally, the company's contract with Metro Jail will be allowed to expire Sept. 30. In March, a city government report blamed the Jan. 19 death of a diabetic inmate on a "failure to adhere to established practices on the part of individual employees of Prison Health Services." Claims of poor medical care are common throughout the correctional health industry. Correct Care Solutions, the Nashville company replacing Prison Health Servicesat Metro Jail, was criticized by the family of a Virginia woman who died in July in a Norfolk jail. Relatives said she complained that her pneumonia wasn't being treated. Officials said the company wasn't to blame. A month earlier, the American Civil Liberties Union sued CMS, alleging that inmates of a Mississippi prison were misdiagnosed and received poor care.

July 3, 2005 The Tennessean
America Service Group couldn't seem to catch a break in the second quarter. Its stock fell 28.4% in the three months ended June 30, shoved lower by troubles that unnerved many investors and left the health-services company lying near the bottom of the Bloomberg Tennessee Index.  Of 73 businesses on the list, onlyonefell harder in the period.  "ASGR has had a tough 2005 so far," analyst Anton Hie said, referring to the Brentwood-based company by its stock symbol.  Its stock took a hit in the first quarter after The New York Times ran several stories questioningthe quality of care provided by its Prison Health Services subsidiary, which cares for inmates.  But investors really started to worry in the most recent three months, as the company announced the loss of lucrative contracts with the Maryland, Idaho and Indiana prison systems.  He said ASGR's greatest challenge, at least in the short term, could be aggressive bidding by one of its competitors, Correctional Medical Services.  CMS, based in St. Louis, is privately held, meaning it doesn't have the legal and auditing costs associated with filing quarterly earnings reports, Hie said.  Patrick Swindle, an analyst with Avondale Partners in Nashville, said CMS also doesn't have to please investors by posting ever-increasing quarterly earnings.  "What a private company can do," Swindle said, "is take lower margins in the short term, hoping to improve those margins in time."  CMS underbid ASGR in Maryland and Idaho and is likely to replace the company in Indiana, as well, Swindle said.  One issue that has affected the company's stock but shouldn't affect its ability to win business in the future is negative news about the company.   In a front-page story in February, The Times reported that a yearlong investigation into the company's operations had found numerous examples "of medical care that has been flawed and sometimes lethal."  "The company's performance around the nation has provoked criticism from judges and sheriffs, lawsuits from inmates' families and whistle-blowers and condemnations by federal, state and local authorities," the newspaper said.  Locally, the Metro Health Department concluded recently that the death of a diabetic inmate at the Metro Jail in January could have been prevented if nurses working for Prison Health Services had followed procedures. The report said nurses failed to properly document the patient's medical problems when he was booked, lost track of his medical history and ignored repeated requests for help.

Arizona Department of Corrections
Mar 12, 2021
PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona plans to ask a company that previously provided health care to its prisoners for reimbursement of a $1.1 million contempt of court fine that the state just paid for failing to comply with a legal settlement requiring improvements to inmate care. Such a request would mark the second time the state has tried to pass along the financial burden for a contempt fine for noncompliance with the 6-year-old settlement to Corizon Health Inc., the state’s prison health care contractor for five years until another company took over in mid-2019. The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry confirmed Wednesday it was planning to seek reimbursement from Corizon, which covered the costs of a $1.4 million contempt fine that the state paid in 2018 for failing to follow through on its promises in the settlement. A third round of contempt fines threatened by a judge in the case would cover violations in the last 10 months of 2020 and could reach as high as $17 million. Corizon didn’t respond to a request for comment about the prospect of being asked to pay another contempt fine against the state. The $1.1 million fine, which was handed down two weeks ago and paid by the state on Wednesday, covers violations in June 2019. When the first fine was imposed in 2018, attorneys for inmates argued the state shouldn’t be able to pass along the costs to and blame its vendor for problems for which it is responsible. Corene Kendrick, an attorney representing prisoners in the case, said the state’s contract with Corizon called for the company to pick up the costs of legal fees and fines. The state faces a March 26 deadline for saying why it shouldn’t face a third round of fines. A week ago, U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver warned the state against offering any past excuses for why it hasn’t complied with the settlement, which emerged out of a class-action lawsuit that challenged the quality of health care in state-run prisons. To avoid future fines, Silver said the state must point to conditions that officials didn’t or couldn’t have anticipated during the previous six years of the settlement.

Aug 24, 2019

Facing $1.2 Million Fine, ADC Blames Corizon-Centurion Handoff for Its Failures

A new, $1.2 million fine is hanging over the Arizona Department of Corrections for its years-long failure to provide inmates with decent medical care. In court documents filed Friday in the class-action prison health care case Parsons v. Ryan, which was settled in 2014, Assistant Arizona Attorney General Michael Gottfried and four private attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Roslyn Silver not to penalize the Department of Corrections.   They claimed that the transition in June and July from one private for-profit prison health care provider, Corizon Health Inc., to another, Centurion Managed Care, has been rocky. That was why ADC has yet to meet some two dozen court-ordered standards for adequate medical care, they tried to explain. "As a result of this transition, there were several delays and interferences with Defendants' ability to monitor compliance with the [performance measures]," they wrote. Their claims seemed to ignore the fact that these performance measures, of which there are more than 100, date back to the settlement of Parsons v. Ryan. "The case was settled five years ago, and they’re still not compliant," Corene Kendrick, an attorney with the Prison Law Office who is co-counsel on the case, told Phoenix New Times. Last year, the state was fined $1.4 million for failing to meet these standards, which were supposed to force the department to ensure that people incarcerated in Arizona receive adequate medical care. ADC has to report to the court its progress on tasks like monitoring inmates with chronic conditions or getting inmates to see nurses within a day of requesting care. Despite its history of missing the mark, the department is blaming its ongoing failure to comply with 24 of these standards on a host of hiccups related to this year's handoff: delays in scanning medical documentation, the misplacement of inventory logs, staffing challenges, and the loss of outside specialists. "Both Defendants and their healthcare contractors took all reasonable steps to comply with the Order, but the pending transition of healthcare presented unexpected and atypical difficulties," the state's lawyers argued. "As a result, the Court should find that the Defendants took all reasonable steps to comply with the Order and should not impose the proposed contempt sanction." The potential sanctions come at a high price: $50,000 per performance measure. Multiple that by 24 performance measures, and the department could be out $1.2 million as it struggles to get its act together. Its director, Chuck Ryan, announced his sudden retirement on August 9, a few days before the governor's office released a damning report that partially blamed Ryan's leadership for widespread problems and scandals. Judge Silver has given lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Prison Law Office, who represent the plaintiffs, until September 6 to file a response, and the state until September 20 to file its reply. Only after that will she decide what kind of fine, if any, to impose. “It’s totally up to the judge in terms of when and how much," Kendrick said. The judge could also order a hearing, she added. In a declaration accompanying Friday's filing, William Carr, the vice president of operations for Corizon, detailed some of the problems that the company had faced in handing its responsibilities to Centurion. In order to comply with a performance measure on emergency medical response bags, for example, a Corizon employee is required to scan an inventory log to submit to the state. "During the transition, the inventory logs for June were inadvertently misplaced," Carr's declaration said. Corizon also struggled to find and keep employees because of the pending handover, he added. Medical specialists outside the prison also cut ties with Corizon because of the switch in companies, so "there were less available providers for specialty consults, which affected the compliance scores." On Friday, the same day that the department begged the judge not fine it, ADC spokesperson Andrew Wilder told New Times via email that "the transition of services has been successful." He did not respond to a follow-up query asking for an explanation as to why he told the public that the handoff was a success, when lawyers for ADC were simultaneously telling a judge that the messy transition was to blame for "delays and interferences." In June 2018, a judge fined the Arizona Department of Corrections $1.4 million for failing to comply with the court-ordered standards — $1,000 for 1,445 violations. In his order, the judge wrote, "The inescapable conclusion is that defendants are missing the mark after four years of trying to get it right. Their repeated failed attempts, and too-late efforts, to take their obligation seriously demonstrate a half-hearted commitment that must be braced."

Sep 25, 2018
Phoenix EEOC Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Corizon Health
The Phoenix Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Arizona’s prison health care contractor, Corizon Health, alleging discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The federal agency monitors civil rights violations in the workplace. The Phoenix District EEOC office filed the lawsuit against Corizon on Sept. 18 in the U. S. District Court of Arizona on behalf of five named plaintiffs “and other similarly situated qualified aggrieved individuals who were adversely affected by Corizon’s unlawful actions.” "Employers must work with qualified individuals with disabilities to find available and effective reasonable accommodations so that employees can keep their jobs,” Mary Jo O'Neill, the agency’s regional attorney in Phoenix, said in a statement. “Employers who ignore the duty to accommodate their employees with disabilities violate the law — and they lose valuable contributors in their workplaces." The lawsuit alleges Corizon discriminated against the five former employees, who were all fired, by “failing to provide them with reasonable accommodations.” The plaintiffs also allege Corizon “discriminated against qualified persons with disabilities nationwide ... subjected some employees to a hostile work environment based on disability, failed to promote qualified individuals because of their disabilities, and retaliated against some of the charging parties.” Plaintiffs attorneys are seeking a jury trial to “correct Corizon’s nationwide unlawful employment policies and practices that discriminate on the basis of disability.” The EEOC is seeking relief for the plaintiffs based allegations dating back to April 1, 2012, that Corizon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit takes issue with the way Corizon handles employees on medical leave. “As a matter of policy or practice, Corizon would not approve modified job duties, allow more than twelve weeks of leave permitted by the FMLA, allow extended leave past an unpaid 30-day medical leave, or allow employees to return to work without being fully healed” the attorneys wrote. Elizabeth McCrehin worked as a nurse for the Arizona Department of Corrections, when prison health care was run by the state, as well as Wexford and finally Corizon as the contract moved through two different private companies. Working as a nurse supervisor for Corizon in 2013, McCrehin suffered a foot surgery that kept her out longer than the 30-day medical leave provided by Corizon’s policy. The lawsuit alleges McCrehin was fired despite a doctor’s orders that she was unable to return to work. The lawsuit alleges that Nicole Moore, a registered nurse working at the Perryville prison, was passed over for a promotion and ultimately fired for having a medical condition. Moore alleges her superior told her she was in strong contention for the supervisor position “but he had to take her medical condition into consideration when making his decision and he believed a supervisory position would be very stressful.” Moore alleges she called Corizon’s corporate office to complain, only have her boss order her escorted out of the building. In the complaint, attorneys say Moore was allowed back into the prison property but face retaliation from her colleagues and supervisors. “Mr. Coleman and Ms. Miller would not speak to her and ignored her even when she was in the same group as other employees with whom they spoke. . . Ms. Moore was always worried that she would be called into another meeting related to her attendance, she felt like she was walking on eggshells, and she was constantly worried that she would be fired,” the lawsuit alleges. The EEOC is seeking several orders from the District Court to compel Corizon to cease what it calls “unlawful employment practices. In the complaint, the commission also calls for a more flexible leave policy and for Corizon to discontinue what it calls a “100 percent healed or no medical restrictions policy.” The EEOC says this policy “has the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability by denying qualified individuals with disabilities reasonable accommodations, and instead terminating their employment.” The lawsuit also seeks back pay and lost benefits for the plaintiffs and the reinstatement of the terminated employees. In at statement, Corizon Health denied the EEOC’s allegations regarding its treatment of employees with disabilities. "Corizon Health policies prohibit illegal discrimination and mandate compliance with all state and federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act," said Corizon spokesperson Martha Harbin. "We value the contribution of every employee and we are committed to protecting their safety while properly providing for the needs and safety of our patients. We strongly believe our policies and actions pertaining to our employees are in full compliance with the law and will vigorously defend against this unmerited lawsuit."

Jul 28, 2018
Arizona Department Of Corrections Appeals Federal Sanction To 9th Circuit Court
On Saturday, attorneys for the state filed a notice of appeal in the Parsons vs Ryan prison health care settlement, indicating they would challenge Magistrate Judge David Duncan’s contempt order, sanction and additional oversight measures. The 9th Circuit court of appeals set a calendar for the appeal process Monday afternoon. Before leaving the bench in June, Judge Duncan fined the state $1.4 million for failing to meet agreed upon health care standard in Arizona prisons. The Arizona Department of Corrections said Tuesday that Corizon Health has reimbursed the state for the entire amount of the fine. Addressing the legislature in February, Ryan said if the fines are enforced, Corizon Health would pay. “I’ve already made it clear to the the vendor that they’re on the hook,” the director said. Lawyers for Department of Corrections Chief Charles Ryan will have until late October to file their briefs on the case. Attorneys for the inmates filed a brief describing how they would like the money to be spent. “The Court should use 90 percent of the funds to pay for one or more independent medical experts to investigate and resolve concerns about the medical care of individual class members,” Prison Law Office attorney Corene Kendrick wrote. In an interview, Kendrick said the position could function as point person for inmates facing serious lapses in treatment. “Concerns regarding medical care may be brought to the expert’s attention by counsel for Plaintiffs, class members and/or their families/friends, and/or by current or former health care or custody staff. The expert shall investigate all allegations of inadequate care within seven days of receipt of the complaint,” Kendrick wrote in the filing. Plaintiff attorneys recommended giving the rest of the money to the inmates that were affected by the poor health care in Arizona prisons. “A sum of $100 for each instance of noncompliance should be deposited in each listed class member’s prison trust account,” Kendrick wrote. Kendrick says contempt fines can be “coercive, compensatory or both. These people have suffered harm that’s been clearly documented. We’re saying the court should consider the court should give 10% of fine to affected individuals.” That decision will be up to Judge Roslyn Silver, who was appointed to the case after Duncan’s retirement.

Jun 9, 2018
Whistleblower Gives Harrowing Look on Health Care in Arizona Prisons
PHOENIX (CN) – A counselor who worked at an Arizona prison testified Thursday about a prison health care system riddled with inadequate staffing, poor care, and correctional officers that slept on the job. Angela Fischer worked at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Phoenix as a psychology associate for Corizon Health, the health care provider for Arizona’s prison system. Thursday’s hearing was called after Fischer came forward with emails received and sent during her employment at the prison that she said showed failures by the state to make improvements to the prison healthcare system. Fischer resigned from her position in March. Arizona agreed to make improvements to prison health care to resolve a class action filed by inmates in 2012 over deficient care. Arizona did not admit wrongdoing under the settlement, but U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan has threatened to hold Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, in civil contempt and fine the state $1,000 for each instance it failed to make improvements to the system. The state has acknowledged at least 1,900 violations that could cost it around $1.9 million in fines. Fischer testified she had concerns the Phoenix prison was not adequately staffed to both perform intake services for inmates and to meet their mental health needs. “My concerns were the actual treatment that was provided, actually spending time with people and providing mental health care to them,” Fischer told the court. “I felt we did a lot of box-checking and not providing care.” Many days there were 60 to 80 inmates that would come in to intake, she said, but only one staff member assigned to them. Some days, Fischer would be told to help out in intake, which took her away from her psych assignment. “It was this constant shuffling back and forth trying to get the intakes done,” Fischer said. Fischer repeatedly addressed her concerns about the limited staff in emails to her supervisors, but did not see a change. In one, Fischer called out Corizon’s mission and detailed failures to meet standards. “By our Corizon mission we purport to use clinical best practices and evidence-based practices, neither of which are apparent given the fact that the staff is stretched so thin that they barely get time to check in with patients, let alone provide therapy,” Fischer wrote. “If we want a stabilization unit then we have to be staffed for stabilization. Inmates will not become stable by sitting in their cells alone 23 hours of the day.” The state extended its prison health care contract with Corizon this year. The current contract, which ends July 1, will be extended to June 30, 2019. Fischer detailed one inmate with a history of self-harm who was not properly classified when he went through the intake process. “When this patient came in and had his intake assessment, the records may not have been reviewed thoroughly,” Fischer said. She said information included in his records indicated that his history of self-harming was not taken into account. “It appeared to be a very quick intake assessment; under five minutes,” Fischer testified. When she first met the inmate, she said he was completely psychotic. After they got his medication straightened out, he improved to the point where he had a roommate and wanted to be moved to a unit where he could spend some time outdoors. He was never moved, though, and eventually his condition started to decline. The inmate ripped off part of his ear with a pencil and peeled away his toenails and parts of his eyelids. She asked her supervisors if he could be moved to the Arizona State Hospital where he would receive a greater level of care and be allowed to go outside, but that request was denied. Fischer is the second former Corizon employee to come forward with allegations of poor prison health care within the last six months. Jan Watson, a doctor who performed part-time services for Corizon, testified in February about nurses withholding medications from inmates – including insulin – and denying them access to specialists. Fischer said she also often complained to supervisors about correctional officers sleeping on the job when they were supposed to be watching inmates on suicide watch. In one email, Fischer detailed two officers that were “sleeping, and I don’t mean dozing.” “Can someone talk to DOC about some type of supervisory methodology that would prevent officers from sleeping?” she wrote. While on the stand, Fischer read from another email she lodged that caused her to break down in sobs. The email detailed how one inmate on constant suicide watch attempted to hang himself while correctional officers were asleep. David Fathi, an attorney for the prison class and director of the ACLU National Prison Project, asked Fischer if she witnessed the emergency response by prison employees when the inmate was found hanging. “He was lying on the floor and they were trying to use a tool to cut the thing off his neck, but the blade wasn’t sharp enough to cut it so it took extra time,” Fischer said, choking up. Officers were able to get him to gain consciousness, though, and he was transported to a hospital. The hearing is expected to last through Friday and an additional two days. It’s unclear when Duncan will issue his order, but he has announced he will retire June 22 due to medical reasons. Arizona is trying to have Duncan removed from overseeing the contempt findings. The state wants U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa to take on the case, a request attorneys for the inmates say only serves to prevent sanctions. “There is no reason to jettison the substantial time and effort that Judge Duncan and the parties have devoted to the issues other than the fact that the defendants fear adverse rulings,” the attorneys wrote in a court filing Tuesday. The state previously tried to remove Duncan from the case, but he denied the motion.

Apr 1, 2018
DOC director blames private provider for health care failures
With potential sanctions for his agency’s failure to meet court-ordered prison health care standards looming, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan laid the blame largely at the feet of private contractor Corizon Correctional Healthcare. Ryan testified before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan on Tuesday in the Parsons v. Ryan prison health care case. The case was settled in 2014 but slogs on in court as DOC and its contractor continue to miss the mark on more than 100 health care standard. Both Ryan and Assistant Director Richard Pratt, who is responsible for overseeing prisoners’ care, face civil contempt charges if they cannot show they’ve taken all reasonable steps toward improvement. They testified for two days about the lackluster response from Corizon to their verbal and written demands. Ryan said he made numerous attempts to get Corizon to make changes during regular meetings with Corizon leadership and in writing. For example, he said he has pushed Corizon to increase the stock of medications on site at DOC facilities, rather than relying so heavily on an out-of-state pharmacy, and to fly Corizon personnel to Arizona facilities to compensate for vacant positions, which are largely blamed for the provider’s deficiencies. But according to his testimony, Corizon has not done much to comply with Ryan’s requests or demands. Ryan did say communication between his department and the contractor has improved since “CEO number seven,” Steve Rector, was appointed, but still, “they’re not perfect.” Duncan said Ryan’s testimony showed he had been approaching Corizon “aggressively” in his attempts to compel compliance to an extent the judge had not been made aware of. But questioning by plaintiffs’ counsel David Fathi of the ACLU’s National Prison Project indicated Ryan could have done more. Corizon originally won a three-year contract with the opportunity for two one-year extensions under state law. Ryan acknowledged Corizon did receive the two extensions and two rate increases of 4-percent per prisoner per day since 2015 despite Ryan’s admitted displeasure with Corizon’s performance. Each extension and raise came after Ryan and Pratt sent letters expressing a need for Corizon to do better. “Corizon must demonstrate immediate improvement in the performance measure scores,” Ryan read to the court from a letter sent in July 2016, a month after granting a 4-percent rate increase. “ADC will not tolerate perpetuation of the status quo.” “Corizon cannot continue to conduct business as usual,” the letter went on, suggesting the contractor determined sanctions imposed by the department were merely the cost of doing business and that Corizon’s behavior would force court monitoring on the system for years to come. The department itself fined Corizon at $5,000 per instance of noncompliance, but in May 2015, the contract was amended to cap monthly sanctions at $90,000. Plaintiffs counsel pointed out that amounted to less than a quarter of the company’s daily gross income of more than $400,000. Under questioning about that choice, Ryan said it was a “negotiated business decision.” The cap has since been removed, but $3.5 million in incentives taken from available health care funds has vastly outweighed sanctions. The dollars were available because of a lower than anticipated prisoner population and Medicaid savings, according to a document filed by the department on Wednesday. Between October and January, Corizon racked up $675,000 in fines for noncompliance, but received $2.55 million in incentives for overall compliance. Ryan did say no further incentives will be offered once the $3.5 million on the table is exhausted. However, Corizon’s current contract worth more than $140 million will expire on June 30. The company has entered a bid for a new contract, and Ryan said Corizon CEO Rector has already asked about the potential for additional incentives, which Ryan said he has denied. In an emailed statement to reporters, Corizon spokesman Kurt Davis said Ryan’s testimony provided a “factual look at the high level of healthcare Arizona inmates are receiving.” “The ACLU lawyers have attempted to push a calamitous narrative, but the expert witnesses and the testimony of Director Ryan clearly demonstrated the opposite,” Davis wrote. While it’s true both Ryan and Duncan acknowledged the improvements made over the years, each made it clear Corizon’s performance has not been entirely satisfactory. As Davis pointed out in his statement, Corizon has reached 94 percent overall compliance with the more than one hundred performance measures as of January. “One hundred percent would be a perfect world, but I don’t know that 100 percent is realistic in terms of achievement,” Ryan told Duncan. “I’m not aware of any corrections that achieves that type of threshold. That’s not to say we should not continue to strive for that, but that’s a pretty lofty goal. Perfection is not achievable.” However, Duncan admonished Ryan for referring to overall performance on the stand, saying the stipulation did not direct the court to consider overall compliance but rather compliance with each individual measure. And to suggest overall compliance is more important than any single measure found to be substantially noncompliant is not in keeping with the settlement. That, Duncan said, continues to represent an “abject failure” in Arizona’s prison health care. For months now, Duncan has threatened fines of his own against the state of up to $1,000 for each instance of noncompliance with 11 specific performance measures tracked in each of 10 state prisons. Those measures include requiring providers to discuss the results of diagnostic reports with their patients within five days of receiving them and ensuring that medications be transferred along with prisoners who are moved to another facility. The last two days of testimony were intended to resolve whether the fines would be imposed at last. But Ryan and the state will have to wait a bit longer. The court ran out of time Tuesday to hear all necessary testimony, and so, the parties will reconvene on the issue April 10. Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the $3.5 million in incentives the Arizona Department of Corrections made available to private contractor Corizon came from savings from vacant DOC positions and the department’s operating budget.  DOC Director Charles Ryan issued a written statement on March 28 to correct his testimony on the source of the incentive pay.

Mar 28, 2018
Arizona DOC Director Charles Ryan grilled on costs, performance of prison health care firm
Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, took the witness stand in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on Tuesday during a hearing to determine whether he and his department should be held in contempt of court over monitoring prison health care. The gist of his testimony, as one of his medical directors testified the day before, was that the health-management company retained by his department to manage inmate health care has been the root of the problem. Over two days of testimony, Ryan and Richard Pratt, the person responsible for monitoring health care, told how they have sanctioned the health care management company, offered incentives and demanded that they remain in compliance with court-ordered performance measures. But attorneys for the plaintiffs fired back with numbers, noting that for 20 months, the management company, Corizon Correctional Healthcare, was only required to pay $90,000 per month instead of the full cost of sanctions. And that $90,000 amounted to less than one quarter of one day's gross earnings of $440,000 for providing health care for 35,000 Arizona prison inmates. "Does that strike you as a smart business decision?" asked David Fahti, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. "It was a negotiated business decision," Ryan answered. The class-action suit, Parsons vs. Ryan, was brought in 2012 by the Arizona Center for Disability Law on behalf of 13 inmates in Arizona Department of Corrections prisons, alleging that the department was providing inadequate health care. It has been led by attorneys for the ACLU and a California-based specialty practice called the Prison Law Office. The case settled in 2014, but U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan stayed on to monitor compliance with the settlement. By June 2017, Duncan was becoming increasingly upset that the DOC and Corizon  were not complying with the terms of the settlement, and his court pronouncements became ever more angry. In October, he issued an order to show cause why the DOC should not be held in contempt of court and, by November 2017, he was threatening to fine the DOC and Corizon $1,000 for each instance of non-compliance. Since then the case has slogged forward with hearings every month. Ryan gave a history of his department's business with Corizon when he took the stand Tuesday. The company's contract dates to March 2013, after the Arizona legislature mandated that prison health care be privatized and another health-management company pulled out after just eight months. Corizon is paid a per diem of $12.54 for each of roughly 35,000 inmates in the state's prisons. (Another 7,000 inmates placed in private prisons are not part of the deal.) That comes to nearly $450,000 per day in gross income just from Arizona alone. Ryan built controls into the contract. “The skin in the game for them was, if you do not meet performance measures, if you do not cooperate, (there) would be sanctions," he said. Specifically, there are 103 different performance measures Corizon is supposed to meet, and ten prisons. Not all of the performance measures apply to every prison, so in total, Corizon has 849 marks they are supposed to hit consistently. They are supposed to be fined $5,000 a month for each "fail point." But Corizon negotiated a $90,000 per month cap on sanctions and then consistently exceeded the limit. “The skin in the game for them was, if you do not meet performance measures, if you do not cooperate, (there) would be sanctions.” According to figures tabulated by Fahti and Corene Kendrick of the Prison Law Office, for 20 consecutive months ending November 2017, Corizon racked up sanctions of $8.61 million, for which they only paid $1.8 million because of the cap. That means the company was forgiven $6.81 million in sanctions. Attorneys for both sides read letters Ryan and Pratt wrote to Corizon executives complaining of the failure to meet standards. At one point, they demanded that Corizon fly in medical personnel from other states to meet staffing needs. But they also made available another $3.5 million in incentives for Corizon, easily making up for the $1.8 million withheld as sanctions. "Corizon Health has worked tirelessly and in a strong partnership with the Arizona Department of Corrections to provide healthcare to Arizona inmates since March of 2013," Corizon spokesman Kurt Davis said in a prepared statement. "The ACLU lawyers have attempted to push a calamitous narrative, but the expert witnesses and the testimony of Director Ryan clearly demonstrated the opposite." Davis claims that Corizon exceeds the standards set by the settlement. "The terms of the stipulation require the monitoring of the performance measures  must be maintained for a minimum of four years," Davis said. "The parties had no expectation that there would be full compliance with the performance measures until a minimum of four years had passed. It is premature, misleading and inappropriate for the plaintiffs' ACLU lawyers to claim that Corizon Health has failed, when in fact, at the three-year mark, Corizon Health complies with 94 percent of the performance measures." Duncan has not yet imposed any sanctions of his own. As has happened frequently, the attorneys were unable to get through all of the witness testimony. Duncan scheduled the next hearing for April 10. But the attorneys for the DOC have filed motions to have Duncan removed from the case because of what they perceive as bias. Indeed, Duncan, at times, has angrily orated from the bench, especially after reading an article written by a KJZZ reporter suggesting that Corizon and ADC were possibly gaming the system. On Tuesday, when Ryan mistakenly addressed him as "Magistrate Duncan" instead of "Magistrate Judge Duncan," Duncan immediately interrupted him and spent several minutes lecturing on his actual title.

Mar 24, 2018
Corizon Health Keeps Falling Short On Performance, Hiring Benchmarks For Arizona Prisons
At a hearing in federal court on Monday, Arizona Department of Corrections Assistant Director Richard Pratt updated the court on the Parsons v. Ryan prison health-care settlement. Pratt told the court Corizon Health continues to fail to meet performance measures agreed to in the settlement as well as hiring benchmarks outlined in a contract with the state. The state pays Corizon Health $12.56 per inmate per day to provide health care in Arizona prisons. According to Pratt, Corizon owed $200,000 and $210,000 for failing to meet performance measures in November and December 2017. Corizon also paid more than $150,000 for understaffing during those same months. The fines and staffing offsets are applied to payments made by the state to Corizon. In addition, Magistrate Judge David Duncan has threatened to impose $1,000 in fines for specific performance measures the state is missing, which plaintiff’s attorneys believe could cost millions of dollars per month. Attorneys for the state said Arizona is still deciding whether to renew Corizon’s contract for another five years.

Jan 13, 2018
A paralyzed man held inside an Arizona prison chewed off three fingers on his left hand in a desperate attempt to receive treatment for “excruciating pain” from previous injuries, according to new court papers filed in a legal fight over private prison health care. “He reported that the terrible pain he felt makes everything else seem insignificant,” stated a letter from a lawyer representing inmates in the state’s prisons. “He chewed off part of the fingers on his left hand because the pain was so unbearable.” The man, who uses a wheelchair and is not identified in the court papers filed Friday, told prison medical workers they weren’t giving him the right pain medications and that he would rather kill himself than live in such extreme agony, according to his medical records. The extreme example of a man mutilating his own body is part of an ongoing battle over inmate health care in Arizona, as well as the broader national issue of how budget-minded states use private companies to care for its prisoners. A group of inmates sued the state in 2012 over prison conditions and the two sides reached a settlement in 2015 that required Arizona to reform medical care in its prisons, which is now provided by for-profit company Corizon Correctional Healthcare. But both the state and Corizon have shown “pervasive and intractable failures to comply” with the settlement and provide better care, the federal court judge overseeing the agreement wrote in an October order. During a hearing in the case last month, Judge David Duncan asked Richard Pratt, the health director for Arizona prisons, whether he had trouble sleeping at night because inmates with cancer weren’t getting treatment. Pratt answered that he relies on Corizon to provide that care. The filing Friday revealed other disturbing examples of apparently substandard care in Arizona prisons. One woman complained of a mass in her breast—and a family history of breast cancer that killed her sister—but Corizon workers denied her a mammogram because she was only 37 years old. Her treatment was delayed for months and once she began chemotherapy, Corizon only provided her with Alleve to manage the pain, according to the filing. A major problem with private companies providing health care in prisons is that the company has an incentive to provide as little expensive care as possible in order to boost their profits, prisoner advocates say. But Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin has disputed that argument, claiming that their workers aren’t paid based on the company’s financial performance. “We bring services inside the walls and help states and counties meet their constitutional requirement to provide a community standard of care to those incarcerated within limited public budgets,” Harbin said in an email last month. A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Corrections declined to comment on ongoing litigation last month, but told Newsweek in an email the department expects Corizon to provide all inmates with the “constitutionally-mandated health care” to which they’re entitled. The man who gnawed off his own fingers told the lawyer from the Prison Law Project who interviewed him in December that he tries to keep the pain inside him, but “the tears fall inside.” In a letter to the state, the lawyer wrote, “He keeps a photograph of his daughter posted above his bed to remind him that he needs to get out of prison for her.”

Dec 30, 2017
Judge calls for hearing after KJZZ report on Arizona prison health care
Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent for KJZZ. This story is published as part of a collaboration between KJZZ and The Arizona Republic. The Arizona Department of Corrections contracts with privately owned, correctional health care company Corizon Health to oversee all medical, mental and dental care at 10 state prisons. But that care has come under scrutiny in federal court. In 2015, inmates settled a lawsuit with the state over poor health care conditions in state prisons. More than two years later, ADC and Corizon have failed to meet the more than 100 stipulations agreed to in the settlement. Inmates have testified in the settlement process to long wait times for medicine, delayed chronic disease care and a lack of access to specialists. In an interview with KJZZ, a former prison doctor confirms those allegations and describes the chaos of the state prison health care system. After Dr. Jan Watson’s allegations were published along with internal emails from Corizon Health, Magistrate Judge David Duncan ordered a special hearing. On Feb. 9, 2017, witnesses and evidence will be presented in federal court to investigate the claims and to see if the internal monitoring numbers Corizon is reporting can be trusted. Watson is expected to take the stand. She has seen a lot in her career. She’s worked on trauma teams in emergency rooms, practiced internal and occupational medicine, and for most of her career she was an OBGYN. Birth, death and everything in between. After more than 30 years in health care, Watson thought she had seen it all. But then she took a job at an Arizona state prison. “And I had never seen anything like that in my life.”

31 Oct 15, 2017
Judge Threatens Arizona Prison Officials With Contempt For ‘Pervasive and Intractable Failures’
A federal judge said Tuesday he is considering holding Arizona prison officials in contempt of court for their "pervasive and intractable failures" to abide by a 2014 agreement to improve care of inmates in the state prison system. Three years ago, the Arizona Department of Corrections agreed to settle a federal class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several other law firms by taking steps to improve medical care inside its prisons. The lawsuit, filed in 2012, followed media investigations and persistent allegations of fatally inadequate medical care by the department's medical provider, Corizon. Prison officials have been accused of defying court orders and intimidating inmate witnesses as they resisted complying with the settlement. An increasingly exasperated U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan issued an order Tuesday calling on the department to show why it should not be held in civil contempt for failing to meet the guidelines and benchmarks in the agreement. Duncan's order came after he hauled Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan into his court in August to address allegations that guards were retaliating against inmates who testified about poor conditions inside the state's prisons. When Duncan ordered the department to stop any such retaliation, Ryan sent an email to his staff saying the ruling was "disappointing," and that they "deserved better." In another court filing in September, an ACLU lawyer says she overheard an Arizona correctional officer say to several fellow officers, "Those fucking ACLU lawyers. Who the fuck do they think they are telling us what we can and cannot do to inmates? I can do whatever I want, whenever I want." "All of this disrespect for the rule of law," Duncan fired back, "is something I have never experienced or seen in nearly 30 years of being a lawyer, or in 16 years as a judge." If Ryan is held in civil contempt, he would join the company of former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, a fellow Arizonan and one of America's most anachronistic and cruelest lawmen. President Trump pardoned Arpaio this summer after he was found guilty of both criminal and civil contempt of court. Andrew Wilder, a spokesperson for the department, says in a statement to Reason that it is "firmly committed to holding its current contracted health care provider, Corizon, accountable for its contractual responsibility to provide inmates the constitutionally-mandated health care to which they are entitled." "Moreover, ADC already has taken significant and concrete actions to encourage Corizon to meet the specific performance measures under the Parsons Stipulation," Wilder continues. However, in 2016, when the ACLU and other lawyers for the plaintiffs filed complaints that the Arizona Department of Corrections had failed to comply with the settlement, local media outlet 12 News reported that it was still being "inundated with emails and phone calls from families of prisoners alleging their loved ones are not getting the treatment they need." The news outlet 12 News published an investigation in 2014 revealing that, despite Corizon's $125 million annual contract with the state, Arizona inmates faced disastrous delays in physical and mental health treatment. Separate reports by doctors touring Arizona prisons also found stomach-churning conditions and neglect. Courthouse News, summarizing the reports, described it as "an understaffed system in which an inmate died with infected lesions swarmed by flies, a man who ate his own feces was never seen by a psychiatrist, and a woman swallowed razor blades while allegedly under constant watch." One of the doctors described a 30-year-old inmate who was given less than a year to live after extreme delays in detection and treatment of testicular cancer led to the disease spreading to his internal organs. Corene Kendrick of the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, California, told the Phoenix New Times this week that her office is still getting "dozens of letters each week" from prisoners suffering from serious medical conditions. "This spring, four people committed suicide in three weeks, and our mental health expert's report indicated the suicides were tied to inadequate or nonexistent mental health care," she wrote. In a press statement, director of the ACLU National Prison Project David Fathi says the Arizona prison system remains out of control. "It was three years ago this week that the Arizona Department of Corrections signed the settlement agreement in this case over prison health care so inadequate that it leads to needless suffering and even death," Fathi said. "The fact that the Department of Corrections is still grossly out of compliance with the settlement is proof that the department is profoundly broken, leaving the thousands of prisoners under its control with scant access to medical care."

Apr 2, 2017
2 Years Later, Arizona DOC Still Not In Compliance With Healthcare Performance Measures
It’s been more than two years since the Arizona Department of Corrections agreed to reform its prison healthcare system. But the DOC is still not in compliance with court orders that affect the more than 34,000 people held in Arizona prisons. The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and that has been interpreted to entitle prisoners to reasonably adequate health care. “Prisoners can’t take care of their own healthcare needs," said David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project. "They can’t go to the doctor themselves. They’re locked up. So the state is legally required to provide for their medical and mental health and dental care needs." In 2012, the ACLU sued the state on behalf of a plaintiff class Arizona prisoners, alleging that the health care provided by the Department Of Corrections was so bad that it violated the Eighth Amendment. Jonathon Trethewey is a member of that plaintiff class. He said “cruel and unusual” is an understatement. "You’re made to feel less than human and you’re being neglected and you’re being mentally abused," Tretheway said. "It feels like you’re being tortured." He spent seven years in the Department of Corrections struggling with major health issues. After his release, Trethewey founded the Atlas Justice Center to help advocate for the rights of the incarcerated. At a recent board meeting in a Tempe coffee shop, he recalled hid first symptoms in a Tucson prison. "In my lower left stomach, I was having really sharp pains. And when I would push on that area, I would feel a mass and the pain would increase.” When he started seeing blood in his stool, he put in what’s called a Health Needs Request. DOC’s own policies say after submitting a request, prisoners are supposed to be seen by a registered nurse within 24 hours. But Trethewey said it was six months before he got a response and two more before he saw a physician. “(The doctor) looked at me, asked me to lift my shirt, said that I looked healthy and then gave me a medication for ulcer - ulcer medication,” Tretheway said. The physician told him the swelling in his stomach was probably just gas. But it got worse. Months went by and Trethewey’s condition got so bad his fellow inmates threatened to riot if he didn’t receive medical attention. By the time DOC finally got him to the hospital, it turns out it wasn’t gas - it was colon cancer. “My tumor had metastasized to the point where it completely blocked off my intestines and that’s why I was getting sick and got septicemia,” Tretheway said. Trethewey would go on to fight both the cancer and the system. He joined the plaintiff class in Parsons v Ryan that ended up settling with the Department of Corrections. In 2015 a federal court mandated the DOC comply with 103 stipulations to improve conditions in the state prison health care system, but the ACLU’s David Fathi said recent hearings show that DOC, which is monitoring its own compliance - just isn’t getting the job done. "The picture that is emerging is of a haphazard, make it up as you go along system that has very little training and oversight and very little consistency in how the monitoring is done,” Fathi said. So far, the plaintiffs and the state haven’t come to an agreement on just how many of the Health Performance Measures have been met. In a statement, ADOC said “The ACLU’s allegations are unsupported by the evidence.” At a recent status hearing, the state claimed it met the standard for timely access to care for the month of January at all of the state prisons it sampled. But Fathi said if you look at the same data over the course of a year, DOC is woefully non-compliant. He said recent witness testimony shows that the monitors need more guidance and direction and that their sampling model is anything but random: "I’m reminded of the saying, garbage in, garbage out," Fathi said. "If the monitoring isn’t being done properly and consistently and rigorously then the results are meaningless.” DOC contracts with a private health-care provider called Corizon Health. Spokesperson Martha Harbin said that claims of Corizon and DOC putting off diagnoses and delaying access to treatment are unfounded, "To the contrary, what makes good medical sense and good business sense is excellent and proactive preventive care.” Marc Stern teaches correctional health care in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. "Prison health is public health,” Stern said. He points out that almost 1 percent of the adult population in the United States is currently behind bars. Stern said even if you don’t really care about their rights, it behooves the rest of us to ensure prisoners get proper care. “So that when they come back to society, they’re healthier, they contribute, they don’t use up hospitals and emergency rooms and jails - that’s a way of caring for ourselves.” Jonathon Trethewey is a testament to that line of thinking. He’s moving on with his life and his cancer is in remission. But he said we can’t forget about the tens of thousands that are still suffering behind bars in Arizona. “The yards are full of people with cancer and medical conditions that have to struggle with these same things, over and over again you see it everywhere, it’s so commonplace in prison, and you really feel like you have no voice,” Tretheway said. He said it’s up to society to speak for them. And it’s the responsibility of the state to live up to the Parsons settlement, so that prisoners are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

May 29, 2014

SAFFORD, Ariz. — Regan Clarine found out she was pregnant just two days before she was sentenced to two and a half years behind bars for possessing a narcotic for sale. Giving birth to her baby daughter while she was incarcerated at the state prison complex near Tucson was an experience she says nearly killed them both. Clarine says her first indication things were not right with her health care was when she asked prison officials for an ultrasound. She was worried she wasn't gaining enough weight, but they never gave her one. Instead, Clarine said that after about nine months, prison doctors sent her to the hospital to induce labor, but when the baby still didn’t come, they performed a cesarean section against her wishes. When Clarine went back to her cell, her C-section wound re-opened. “It was big enough for me to put my fist in there,” she said. “It was the worst pain I’d ever been through in my life.” Clarine said she alerted guards, but they refused to let her see a doctor, leaving her on the prison yard with a gaping wound for two weeks. When she finally saw medical staff, she said they told her that she was lucky to be alive. They treated her with a wound vacuum. Then, she said, they employed an antiquated medical treatment. “They decided to use sugar … like McDonald’s sugar,” she said. “They would open it and pour it inside [the wound] and put gauze over and tape it up. And I had to do that for like three weeks.” Clarine’s story is one of dozens. Like many other states, Arizona privatized its prison health care system two years ago. In a six-month investigation, “America Tonight” found disturbing cases of inadequate treatment, and evidence that Wexford Health Sources, the first private company Arizona contracted to provide prison health care, was aware that it was violating prisoners’ constitutional rights. Arizona’s system is currently run by Corizon Health, the largest private prison health care provider in the country. Now, for the first time ever, one of its former employees is blowing the whistle about its failures. Teresa Short was a patient care technician for Corizon, but lost her job in late March for refusing to go to work while suffering from a case of scabies she caught from a prisoner. Short said she thought it would be unethical to treat patients while she was still contagious. She had already infected a family member, she said, and feared her son could contract it and bring it to his high school. According to Short, Corizon and Arizona prison officials have been trying to cover up the outbreak, which now includes the original prisoner and seven staff members. (Read Corizon's response.) But the most persistent problem at Corizon, Short said, was staffing. “We have a lot of dementia patients that take time in feeding,” she said, “and because of the short staff we'd have to stand there for hours to try to feed them and it was just not permitted.” Sometimes, those patients would go unfed, she said. Others who were incontinent would sit for hours in their own feces, she said. And still others died. Short described one dementia patient who had a vascular catheter in his arm for dialysis treatments. He didn’t understand what it was and kept playing with it, she said, so she repeatedly told senior staff he needed additional supervision. Instead, they sent him back to his cell, alone. At 5 a.m., she went in to check on him. Former Corizon patient care technician Teresa Short said some Arizona prisoners have died because there weren't enough medical staff on duty. Former Corizon patient care technician Teresa Short said some Arizona prisoners have died because there weren't enough medical staff on duty. America Tonight “[I] could smell blood before I even went into the room,” she said. “And when I turned on his light, it looked like somebody had been murdered. There was blood all over the room. I screamed for help.” Short said the man had unplugged the catheter and quickly bled out. If Corizon had employed more staff to monitor patients, she said, he might still be alive. There are some numbers to back up Short’s claims. Since the state privatized its prison health care, medical spending in prisons dropped by $30 million and staffing levels plummeted, according to an October report from the American Friends Services Committee, a Quaker social justice organization. It also found a sharp spike in the number of inmate deaths. In the first eight months of 2013, 50 people died in Arizona Department of Corrections custody, compared with 37 deaths in the previous two years combined. According to a 2012 lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the health care in Arizona’s prisons now amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, with prisoners at serious risk of "pain, amputation, disfigurement and death.” The suit cites examples of Arizona health officials telling prisoners to pray to be cured and drink energy shakes to alleviate cancer symptoms. “People are often sent to prison for two-year, three-year sentences that have turned into death sentences because of the absence of the basic minimal care,” said Dan Pochoda, legal director for the ACLU in Arizona. He said in his 40-year career, he’s never seen a worse prison health care system. In an emailed statement, Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said that the company could not discuss individual cases because of privacy laws, but that “the vast majority of our current staff levels exceed contract requirements,” and that their care follows the guidelines of the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and the American Correctional Association. “Our goal is always to provide quality care while being good stewards and making the best use of public funds,” she wrote. “As for lawsuits, we treat hundreds of thousands of patients in millions of healthcare encounters each year,” she added. “… The majority of lawsuits are brought by inmates without an attorney representing them and are dismissed or resolved prior to trial.” (Read the company’s full statement.) 'He had plans' After his cancer, inmate Tony Brown's pain medication was switched from morphine to less-powerful Lortab. After his cancer, inmate Tony Brown's pain medication was switched from morphine to less-powerful Lortab. America Tonight Tony Brown is another inmate who died since Arizona privatized its prison health care. He was serving a 10-year sentence for aggravated assault and was due to be released last September. “They were supposed to come down for Thanksgiving this year,” his daughter Jenna Jumper said. “He never got to meet my husband and he wasn't there when I got married, so they were going to come visit.” Brown was in remission from esophageal cancer, according to his medical records, and had been prescribed morphine for the pain. But in October 2012, the prison ran out of the drug. Medical staff switched him to Lortab, a weaker painkiller. In a video taken by prison guards and obtained by “America Tonight,” Brown is seen just after he was put on the new medication, writhing in pain while handcuffed to a gurney. His medical records show that guards told nurses his condition was worsening and that he "needed to be checked out." But there is no record of medical staff visiting his cell. In another video taken two days later, a prison chaplain checks on Brown at his wife’s request. “Inmate Brown, I spoke with your wife earlier today,” the chaplain is heard saying. “Can you communicate with me please? I’d like to speak with your wife later on. Is there something I can tell her?” Brown, face down on a bunk, barely moves and doesn’t respond. A guard can be heard saying, “Is it me or does this just not feel right to anybody else?” The guards started CPR and nurses came to assist, but 40 minutes passed before they realized no one had called an ambulance. He died in a hospital the next day. Two days later, his widow Jami Brown said she finally received a call back from Wexford, the private prison health care company in charge at the time. “My biggest thing is that if people would stop to realize that he did have family,” his daughter said, “and that he did have a child and he did have a wife and he had plans.” The official cause of death was listed as complications from cancer. But Brown's family is suing Wexford, claiming he died from lack of adequate medical care. In a statement, Wexford attorney Ed Hochuli said he couldn’t discuss details of the case because of the lawsuit and health care privacy laws, but wrote: "Based on the limited information we have at this time, though, I am very confident Wexford Health and its employees acted appropriately, and further investigation of this claim will demonstrate and prove the lack of any wrongdoing or negligence by Wexford Health.” But there are signs that Wexford was aware of problems. “America Tonight” obtained a copy of a PowerPoint presentation written by top Wexford executives for a meeting with the Arizona governor's office in November 2012 – four months after the company started providing care in the state. It warned that the care it and the Department of Corrections were providing was "not compliant with … requirements" and that "the current class action lawsuits are accurate." It recommended an overall operational cleanup, staffing reassessment and the appointment of a governor’s office liaison. The PowerPoint presentation also says that the department's "transparency" policy with the media could "encourage negative press." 'A grain of sugar' State Rep. John Kavanagh said Clarine’s story about being treated with sugar didn’t seem like a “true allegation,” adding that it “sounds ridiculous.” State Rep. John Kavanagh said Clarine’s story about being treated with sugar didn’t seem like a “true allegation,” adding that it “sounds ridiculous.” America Tonight Prison officials deny any problems with privatized care. Richard Pratt, the interim director of the health services division of Arizona’s Department of Corrections, told “America Tonight” that staffing levels since privatization were “basically the same.” “Corizon staffing levels have been coming up on a monthly basis to the point even last month the hours that they were working with their existing staff exceeded the contract requirements,” he said. He also denied there was a scabies outbreak, as Teresa Short had charged. But Pratt emphasized that privatizing health care wasn’t a decision made by the Department of Corrections. “It was legislated and mandated and it was the law,” he said. “So we were forced to do this.” Legislators who supported the privatization promised that it would save taxpayers money, while maintaining adequate levels of care for inmates. The majority of states have privatized prison health care, rewarding private companies for keeping costs down. “I mean, people die in prisons,” said state Rep. John Kavanagh, who wrote the legislation that privatized the state’s prison health care. “I receive a lot of handwritten notes from prisoners. I receive emails from prison families with all sorts of allegations of crazy behavior. And then, you call the prison people up and they usually have a reasonable explanation for it.” Kavanagh said Clarine’s story about being treated with sugar didn’t seem like a “true allegation,” adding that it “sounds ridiculous.” “You know prisoners have 24/7 to think up allegations and write letters,” he said. “I'm not saying that some of them can't have a basis in fact. But you got to take them with a grain of salt or in the case of the hospital, with maybe a grain of sugar.” Kavanagh was also dismissive of the ACLU lawsuit. “I think most people who get into [class-action lawsuits] wind up with nothing and the lawyers walk away in limousines with their trunks full of cash,” he said. No bid, nothing: Richard Pratt, interim health services director for Arizona’s Department of Corrections, denies that there’s a scabies outbreak in prison and says that Corizon’s staffing levels have exceeded the requirements of the contract. Richard Pratt, interim health services director for Arizona’s Department of Corrections, denies that there’s a scabies outbreak in prison and says that Corizon’s staffing levels have exceeded the requirements of the contract. America Tonight Before Tony Brown’s death, Wexford was already coming under fire after a contract nurse exposed more than 100 inmates to hepatitis C by using dirty needles to deliver medication, according to the Department of Corrections. Four months later, Arizona severed ties with Wexford and awarded the three-year, $369 million contract to Corizon, which has similar contracts in 28 states, according to its website. But it has faced problems in many of them; in the last five years, Corizon has been sued for malpractice 660 times. Arizona Democratic House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said the Legislature didn't properly vet Corizon before signing the contract. “No bid. Nothing,” he said. “It was deemed an emergency situation by Department of Corrections so they didn't have to go through the normal process.” Campbell also noted that Corizon had just hired the former head of the Department of Corrections, who was the mentor of the current head of the department. That’s not the only tie that members of the state government have to private prisons. Charles Coughlin, the former campaign strategist for Gov. Jan Brewer, runs a lobbying firm called HighGround Public Affairs Consultants, which represented one of the country’s largest private prison companies. HighGround donated $5,000 to Jan PAC, Brewer's super PAC. Then in late March, Kavanagh allocated $900,000 in state funding to the private prison company GEO Group Inc., even though the Department of Corrections said it wasn’t needed, according to the Arizona Republic. “They're profiting on taxpayer dollars and to me, if I'm going to hand out money to a private entity, I want to make sure it's being spent wisely,” said Campbell, who is now calling for an investigation. The governor's office declined a request from “America Tonight” for an interview and referred us back to Kavanagh, who said the allegations that Brewer accepted bids because of personal relationships were “baseless.” “I think they're propaganda,” he said. “I mean, people say to me I've gotten campaign contributions from private-prison people. Well, yeah. I got from a lobbyist who represents them but that lobbyist also represents 40 other clients in different industries. It's smoke and mirrors. It's a façade.” In the meantime, allegations of wrongdoing continue to mount. According to the American Friends Service Committee report, an inmate at the Whetstone Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex tested positive for tuberculosis in August. But Corizon did not test other prisoners, even those who were doing community service outside the complex. A healthy baby: Clarine walks out of prison, escorted by her father Clarine walks out of prison, escorted by her father America Tonight Earlier this month, Regan Clarine completed her sentence. “America Tonight” met her as she was released into the waiting arms of her father, Paul. “It’s one of the happiest days of our life,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll never have to do this again.” They drove to a nearby hotel to reunite with the rest of the family, including her 11-month-old daughter, Rylan. They’d met a handful of times on brief prison visits, but Rylan didn’t recognize her mother. Still, Clarine was happy to see her so healthy. She responded to Kavanagh’s allegation that she was probably making up her story with a laugh, saying, “That’s crazy. I don’t think I could even come up with something like that … Sugar?” To add insult to injury, her mother, Lori, said the prison has billed her $2,000 for Rylan’s birth. She is disputing the charges but fears it could hurt her credit if she doesn’t pay them. She says privatized prison health care simply isn’t working. “You know, she got her just punishment,” Lori said. “But, oh my goodness, they're still human beings. Take care of them.”

Arizona Legislature
Feb 17, 2018
$1 Million And Counting: Fines Mounting For Arizona Department Of Corrections
The latest court filings in an ongoing federal court case show Arizona could now be facing more than a million dollars in fines — just for the month of December. On Wednesday, attorneys representing the Arizona Department of Corrections filed the latest results from the monitoring process in the Parsons v. Ryan prison health care settlement. In 2015, the state agreed to meet more than 100 performance measures outlined in the settlement to provide better health care to inmates in Arizona prisons. But Arizona and its private contractor Corizon Health are failing to meet several of those benchmarks. In October of 2017, Magistrate Judge David Duncan issued an order stating, “because of pervasive and intractable failures to comply with the Stipulation, the court is considering the exercise of its civil contempt authority.” If Duncan uses his authority, the state could face $1,000 fine for every violation of the stipulation. Duncan ordered the defendants to immediately comply with 11 health care performance measures. The state previously disclosed more than 650 violations at six state prisons. The latest filing reveals more than 400 additional violations at the Eyman state prison for failing to meet a performance measure that guarantees “chronic disease inmates will be seen by the provider as specified in the inmate’s treatment plan, no less than every 180 days.” Attorneys for the state have told the judge in recent hearings that Corizon Health is having trouble finding specialty care doctors to work with the contactor. The new violations would bring the total fines for the month of December to more than a million dollars. During a budget proposal at the statehouse on Tuesday lawmakers asked Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan about the impending fines. Ryan said if the fines are enforced, Corizon Health would pay. “I’ve already made it clear to the the vendor that they’re on the hook,” Ryan said. Duncan could address the fines at a status hearing on Feb. 28.

Arizona State Prison Complex – Florence
Feb 9, 2019
Arizona Prisoner Dies After Writing 'I Am Being Killed' in Court Document
An Arizona state inmate died of health complications six weeks after he filed a court document claiming that he was “being killed” due to inadequate medical care. Richard Washington died on January 31 in the prison infirmary, according to a spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Corrections. He died of complications related to diabetes, hypertension, and hepatitis C, according to an investigator with the Pinal County Medical Examiner’s office. Washington, who was being housed at Arizona State Prison Complex - Florence, was 64. He was serving a 63-year sentence on armed robbery convictions. Washington is the second case since 2017 in which a Florence inmate filed a court record raising concerns about imminent death before actually dying. About six weeks before his death, Washington wrote a court filing titled "Notice I am being killed." Washington claimed in his filing that the corrections agency was "actively refusing" to give him medication for his medical conditions, including "diabetes, liver conditions, and blood pressure issues." "My greatest fear is that I'm going to die more sooner than later should this treatment — or lack there of — continues [sic]," Washington wrote in a document dated December 15, 2018. Washington filed the document in the docket for Parsons v. Ryan, the federal lawsuit that resulted in a settlement requiring Arizona prisons to improve healthcare services at facilities and conditions in solitary confinement units. The Parsons settlement, reached with the American Civil Liberties Union in 2014, outlines more than 100 health-care standards for the ADOC. In June, a federal judge found the state prison system in contempt of court for failing to meet Parsons settlement requirements. U.S. Magistrate Judge David K. Duncan imposed fines of $1.5 million on the prison system. Arizona currently contracts with Corizon, a private company, to provide its health-care services. Beginning on July 1, state prisons will switch to a different healthcare provider, Centurion, following whistleblower reports on KJZZ of shoddy record-keeping by Corizon. Corene Kendrick, a staff attorney with the Prison Law Office, said she saw Washington's court notice in the Parsons docket on Wednesday evening, the same day the U.S. District Court of Arizona officially filed the record. The Prison Law Office serves as co-counsel with the ACLU on the Parsons case. Kendrick says it's unclear why Washington's notice is dated six weeks before it was actually filed in the court. She said Washington's case reminded her of a case in 2017 when an Arizona inmate named Walter Jordan predicted his death from cancer in a court document in the Parsons docket titled "Notice of Impending Death." Jordan wrote on August 29, 2017, "ADOC and Corizon delayed treating my cancer. Now because of there [sic] delay, I may be luckey [sic] to be alive for 30 days. The delayed treatment they gave me is causing memory loss, pain." Jordan died on September 7, 2017, from cancer. Three months later, Todd Wilcox, a medical expert, filed a declaration in the Parsons case stating, "Mr. Jordan's case was unfortunate and horrific, and he suffered excruciating needless pain from cancer that was not appropriately managed in the months prior to his death," Like Washington, Jordan was housed at Florence. 

Arlington County jail
Mar 12, 2022

Arlington Co. jail, sheriff, medical staff sued for $10 million following death of inmate

ARLINGTON, Va. (7News) - Plaintiffs representing Darryl Becton, an inmate who died under suspicious circumstances at Arlington County Detention Facility in 2020, have filed a $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against the jail, the Arlington County Sheriff, and several members of the jail's medical staff who are contracted through Corizon Health, Inc. According to an attorney representing Becton's family, this is the 7th inmate to die at the jail in recent years. All were people of color, an Arlington County NAACP spokesperson said, who attended a Friday press conference where the lawsuit was announced. The lawsuit, filed in Arlington County Circuit Court, alleges that Becton, 46, was left unattended and was untreated for serious medical conditions after being admitted to the jail on September 29, 2020. Becton was admitted for probation violation. The lawsuit says during his intake process, he informed jail officials he had an opioid addiction, had suffered from withdrawal in the past, and expected to experience withdrawal again being incarcerated. He also told jail officials he suffered from hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Two days later, according to jail medical records, in the early morning hours of October 1, Becton had a blood pressure reading of 191/102, the suit contends. "He had a [reading] of 191 over 102, It's called a hypertensive emergency, an attorney representing the Becton estate said. "He was just being casually monitored by the nursing staff. This did not have to occur. His conditions should have been treated immediately." Becton was pronounced dead later that day around 5 p.m., after a visiting counselor checked him in his cell where he was found nonresponsive. The details between the medical emergency the morning of Oct. 1 and Becton's time of death are inconsistent, an attorney said. "At 6:59 a.m. on October 1, 2020, an incomplete set of vitals was taken by an unidentified Corizon Health employee. Thereafter, all monitoring, observations, and treatment of Mr. Becton simply ceases. Mr. Becton's medical record contains a recorded encounter at 2:34 p.m., but that alleged encounter is highly dubious. "Defendant Antoine Smith - a licensed practical nurse and Corizon Health employee - has been criminally charged with falsifying patient records, upon information and belief, in connection with Mr. Becton," the lawsuit states.


Oct 26, 2021

Medical contractor deal terminated after Arlington County inmate's death
ARLINGTON, Va. (7News) - After an inmate died in October of 2020 while he was at the Arlington County Detention Facility, prosecutors have charged a man with a misdemeanor. More than a year later, on Oct. 12, 2021, the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney announced that Antoine Smith was charged with falsifying a patient record. "The warrant was obtained in connection with the investigation into the death of (inmate) Mr. Darryl Becton at the Arlington County Detention Center in October 2020." Smith worked for Corizon Health. "After careful consideration, the county has entered into contract negotiations with a new provider. Services with a new provider are expected to begin November 15, 2021," said a spokesperson for the Arlington County Sheriff's Office. "Becton, 46, died on October 1, 2020, after he was found unconscious in his cell at the Arlington County Detention Facility," according to the Arlington County Sheriff's Office. "Mr. Becton was arrested on September 29, 2020, and charged with Probation Violation, awaiting his court hearing." The Arlington County NAACP released the following statement: "The Arlington Branch NAACP #7047 is aware that the Arlington County Sheriff's Office has "entered into negotiations with a new [medical] provider." Although the Sheriff's Office is seeking a new medical contractor, the issue remains that there have been six in-custody deaths in six years, as reported by the Arlington County Sheriff's Office. The Arlington Branch NAACP's position remains firm in seeking justice for those who have died while in the custody of the Arlington County Sheriff's Office. Ultimately, the Arlington County Sheriff, the Command Staff, and Sheriff's Office personnel are responsible for the health, care, and safety of the individuals in their custody - and the Arlington Branch NAACP will continue to seek justice to find All who are responsible, complicit, and or negligent in the deaths of those in-custody and hold them accountable." Sheriff Beth Arthur released the following statement: "The Arlington County Sheriff's Office is committed to providing the highest level of medical services to those in our custody and I take each individuals care very seriously. How we care for those remanded to our custody is a priority. We are committed to having a vendor that provides the level of medical service that reflects the high expectations of not only myself, but the Arlington community."

Oct 14, 2021

Charges Filed in Investigation of Man's Death While in County Jail

One year after an inmate died in the Arlington County jail, a man has been charged in connection with his death. For the last year, the Arlington County Police Department has been investigating the death of Darryl Becton, 46, while in custody of the county jail on Oct. 1, 2020. One year later to the day, a man named Antoine Smith appeared in Arlington County General District Court on charges related to the investigation, according to a press release from the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney. Smith was charged with the misdemeanor of falsifying a patient record, according to the release. Police obtained a warrant for his arrest on Sept. 24. The Commonwealth's Attorney did not return requests for more information about who Smith is, who he works for and what records he falsified. "The Commonwealth may not discuss the details of an ongoing investigation and Professional Rule of Responsibility 3.6 prohibits public commentary regarding the details of a pending case," the release said. "A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and a charge is not evidence." What we do know is that Arlington County's jail contracts with correctional healthcare provider Corizon Health to provide medical care to inmates. Last year, the contract was extended to 2025. A D.C. area man who goes by the name Antoine Smith lists his occupation as a licensed practical nurse and his employer as Corizon Health, according to a LinkedIn profile. Corizon has been sued multiple times across the nation for inmate deaths allegedly connected to inadequate care. Assuming Smith is indeed employed by Corizon, this is not the first time a correctional nurse from Corizon has been charged with a crime involving an inmate in Arlington. In 2014, another nurse from Corizon was charged with misdemeanor sexual battery and found guilty in Arlington General District Court, in an incident that was not previously reported publicly. He appealed to the Circuit Court and a deal was reached between the inmate and the nurse that allowed him avoid a jail time, according to Maj. Susie Doyel, the then-spokeswoman for the Arlington County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail. The news of the latest charges marks a step forward in the case, which police told ARLnow in August could soon be concluded. Last fall, Becton, who is Black, was being held on an alleged probation violation after being convicted in 2019 of a felony, "unauthorized use of a motor vehicle." On Oct. 1, 2020, a sheriff's deputy and an Arlington Department of Human Services caseworker found Becton unresponsive in his cell. Despite resuscitation efforts, Becton was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. Within a week, the Arlington branch of the NAACP wrote to the sheriff's office and the police department requesting an independent investigation. The same month, Sheriff Beth Arthur and then-Acting Chief of Police Andy Penn wrote a joint response. "The death of Mr. Becton is tragic and we can assure you that a thorough and comprehensive criminal investigation into this matter will be conducted by the ACPD, followed by a comprehensive administrative investigation by ASCO to determine if all applicable policies and procedures were followed surrounding Mr. Becton's incarceration," Arthur and Penn wrote. Between then and August, little information had surfaced in Becton's case. ARLnow learned from the medical examiner's office that his cause of death was ruled to be hypertensive cardiovascular disease - caused by sustained high blood pressure - complicated by opiate withdrawal, and the manner of his death was ruled to be natural. This case has been a top priority for the NAACP, as Becton was the fifth person - and the fourth Black man - to die in the facility between 2015 and 2020, per the Sheriff's and Police Chief's letter. Those numbers increased last week, when an inmate named Clyde Spencer became the sixth person, and the fifth Black man, to die in custody in six years. In the wake of his death, the NAACP again raised concerns about "delayed answers for Mr. Becton's family" and calling the pattern of deaths "unacceptable, unconscionable, and distressing." In response to yesterday's news about charges against Smith, Arlington NAACP President Julius "JD" Spain, Sr. said charges are not enough, as Becton's family still needs answers. "This is not justice for the NAACP," Spain tells ARLnow. "This is not justice for the family. We will continue to assure that justice is served." Smith is expected to return to court on Nov. 9 for a hearing. As for the review the NAACP requested, after ACPD concludes its investigation, the file will be sent to the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for independent review, according to the joint letter. The Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, is investigating whether applicable policies and procedures were being followed.

Baltimore City Detention Center
, Baltimore, Maryland
May 19, 2008 Daily Record
The Court of Special Appeals once again ruled Baltimore County was a day late in an attempt three years ago to renew its contract with a medical services provider for inmates. A three-judge panel last week unanimously reversed a Baltimore County Circuit Court decision and remanded the case back with instructions to grant summary judgment in favor of Prison Health Services Inc. “It was the county’s burden to establish that it timely manifested its option to renew the contract, not PHS’s burden to establish the opposite,” Judge Mary Ellen Barbera wrote. “We have concluded that, on this record, the county is unable as a matter of law to carry that burden.” Andrew D. Levy of Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP in Baltimore, who represented Prison Health, was pleased with the decision. “We were not bound by their exercise option,” he said Wednesday. “I’m glad the Court of Special Appeals agreed.” Jeffrey G. Cook, an assistant county attorney involved with the case, did not return calls for comment. Clear intent -- The case stemmed from a contract the county and Tennessee-based Prison Health entered into on July 1, 2000, covering two jails. The five-year agreement was to “continue through” June 30, 2005, with options for up to three two-year extensions. The county sent notice of its intention to extend the contract July 1, 2005; earlier that same day, Prison Health sent a letter to the county declaring the contract completed because the county did not extend it by June 30. The county filed a declaratory and injunctive relief action against Prison Health in Baltimore County Circuit Court in July 2005. Four months later, Judge Dana M. Levitz found in favor of the county, saying “through June 30” meant a reasonable time thereafter, a standard met by the July 1 notice of extension. Prison Health appealed the decision, and the Court of Special Appeals reversed Levitz in December 2006, sending the case back to the lower court. Levitz again ruled in favor of the county last May, a decision appealed by Prison Health a month later. The county argued the two sides had conversations prior to June 30 about extending the contract, so its intent to renew was apparent even if not in writing. It cited a May 2005 e-mail from a county official indicating it would grant an increase in Prison Health’s compensation based on a rise in the Consumer Price Index once the company returned paperwork with the necessary corrections. But the court agreed with Prison Health that the county’s e-mail was “not an objectively reasonable expression of its intent” because it did not “explicitly refer” to the contract extension. “We have made clear…that acknowledgement of an existing relationship that is anticipated to continue does not constitute an exercise of an option,” Barbera wrote, citing past court decisions. Levy said the decision means Prison Health does not have to pay the county the difference between the 2000 contract and the county’s subsequent contract with another medical services provider. He did not know the exact amount, but believed it was several million dollars. A county spokeswoman did not know the dollar figure either and said Cook was the only lawyer who did. Prison Health has not performed work for the county since September 2006, Levy said.

April 7, 2008 Daily Record
Baltimore County and Prison Health Services Inc. once again asked the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Monday to determine what difference a day makes when it comes to a contract’s expiration. The two sides repeated many of the same arguments they have used the past three years in a dispute concerning the county’s attempt to renew a contract providing medical services to inmates one day after Prison Health claims the deal expired. The case returned from Baltimore County Circuit Court after the appeals court remanded it there in a 2006 opinion. Lawyers for Tennessee-based Prison Health again argued the county could not seek to extend a contract providing medical services to inmates at two county jails the day after the deal expired. “They are not allowed to create a contract and then hold us to perform what is really connect-the-dots,” said Andrew D. Levy of Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP in Baltimore, representing Prison Health. Jeffrey G. Cook, an assistant county attorney, acknowledged under judges’ questioning the county could have handled the renewal process differently but said it was still done lawfully. “It might not be the best way, but it is a permissible way,” he said. The case stems from a contract the two sides entered July 1, 2000, covering two jails. The five-year agreement was to “continue through” June 30, 2005, with options for up to three additional two-year terms. The county did not send notice of its intention to continue the contract until July 1, 2005. Earlier that same day, Prison Health sent a letter to the county declaring the contract completed because the county had not exercised its option for renewal by June 30, 2005. The county filed a declaratory and injunctive relief action against Prison Health in July 2005 in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Four months later, Judge Dana M. Levitz sided with the county, saying “through June 30” meant a reasonable time thereafter, a standard the county met by exercising its renewal option July 1. Prison Health appealed the decision, and the Court of Special Appeals ruled in the company’s favor in December 2006. The three-judge panel sent the case back to Baltimore County. Levitz again ruled in the county’s favor last May, and Prison Health filed an appeal in June. On Monday, Judge Mary Ellen Barbera questioned the county’s reasoning and wondered if Prison Health was simply protecting itself by sending the letter to the county July 1, 2005. Barbera was joined on the bench by Judge James P. Salmon, who also heard the first case, and Judge Sean D. Wallace, who was specially assigned from Prince George’s County Circuit Court. Cook repeated one of the county’s arguments that both sides were discussing terms of a contract extension before July 1, 2005, so the county’s intent was clear even if not in writing. “Everybody knew what was going on,” Cook said. Levy countered that intent to renew is not enough. “They are still required to exercise the option in a clear, unconditional and unequivocal way,” he said. The court is expected to issue its opinion later this year.

June 6, 2007 Daily Record
The mother of a mentally troubled man who died in state custody has filed a $2 million lawsuit following his overdose on prescription medication given to him at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Verbena Harris is suing the state, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and Prison Health Services Inc. for malpractice and the wrongful death of her son, Ronald E. Faulk. She claims he was denied treatment for more than a week, then given a month’s supply of drugs instead of the daily dose he required. “Not only is this another piece of evidence of the way Prison Health Services has failed to live up to the standard of care necessary, it’s another example of what happens to men like Mr. Faulk,” said Alison Kohler of Dugan, Babij and Tolley LLC, Harris’ attorney. Faulk, 51, was a Vietnam War veteran whose ailments included high blood pressure, post-traumatic stress syndrome, bipolar disorder and alcohol abuse. The Baltimore resident had been in and out of the detention center for various minor charges since at least 1990. “He had his mood swings, but he was a good person,” Harris said of her son in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “There was nothing he wouldn’t do for me. He loved his mother.” According to the complaint pending in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Faulk was arrested on Feb. 22, 2004, for disorderly conduct and street fighting. After his arrest, he allegedly went more than a week without receiving medication of any kind, despite being evaluated and prescribed medication by physicians at the detention center. Faulk was twice referred for a psychiatric evaluation he never received, and physicians’ orders to monitor his heart and blood pressure daily were not followed, the complaint alleges. Harris said she learned of Faulk’s arrest the day it happened and contacted the facility herself to explain her son’s medication needs, but said she did not receive a convincing response that they would be met. “There seems to be at best a deliberative indifference to the care while he was in jail,” said Kohler. “As I read through the record, the message that I get is ‘We’ll get to you when we get to you.’” By the morning of March 3, 2004, Kohler said, Faulk was “agitated and manic,” pacing the room and asking repeatedly for his medication. Later that day, staff nurses gave Faulk an entire month’s supply of blood pressure medication, rather than administering it dose-by-dose as ordered by the facility physicians, the complaint says. The next morning, Faulk was found pale and heavily perspiring and taken to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where a doctor called Harris to tell her that her son had overdosed. “I’m thinking it was illegal drugs, I’m not thinking prescription drugs,” Harris said of her first reaction. Faulk died at Hopkins early the next day. An autopsy confirmed that the cause of death was an overdose of the blood pressure medication given to him at the detention center. Harris, on behalf of herself and Faulk’s estate, as well as Faulk’s father and his son, is seeking $1 million each in compensatory and punitive damages. The attorneys for the state and Prison Health Services were unavailable for comment. This is not the first time a death in custody has provoked debate about Baltimore City Detention Center’s health services. The American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prisons Project and the Public Justice Center in Baltimore sued the state in 2003 to improve conditions at the detention center and central booking facility in Baltimore. The suit is in negotiations, according to Elizabeth Alexander, director of the ACLU’s prisons project. Alexander said the ACLU suit highlights multiple cases of serious medical neglect at the jail that have aggravated chronic conditions and in some cases caused death. Prison Health Services Inc., a defendant in both Harris’ suit and the ACLU’s, has traditionally had “a very bad reputation, particularly in administering medication,” Alexander said. The company’s contract with the state expired nearly two years ago, and since then multiple vendors have been selected to provide services in a completely restructured health care system. Alexander called the new standard of care “not quite as dreadful” as in years past. A February report on inmate health care by the Department of Legislative Services in Annapolis also exposed understaffed facilities and found inconsistent monitoring of patients. Although originally filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court earlier this year, Harris’ case was removed to federal court this month.

September 20, 2005 Baltimore Sun
The state did a poor job of providing medical care to prisoners at Baltimore's downtown prison over much of the past five years because of a flawed and underfunded contract with a private company that took effect in 2000, according to a grand jury report released yesterday. The grand jury report came out of a review of prison conditions that are part of the routine of grand juries in Maryland. Circuit Court Judge Stuart R. Berger ordered the Baltimore grand jury in May to examine health care services at the state-run detention center in Baltimore. The grand jury identified what it said were serious problems with the flat-fee contract the state held with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc. Under the contract, which expired June 30, Prison Health was responsible for all health care needs for most Maryland inmates. Putting one organization in charge of all aspects of offender health care was a serious mistake at the outset," the report states. In addition, it said, the documents the state sent out inviting companies to bid on health care services for inmates in 2000 were poorly written. And the state's monitoring for compliance in the initial years after the contracts were signed was inadequate, jurors found. More importantly, jurors said, the long-term, fixed-price contract locked Prison Health into what turned out to be a money-losing deal that affected services provided to inmates. "This resulted in enormous pressure from PHS management to economize on operations," the report says. "Instead of looking for efficiencies, PHS made it more and more difficult for offenders to receive prescription medications, hospital procedures or laboratory tests." The report said that detainees often did not receive prescribed medication for weeks after they were booked into the city's jail, and it listed a series of other problems that The Sun had also discovered in its investigation. PHS officials have consistently denied that economic factors influenced decisions on medical care. They say the company lost $15 million on the Maryland contract, which generated $260 million in revenues over five years. "We hope the report will be helpful, but their tone is a little more hopeful than we think the current situation calls for," said Sally Dworak-Fisher, a lawyer with the Public Justice Center in Baltimore. Her group and the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prisons Project have a long-standing lawsuit against the state to improve conditions at the detention center and central booking facility in Baltimore. Dworak-Fisher said that detainees, in interviews, are currently reporting many of the same kinds of problems as in the past, with few signs of improvement since the new contracts took effect July 1. She noted that the company that holds the $125.6 million, two-year contract for primary care services, by far the largest segment of the work, has fallen short of supplying the number of staff it agreed to provide. The grand jury report also said that St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services "has a history of troubled performance in other states, as well as in Maryland."

June 1, 2005 The Daily Record
The company that provides medical services to Baltimore County inmates is arguing that it should not have to continue delivering those services at the county's expanded prison. Tennessee-based Prison Health Services filed suit against the county in Baltimore County Circuit Court last week, alleging that logistical aspects of the expansion will force the company to spend more to provide the same services. The $74 million expansion on Kenilworth Drive in Towson is set to be completed in the fall. The County did not bargain for, and the PHS did not agree to provide services, personnel and costs at this new facility; rather PHS contracted to provide services to the 'facilities' as they existed at the time the contract was formed, based on the RFP and Bid documents, the complaint states. The County has given notice to PHS that it expects PHS to provide the same services at the new facility as at the old facilities, despite the increased manpower required, at no increase in price.

May 10, 2005 Baltimore Sun
As they were sworn in yesterday, members of Baltimore's newest grand jury were charged with investigating the city jail's health care system over the next four months. City grand jurors, in addition to deciding which felony cases to indict, typically prepare a report on a specific criminal justice issue, such as prison conditions, drug treatment and witness intimidation. A major reason to explore the status of health care is because of "the extent the health issues associated with the ever increasing population in our prisons," he wrote. He also noted that prisoners are 17 times more likely than the general population to have tuberculosis and five times more likely to have AIDS. Since 2000, health care at the jail has been provided by Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with the state, which expires in July, for health services at more than 20 state prison facilities.

October 20, 2004 AP
The firm providing medical care to Maryland's prison inmates has disciplined four employees in connection with the treatment they gave to a 34-year-old woman who died last month after she became ill at the women's detention center in Baltimore.
A statement from Prison Health Services says the three nurses and a physician's assistant have been reprimanded and reassigned. The statement says the workers didn't perform a function usually done during the sick-call intake process. Hospital records indicate she had been experiencing fainting spells before she was sent to the hospital. Her family wonders if better care might have saved her life.

Broward County Detention Center, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
December 4, 2004 Miami Herald
Three days after Correctional Health Services was formed, the Broward Sheriff's Office sought bids to provide medical care to 5,000 inmates at the county Jail. Only companies with longstanding experience at large jails or prisons need apply, officials wrote in a request for proposals. But a week later, on July 28, BSO did an about-face on its requirements. The agency announced it was tossing out its request for bids. And when a new request for proposals was issued Aug. 10, one requirement had been dropped: bidders no longer needed to have experience providing healthcare to inmates. The new solicitation left the door open for Correctional Health to bid, and the newly formed company was awarded a $127 million, five-year contract to manage healthcare at the Broward County Jail. Correctional Health Services (CHS) was not the lowest of the four bidders for the lucrative contract. Wexford Health Source, the company that had provided care at the jail for the last three years, submitted a bid that was $300,000 less, records show. The company's first few days at the jail already have been rocky. State pharmacy officials said they had not issued pharmacy licenses when CHS took over management of the jail on Wednesday, and company employees could not dispense medications until Friday, when they obtained a temporary license. Attempts to reach Doyle H. Moore, CHS's chief executive officer, or Jose Armas, CHS president and chairman, were unsuccessful Friday. Acccording to county Supervisor of Elections records, businesses owned by Armas, a doctor, contributed $4,250 to Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne's most recent campaign for reelection. In addition, Armas contributed another $500 as an individual to Jenne's campaign. The company's chief executive officer, Doyle Moore, had run into trouble in Broward before, however. At the 1993 federal tax fraud trial of former Port Everglades Commissioner Walter Browne, Moore -- the founder of a company called Prison Health Services -- testified he funneled money to a Republican power broker and hired lobbyists to sway then-Sheriff Nick Navarro when he became concerned Prison Health was going to lose its contract to provide medical care at the Broward jail. Moore testified with the guarantee his testimony would not be used against him. His attorney at the time said neither Moore nor the company did anything wrong. In 1985, Palm Beach County jail inmate Mario Abraham died after languishing in his cell for five days with a broken neck before Prison Health Services employees treated him. A grand jury at the time called the company's care of the man ``grossly inadequate and incompetent.''

Camden County Jail, Camden New Jersey
The family of a Cherry Hill man killed in Camden County Jail filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday, charging county correctional officials with "reckless and deliberate indifference" in his death.  The suit charges that Joel Seidel's constitutional rights to medical care, due process and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment were violated while the former stockbroker was in custody.  The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of Seidel's daughters, Sharon Clark and Devra Seidel, co-administrators of his estate.  "This tragedy was preventable and we intend to prove that the reckless and deliberate indifference of the prison guards and officials led to the death of Mr. Seidel," said Tom Kline, of Kline & Specter of Cherry Hill, attorney for the Seidel daughters.  County officials had not been served with the lawsuit late Wednesday and because of that were unable to comment, according to a spokesman.  The suit alleges "negligent, reckless, intentional, wrongful, deliberately indifferent and unlawful conduct" on the part of prison officials.  The suit cites overcrowding at the prison in general and the failure to move Seidel to a hospital, psychiatric facility or his own cell and failure to provide adequate observation.  The suit names as defendants the Camden County Jail, Camden County Department of Corrections and Camden County; and Prison Health Services Inc. and Steininger Behavioral Care Services, both of which had contracts to provide services to inmates.  (Courier-Post, April 29, 2004)

Charlotte County Jail, Punta Gorda, Florida
April 11, 2006 NBC2
A former Charlotte County inmate is demanding answers after two nurses at the Charlotte County Jail took drugs out of a bio-hazard trash bin and injected him with the drugs. William Parbus, a diabetic, was given a shot of insulin that could have cost him his life. The nurses have since been fired. Parbus is now out of jail. He was serving 15 days for driving with a suspended license. He may be out of jail, but he's a prisoner to fear. "I don't want to be with my wife. I kind of miss it already. Five months to go," said Parbus. Doctors told him HIV or hepatitis may be lurking in his system, but won't know for certain for six months. The concerns come after Parbus, a diabetic, was injected with outdated insulin from a bio-hazard trash bin while he was an inmate at the Charlotte County Jail. "I was outraged. For what reason could this person do this to me? What reason in the world? She's out of insulin, fine. I'm out of insulin," said Parbus. The two nurses worked for Prison Health Systems, an outside contractor hired by the jail. They said the nurses responsible were immediately fired. PHS officials and jail commanders alerted Parbus that his health could be at risk. "It's not anything we want to tell anybody. We had to be up front with it. Told him what happened and told him what we would do to rectify the situation," said Lieutenant Daniel Kacynski, Jail Support Commander. PHS told Parbus to send them his medical bills and they might pay them. But Parbus says that's not enough. "I think there should be an investigation. They just fired these ladies. Are they licensed nurses? Are they going to get a job at a hospital down the road? Is this going to happen again if they don't feel like going down the road for insulin?" said Parbus. Parbus claims he won't give up until he gets some answers. Until then, his thought will be on his health. Parbus says he is looking for an attorney. He says he wants to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else. PHS commented about potentially paying Parbus' medical bills through a statement they released through jail supervisors. We tried to reach the two nurses who were fired. Sheryl Staples declined to comment. Karen Helmick has not returned our call.

April 5, 2006 Herald Tribune
Two nurses charged with the care of inmates in the county jail were fired for giving an inmate expired medication taken from a biohazard disposal box. Karen Helmick and Sheryl Staples were both registered nurses with Prison Health Services Inc., the agency contracted to care for inmates' medical needs. They were fired March 14. "Unfortunately, it happened," said Linda Antuono, PHS health service administrator. "It was rectified immediately." A PHS doctor checked on the inmate the day after the incident, explained the risk factors to him and ordered testing for HIV and hepatitis, according to the incident report Antuono filed with the Sheriff's Office. According to the report, another nurse saw Helmick break open a sharps container -- a box used to dispose of glass medicine vials and used needles -- and remove a vial of expired drugs. Helmick gave Staples the medicine to administer to the inmate. Staples told authorities that the nurses had run out of the medication the inmate needed. The nurses should have called an outside pharmacy to order backup medication, the report states. "Sheryl stated to me that she did not want to cross Karen," Antuono wrote in the report. Karen Helmick said that she knew she was in a supervisory position, which made her responsible for retrieving backup drugs from the pharmacy, the report states. She told Antuono that "she just did not feel like driving and getting it," according to the report.

November 22, 2004 AP
A Charlotte County Jail inmate and his nurse girlfriend on Monday denied charges she smuggled drugs into the facility for him. Ruth E. Brodis, a nurse at the jail, was arrested Thursday and charged with introducing contraband into a correctional facility, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison if convicted. Brodis was working for Prison Health Services, a contractor which provides medical services to the county. But Brodis said she suffers from fibromyalgia and the pills found by detectives were hers and not intended for her fiancee, Tyler Schwartzkopf, who is currently in jail on a second-degree felony charge of grand theft.

November 20, 2004 Herald Tribune
A private health care nurse at the county jail smuggled prescription drugs to an inmate she planned to marry, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office. The nurse, Ruth Ellen Brodis, was arrested Thursday at the jail when she arrived for her shift, sheriff's Detective Martha Faul said. The Deep Creek resident is charged with introduction of contraband, a felony.
Brodis works for Prison Health Services, a Tennessee-based company that provides health care to inmates in hundreds of jails, prisons and juvenile facilities across the country.

Chatham County Detention Center
Savannah, GA
Jun 18, 2016
Corizon losing Georgia contract
Local prison health care provider Corizon will soon hand over the reins to a Georgia contract it's held since the early 1990s after its relationship with the sheriff there turned "hostile." Brentwood-based Corizon has been providing health services to inmates at the jail in Chatham County, which is home to Savannah, since 1993. The company's work with about 1,500 inmates there was earlier this year reaccredited by the Medical Association of Georgia but its contract will not be renewed after it expires July 31. County officials late last week authorized staff to being negotiating with Atlanta-based CorrectHealth for a deal that could be worth up to $7 million in its first year. Corizon's contract has been paying $5.1 million. WTVM-TV in Columbus, Georgia, reports that a big reason for Chatham officials' switch in providers is that Sheriff John Wilcher has been very critical of Corizon's record and has asked for numerous changes to the company's contract. A Corizon spokesperson told the station any requests were not formally made and that the company is on board with moving on. Corizon did have an answer to that question when we spoke to their representative on Friday. "As soon as possible" is their wish. They want out of what they consider a hostile relationship with the sheriff's office, as soon as Wilcher can get CorrectHealth's contract approved by his attorneys. Corizon [went] on to say, whenever that is, they will make sure the transition is a smooth one. Word of the pending end of the Chatham contract comes a few weeks after Corizon executives lost out in their bid to extend their contract with the New Mexico Corrections Department, a job they had done for almost a decade and one that is worth more than $40 million per year.

May 21, 2016
Deputy sues Chatham County jail's health care provider
A deputy sheriff is suing the Chatham County jail’s contract health care provider for what she alleges is negligence that led to a 2014 attack, which left her unable to work. In addition to seeking damages from Corizon Health, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Wendy Smoot-Lee is suing Shena Danielle Burton, the inmate accused of attacking her on May 27, 2014. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Chatham County State Court, claims Smoot-Lee suffered “severe and permanent” injuries after the altercation with Burton. She is seeking a jury trial, compensation for more than $100,000 in medical bills and other, unspecified damages. Jail records show Burton, then 28, was arrested March 16, 2014, on a contempt of court charge. The lawsuit alleges Burton was tapped for psychiatric evaluation by a Corizon nurse, but that she needed medicine and did not receive further mental health treatment over the next two months despite the nurse “repeatedly” requesting it. That, according to the lawsuit, amounted to negligence and “created a dangerous and unsafe environment.” Corizon, the lawsuit reads, “knew, or with exercise of reasonable care, should have known of (Burton’s) psychiatric disorder and propensity for violent/aggressive behavior should she fail to receive her medications.” Smoot-Lee, who spoke to the Savannah Morning News by phone Wednesday, said she suffered a spinal injury in the struggle to subdue Burton, who had just tried to elbow her. Smoot-Lee fell to the ground in a way that caused a compression injury. Two days after the fall, Smoot-Lee said, the pain kept her from getting out of bed. That was the last time she worked a shift at the sheriff’s department, her employer for 14 years. The 50-year-old deputy, who has been walking with a cane since the incident, said she had to have back surgery and needs ongoing physical therapy. She still works for the sheriff’s department but is on long-term disability. “Every day I’m in excruciating pain,” Smoot-Lee said. Most of all, though, she said the incident left her unable to perform her job, which she calls a “passion.” “I miss work,” she said. “I miss my job.” Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin said she could not comment on care provided to Burton or “the merits of the complaint” due to patient privacy and pending litigation. Harbin, however, did say that lawsuits “by their nature are one-sided documents.” “While we are sympathetic to the difficulties this former sheriff’s deputy is experiencing from injuries sustained in the line of duty, we believe the facts of this case will not support her attorney’s claims,” Harbin said in an emailed statement. “We will vigorously defend the care provided by our Chatham County nurses, doctors and mid-level providers, who work every day in a particularly dangerous environment to provide compassionate care to some of the most vulnerable members of the community.” It was not immediately known if Burton, who is being sued for damages related to assault and battery, had an attorney. The incident marks at least the fourth time Corizon has been sued over its operations at the Chatham County jail. While the two most recent lawsuits arose after the deaths of inmates, attorney Will Claiborne said the incident involving Smoot-Lee shows that the company sometimes puts sheriff’s department employees at risk. Claiborne filed two other lawsuits this year in which family members of inmates who died in custody sought damages from Corizon, and he represented three of the company’s employees — a doctor, a physician’s assistant and a nurse — who claimed they were fired in 2014 for reporting perceived lack-of-care issues to sheriff’s department commanders. Currently, the sheriff’s department and Chatham County government officials are working on a new health care contract for the jail. County Manager Lee Smith says several companies have put in bids, and that county staffers are “doing due diligence” before making a recommendation to the sheriff’s department. The county provides the sheriff’s department with much of its funding, and Smith said he expects a recommendation will come in June as part of the budgetary process. Corizon is one of the companies that returned a proposal, but, Smith said, “we are negotiating with another company.” The county became more involved in the process last year after the high-profile death of an inmate led to a wave of firings, policy overhaul and consultants being brought in at the behest of then-Sheriff Al St Lawrence, who died in office in November. Ultimately, though, it will be up to newly elected Sheriff John Wilcher to decide who provides health care at the jail. Wilcher, a 40-year veteran of the department, said Wednesday that he could not comment on the lawsuit, Corizon or the future of health care at the jail because of ongoing litigation. He did, however, call Smoot-Lee “an excellent officer.”

Mar 26, 2016
Probation lifted for Chatham Co. Jail's health provider
CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - The health group contracted to serve the Chatham County Sheriff's Office has been on probation since last summer. The decision came down from the Medical Association of Georgia when they conducted an audit of the facility after a number of complaints and two inmate deaths since 2014. WTOC found out Wednesday that their probation period has now been lifted. They are once again fully accredited by the Medical Association of Georgia, but only after they were audited several times over the last couple of months. The probation issued by the Medical Association of Georgia cited issues with the jail's procedures relating to the death of an inmate - restraint and seclusion - and their continuous quality improvement.
The sheriff says being on probation meant that they could have lost their accreditation at any point but after months of making improvements. They are no longer on probation and the Medical Association of Georgia and is once again fully accredited. In a statement from the Corizon Health President Scott Bowers: "I have every confidence in our people, policies and practices in Chatham County. I want to acknowledge and thank our healthcare professionals for their steadfast dedication to the patients in our care throughout the challenges of the past year." Corizon has been serving Chatham County for more than 20 years, but that may all change. Chatham County Interim Sheriff Roy Harris announced Wednesday that the Chatham County Sheriff's Office is raising the bar higher than ever as they vet four companies to provide healthcare to inmates. Corizon Health is also bidding on this contract, like they've done every time they've had to renew it in the last 23 years. The difference now is they must prove they can meet these new standards that's been set by the county. "We had to change our intake system, our forms, to more readily identify mental health issues,” said Sheriff Harris. They were cited for several procedural issues, including how they handled the death of an inmate. But after eight months of audits, their accreditation has been reinstated. But Corizon's contract ends later this year which means this is the county's chance to revise what they expect from healthcare providers. "We are upping the ante on this RFP because we are providing different parameters of people we need in that jail,” said Sheriff Harris. Requiring more psychiatric nurses so that one can be available at all times and allotting more time for a doctor to be at the jail seeing patients. "We’re having several suicide attempts a week. We have to put them on a special watch, which means more staff is sitting there watching them. They have to be put in a place under total camera surveillance,” said Sheriff Harris. He believes being short staffed contributed to many of their issues and complaints over the last couple of years. He's not looking to go back so he hopes to find a group that will move forward with their new set of standards. A healthcare group will be recommended in a couple of weeks and the county commission will have to sign off on it.

Feb 1, 2015 PCWG watch

Family members of a Chatham County jail inmate who died last year after spending two weeks shackled to a hospital bed in a vegetative state are declaring their intent to take legal action against Chatham County. Savannah attorney Will Claiborne and the family of Matthew Loflin say the 32-year-old man would have lived longer had he been taken from jail to a hospital sooner, as he requested. In an ante litem notice submitted Thursday, which is the first step toward filing a lawsuit against the county, Claiborne alleges medical staff at the jail did not provide Loflin with adequate care when he was an inmate in February, March and April of last year. Despite a doctor’s insistence that Loflin should be admitted to a hospital for treatment of a heart condition, his supervisor at the private health care company that services the jail would not approve the transfer, Claiborne said. “The lack of care didn’t play a role in his death,” Claiborne said. “It caused his death.” Loflin, who had been kept alive by a ventilator for two weeks, died with his mother by his side April 24 at Memorial University Medical Center, two days after a judge ordered him released from custody. In the ante litem notice, Claiborne blames the sheriff’s office, the county and Corizon Health Inc., the private health care company at the jail, with Loflin’s death. The notice, which was sent to the sheriff, the county commission chairman and the county manager, states that Claiborne’s office and Loflin’s family are estimating damages of about $15 million. Loflin had been arrested by sheriff’s deputies on a drug charge Feb. 6. From that time until he arrived at Memorial on April 7, Claiborne said Loflin made repeated requests to be taken to a hospital and that some medical staff at the jail did not act on his symptoms of congestive heart failure. “While state and federal privacy laws prohibit us from discussing the details of an individual’s care or medical condition, we know many of the allegations made in the letter are untrue,” said a Corizon spokesperson Friday in an emailed statement. The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office deferred comment to county attorney Jon Hart, who said Friday that his office is reviewing the ante litem notice. Among the allegations raised in the ante litem notice:


• No medical action was taken at the jail after an ECG showed results consistent with congestive heart failure.

• A nurse scheduled Loflin for a mental health evaluation rather than a medical evaluation.

• Despite an elevated heart rate, swollen feet, “coughing up blood” and an X-ray that showed an enlarged heart and pneumonia, no medical action was taken.

• A doctor determined Loflin needed to be hospitalized, but the regional medical director in Florida overruled him, only allowing Loflin to receive an outpatient ECG that further showed results consistent with a diagnosis of congestive heart failure.

• The regional medical director once again refused to allow the doctor at the jail to send Loflin to the hospital after being advised of the outpatient ECG results.

• Every day from March 28-April 7, the jail doctor, a physician assistant and a registered nurse told their supervisor at the jail that Loflin needed to be admitted to a hospital but did not intervene.

• Before Jan. 1, 2014, the jail doctor would have been able to send Loflin to a hospital without the regional director’s approval, but Corizon changed its policies to require a supervisor’s OK “in an effort to save money.”


In medical records sent with the ante litem notice, nurses noted on several occasions that while treating Loflin, they noted no irregularities or acute distress, although he complained of chest pains.

Corizon did not directly answer a question about whether there were times when physicians at the jail would have to get approval to send a patient to a hospital. “Across Corizon Health, safety protocols are informed by an evidence-based medical plan,” the spokesperson said via email. “In emergency situations, on-site physicians at Chatham County jail have unfettered authority to refer a patient for hospital care.” The jail doctor got approval to send Loflin to a cardiologist for consultation April 7, but he called the specialist and informed him the incoming patient needed hospitalization, Claiborne said. In a death summary attached to the ante litem letter, the cardiologist noted that Loflin coughed up blood in his office and appeared to be in congestive heart failure. He sent Loflin to Memorial’s emergency room, where he coded several times, according to the letter. He remained at Memorial in a vegetative state until April 24, his mother and stepfather, Belinda and Joe Maley, said last year. The doctor and the two other medical staffers at the jail who reportedly told their supervisor Loflin needed to be hospitalized sued Corizon last year, claiming the company fired them in retaliation for reporting perceived lack-of-care issues to the sheriff and chief deputy. That lawsuit was filed by Claiborne and another local attorney last fall in Chatham County Superior Court.

Cheyenne Mountain Reentry Center
Jan 8, 2020

Private Prison To Close Colorado Springs Facility, Forcing The State To Reopen A Shuttered Prison To Rehouse 650 Inmates

Colorado’s Department of Corrections is preparing to find new beds for hundreds of inmates after the private prison company GEO announced Tuesday it will close its facility in Colorado Springs in two months. “Although we are disappointed by (GEO’s) decision, we are confident that as a department we will be able to manage the considerable impact of this change safely,” DOC Executive Director Dean Williams said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. The state has 60 days to relocate 650 inmates from GEO’s Cheyenne Mountain Reentry Center. GEO’s move comes after Gov. Jared Polis announced in November that he intended to close the private facility as part of his 2020 budget request. GEO Group spokesman Brian Miller said in an emailed statement that the company has had challenges retaining and recruiting staff at Cheyenne Mountain. “We will work with the DOC to develop a transition plan and prioritize the health, safety and well-being of CMRC staff and residents,” Miller said in the email. “The state has made its intentions clear; that it wants to manage this population within its own facilities, and we will work with them toward that end." Miller said the Colorado Springs facility has 180 employees and GEO will work with its staff on transition assistance. The state paints a different picture of its interactions with the company. The DOC statement says state officials have been in ongoing conversations with GEO regarding its “inability to provide appropriate treatment, lack of offender programs, staffing level issues, and turn-over rate.” Williams said he was surprised and disappointed in the short notice GEO gave the state.  “While we had been maintaining regular communications with the GEO Corporation regarding our serious concerns about their current operations and the terms of our contract with them, we had simultaneously been preparing for the very real concern that they would choose to rapidly close the facility,” Williams said. To absorb the 650 inmates from Cheyenne Mountain, the state wants to reopen its Centennial South prison in Cañon City to house higher-security inmates from other Colorado facilities. Those inmates’ open beds would be filled by the medium-custody inmates from the Colorado Springs facility.  Centennial South was completed in 2010 to hold inmates in solitary confinement but was closed two years later as Colorado’s prison population declined and the state moved away from using administrative segregation. The facility can hold almost 1,000 inmates and has since been restructured to give inmates more human contact. Williams said transferring 650 inmates is doable, but it isn’t an ideal situation. He estimates 300 inmates will be double-bunked, or put on gymnasium or day room floors temporarily. He said there is no other long-term solution besides re-opening Centennial South.  “There is no other place to put 600-some prisoners,” he said. “I understand there may be reluctance. There's some history about what that facility's about, but I've tried to assure the legislature and others that no, no, no, that, whatever that was built for, that's not how we're using it.”  In October, Democratic lawmakers on a task force studying the state’s prison population agreed to back a proposed bill that would cut the number of inmates held in private prisons by almost 30 percent by moving them to Centennial South. That measure will be introduced in the legislative session that starts Wednesday. Colorado has three private prisons currently in operation, including the one in Colorado Springs. The other two are in Bent and Crowley counties, a spokeswoman with the DOC said.

Chillicothe Correctional Center
Livingston County, Missouri
Nov 30, 2019
Therapist sexually abused women at Missouri prison for years, lawsuit says
A therapist who worked at a Missouri prison for women sexually abused his patients for years and preyed on inmates with mental health issues, according to a federal lawsuit. While the counselor, John Thomas Dunn, was known by inmates as a “creep,” his criminal behavior at Chillicothe Correctional Center did not end until he was arrested by an outside agency, the lawsuit contends. The lawsuit was filed by 49-year-old Teresa Ketner, who said she was sexually assaulted by Dunn while she was confined at the state Department of Corrections facility for possession of a controlled substance. There, she sought counseling to address her history of trauma and hoped to secure a referral to a psychiatric professional. She was assigned to Dunn, and became his victim, according to the lawsuit. She said she still has nightmares. “It’s hell,” Ketner said in a phone interview from her home in the Lake of the Ozarks area. “I hope these people have to answer for what they’ve done.” The allegation was not the first against Dunn. In 2017, he pleaded guilty to sexual conduct with another prisoner. The year after, another woman, Karen Backues Keil, filed a lawsuit alleging Dunn began sexually assaulting her after she was raped by a guard at the facility. As many as nine women have accused Dunn of wrongdoing, whether officially or not, Ketner’s attorney, Brendan Roediger, told The Star. Roediger said as far as he knows, the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate sexual misconduct at Chillicothe Correctional Center, which is about 90 miles northeast of Kansas City. In February, the other woman suing Dunn was informed the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating the possibility of federal criminal charges. Ketner’s lawsuit names as defendants Dunn; Corizon Health Inc., which employed him and has a contract with Missouri prisons; and three other people, including Dunn’s supervisor and a state employee who investigated Ketner’s allegations. They had an obligation to work to prevent inmates from being abused and failed to protect Ketner, according to the lawsuit. Corizon Health and the Department of Corrections did not respond to emails seeking comment Wednesday. Dunn could not be reached for comment by phone and no one answered the door at his listed Kansas City address. Dunn’s attorney has said he no longer works at the prison. The federal lawsuit was the fifth filed since mid-2018 to allege sexual assault at Chillicothe Correctional Center. Ketner was at the prison from 2013 to February 2015. She sought counseling and medication for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, but she was told she first had to speak with a counselor and be given a referral, her lawsuit states. Dunn was assigned as her counselor. He harassed her from the beginning, directly asking her, according to the lawsuit: “Would you like to be molested?” and laughed. The sexual abuse occurred in Dunn’s office, which had no cameras, according to Ketner’s lawsuit. During sessions, he kept the door shut and the shades pulled down, Ketner’s attorneys wrote in the suit. The correctional center has historically placed inmates in solitary confinement, cutting them off from visitation, when they reported Prison Rape Elimination Act violations, according to the lawsuit. Ketner has been in solitary, also known as the “hole,” before. It was cold and scary, she said, so she didn’t report the alleged abuse. Ketner was released from the correctional facility in 2015 and returned in 2016. She feared being abused. She requested to see a mental health provider other than Dunn. When Ketner came forward, her allegations were investigated by a corrections employee who had no authority to investigate Prison Rape Elimination Act violations, according to the lawsuit. He made sexually suggestive comments as he interrogated Ketner, the suit says. That investigator threatened Ketner with solitary and additional charges if she did not recant her story, her attorneys said. The investigator, she told The Star, asked her: “Why would he go after you when there’s young, beautiful women on this camp?” “Like I’m too old and ugly to rape,” Ketner said. The investigator did not substantiate Ketner’s complaint and Dunn was allowed to continue working at Chillicothe Correctional Center, according to the lawsuit. After Dunn was arrested in 2017, another investigator reviewed previous probes of allegations against Dunn. The new investigator substantiated Ketner’s claim and determined the other employee “acted outside his scope of duty,” the suit says. Ketner said she hopes her lawsuit lets other women know they can come forward. She wants Dunn to never work at a women’s facility again. “Mr. Dunn shouldn’t be a counselor, period,” Ketner said. “He shouldn’t counsel animals.”

Jun 16, 2018
Former Corizon employee at Chillicothe Correctional Center pleads guilty to sexual conduct with a prisoner
A former employee of a company contracted for services at the Chillicothe Correctional Center, who previously pleaded guilty to felony sexual conduct with a prisoner, appeared in Livingston County Circuit Court Tuesday. Online court information shows John Thomas Dunn of Kansas City, Missouri was sentenced to a facility to be determined by the Missouri Department of Corrections and Human Resources for four years, which was to run concurrently with all other sentences. Execution of sentence was suspended, and Dunn was placed on probation for five years under the supervision of the Missouri State Board of Probation and Parole. He was ordered to serve 120 days of shock detention with credit given for time served. Judgment against Dunn was in the sum of $10 for the Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund, and his home plan was approved. A spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Corrections previously reported Dunn was an employee of Corizon Health at the time of the incident in September 2017. A former inmate filed a suit in the Western District federal court of Kansas City in May against Dunn and corrections officer Edward Bearden accusing them of rape and sexual abuse. According to the lawsuit in federal court, Dunn began sexually assaulting the victim after she told him Bearden raped her.

Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility
, Burlington, Vermont
September 2, 2010 Burlington Free Press
A prison rights group's efforts to force disclosure of information from a government contractor is a critical effort to keep public records open as state government increasingly looks to privatize services to save money. Prison Legal News -- a magazine and organization promoting prisoners rights -- is arguing that a company formerly known as Prison Health Services that provides health care services in Vermont prisons is subject to the state's public records law. Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright got it right when he told The Associated Press that the state "cannot contract out the public's fundamental right to know how their tax dollars are being spent and the quality of services the pubic is getting for its money." If there is any ambiguity about the reach of open government laws when government functions are contracted out to private firms, then the Legislature must make erasing that ambiguity a priority in the next session. Vermont's open government laws are so full of exemptions and so lacking in consequences for the offender as to render them largely meaningless. The least the Legislature can do is to make sure the public's already limited ability to keep government accountable isn't shut down by privatization. Around the country, private contractors are being hired by state and local governments in search of savings. There is no reason the reach of open government laws should stop simply because government functions paid for with tax dollars are in the hands of private companies. If private companies want to profit by performing government functions, then they should expect to held accountable by taxpayers who will be paying the bills. The principle must be that any government meeting or information that would be open to the public must remain so even if the function has been transferred outside of government. Otherwise, government officials could erect a wall of secrecy simply by outsourcing anything they might be hard pressed to explain to the public. People have a right to know what their government is up to, and access is the first step in keeping government accountable. The responsibility to deliver information to the public rests with the elected officials and civil servants. That responsibility is undiminished even if government functions are privatized. Advocating for open government will require a shift in culture for a Legislature more prone to seeking exclusions and exceptions to the open government laws to every interest that comes along. This is a change that must happen at the polls in November by extracting a pledge of open access and accountability from every candidate.

August 26, 2010 Serious News
Here's a fascinating lawsuit that will test the legal boundaries of Vermont's public-records statute. Prison Legal News (PLN), a Brattleboro-based nonprofit that publishes the nation's largest jailhouse newspaper, filed suit today against PHS Correctional Healthcare — formerly known as Prison Health Services — seeking documents related to the August 2009 death of a female inmate at Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans. Until last year, PHS, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based private corporation, was contracted by the state to provide medical services to inmates in all of Vermont prisons. On August 16, 2009, Ashley Ellis, a 23-year-old Rutland woman who suffered from anorexia and was serving a 30-day sentence, was found unresponsive in her cell and later pronounced dead. The state's chief medical examiner determined that a contributing factor in her death was the "denial of access to medication" by the prison's medical staff. Ellis' family eventually settled its lawsuit with PHS for an undisclosed sum. Late last year, the Vermont Department of Corrections decided not to renew the company's five-year contract when it expired in January. According to a PLN press release issued today, the Brattleboro nonprofit submitted a formal document request to PHS Correctional Healthcare under Vermont's open-records law, seeking "copies of the company’s contracts with government agencies in Vermont; records related to settlements and judgments that PHS had paid as a result of lawsuits and civil claims; and documents concerning costs incurred by PHS to defend against claims or suits." PHS Correctional Services subsequently denied that request, claiming that, as a private company, it wasn't subject to Vermont's public-records law. However, in a complaint filed in Vermont Superior Court, PLN contends that the prison health provider served as the "functional equivalent" of a state agency, as it provided a service that would otherwise be delivered by the state. According to PLN Editor Paul Wright, this "functional equivalency" standard has been successfully applied to private corporations providing similar services in other states. “The state can outsource public functions and services such as health care for prisoners,” Wright said, in a statement, “but it cannot contract out the public’s fundamental right to know how their tax dollars are being spent and the quality of services the public is getting for its money.” Wright also questioned “why PHS refuses to release records that state agencies would have to produce if the state were providing prison medical care.”

May 28, 2010 Rutland Herald
A watchdog group charged with safeguarding the rights of the disabled released a report Thursday that cites a number of systematic failures that led to the death of a Vermont inmate last year. Disability Rights Vermont's 23-page report about the death of Ashley Ellis found that miscommunications between the Department of Corrections and Prison Health Services — the private company contracted to provide health care in the state's prisons at the time of Ellis' death — along with other breakdowns in the system of care led to the 23-year-old's death from a combination of hypokalemic-induced cardiac arrhythmia due to anorexia/bulimia nervosa and denial of medications to boost her potassium levels. The report also includes a number of recommendations to prevent similar deaths, including improving the identification of inmates in need of medical treatment for substance withdrawal, assuring that important medical information is received and verified promptly by prison health staff and assuring that qualified nursing staff are available at all shifts, including weekends.

December 29, 2007 Rutland Herald
The proposed settlement in a wrongful death suit against the state has been sealed. Earlier this month, attorneys for the estate of the late Robert Nichols of Brandon filed a motion to seal an order for the distribution of settlement proceeds and related documents. The papers will remain sealed at least until Rutland Superior Court holds a hearing on the motion, according to a court clerk. Robert "Bones" Nichols, a meat cutter who worked at his family's slaughterhouse, died in 2005 at age 44 while at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington. He was undergoing a severe case of heroin withdrawal and a later report by a statewide advocacy group said his death could have been prevented. His widow, Eva Nichols, filed a lawsuit in 2006 against the state and against Prison Health Services, Inc., a company contracted to provide medical services in the Vermont prison system shortly before Nichols died. Eva Nichols was acting as administrator of her husband's estate. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages. The documents were sealed because of a confidentiality agreement between the plaintiff and Prison Health Services that is part of the proposed settlement. Attorney Devin McLaughlin, who represents the plaintiff, could not be reached for comment Friday. Samuel Hoar, the attorney for Prison Health Services, said that the motion was necessary because wrongful death suits require a court order on the distribution of settlement money and the parties cannot just mutually dismiss the case like in other types of lawsuits.

September 13, 2007 Rutland Herald
A settlement has been reached in a civil lawsuit against the state filed by the family of a Brandon man who died in a South Burlington jail while suffering from severe heroin withdrawal, according to court records. Paperwork indicating that the lawsuit brought on behalf of the estate of the late Robert Nichols has been resolved was filed last week in Rutland Superior Court. The documents do not state a dollar amount of the settlement, only that a resolution of the case was reached following a mediation session involving the parties. Attorneys in the case said since formal paperwork regarding the settlement hasn't yet been filed in court as of Wednesday, they could not disclose details of the resolution. "Unfortunately I can't really comment at this point in time because it hasn't been finalized," Assistant State Attorney David Groff, said. "When that happens there will be a stipulation of the parties and I'll be able to comment at that time." Peter Langrock, a Middlebury attorney representing the Nichols' family, said he could not yet talk about the settlement amount either. "I can tell you that we settled and at this point it's for an undisclosed sum," Langrock said. The lawsuit was filed in October 2006 on the behalf of Nichols' estate, which is administered by his wife, Eva Nichols. Nichols died in February 2005 while in the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington. The lawsuit named the state of Vermont as a defendant as well as Prison Health Services, a company that had been contracted to provide medical services in Vermont's prisons shortly before Nichols' death. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages. According to court records, Nichols, 44, was arrested Feb. 3, 2005, on federal firearms charges and the next morning he was taken to the South Burlington jail before being taken to federal court. However, he was deemed too ill to go before a judge and later that night, he saw a nurse from Prison Health Services, the lawsuit said. "This was approximately 16 hours after first arriving at the facility with obvious withdrawal symptoms. Mr. Nichols was not seen by a doctor or referred to an outside facility," according to the lawsuit. "Rather, he was returned to his cell after apparent administration of some medication. He was not sent to a medical bed or facility." Nichols told the nurse that he had vomited three times and had a fever and tremors. Fifteen-minute checks were ordered. In the response to the lawsuit, the state acknowledged that not all the checks were done properly. "The state admits that Mr. Nichols was placed on 15-minute checks, but was not observed on a continuous, uninterrupted basis," the response stated. "The state further admits that some checks did not comply with the standards and practices demanded by the state." Nichols was found dead just before 6 a.m. the next morning. In June 2005, Vermont Protection & Advocacy issued a report stating that Nichols' death at the jail could have been prevented if the staff had provided better medical care. The advocacy group stated corrections officials knew Nichols was sick when he arrived at the jail, but did not properly monitor his condition. "Had they taken a more active role in assuring he was receiving adequate medical care and follow up, this tragedy may have been avoided," the advocacy group's report stated.

October 9, 2006 Rutland Herald
The family of a Brandon man, who died in a jail more than a year ago, is suing the state, claiming that while he was suffering from severe heroin withdrawal, he failed to get necessary medical care while behind bars. The lawsuit was filed last week in Rutland Superior Court on behalf of the late Robert Nichols' estate, which is administered by his wife, Eva Nichols. Robert Nichols died Feb. 5, 2005, while in the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington. The lawsuit names as defendants not only the state of Vermont, but Prison Health Services, a company that had been contracted to provide medical services in the Vermont's prisons shortly before Nichols' death. The lawsuit alleges proper procedures were not followed for Nichols, an inmate experiencing withdrawal symptoms from the use of heroin at the time of his incarceration. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. According to the lawsuit, Nichols was arrested on Feb. 3, 2005, on federal firearms charges, and on Feb. 4 at about 3:30 a.m., agents from the federal Department of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms brought Nichols to the South Burlington jail, where he was lodged as a federal detainee. "Mr. Nichols reported that he was suffering from heroin withdrawal, and that he had ingested eighty (80) bags of heroin within three days of being incarcerated," the lawsuit stated. "He was not given immediate medical attention." At about 9 a.m. on Feb. 4, Nichols was transported to federal court in Burlington, but because of the severity of his withdrawal symptoms, he could not appear before the judge and was taken back to the South Burlington jail around 1:30 p.m., according to the lawsuit. "Again, Mr. Nichols received no immediate medical treatment," the lawsuit stated. "The U.S. Marshals reported the severity of Mr. Nichols' symptoms to (the South Burlington jail)." The first medical treatment Nichols received at the jail was more than five hours later, at about 7:15 p.m. of Feb. 4, when he was seen by a nurse from Prison Health Services, the lawsuit stated. "This was approximately 16 hours after first arriving at the facility with obvious withdrawal symptoms. Mr. Nichols was not seen by a doctor or referred to an outside facility," according to the lawsuit. "Rather, he was returned to his cell after apparent administration of some medication. He was not sent to a medical bed or facility." Nichols had reported to the nurse that he had vomited three times that evening and had a fever and tremors, the lawsuit stated. Fifteen-minute checks were ordered on Nichols, who had been returned to a cell. "However, these checks were either not conducted in whole or in part or were so cursory a fashion as to not constitute meaningful observation," and Nichols continued to vomit in his cell, the lawsuit stated. The next morning, at 5:54 a.m., when a correctional officer opened the cell door to bring in breakfast, Nichols was found dead, and he appeared to have been deceased for about an hour. The lawsuit stated that state Department of Corrections employees, as well as employees of Prison Health Services, violated Nichols' rights "by their deliberate indifference to Mr. Nichols' serious medical needs, as they knew of and disregarded excessive risk to Mr. Nichols though gross incompetence and grossly inadequate treatment and supervision." In June 2005, a statewide advocacy group issued a report looking into Nichols' death. The report stated that Nichols' death could have been avoided if he had received better medical care. Vermont Protection & Advocacy reported that the state Department of Corrections knew Nichols had been sick when he came into the jail, but did not properly monitor him.

August 11, 2006 Burlington Free Press
The parents of an inmate who committed suicide in his cell in 2004 have sued the state Corrections Department, alleging that prison workers knew their son was thinking of killing himself but did not act to prevent his death. Ryan Rodriguez, 24, was found hanging in his cell Oct. 19, 2004 at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington. He died at Fletcher Allen Health Care four days later after his parents had him removed from life support. Court documents show he had been in jail for 15 months awaiting trial on charges he mistreated a toddler he was caring for at a Burlington motel. Rodriguez, from New Mexico, was visiting friends in Burlington at the time of his arrest. Rodriguez's death occurred six months after an independent study examined seven inmate deaths in an 18-month stretch, including two by suicide. The study found evidence the Corrections Department had mishandled inmates with mental health issues. "We had no idea Ryan was being treated so badly," Ryan Rodriguez's mother, Carol, said during a telephone interview last week from Tucson, Ariz., where she and her husband, Joe Rodriguez, live. "When Joe got there after Ryan's suicide, one of the guards told him to seek legal help. He said, 'This has happened previously here.'" The Rodriguezes allege in their lawsuit that four times during their son's 15 months in jail awaiting trial, he told Corrections officers he was thinking of hurting or killing himself but was never referred to mental health workers for help. The case, filed in federal court in Burlington, lists as defendants the Corrections Department, three of its employees and Correctional Medical Services, the department's medical care contractor at the time.

June 23, 2005 Rutland Herald
An advocacy group claims the death of a prison inmate suffering from heroin withdrawal could have been prevented if staff had provided better medical care.  Vermont Protection & Advocacy said Friday that the Corrections Department knew Robert Nichols was sick when he arrived at jail but failed to adequately monitor his condition. "Had they taken a more active role in assuring he was receiving adequate medical care and follow- up this tragedy may have been avoided," Vermont Protection & Advocacy said in its report released Friday.  The advocacy group claims procedures were not followed for inmates experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms or undergoing detoxification.     The records show Nichols was seen by a nurse 14 hours after he lodged at the prison when Corrections policy require that inmates who are suffering from drug withdrawal be reported to medical staff for evaluation, the report said.  The report also questioned whether prison guards checked on Nichols throughout the night. The report also raises concerns about Prison Health Services, who was contracted to provide medical services in the state's prisons a week before Nichols' death.  Among the recommendations, the report advises the state to monitor the care provided by Prison Health Services and makes sure staff follow policies and are trained to recognize behaviors that are potentially life threatening. The group also recommends that the Corrections Department provide an apology and financial settlement to Nichols' family.  Nichols death follows a spate of seven inmate deaths, including two suicides, over an 18-month period that ended in late 2003. An outside investigation concluded that state actions and policies were partly to blame for the deaths of some of the seven people who have died in state custody.

Clarke County Jail, Athens, Georgia
December 6, 2004 Athens Banner Herald
The denial of medical care to a Clarke County Jail prisoner who later died from a heart attack was tantamount to the woman being "punished by death on a misdemeanor charge," according to a lawsuit filed by her husband in Clarke County Superior Court.
In the lawsuit, Muscogee County resident Stephan Lamar Hubbard Jr. claims his wife, 40-year-old Laverne Rose Hubbard, died two years ago after repeatedly pleading for jail personnel to take her to the hospital because she was suffering with chest pain. In the lawsuit, however, Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards, Athens-Clarke County and the jail's contracted health care provider, Tennessee-based Prison Health Systems Inc., are all alleged to have been negligent in the training of jail personnel on proper emergency medical response and treatment procedures. Eight hours after arriving at the jail, the lawsuit states, Mrs. Hubbard was taken to the hospital after being found unconscious on the floor of her cell. "Mrs. Hubbard died of a heart attack, which would have been avoided if (jail personnel) had not denied Mrs. Hubbard medical care," the lawsuit states. "(Their medical) policy violated contemporary standards of decency."

Clark County Detention Center, Clark, Nevada
Just as they were due to present their case, trial attorneys for Prison Health Services and Metro Police settled a civil rights lawsuit filed by the estate of a Las Vegas man who allegedly died from the denial of his AIDS medication while in the Clark County Detention Center. The undisclosed settlement was agreed to Friday before U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt. The ACLU and Robert Langford acted as joint counsel on the case that centered on Karl Robert Kurfis' death...Langford told the jury that Dr. Harvey Hoffman, the jail's medical director, discontinued Kurfis' medication soon after he was booked into the jail, and in a deposition Kurfis testified that Hoffman told him that he didn't deserve his medication because he was a drug addict. (Las Vegas Sun, May 10, 2004)

The death of Karl Robert Kurfis was caused by the denial of his HIV medication while in the Clark County Detention Center, attorney Robert Langford said during opening arguments in a federal trial Monday.  A lawsuit originally filed on Kurfis' behalf and now listing his mother as the plaintiff seeks $10 million in punitive damages from Metro Police and Prison Health Services Inc., the medical contractor for the Clark County Detention Center.  "Karl Kurfis died because of a system that does not care about the detainees who arrive and get sick at the Clark County Detention Center," Langford said. "This trial is about a system that isn't working. A system that does not provide medical care to citizens when they are detained at the detention center."  Bruce Alverson, representing the defendants in the case, who also include former Sheriff Jerry Keller and Dr. Harvey Hoffman, the jail's medical director, countered that Kurfis did not die because of mistreatment at the jail, but because of his own unwillingness to take his medication.  "The plaintiff refused to take his HIV medication," Alverson said. "Why? Because he abused methamphetamine and it has been shown that drug abusers lack the responsibility to take care of themselves."  Kurfis, 34, died on June 3, 2002, of a strain of pneumonia that often attacks AIDS patients. Kurfis had been arrested in February 2000 on a burglary charge, and was held until September of that year. Kurfis only received his HIV medication for 14 days during the incarceration, Langford said.  (Las Vegas Sun, May 4, 2004)

The family of a French citizen who died in a videotaped struggle with Las Vegas jail guards has settled a federal lawsuit against the jail's health care provider, according to a relative and the American Civil Liberties Union. The undisclosed settlement between the family of Philippe LeMenn, 33, and Prison Health Services Inc., was the last of a series of civil lawsuits stemming from LeMenn's death in January 2001. (Reno Gazette-Journal, November 19, 2003)

Clarke County Jail, Clark, Washington
Donna Power says officers at the Clark County Jail abused her husband, Gale, by failing to provide his medication for several days after he was arrested.  The Powers, who live on a 12-acre horse ranch in Brush Prairie, have threatened to sue. They say Gale Power, 62, suffered elevated blood pressure, headaches, shakes and difficulty walking as a result of not getting his medicine.  In recent years, several people have complained of not being allowed to bring their meds into the jail, Sheriff Garry Lucas said. The Columbian also has heard many such beefs from inmates and their family members.  Donna Power complained to Lucas on March 10.  For at least nine days while Gale Power was in custody in October and last month, she said, he wasn't allowed his doctor-prescribed blood-pressure and antidepressant medication. She said their attorney intervened, and officials provided the drugs. Officials investigated the Powers' complaint and determined that any delays were justified, said jail Chief Joe Dunegan.  Since January 2001, the county's inmate medical program has been operated by Prison Health Services, a Nashville, Tenn., managed-care company. Now serving jails in 26 states, the company is the largest provider of contracted inmate medical services in the United States, a spokesman said.  (Columbian, April 4, 2004)

Clackamas County Jail
June 9, 2022

Private companies in Oregon jails must serve inmates equally The ruling last week came in a case involving a deaf man who filed a federal discrimination lawsuit.

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that private companies providing services to people in Oregon jail custody must abide by federal laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. The ruling last week came in a case involving a deaf man who filed a federal discrimination lawsuit, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. It notches a victory for civil rights advocates, who argued that people with disabilities have borne an outsized burden when seeking medical care while incarcerated. "This decision will save lives," said Emily Cooper, legal director for Disability Rights Oregon. State lawmakers in 2013 made correctional facilities exempt from laws requiring equal treatment in accommodation, citing as an example that jailers might need to segregate people for safety reasons. The ruling stems from a 2016 lawsuit filed by Andrew J. Abraham, who alleged Corizon Health Inc. had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to treat him while he was held at the Clackamas County Jail. Corizon stopped operating in Oregon in 2018, according to spokesperson Morgan Hook, the same year a $10 million settlement was approved to the family of a woman who died after the company's employees failed to keep her hydrated while she detoxed at the Washington County Jail. Writing for the majority, Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters noted that while jails themselves are exempt from certain public accommodation laws, the for-profit companies operating behind bars must serve everyone equally.

Oct 6, 2018
2 inmate death lawsuits, same medical provider
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- The mother of a Clackamas County Jail inmate who died in custody is suing the county and the contracted jail medical provider -- the same medical provider being sued in the death of a Washington County inmate. Tennessee-based Corizon Health provides medical care for inmates at 26 jails in 13 states. They've been sued multiple times across the country over the death of inmates. The lawsuit filed by the mother of Bryan Perry against Clackamas County and Corizon Health said they did not do more to help her son.  In November 2016, deputies took cell phone video and joked as Perry moved uncontrollably in his padded cell, likely from a drug overdose. The lawsuit claims 2 nurses only checked on Perry twice that night for a total of 5 minutes. He eventually went into cardiac arrest and died at the hospital. He was 31. The lawsuit claims Corizon Health "has a nationwide pattern and practice of failing to properly treat jail inmates experiencing drug or alcohol overdose or withdrawal." The death of Madaline Pitkin. About a year ago, KOIN 6 News reported about the disturbing death of Madaline Pitkin while she was an inmate in Washington County.  Madaline Pitkin died in April 2014 while being held at the Washington County Jail. Her parents filed a lawsuit against the county on November 30, 2016 (Courtesy photo). Her family is also suing Corizon Health. According to the lawsuit, in 2014 Pitkin made multiple requests for help involving heroin withdrawal. She died in her jail cell. Corizon Health failed to provide timely and complete medical care, her family said. "I just can't imagine people that are so heartless," Mary Pitkin told KOIN 6 News at that time. "They maybe don't view prisoners as people. I don't know." Washington County changed medical providers in 2015. The Clackamas County Jail is currently the only jail in Oregon where Corizon Health operates. The deputies involved in the cell phone video of Bryan Perry are employed by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, not Corizon Health. Sheriff Craig Roberts said he took disciplinary action against those employees who still worked there. In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Corizon Health officials said: Corizon Health is first and foremost a healthcare company with doctors and nurses dedicated to working in a challenging setting to provide care that follows medical guidelines and meets national standards of care. Due to patient privacy and active litigation, we are unable to comment on this individual case, but we believe it is important to note that Corizon employees were not involved in videotaping Mr. Perry and the comments on the tape are not those of any Corizon Health employee.

Collier County Jail
, Naples, Florida
November 13, 2010 Naples Daily News
A 24-year-old woman who lost her baby while she was an inmate at the Collier County jail has sued the sheriff and the jail’s medical provider, alleging they violated her civil rights by denying her necessary medical treatment. Joan Small, a former Bonita Springs woman now known as Joan Graeber, is suing Tennessee-based Prison Health Services and Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk after suffering pregnancy complications that led to her baby’s death. Prison Health Services is the target of pending lawsuits in Collier and Lee counties — and nationally — involving denial of medical care in jails. Publicity over baby Elena’s death in February 2009 ended in other pregnant inmates with complications getting released in the weeks afterward. The lawsuit was filed this month in Collier Circuit Court by Naples attorneys Sharon Hanlon and Ted Zelman. It’s been assigned to Judge Cynthia Pivacek. Hanlon declined comment.

February 4, 2010 Naples Daily News
Joan Laurel Graeber still cries when she thinks about the baby she and her fiancé, Elias Guzman, lost while she was an inmate in the Collier County Jail last year. The 23-year-old former Bonita Springs woman visits Elena Laurel Guzman’s grave often and works from home because socializing is still hard for her while she’s grieving. Today, it will have been a year since they lost Elena, and the couple, who have since moved to New Jersey, plan to get married soon. They’re also expecting another child, Julieta Isabella. Because of the problems Graeber had with Elena’s dead fetus remaining inside her for so long in the jail, her doctor is monitoring her closely and their baby may be delivered by C-section early, possibly this week. “Doctors have said she was in there too long and an infection had started to develop,” said Graeber’s attorney, Sharon Hanlon of Naples. Graeber said doctors don’t want to wait the full 40 weeks. “They’re just really worried and don’t want the same thing to happen again,” Graeber said. “But she’s very healthy. Because of Elena, I’ve had to go through so many tests.” Graeber, who was jailed under her married name, Joan Laurel Small, has since divorced Ken Enright Small, whom she blames for landing her in jail when she was 22 and pregnant. She’d never been in trouble with the law. “I wanted that name gone,” Graeber said, adding she filed for divorce and pushed doctors to remove “Small” from her medical records. “It’s his fault I was in this predicament.” In September 2007, Graeber landed in jail when her estranged husband was stopped for a traffic violation as he drove her to the bus station. She was leaving him to return to New Jersey. Small, who has a criminal record involving drugs and domestic violence, asked her to hold $30 of crack in her purse, according to arrest reports and Graeber, who said she told deputies it was his. But it was too late. She was jailed. Because she had no record, she qualified for pretrial release and in July 2008, she was sentenced to probation and an adjudication of guilt was withheld. Because she relied on friends for transportation, she was late returning from a class and her probation was violated when she returned late one night, after curfew, and her probation officer was waiting. On Dec. 22, 2008, eight weeks before her baby was due, she was thrown in jail. About a month later, she was sentenced to six months in jail with credit for 127 days. While behind bars, she experienced pregnancy complications. Graeber told jail medical staff she had RH negative blood and needed a RhoGAM shot to protect the baby, but she was denied the recommended shot for weeks. Then she experienced a discharge and asked to go to the emergency room. Graeber was told it was normal, to monitor it. It continued for 1½ weeks and she kept medical staff apprised. She also questioned why her baby appeared to be so small, but was told nothing was wrong. On Feb. 3, 2008, she was scheduled to go to the health department, just yards away from the jail, to have the shot and an ultrasound. She planned to schedule delivery for Feb. 19, her release date. But the doctor told her the baby was dead: The skull had collapsed because all Graeber’s amniotic fluid had leaked out. Still, jail officials refused to release her and scheduled removal of the baby for three days later. Knowing a dead fetus could lead to infection or death, Graeber’s public defender, Amy Shirvanipour, fought for her release the next day. Circuit Judge Fred Hardt signed the order at 11:57 a.m. Feb. 4, ending her sentence and granting immediate release due to her “grave condition.” But jail officials didn’t release her until 3:10 p.m. and refused to let Shirvanipour drive her to the hospital, where she’d scheduled a room. A deputy drove her. “I can’t believe they forced me to go with them,” Graeber said. She and Guzman hired Hanlon before they moved to New Jersey. The American Civil Liberties Union, which heard about her plight and others’ detailed by the Daily News, demanded records from the county jail to review its medical policies and others statewide. Other mothers told the Daily News similar stories and one described having to deliver her baby inside the jail as guards watched and joked. Two other pregnant mothers were released by judges after their attorneys detailed complications. “I anticipate filing a lawsuit against both parties in the near future,” Hanlon said of the sheriff’s office and Tennessee-based Prison Health Services, which provides medical care. Jail and sheriff’s officials and PHS have defended their care, but declined comment.

March 1, 2009 Naples News
After an inmate lost her baby and two other pregnant inmates were released due to complications, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is asking the Collier County jail to disclose how many inmates reported miscarriages or stillborn babies — and to detail its policies for pregnancies in jail. The request, filed under the state public records law, followed several reports in the Daily News about pregnant women’s complaints about the jail’s medical provider, Prison Health Services, including an inmate whose dead fetus was left inside her, inmates shackled to hospital beds, and one who said her cries that she was in labor were ignored so long that her baby was delivered inside the jail. Defense attorneys quoted in the Daily News articles were contacted by Maria Kayanan, ACLU of Florida’s legal director. “The ACLU of Florida is committed to ensuring pregnant women who are incarcerated get the health care they need and that their constitutional rights are not violated,” Brandon Hensler, spokesman for the ACLU of Florida, said of its check on jails and prisons in Florida. The ACLU request, sent to Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk last week, also asks for the number of inmates who gave birth full-term and prematurely; grievances filed by inmates involving pregnancy and birth-related complaints about treatment or lack of treatment; how grievances were handled; how many inmates sought prenatal care; and its policies and procedures for testing pregnant inmates for gestational diabetes and sexually-transmitted diseases. In addition, the ACLU sought information that included the jail’s policies and procedures involving the care of pregnant inmates; policies involving shackling inmates during delivery; diet and nutritional guidelines, including prenatal vitamins; whether educational information is provided; and information on providers who treat pregnant inmates. Jail officials and a spokeswoman for Tennessee-based Prison Health Services have defended their medical care. Hensler said the ACLU has been gathering information from various sources throughout the state since December 2008 about prenatal care provided to pregnant inmates in jails and prisons, but added that it was too early to determine what the results will show.

February 14, 2009 Naples News
Joan Laurel Small and her boyfriend, Elias Guzman, flip through a remembrance book showing photos of the baby girl they lost a week earlier while Small was an inmate at the Collier County jail. There’s a photo of baby Elena Laurel Guzman tucked in a blanket. Another page shows her small handprints and footprints. And then there are sayings to allay grief: “This child was wanted. This child was real. This child is loved.” “The minute they showed her to me, I couldn’t stop crying,” Small said as she sat in a Naples hotel Tuesday, a day after her release from The Birth Place at North Naples Hospital. “She was so small and fragile. I held her hand. We kept her in the room with us all day.” They’re still in shock. The couple question why Prison Health Services, which provides medical services at the jail, ignored Small’s complaints that she was leaking fluid for nearly two weeks, ending in her baby dying. On Feb. 3, a doctor told her an ultrasound showed there was no amniotic fluid and the baby’s skull had collapsed. The 22-year-old Bonita Springs woman’s miscarriage is bringing to light other medical complaints against the Tennessee-based company contracted by the jail, a firm targeted in lawsuits nationwide that have ended in millions of dollars in settlements. The death of baby Elena also led to the release this past week of a 27-year-old woman who is eight weeks pregnant and developed gestational diabetes in jail. Her term was converted to house arrest on Wednesday. “I want them to make changes,” Small said of hiring lawyers to file a lawsuit. “I don’t want this to happen to other mothers.” This week, Small and Guzman, her 2-year-old son Michael, and her parents, Jennifer and Michael Graeber, will attend memorial services in New Jersey for the baby, who was cremated by Fuller Funeral Home. Meanwhile, Small’s attorneys, Sharon Hanlon and Ted Zelman of Naples, are gathering evidence for a negligence and wrongful death lawsuit. An autopsy conducted by Dr. Marta Coburn, Collier County’s chief medical examiner, showed the baby, delivered at 9 1/2 months, was perfectly formed, but seriously underweight at 1 pound, 11 ounces. Coburn said she believed the baby had been dead “a little while” and sent the baby’s heart to a cardiac specialist for analysis. Coburn told Small it was “possible” the baby could have been saved. Small said the emergency room doctor, and her obstetrician, Dr. Sanford Estes, believed she could have been saved if she’d been taken to an emergency room as soon as she complained of a heavy discharge about two weeks earlier. A forensic medical expert interviewed by the Daily News, Dr. Gary Helmbrecht of Virginia, a member of the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called it an “appalling” case of neglect. He also said the baby probably could have been saved if Small was was taken to a hospital immediately after she began leaking amniotic fluid.

February 5, 2009 Naples News
It was a girl. Doctors removed the dead fetus from Joan Laurel Small on Thursday, a day after her release from the Collier County jail. The 22-year-old mother cradled baby “Elena Laurel.” Nurses cut a lock of the baby’s hair for a keepsake. “They cleaned her up and allowed her to hold her,” said Small’s mother, Jennifer Graeber of New Jersey. “The hospital is making her a little remembrance book. They’re putting in a lock of the baby’s hair.” Graeber said when her daughter arrived at The Birth Place at NCH North Naples Hospital, her blood-pressure had risen and she had a fever. “That’s the beginning signs of septic shock,” Graeber said of leaving a dead fetus inside a mother. Because the baby had been left in her womb more than a day, she said, Small could not deliver the baby, but had to undergo a C-section. Small, a Bonita Springs woman who is recovering at the hospital, could not be reached for comment. Her boyfriend and the baby’s father, Elias Guzman, 24, also could not be reached Thursday. Graeber said her daughter is very depressed and probably will cremate the baby after an autopsy is conducted. Small, who was housed in the jail’s medical unit, learned her baby was dead Tuesday morning as she underwent an ultrasound to determine the baby’s sex and to schedule delivery after her Feb. 19 release from jail. Small, whose 40-week due date was Feb. 21, has said she’d complained about a heavy discharge, which continued for 1 1/2 weeks, but was told it was normal and to monitor it. She told the Daily News the doctor who conducted the ultrasound Tuesday morning told her all her amniotic fluid had leaked out, the baby’s skull collapsed and it had no heartbeat. A day later, after she remained in jail with the dead fetus inside her, Small’s public defender, Amy Shirvanipour, spoke to Assistant State Attorney Rob Denny, who agreed to a stipulation to modify her sentence to time-served and immediate release. They went to Circuit Judge Fred Hardt, who immediately signed the stipulation. Three hours later, Shirvanipour was still waiting to take her to a hospital and then learned a deputy would take her. She was released at 3:10 p.m. and Shirvanipour met her at the hospital. When told of Small’s account, a nationally known medical expert said the death could have been avoided if Small had been taken to a hospital immediately after complaining of the discharge. Dr. Gary Helmbrecht, a member of the The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called it a case of medical neglect and said the symptoms indicated a pre-term rupture of membranes that required immediate hospitalization. Small said she’d also requested a RhoGAM shot, which protects her baby from her RH negative blood, but wasn’t given one until Tuesday. The shot is recommended between 28 and 30 weeks and she was jailed on her 30th week. She’d been held since Dec. 22 after she violated probation by returning home after her nightly 10 p.m. curfew. Small said she’d been attending a parenting class in Naples and couldn’t get a ride home; she has no car. Records show the probation violation involved a 2007 drug charge; an adjudication of guilt was withheld. It’s her only criminal conviction and records show it occurred when she was caught with drugs in the car of her former husband, Ken Enright Small, during a traffic stop; his record includes drug convictions. Graeber, who said her daughter plans to sue, has contacted local attorneys about the case. “I feel they were negligent in not taking her to the emergency room when she asked for help and was leaking amniotic fluid,” Graeber said, adding that she hoped a lawsuit would improve care at the jail and help her daughter move on. Chief Scott Salley, who oversees the jail, said Tennessee-based Prison Health Services, which operates the medical unit, was reviewing what occurred, but said initial reviews show medical and administrative policies were followed.

February 4, 2009 Naples Daily News
Joan Laurel Small looked forward to becoming a mother again. The 22-year-old Bonita Springs woman and her boyfriend, Elias Guzman, 24, had even picked out names: Elena Laurel or Jeremiah Nathaniel. But instead of going into labor, she landed in jail on a probation violation eight weeks before her Feb. 21 due date. While in the Collier County jail, Small said she began to experience complications — leaking amniotic fluid for 1 1/2 weeks. And instead of finding out the baby’s sex during an ultrasound Tuesday, a doctor told her the baby had died. One expert, after being told of Small’s account, said the fetal death could have been avoided. “This is neglect,” said Dr. Gary Helmbrecht of Virginia, a member of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists who testifies as a fetal medical expert. “When they had the complaint of fluid leaking, she should have been brought to a hospital.” “I see this over and over again. How jails treat women, everybody,” said Helmbrecht, chairman of the American Society of Addictive Medicine’s Committee on Incarceration. “This is out of line, without regard for an innocent life. I am shocked and appalled. It’s inexcusable.” More than 24 hours later, Still remained in the jail — a dead fetus inside her. Collier County Sheriff’s officials would not explain why they didn’t take her to a hospital to deliver the fetus until 3:10 p.m. Wednesday — after her public defender sought her release. “We are prohibited from answering that question,” said Capt. Mike Hedberg, the Sheriff Office’s legal counsel. “We would run afoul of HIPAA.” Hedberg was referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which prohibits release of medical information without a signed waiver from a patient. Chief Scott Salley, who oversees the jail, said Tennessee-based Prison Health Services, which operates the medical unit, is reviewing Small’s case. “Medically and administratively, everything was followed by policy,” Salley said, adding that logs show she was provided with “adequate” health care. “There was nothing out of the ordinary about her ailment.” Helmbrecht, calling it a full-term baby, disputed that, saying a dead baby in the third trimester could seriously harm Small. “This baby should have been delivered,” he said. “They’ve got enough liability on their hands. They already have a dead baby. They could have a dead mother.” Small’s public defender, Amy Shirvanipour, worked Wednesday morning to get her released. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” Shirvanipour said. “I told my husband I was heartbroken. I woke up this morning and knew I had to do something.”

September 14, 2006 Naples News
An East Naples woman suffering from what her attorneys describe as a severely painful condition in her hip has filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to force the Collier County Sheriff’s Office to allow her to leave jail for surgery and rehabilitation. Patricia Ann Farrell, 41, of 4760 Pine St., is serving a five-month jail sentence for second-offense drunken driving. Farrell has osteoarthritis in her hip, a painful, degenerative condition caused by broken-down cartilage that results in the bones of the joint rubbing together. Farrell had scheduled a hip-replacement surgery for Aug. 23 and had received permission from jail officials before she began serving her sentence, her Naples attorney, Michael McDonnell, said. But Deputy Joseph Bastys, one of the officials who’s in charge of jail operations, refused to allow her to have the surgery. “Defendant Bastys, in response to an inquiry by plaintiff’s defense counsel’s office, advised that (Farrell) would not be allowed to attend the surgery after all because the procedure she was scheduled to undergo was elec- tive,” according to the lawsuit, filed Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristin Adams said Wednesday she couldn’t comment on the case because it’s pending litigation. McDonnell said the surgery isn’t elective. He pointed to an affidavit from Farrell’s doctor, Howard J. Kapp, that says the surgery is necessary and would relieve her pain. She needs several days for the surgery and recovery and about three weeks in a rehabilitation hospital afterward, McDonnell said. She has been receiving only Tylenol, not her prescription pain medicine, while in the jail, according to the lawsuit, which also names Sheriff Don Hunter and Prison Health Services Inc., a private company that administers health care to inmates.

Coxsackie Correctional Facility

New York

Dec 15, 2020

DA: Contract nurse at Coxsackie Correctional charged with rape

COXSACKIE — A certified nursing assistant contracted to work at Coxsackie Correctional Facility was arrested late afternoon Friday on felony sex charges, state police Public Information Officer Steven Nevel said Monday. Amber M. VanValkenburgh, 35, of Albany, was arrested by state police and charged with third-degree rape of a victim incapable of consent, and third-degree criminal sex act with a victim incapable of consent, both class E felonies; and official misconduct, a class A misdemeanor, Nevel said. The alleged offenses took place during the period of 2018-19 and involved more than one male inmate, Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione said Monday. Stanzione did not immediately know the exact number of inmates involved in the case. By law, a person incarcerated in prison is incapable of giving consent to sexual contact, Stanzione said. VanValkenburgh was a contract nurse and not an employee of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Thomas Mailey, director of public information for the department, said Monday. VanValkenburgh is a certified nursing assistant employed by Corizon Correctional Healthcare in Brentwood, Tennessee, Stanzione said. Eve Hutcherson, director of corporate communications and marketing for Corizon, identified VanValkenburgh as a former employee but would not comment further. “Corizon doesn’t comment on former employees,” Hutcherson said Monday. Corizon has been operating the 60-bed Coxsackie Regional Medical Unit at the maximum-security correctional facility since 1998, according to the company’s website. Corizon’s agreement with Coxsackie Correctional Facility was extended in 2017 to run from April 2017 through March 2022, at a cost of $29,926,678, according to the DOCCS website. The medical unit provides care to incarcerated individuals who do not require inpatient hospital care, but require medical care beyond what is available in a correctional infirmary, according to DOCCS. The department will hold anyone committing offenses inside one of its facilities accountable, Mailey said. “Our department has zero tolerance for any individual working in our facilities who does not follow protocols, or worse, commits a criminal act,” Mailey said. “Anyone found to have committed a crime inside a DOCCS facility will be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mailey said. The department declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation, Mailey said. The investigation that led to Friday’s arrest lasted approximately one year, Stanzione said. Following her arrest, VanValkenburgh was given appearance tickets by state police for Coxsackie Town Court on March 1, at 4 p.m., Nevel said.

Cumberland County Jail
Corizon, New Jersey
Oct 8, 2016
4th lawsuit filed against Cumberland County Jail over inmate hanging death
BRIDGETON — A fourth lawsuit has been filed against the Cumberland County Jail over someone who died while imprisoned. The federal lawsuit, filed on Oct. 5, involved the June 3 death of Jon Watson, who was found hanging in his jail cell. Watson's was the fourth death that has occurred in the Cumberland County Jail since 2014. The suit seeks a judgment exceeding $1 million. The lawsuit alleges that the Cumberland County Jail failed to properly monitor Watson or screen him for suicidal tendencies. Also named in the lawsuit is Corizon Health, the health care provider for the jail. "I am hoping that through our efforts, there will be a review of the circumstances surrounding Jon's death and an immediate investigating into the warden and the procedures that are in place," said Helen Lloyd, Watson's fiancé, in a statement released by Philadelphia-based attorney Conrad Benedetto. Watson, 43, of Bridgeton, was being held in Cumberland County Jail on charges of eluding police, resisting arrest and driving while suspended. On June 3, he was just returned to his cell after appearing in Cumberland County Superior Court and then found unresponsive in his cell around noon. He was pronounced dead at 12:30 p.m. According to Ted Baker, Cumberland County solicitor, Watson was on suicide watch while incarcerated but was taken off of suicide watch by medical staff. "We relied on our medical professionals who made a medical judgment that he was OK and didn't pose a threat to himself so he was returned to the general population," Baker said Cumberland County officials arrested 21 people in an investigation into a drug and gun trafficking ring. Benedetto's office represents three other families in separate lawsuits against the Cumberland County Jail. David Hennis, 31, of Vineland, was arrested on July 22, 2014, for violating a court order, aggravated assault and weapons charges. He was taken to the jail infirmary after banging his head against his cell door and then later found hanging in the infirmary holding cell. Alissa Allen, 24, of Millville, was arrested on March 22, 2015, after a traffic stop for an outstanding warrant, drug possession and for not wearing a seatbelt. She was held in the jail in lieu of $728 bail and was found the next morning hanging in her cell. Robert Lewis was arrested on Oct. 26, 2015, for robbery and was found a few days later hanging in the showers at the jail.

Curran-Fromhold Prison
, Pennsylvania
May 10, 2006 Philadelphia Weekly
A new federal civil rights lawsuit alleges mistreatment of a Curran-Fromhold prison inmate that culminated in a brutal rape. Attorney Rich Ostriak of the law firm Ostriak Birley filed the suit last week in U.S. District Court, demanding unspecified damages on behalf of inmate Thomas Moore, who entered the Philadelphia prison system in January 2005, awaiting trial on robbery charges, and fought with a pair of inmates over use of the phone on his first day there. Moore was transferred to restrictive confinement, otherwise known as "the hole," where his complaints about severe pain and difficulty breathing were ignored for almost three days before he was taken to the infirmary. On June 20 he was transferred to Frankford Hospital to receive coronary angioplasty and an arterial stent. The suit alleges Prison Health Services failed to deliver his required heart medications for five days after he returned to jail.

Three suicides in a month, mentally ill patients being drugged senseless, filthy treatment rooms, staffing shortages, management systems unable to cope. Those are just some of the medical problems two consultants have found within the city's prison health-care system, according to secret reports obtained by the Daily News. It is a system operated by a Tennessee conglomerate that the city pays $25 million a year. The city's contractor, Prison Health Services, a subsidiary of American Service Group Inc., freely admits it's losing money in Philadelphia, but insists the quality of care has not dipped. (Daily News, August 16, 2001)

When Kyle York, 20, showed up at the Philadelphia prisons, his life was in utter shambles. After ingesting PCP on New Year's Eve last year, he'd gone into a hallucinatory rage, shooting his mother, shooting at his father and inflicting a grazing wound to himself. Less than three months later he was dead. And Blake Berenbaum, the attorney hired by York's parents, is trying to learn what happened to the troubled young man. Was he beaten to death by prison guards? Given too many injections of sedatives by prison physicians? Was it a combination of the two? Or did he meet his fate by some unknown means? Prison spokesman Bob Eskind said York had been under "four-point restraint," meaning that four guards each took a limb. Both Eskind and Berenbaum said a PHS doctor had given York a dose of Ativan, a sedative. Berenbaum identified the physician as Benjamin Caoile. Put into an infirmary bed, York was still combative, Berenbaum said. At that point Caoile left York and the guards in the room. Berenbaum said records show that the doctor ordered the nurse to give York "another" injection of Haldol and Benadryl, both sedatives. To Berenbaum, that suggests there were earlier and unrecorded doses of those drugs. When Caoile returned about 15 minutes later, York was in an unresponsive state and emergency measures were started. York never regained consciousness and died on March 14. (Daily News, August 16, 2001)

Dane County Jail, Dane, Wisconsin
December 6, 2007 Wisconsin State Journal
Dane County 's new contract for jail health services will cost the county about $600,000 more a year than its current agreement, but county officials say mental health services should improve. The proposed $4.4 million-a-year contract with Nashville-based Correct Care Solutions must win approval from the Dane County Board tonight before it is sent to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk for her signature. Falk 's office said the expiring contract with Prison Health Services cost about $3.8 million a year. Dane County Sup. Paul Rusk of Madison, who chairs the County Public Protection and Judiciary Committee, said the new contract includes staff for mental health services to inmates around the clock. "That was among my highest priorities -- to have more mental health care available in the jail, " Rusk said. If approved, CCS will take over Jan. 1 from Prison Health Services, which has had the contract for the last five years. According to documents provided by Falk 's office, PHS was paying about 30 full-time equivalent employees to work in the jail. The new contract calls for almost 39 staff workers, including a full-time mental health director, a part-time psychiatrist and the equivalent of almost seven social workers. Contract documents show an average hourly rate of $90 for a medical director, $92 an hour for a psychiatrist, $69 an hour for a dentist and $40 an hour for a health services administrator. Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney on Tuesday said CCS did not have the cheapest proposal. "But the company will deliver a level of service that is better than the current contract provider, " said Mahoney.

December 7, 2006 The Capital Times
Some Dane County Board supervisors are up in arms over a huge, unexpected cost increase in the health services contract for inmates at the Dane County Jail. At the same time, county officials are also grappling with costs that have risen by more than $2 million over the last five years to house inmates in other counties. Both issues are up for votes tonight. Prison Health Services Inc., the company contracted to provide health care, is requesting more than $500,000 above what the county has approved for next year's budget. It's a replay of what's happened in each of the four previous years during which Prison Health Services has had the jail contract, said County Board Supervisor Paul Rusk, chair of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee. The problem is, the company doesn't come up with its estimated costs for the next year until most of the current year is over, he said. The contract has averaged between $3.2 million and $3.3 million a year since the company was awarded the contract in fall 2002. For 2007, however, PHS said it needs $3,886,155 to serve the more than 1,000 inmates housed in the three county jail facilities. That's the price the board will vote on tonight in authorizing the 2007 contract with PHS, even though Rusk's committee has not approved the contract. "I am very upset by this contract," said Supervisor Bob Salov. "We should put this contract on hold, extend the status quo for a couple of months and investigate it." Supervisor Mike Hanson said the board can argue for hours about minor line items in the budget but will be okaying this half-million dollar expense not budgeted for. "It's amazing how the board can quibble over $500 for Rhythm and Booms, and then we're expected to just rubber-stamp a $500,000 item that's clearly needed, but so late in the game," Hanson said. Sheriff Gary Hamblin said PHS's contractual cycle always comes after the county budget is approved. "Their increase is tied to the consumer price index, so they wait until the last quarter before they make their estimate on how much money they need for the next year," Hamblin said. "This year is no exception." Regardless of the overage, both Hamblin and Rusk say they are happy with the work done by PHS. "It's ten times better than what we had before," Rusk said.

August 9, 2006 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager's campaign took her opponent, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, to task for taking donations from those pursuing Dane County business. Lautenschlager's aides said that was inconsistent with Falk's statements that as attorney general she would not take money from people subject to enforcement actions by the state Department of Justice. Lautenschlager's campaign blasted Falk for accepting a $10,000 donation June 27 from the political action committee of Unite Here, a laundry workers union. The donation came six days after Dane County started an audit of non-union laundry contractor Superior Health Linens - a company that Unite Here has long criticized for its labor practices. Lautenschlager's campaign also criticized Falk for: • Accepting $1,500 from America Service Group Inc.'s political action committee in 2004 because its subsidiary Prison Health Services has a contract with the county. • Taking $2,500 from Government Payment Service CEO Dale Conrad last year because his firm has a county contract allowing people to pay bail with credit cards. • Receiving money from developers and others who sat on a committee that Falk convened to advise her on a land-use plan.

February 4, 2005 Capital Times
Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin and jailer Mike Plumer won't give a detailed report on Meng-Ju "Mark" Wu's suicide to the County Board's Public Protection and Judiciary Committee because a notice of intent to file a claim in the last jail suicide hasn't been settled. Following the suicide by inmate Tierra Hill, who hanged herself May 20 in high-security Cell F of Cell Block 727 in the City-County Building jail, Hamblin and Plumer gave a detailed report to the committee, trying to give a clearer picture of the situation before and following Hill's death.  On Sept. 20, the last day of the 120-day window for claims following an incident, a "notice of circumstances of a claim" with no specific damages attached was filed with the county by attorney Todd Winstrom of the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy on behalf of Hill's estate, administered by Minnie Marie Hill, Tierra's mother. According to the notice, Hill was not given the proper mental health and psychiatric care by jail staff; the Mental Health Center of Dane County; and Prison Health Services, medical services contractor for the jail.

There are no guarantees that Terrance Griffith, who died in the Dane County Jail Nov. 17, 2002, would have lived if he had gotten better treatment from jailers and the private firm that provides medical service in the jail. But there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that, had Griffith received better care, he might have lived. And there is a good deal more evidence to suggest that Griffith was neglected by the people who had a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that he received basic care.  Unable to sleep, vomiting relentlessly, the 27-year-old man complained of numbness in his legs and blurred vision. A paraplegic who was suffering from drug withdrawal, he was in deep distress.  Finally, with the last bit of strength he could muster, Griffith pounded on the steel door of his cell in the segregation unit, begging for medical care.  He was told to shut up.  He shook uncontrollably. He vomited so much that at least one guard admitted the stench from Griffith's cell was alarming.  But after a cursory check, he was left alone in a cell that stunk of vomit and decay.  Then he died. One of the most respected physicians in Dane County, Dr. Linda Farley, said after reviewing the records of Griffth's last hours, "He really was neglected."   According to Farley, health care workers at the jail ignored obvious signs that Griffith was suffering a medical emergency. "The big point is that his physical condition should have placed him in a hospital situation," said the doctor.  Yet Sheriff Gary Hamblin says "it's simply not true" that Griffith was neglected. The sheriff claims that an undiagnosed heart condition could have killed Griffith whether he was in the jail or in a hospital. On that final point, the sheriff may be right. Then again, he may be wrong. What is beyond debate, however, is that the failure to move Griffith from the jail to the hospital has left open the question of whether better treatment would have saved his life.  For Sheriff Hamblin to try to dismiss the evidence that points to failures on the part of his own staff and the out-of-state health care firm that provides care in the jail is deeply disappointing. We still think that the sheriff, who has had the endorsement of this newspaper in every election campaign that he has run, is a decent and honorable man. But he has fallen into a bad pattern here.  Sheriff Hamblin needs to rethink the unyielding stance he has taken. Instead of defending actions that seem to be indefensible, the sheriff should take steps to address the legitimate concerns that have arisen as a result of Griffith's death. These include:  Inviting independent specialists on health care in jails to review the record and propose reforms.  Examining the contract with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services with an eye to determining whether private health care services are appropriate in a public jail.  Ensuring that the upcoming county budget process focuses on the need to develop an infirmary inside, or closely associated with, the jail, which was built 10 years ago without such a facility.  The bottom line should be clear to all: Sheriff Hamblin can, and must, respond more thoughtfully and appropriately to the revelations regarding the death of Terrance Griffith.  (, April 15, 2004)

Dauphin County Prison, Dauphin, Pennsylvania
September 20, 2005 AP
Dauphin County Prison's food service vendor agreed to reimburse the county $65,000 for overbilling during 2002 and 2003, authorities said. Officials said there was no criminal intent behind the overbilling, and Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. did provide adequate food as called for in its contract with the prison. "I'm very pleased with the amount of money we received," District Attorney Edward M. Marsico said. "I believe it more than covers any loss the county may have had." Masrisco said much of the overbilling occurred because the company had charged a flat amount for meals instead of tracking the actual ups and downs of the jail population, and he said both prison officials and the company would keeping a more careful eye on how many meals actually are provided.
Aramark officials declined to discuss what went wrong what steps they were taking to prevent a recurrence. "We fully cooperated with the inquiry and consider the situation to be resolved," company spokeswoman Sarah Jarvis said.

District of Columbia
Apr 18, 2015
The D.C. Council narrowly voted down a $66 million contract that would have placed for-profit company Corizon Health in charge of providing healthcare at the city jail. The 6-5 vote pitted those who had concerns about the company’s history of providing medical care at other facilities against members who grimaced at getting involved in contracting matters already vetted by the city’s procurement experts. “We shouldn’t be in this business. If we are going to be in the business, then we ought to respect the process,” said D.C. Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, who voted for approval of the contract. But others questioned the thoroughness of a procurement process that awarded the contract to Corizon without making mention of numerous lawsuits filed against the company in other states as well as those that have dropped contracts with the company over recent years. Council Member Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, said the council’s job in this circumstance was to “serve as a backstop” for contracting decisions. “We’re supposed to be here to catch what I would call manifest mistakes. This is such a case,” Ms. Cheh said before voting against the contract award. The contract would have put Corizon in charge of providing medical, mental health, pharmacy and dental services for at least three years to the roughly 2,200 inmates in the District’s Department of Corrections. The District’s Office of Contracting and Procurement recommended awarding the contract to Corizon at a cost of 7 percent, or $4.4 million, more than the bid received from Unity Health Care, which has overseen health care at the jail since 2006. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said payouts from lawsuits filed against the District in regard to healthcare issues at the jail have seen “a breathtaking drop” during the time Unity has had the contract with the city. From 2006 through the present, he said there have been $59,000 in judgments against the District on account of lawsuits regarding healthcare at the jail compared to $1.2 million in judgments from 2002 through 2006 under a different provider, he said. Along with Ms. Cheh and Mr. Mendelson, council members Charles Allen, David Grosso, Brianne Nadeau, and Elissa Silverman voted against the contract award. The rejection of the Corizon contract ends an 18-month procurement and review process that will now likely have to be restarted so that the city can select a new healthcare provider. In the interim, Unity will continue to provide healthcare at the jail under an extended contract. But a spokesman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who supported the Corizon award, said the city will be overpaying in the short term on that contract because it is based on a fixed number of inmates that is higher than the jail’s current population. “The Council’s action will extend overpayment for care, which does not fully meet the health needs of a vulnerable population, until a new contract can be awarded,” spokesman Mike Czin said. Corizon officials were disappointed with the decision. “It’s unfortunate that the D.C. Council did not approve their peers’ recommendations,” said Woodrow A. Myers, Jr., chief executive officer of Corizon. “The company wishes the D.C. Department of Corrections and its residents well.”

Donaldson Prison, Jefferson County, Alabama
March 18, 2005 Birmingham News
The administrator over health care at Donaldson Correctional Facility was fired for failing to improve medical care at the beleaguered lockup, but not before issuing repeated warnings about inadequate staff. Stephanie Lawson, a registered nurse employed by the private contractor Prison Health Services, said she was especially frustrated that no full-time physician was assigned to the western Jefferson County prison, which houses about 1,625 men. "I was terminated for lack of progress at the site, and it's an impossible site to manage with the staff that PHS has allocated for health care," Lawson said. "It's just wrong." "It really did kind of all tie in," she said. "How can I be expected in 10 months to turn this place around when there is not even adequate security?" She spoke highly of the officers but said they often were tired. A few men sought care in the health unit for chest pains or headaches. "A body can only take so much," Lawson said. Lawson's staffing complaints are similar to those raised by Dr. Valda Chijide, the former HIV doctor at Limestone Prison. Chijide resigned earlier this year after sending PHS several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the north Alabama prison. Lawson's firing leaves Donaldson minus experienced staff in the two top posts, overseeing the prison and the health care unit.

March 18, 2005 WHNT19
A fired medical administrator said Donaldson Prison in Jefferson County needs a full-time doctor before medical care improves at the overcrowded facility. Stephanie Lawson was fired in early March, the same week Warden Stephen Bullard was placed on administrative leave after writing a memo about inadequate staffing and poor conditions. Corrections officials said Bullard was placed on leave because of health problems associated with his job. Lawson was employed by the private contractor Prison Health Services. She said she was fired for lack of improvements in medical care at the prison. Lawson made the comments in an interview with the Birmingham News. P-H-S has declined to comment on Lawson's termination or replacement. Her staffing complaints are similar to those raised by another physician at Limestone Prison. Doctor Valda Chijide resigned earlier this year after sending P-H-S several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the prison.

Dutchess County Jail, New York, New York
July 19, 2004
New York state investigators have accused Prison Health Services, the company seeking to renew its contact at the Palm Beach County Jail, of causing the death of a Schenectady, N.Y., inmate suffering from Parkinson's disease.  A scathing report issued last month by the New York Commission on Correction echoed criticism in Palm Beach County that Prison Health Services has withheld care to inmates for added profit. The company is one of five bidding on the county contract.  The New York report details what led to inmate Brian Tetrault's brain basically shutting down after he was denied his prescribed medication for advanced Parkinson's disease by a Prison Health Services medical director at the Schenectady County Jail.  In October 2002, the commission -- a three-member body that evaluates, investigates and oversees correctional facilities in New York -- issued a report on the death of Victoria Smith, who died of cardiac arrest at the Dutchess County Jail in southeast New York after complaining multiple times of chest pains.  In the cases of both Tetrault and Smith, Prison Health Services' main reaction to the commission's inquiries was to get its lawyers involved, Lamy wrote to the company: "You and your colleagues are exclusively focused on protecting the business interests of PHS."  The New York deaths evoke similar issues in Palm Beach County. Both inmates were denied medication. Prison Health Services staff concluded Tetrault was faking illness and labeled Smith a drug abuser. Company officials and doctors have cited malingering inmates and drug abuse as reasons for denying medication.  (Palm Beach Post)

El Paso County Jail, El Paso, Texas
May 24, 2006 KTSM
Sheriff deputies tell us 47-year old Mario Lopez was arrested today, charged with violating the civil rights of a inmate and having improper sexual activity with a person in custody. The Sheriff's Office say the investigation started after an inmate complained about Lopez. He is now in the County Jail under a $50,000 bond. The Sheriff's Office says Lopez is an employee of Prison Health Services, which is under a contract with El Paso County to provide medical services to prisoners at the jail.

Ellsworth Correctional Facility
Apr 28, 2019
Kansas: Corizon short staffing and shorting meds
Locked in solitary confinement in a prison in rural Kansas without his schizophrenia medication, Anthony Downing says he grew paranoid, fearing the guards were poisoning his food. When he could take it no longer, he started launching himself off the metal frame of his bed, kicking at the windows in his cell again and again until men in protective gear came in and dragged him out. “I broke the windows,” Downing said, “and they told me I was getting transferred and I was like, ‘Thank God.” Downing, now out of prison, was serving time at Ellsworth Correctional Facility, a small institution in central Kansas. It’s one of several mostly rural facilities where the state’s health care contractor, Corizon Health, has fallen well short of the contract’s requirements for staffing key mental health positions, according to documents The Star obtained through an open records request. The documents, which covered Corizon’s performance from July 2015 through December 2018, showed that almost 20 percent of the 10,000 inmates across the state prison system were on psychotropic medications during that time. But prisons in Ellsworth, Norton, Winfield and Hutchinson went months at a time without Corizon reporting any hours worked there by psychiatrists, the medical providers most qualified to prescribe and calibrate those medications. Some of the other prisons during that time reported some psychiatrist hours but not the amount the contract called for. “That’s pretty shocking,” said Eric Balaban, an attorney with the ACLU’s national prison project. “How were they renewing meds for prisoners who were there?” Corizon spokeswoman Eve Hutcherson said the documents provided to The Star didn’t accurately reflect actual distribution of staff within the prisons.  The company moved its psychiatrists around from one facility to another, she said, and their hours may have been reported for their home base rather than the places they actually worked.  “To suggest that any of these facilities had no coverage whatsoever is just plain inaccurate,” Hutcherson said via email. She said the company’s behavioral health professionals also used tele-psychiatry, which is conference calls or video-conferencing for therapy sessions between doctors and patients who aren’t in the same place. Confidential patient care records show psychiatry hours being provided at prisons where the Department of Corrections staffing documents show none, she said. But there’s other evidence that the company was well short of staff, particularly in mental health, throughout the prison system as a whole. From July 2015 through December 2018 the state levied nearly $6.5 million in under-staffing penalties against Corizon, and a significant chunk of it was for psychiatry shortages. During a legislative hearing last year, Viola Riggin, who leads a team at the University of Kansas Medical Center that evaluates Corizon’s performance, told legislators the team flagged psychiatrist staffing in western Kansas as a problem area. “We worked with Corizon, called them in and said you need to work in this specific area to get staff and they sent a recruiter to work on that and it’s been mitigated,” Riggin said. But the records obtained by The Star show psychiatrist shortages persisting at Winfield and Ellsworth — and extending to the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka — throughout 2018. And a Department of Corrections audit presented to legislators in February showed Corizon job vacancy rates of up to 18% in the Kansas prisons, with nurses and mental health professionals making up about half the openings. Jeanny Sharp, a spokeswoman for the corrections department’s new leadership under Gov. Laura Kelly, said in a March email that staffing continues to be an area of emphasis. “Our medical team is attempting to reach out to colleges to recruit more medical providers,” Sharp said. “However, medical care in a corrections environment isn’t something being taught in medical school, (and there are) clearly a few more barriers to recruitment efforts.” Joel Dvoskin, a clinical and forensic psychologist who co-wrote a 256-page handbook on mental health care in prisons, said the psychiatrist shortages didn’t surprise him. “Everybody in the U.S., correctional and otherwise, is having trouble recruiting psychiatrists,” Dvoskin said. “There simply aren’t enough psychiatrists in the U.S. … It’s not OK. I’m not saying it as an excuse or that it’s acceptable, but I sure understand why they’re having so much trouble.” Dvoskin also said private companies like Corizon should have an edge in recruiting psychiatrists because they aren’t constrained by state employee pay scales. Dvoskin said the national psychiatrist shortage is particularly acute in rural areas, in part because states are competing with VA medical centers, which have raised their psychiatrist salaries and gone on a hiring binge in recent years. He said at one point California was offering $300,000 salaries to get more psychiatrists into its prisons (in Kansas the average psychiatrist salary is more like $200,000). The staffing documents obtained by The Star show that at Ellsworth, Norton and Hutchinson, Corizon filled in some of the vacant psychiatrist hours with psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioners. Dvoskin said that’s a common solution, but not as desirable as having full-fledged psychiatrists. “You can’t have all your hours filled by nurse practitioners, but you can have some of them,” Dvoskin said. Winfield didn’t report any hours worked by psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioners. It’s possible that primary care doctors were prescribing psychotropic medications there, but Balaban said that wouldn’t be ideal. “For a short period of time, in a pinch, you could have a physician do that, but that’s pretty poor mental health treatment,” Balaban said. “On the streets you wouldn’t go to your family physician for psychotropic meds.” Downing’s experience shows what can happen when those meds aren’t delivered. Downing said his mental illness was known when he entered Ellsworth and had actually factored into getting his sentence reduced. But he said he never got his medications when he was there. “They didn’t do anything at all,” Downing said. “I told them I need my meds and they said I didn’t need them, or have a problem or whatever. … I tried to tell them if I had my medication I would do a lot better but they wouldn’t listen to me.” Instead he acted out and ended up in “the hole,” which only made things worse. “In solitary it’s like being in hell,” Downing said. “I had all kinds of visions of people trying to kill me. I wouldn’t eat. I didn’t eat for several days cause every time I took a bite I would get physically sick.” His condition spiraled quickly until the day he tried to kick out the window. Then he was transferred to a dedicated mental health unit at the Lansing Correctional Facility, one of the biggest prisons in the state. It was like night and day, he said. “Corizon in Lansing is totally different,” Downing said. “It’s totally different than in Ellsworth.” “They really should do something about the psych part of Ellsworth,” Downing said. “The people that are still there, I feel sorry for them.”

Erie County Jail, PA
July 19, 2005 Red Nova
Erie County must soon come up with another $311,877 to pay 2004 medical expenses at the Erie County Prison.  Warden James Veshecco said medical costs have been rising partly because the number of inmates has been increasing. The average population was 705 in 2004, compared with 676 in 2003.  The $311,877 will be on top of the regular premium of $1.3 million already paid in 2004, he said.  Veshecco said the prison is receiving more inmates who need mental health treatment and related prescriptions. There are also more women, some of whom are pregnant.  The county has contracted with Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., since 1999 to provide all medical care and pharmaceutical costs at the prison.  Because of the rising costs, the county in recent years agreed to a contract that set limits on the amount that the insurance company would pay for inmates who go to hospitals and other facilities and for pharmaceutical products. The prison must pay any amount above that.  In 2003, the premium was $1.2 million and the county had to pay an additional $60,000 for exceeding the cap.  In 2004, the prison once again exceeded the caps and had to pay $207,365 more for off-site visits and $104,512 more for pharmaceutical products, totaling $311,877.  The premium to PHS has been increased to nearly $1.5 million for 2005, exclusive of the money owed if the caps are exceeded.

Escambia County Jail, Pensacola, Florida
January 14, 2008 Pensacola News-Journal
The family of a man who died strapped to a jailhouse restraint chair reached a settlement with six jail employees. Estelle Smith, the wife of Robert Boggon, reached an agreement last week during a private mediation proceeding, according to court papers. U.S. Judge Casey Rodgers signed an order Friday giving all parties named in the lawsuit 60 days to agree on the settlement terms, which were not made public. Boggon, 65, a long-distance truck driver from Lincoln Park, was placed in Escambia County Jail in August 2005 after a disturbance at a Dollar Tree store in Ensley. Family members said he suffered a "mental episode" and began acting strangely, knocking over boxes in the store. Boggon was found dead the night of Aug. 29, 2005, strapped to a restraint chair in the jail's infirmary. The lawsuit, filed in October 2005 by Smith, originally claimed that the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Ron McNesby, and other Sheriff's Office and jail employees violated Boggon's civil rights alleging that he died from "malicious" and "sadistic" use of a Taser stun gun. Testimony at an two-day inquest in April 2006 revealed that Boggon was shot with a Taser on Aug. 25 and again on Aug. 26 , testimony that was at odds with an allegation contained in the civil lawsuit. The final settlement names detention deputy Scott Driver, Lt. Sherrie Day, Sgt. Brett Whitlock, Cpl. Roger Lastinger, and Prison Health Services employees Trudy Burden, Dana Helms and Lisa Whitlock as defendants. McNesby and others were later dismissed from the lawsuit. Escambia County Judge David Ackerman cleared all officers of any criminal wrongdoing after the inquest. All but Helms continue to work at the jail. Prison Health Services no longer is the medical provider for the jail, but Burden and Whitlock continue work for Armor Correctional Health Services, sheriff's attorney Darlene Dickey said. The departments liability insurance through the Florida Sheriffs Association would pay for any monetary award to Smith, Dickey said. Dr. Andi Minyard, the local medical examiner, said Boggon died from heart disease and paranoid schizophrenia. But Minyard listed confinement to a restraint chair and injections of Haloperidol, a tranquilizer, as contributory causes. Because Boggon's experience in the jail "exacerbated" the natural diseases that ultimately led to his death, Minyard ruled the death a homicide. But she stopped short of saying that it involved any criminal intent or activity.

Falkenburg Road Jail, Florida
August 15, 2007 Tampa Tribune
A former Hillsborough County jail inmate who had cervical cancer filed a federal lawsuit Monday saying the sheriff's former medical provider allowed her to bleed and suffer for weeks before sending her to a hospital. Karen Sue Ramsey says her civil rights were violated by Prison Health Services, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company that provided health care at the jail at the time, and Sheriff David Gee in the capacity of his office. Ramsey, now 48, was transferred to Hillsborough from Orange County on Nov. 1, 2004, on a prostitution charge, records show. Her petition gives the following account: When booked into jail, Ramsey gave a history of cervical cancer and vaginal bleeding. A PHS nurse examined her Nov. 5, 2004, and noted the bleeding. About three weeks later, a PHS obstetrician found a large mass extending from Ramsey's cervix. His plan was to send her to a clinic for a biopsy, but she was returned to her cell for five more days. The bleeding increased dramatically, and when she complained to a detention deputy, he refused to summon medical help, the lawsuit said. On Nov. 29, 2004, PHS sent her to a clinic, and she was transferred to Tampa General Hospital. Doctors there found a 2-inch mass of dying tissue. She required multiple blood transfusions and underwent a hysterectomy. When Ramsey was returned to jail, a doctor's post-operative plan for cervical cancer treatment was not carried out, her lawsuit said. She was transferred to prison a few weeks later, having had no followup appointments. Ramsey's one-year prison sentence stemmed from a third prostitution conviction, state records show. She was released Aug. 10, 2005. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Debbie Carter referred calls to the sheriff's legal counsel, Ellen Leonard, who did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday afternoon. Messages for Ramsey's attorney, Mike Trentalange, and PHS also were not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon. This year, Trentalange represented another former Hillsborough County inmate, Kimberly Grey, who received a $1.25 million settlement from PHS and a $350,000 settlement from the sheriff's office. Grey gave birth in an infirmary cell March 4, 2004. Records show she complained for 12 hours of labor pains, but that PHS staff did not send her to a hospital. Nearly three months premature, the baby died from an infection in his lungs, according to an autopsy. PHS served as Hillsborough's inmate medical provider until October 2005.

April 19, 2007 AP
An inmate whose baby died after being born over a jail cell toilet has received a $1.25 million settlement from the Tennessee company that provided health care at the facility. Kimberly Grey sued over the death, saying she had complained of labor pains for nearly 12 hours. But Prison Health Services, based in Brentwood, Tenn., settled with her Wednesday, after jurors heard two weeks of testimony and began deliberations. "We had discussions of a settlement throughout the trial," Grey's attorney, Mike Trentalange, said. "We were finally able to do that with the imminent return of the jury." Prison Health Services had no comment on why it chose to settle the case, company spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said. The company no longer serves as Hillsborough County's inmate medical provider. The Hillsborough sheriff's office settled its portion of the case in November for $350,000. In March 2004, nurses were giving Grey a pelvic exam when the boy was born over the toilet. He died in an ambulance on the way to Tampa General Hospital. Grey's lawsuit claimed officials displayed a deadly indifference to the newborn's medical distress.

March 10, 2007 Tampa Tribune
A former Hillsborough County jail inmate whose baby died after being born over a jail cell toilet in 2004 received a $350,000 settlement last fall, according to records released Friday. Kimberly Grey kept $104,000 of the money she received Nov. 27 in a check signed by Sheriff David Gee. The remainder was paid to her attorney, Mike Trentalange, and covered the expenses of expert witnesses, case consultants and documents, Trentalange said. The settlement removed the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office as a defendant in an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit Grey filed in December 2004. She received the check shortly after being released from state prison in November, having served nearly two years on a prostitution conviction. On Friday, Chief Deputy Jose Docobo said the sheriff's office decided to pay what it considered a reasonable settlement to Grey rather than face continued litigation costs. Attorney fees, payments to expert witnesses and document costs already had exceeded $100,000, he said. The original court complaint named the defendants as Prison Health Services, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company that provided health care at the jail at the time; the sheriff's office and the jail's administrator; and a PHS-employed doctor and two nurses. As of Friday, only PHS and one nurse remained as defendants, and the case is set for trial April 2. Armor Correctional Medical Services became the jail's health care provider in October 2005. Docobo said the settlement does not mean the sheriff's office is admitting any negligence.

March 18, 2006 Tampa Tribune
Clint Joshua Grey barely whimpered when he was born two years ago over a jail cell toilet, but his death sounded an alarm about the care of pregnant inmates in Hillsborough County. His mother, in jail on a drug charge, was nearly seven months pregnant when she gave birth on March 5, 2004. Kimberly Grey says her son died because a medical group was more concerned with saving money than lives. She has pending lawsuits against the jail's former care provider, Prison Health Services, its staff and members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Her attorney, Tampa lawyer Mike Trentalange, said the death was more than a tragic set of circumstances - it was a crime. That's why he is asking Hillsborough State Attorney Mark Ober to consider filing felony charges against PHS, which is based in Tennessee, and a member of the staff at Falkenburg Road Jail. Last week, Trentalange mailed Ober a letter outlining why the lack of care shown by PHS constituted felony child neglect, he said. "States' attorneys are typically reluctant to charge corporate entities with a crime," Trentalange said. "I think that's just so terribly wrong. Grey filed her first lawsuit in December 2004 in federal court, claiming a violation of her civil rights. That case is pending. She filed another last month in state court claiming malpractice. Not long after the baby's death, the sheriff's office announced PHS had fired a nurse practitioner for not sending Grey to a hospital sooner. That nurse practitioner, Debbie Devine, of Tampa, said she wasn't on duty during Grey's labor and delivery, however. She filed her own lawsuit against PHS in May. "I was terminated because I was [PHS'] scapegoat," Devine wrote in an affidavit. The company "blamed me for the death of an inmate's baby who died on a night that I was not working or on-call and published information to the press and/or third parties that wrongfully implicated me as the cause of the baby's death." Devine's affidavits give this account of the events leading up to the baby's death: Over 11 hours, Devine responded to several phone pages from the jail's on-duty nurses who were treating Grey. The first nurse told Devine it was her first time there and that she was alone with 35 female patients, most of whom were pregnant. Devine advised the day nurse to perform a litany of tests on Grey for her complaints, but she later learned some were never performed. When a night nurse called her shortly before 2 a.m., Grey had complained of bleeding. Devine told the nurse that if the patient was bleeding, she should be hospitalized immediately. Two hours later, Grey was still in the infirmary cell when she gave birth. Devine said she was not officially on call, that she told the nurses that, and that she was never paid for taking any off-duty calls. She previously told her supervisors about the off-duty problem and offered to take calls if paid, but Devine said she was told that would not be necessary. Devine said PHS suspended her but never questioned her before firing her in May. The two other nurses kept their jobs, but the sheriff's office denied them access to the jail.

October 28, 2005 St. Petersburg Times
Another former inmate at the Hillsborough County jail has sued Prison Health Services, the company once in charge of inmate medical care, accusing the firm of taunting him instead of treating his injured hand. Sean Norbury, now 21, had a severe hand fracture when he was jailed Oct. 3, 2003, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. When he arrived at the jail, he pleaded for treatment, the suit says. But nurses taunted him, saying he shouldn't have hit anyone if his hand hurt, the suit says. The next day, the jail's nurses and staff saw his hand was bruised and swollen and that he could not make a fist, the suit says. Norbury complained of pain and asked again for treatment but was ignored, the suit says. On Oct. 8, 2003, an X-ray was ordered but never provided, the suit says. Norbury never saw a doctor at the jail. Two days later he was released on bail; his mother took him to St. Joseph's Hospital, which noted his fracture, Norbury said. The negligence of the jail's medical staff caused him undue pain and suffering and ongoing medical problems, the suit says.

October 26, 2005 St. Petersburg Times
A former inmate at the Hillsborough County jail has sued the company once responsible for inmate medical care, alleging that the company's staff blocked her from treatment and as a result she went blind. Aretha Jackson accused Prison Health Services Inc. of cruel and unusual punishment and failing to provide necessary medical care, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Hillsborough Circuit Court. Jackson was an inmate at the county jail from Aug. 16, 2004, until June 1, the suit says. Court records show she had been charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. She was an HIV patient with vision deterioration linked to the virus, the suit says. She was evaluated by Dr. Todd Berger, a retinal specialist, on Oct. 13, 2004, who noted, among other complaints, one week with no vision in the right eye, the suit says. He ordered lab work and scheduled another appointment for two days later, the suit says. Instead, the jail "and/or the employees or agents of PHS" ignored the follow-up plan, the suit alleges. The jail's nurses and medical staff were untrained and unfamiliar "or indifferent" to the proper care and management of HIV patients with serious vision problems, the suit says, and did not have proper HIV treatment policies and procedures. PHS refused or failed to allow Jackson follow-up services by Berger or another qualified doctor or otherwise failed to follow Berger's medical orders, the suit alleges, and as a result, Jackson lost her eyesight. Late last year, Kimberly Grey filed a lawsuit that is still pending saying she pleaded for medical help for 12 hours before giving birth to a baby boy in March 2004, over an infirmary toilet. Grey had complications for five days, she said. Jail officials did not call 911 until the baby arrived. The baby later died. A yearlong examination of Prison Health Services by the New York Times published this year revealed repeated instances of flawed and sometimes fatal medical care in other parts of the country. But PHS is no longer doing business at the jail infirmaries. The sheriff's office awarded the contract last month to Armor Correctional Health Services Inc.

October 14, 2005 Tampa Tribune
A new company took over medical care this month for Hillsborough County's jail inmates after Sheriff David Gee solicited new bids rather than renew a contract with the previous provider. Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. assumed control of the jail's two 50-bed infirmaries on Oct. 1, replacing Prison Health Services. The contract will cost taxpayers $19,888,000 in its first 12 months and total more than $60 million over the course of the three-year agreement, Col. David Parrish said. PHS served Hillsborough jails for for the last three years and for seven years during the 1980s. The company came under fire and was the target of a federal lawsuit by former Hillsborough inmate Kimberly Grey earlier this year after she gave birth in a jail toilet after complaining for hours she felt ill. Her infant son died en route to the hospital. Parrish said one of the motivating factors that prompted the sheriff to open up the contract to bidding rather than to renew with PHS was the bad publicity that the jail received because of the Grey case. Armor is based in Broward County, where it holds a five- year contract with that county's five-jail system. Armor's chief executive officer, Doyle Moore, founded PHS in 1978 and stayed with the firm in various leadership positions until 2004. Four other key officers also worked for PHS.

September 3, 2005 Tampa Tribune
Describing her attorney's request for documents as a ``fishing expedition,'' a federal judge on Friday denied a former Hillsborough County jail inmate's motion to compel the jail's medical provider to compile and submit a voluminous set of documents. Kimberly Grey gave birth over a Falkenburg Road Jail toilet March 4, 2004, after complaining for 12 hours to medical and jail staff that she was in pain, records show. An ambulance took them to a hospital, but the infant died en route. Grey's medical care in the jail was provided by Prison Health Services Inc., based in Brentwood, Tenn. Tampa lawyer Michael Trentalange filed a lawsuit in December on behalf of Grey and her child, Clint Joshua Grey. The defendants include Prison Health Services, the sheriff and the jail's medical director. The lawsuit contends Grey's complaints were ignored and the care she received was grossly inadequate.
Trentalange asked the court to order Prison Health Services to submit staff training records, documents on the company's standard of patient care for 380 facilities in 38 states, and inmate complaints and court judgments against the company. Trentalange accused Prison Health Services of a widespread indifference to patients' needs and said the records might prove it. ``This is not a one-time deal or a two- time deal,'' he said. ``This is a pattern.''

December 10, 2004 Tampa Tribune
A former inmate whose baby died after being born over a toilet in Falkenburg Road Jail filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against her caregivers and sheriff's officials. Mike Trentalange, a Tampa lawyer representing 35-year- old Kimberly Grey, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tampa on behalf of Grey and her deceased newborn, Clint Joshua Grey. The complaint names Prison Health Services, the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company that provides health care at the jail; Sheriff Cal Henderson; sheriff's Col. David Parrish, who oversees the jail system; and a PHS-employed doctor and two nurses as defendants. The lawsuit alleges all parties ``demonstrated deliberate indifference to [Grey's] serious medical needs and to the serious medical needs of her son.'' It seeks compensatory and punitive damages. Medical records obtained by The Tampa Tribune and WFLA, News Channel 8, showed that beginning March 4, Grey complained for nearly 12 hours about labor pains and repeatedly asked to be taken to a hospital. She was leaking fluid and running a fever, but jail nurses gave her Tylenol and refused to call an ambulance. Nurses were performing the first pelvic exam on Grey early in the morning March 5 when the baby was born over a toilet. An ambulance was called, and the baby was taken to Tampa General Hospital. He died before arriving. A medical examiner determined the baby died of a lung infection. In October, a former Lee County jail inmate sued county officials and jail health care providers there, alleging her fetus died because her medical needs were ignored.
Prison Health Services Inc. was named as a defendant in that lawsuit also. Company officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A sheriff's deputy assigned to guard the infirmary at the Falkenburg Road Jail was scolded for calling 911 after an inmate gave birth while squatting over a jail toilet, records released Wednesday show.   An investigation into the birth of inmate Kimberly Grey's baby shows nearly two dozen witnesses in the jail's infirmary backed her claim that she complained she was in labor and needed to get to a hospital for 12 hours before she gave birth. The baby died later on the way to Tampa General Hospital.  Sheriff's Col. David Parrish, who oversees the county's jail system, declined to comment on the documents in the report or the department's investigation. He said the sheriff's office will release a synopsis of its three-pronged investigation Friday and will comment then. He wouldn't say whether any disciplinary action will be taken against medical officials on duty the night Grey, 34, gave birth.  Mark Cox, executive assistant to Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, said Ober's office decided not to file criminal charges after reviewing evidence from the county medical examiner's office and the sheriff's office report.  "Our position is that there wasn't enough evidence to support criminal charges,'' Cox said.  Documents released Wednesday as part of a joint investigation by The Tampa Tribune and WFLA, News Channel 8, show that sheriff's Deputy Holly Deluca called the jail's command center and asked staff there to call an ambulance after Grey gave birth to a premature baby boy at 2:45 a.m. March 5.  Officials at the command center told Deluca that an infirmary nurse would have to call 911, and when the nurses on duty didn't, Deluca made the call herself, records show. Witnesses reported hearing Deluca's supervisor tell her ``Don't ever do that again'' after she called 911, documents show.  (Tampa Tribune, April 8, 2004)

Florida Civil Commitment Center, Arcadia, Florida
June 2, 2006 Sun-Herald
When its contract expires June 30, the contractor operating a state treatment center for sexually violent predators near Arcadia will be shown the door. The Florida Department of Children and Families, which manages the Florida Civil Commitment Center, will not retain Liberty Behavioral Health to run the facility until a new contractor can be hired, said Tim Bottcher, spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families. The process to award a new contract and build a new facility could take six months or more. To run the facility in the interim, the state will assign perhaps dozens of Department of Corrections officers from prisons in surrounding counties to provide security. And a temporary employee service will provide other workers, Bottcher indicated. Technically, Liberty is still in the running for the new contract. But the DCF's inspector general in a past investigation cited numerous incidents of violent assaults, drug abuse, alcohol bootlegging and inappropriate behavior involving both residents and staffers. "I don't think it's any secret we haven't been happy with Liberty's performance as far as the current contract is concerned," Bottcher said. The change in center management has Liberty's local employees worried about both their jobs and the treatment of the residents, said John Brosnihan, a security supervisor for Liberty. Liberty was the only bidder at the time the center was started. A competing firm had declined to bid because of the facility proposed for the center -- in a defunct state prison, an officer of the firm, Geo Group, said in a past interview. In 2005, the Legislature passed a bill that authorized the DCF to hire a contractor to both build and operate a new 600-bed center. The DCF's bidding process was derailed, however, after Liberty challenged the bid specifications for alleged bid-rigging. That litigation was recently resolved and now the bidding selection process will get under way, Bottcher said. Liberty and the Geo Group have submitted bids. Bottcher said a site for the new facility has not been identified, but it will likely be located within the Arcadia area. Prison Health Services will be hired to provide health care and clinical treatment until the contract is awarded. The DCF is still "in talks" with a temporary employment service to fill other roles in the interim, Bottcher said.

Florida Department of Corrections, Tallahassee, Florida
Aug 5, 2018
Florida: Inmate starves to death while under medical care
Mentally Ill South Florida Man Starved to Death in Prison, Lawsuit Alleges. When Vincent Gaines was sentenced to five years in prison on robbery charges in June 2013, state officials recommended he be placed in a mental-health unit because he had regular visual and auditory hallucinations. So Gaines was transferred to the Dade Correctional Institution in South Miami-Dade County, where he was placed on a "boneless diet" that left the five-foot-nine man 40 pounds lighter — dropping from 190 to 151 — in just 18 months. After accumulating a series of disciplinary reports, Gaines was shuffled through multiple prisons before winding up at the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida, where he soon died. In his autopsy, he weighed only 115 pounds and showed obvious signs of malnourishment, advocates say. Now Gaines' family says the evidence is clear: He was starved to death inside the state prison system and then buried on Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) property without their knowledge or consent. His mother, Lorine, sued FDOC head Julie Jones, former for-profit prison health provider Corizon Health, and Union CI warden Kevin Jordan in North Florida federal court. The Palm Beach Post, which published a stinging investigation into Corizon Health's deadly failures across Florida in 2014, first reported on the lawsuit yesterday afternoon. To file the suit, Lorine Gaines partnered with the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), a nonprofit that fights for the rights of ex-prisoners nationwide. "It is an outrage that in the 21st-century American prisoners are being starved to death in barbaric conditions by a prison system whose employees enjoy total impunity for their criminal actions," HRDC executive director Paul Wright, himself a former prisoner, said in a news release. (In addition to founding the HRDC, Wright also founded Prison Legal News, a monthly news magazine for and by prisoners, from his jail cell in 1990.) "We hope the civil justice system will help provide the deterrence that is otherwise sadly lacking within Florida’s prison system." In response, the FDOC told New Times that it had not yet been served the lawsuit and could not comment on the case's specifics but that the department "is committed to ensuring all inmates have access to appropriate health services." A Corizon spokesperson, Martha Harbin, told New Times via email that the company is confident it handled the case correctly but that Corizon could not speak further without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, privacy laws. "Patient privacy laws and the filed complaint prevent us from disclosing specific information from the patient’s medical records that would provide a more complete picture of Mr. Gaines’s health challenges and treatment, but we are confident that appropriate, evidence-based medical care was provided," she said. But the suit echoes an eerily similar case that also involved the Dade Correctional Institute. In 2012, multiple witnesses said guards at the facility scalded mentally ill inmate Darren Rainey to death in a makeshift prison shower as punishment for defecating in his cell. State officials did not reopen the case until the Miami Herald's Julie Brown wrote a blistering series of articles about it. Even after Brown obtained gruesome images of Rainey's scalded body, the county medical examiner's office and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle still insisted Rainey did not suffer deadly burns. No one was fired or charged in the case. Perhaps more importantly, the Herald also spoke to other witnesses who claimed inmates at Dade CI were being starved. The Palm Beach Post series about Corizon also noted that after prison medical care was privatized and handed over to the company in 2012, inmate deaths spiked. Corizon walked away from its $1.2 billion, five-year state contract after the award-winning Post series but claimed the move was a fiscal decision. According to the latest suit, judges and other justice-system officials knew in 2013 that Gaines was severely mentally ill. After he pleaded guilty in 2013 to burglary charges, a judge instructed officials to house Gaines near his family in Palm Beach County. At a subsequent mental-health evaluation at the FDOC's South Florida Reception Center (SFRC), officials noted Gaines had repeatedly been "Baker Acted" — committed involuntarily to a mental institution — because of his constant auditory hallucinations. Among other diagnoses, officials stated Gaines had bipolar disorder, mania, had "psychotic features," as well as "borderline intellectual functioning," which the suit says is "historically referred to as 'mental retardation.'" He also struggled to comply with his medication regimen and often refused his medicine. He was then transferred from the SFRC to Dade CI in Homestead — while there, the suit says, he continued to experience hallucinations and refuse treatment. After a particularly rough period, he was sent back to a crisis unit at the SFRC, where he slept only two to three hours per night and weighed 151 pounds. He was also written up for alleged failure to follow orders and in 2015 was sent more than 300 miles away from his family to the Florida State Prison and then to the Union Correctional Institution. On May 15, the suit says, because of Gaines' "rapidly deteriorating" mental condition, he was placed in a "close management" unit at the facility, where health officials noted in reports that he had "been observed smearing feces on his floor.” From here, the suit claims, things grew strange. On December 1, Corizon Health officials began to write that Gaines' condition seemed to be improving. Reports from that day say a company social worker observed his "clean and organized" cell and "neat" appearance. But just two days later, Gaines was dead. Just after noon December 3, officials noted he seemed quiet and had not eaten. They checked on him around 1:26 p.m. and found him unresponsive. After emergency medical technicians administered CPR, he was pronounced dead. Medical examiners conducted an autopsy the next day. Though writing that his cause of death was "undetermined," examiners wrote that Gaines suffered from "malnutrition" and weighed only 115 pounds. In contrast with the glowing Corizon report three days earlier, doctors said Gaines also died with a "generalized unwashed appearance and probable feces on [the] soles of [his] feet." "Following Mr. Gaines’ death, Defendants did not timely inform Plaintiff," the suit adds. "As a result, Mr. Gaines was not released to his family; the Decedent was buried by FDOC on FDOC property against the wishes and without the consent of Plaintiff." Gaines' mother is now suing for alleged violations of the Eight and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibit cruel and unusual punishment and guarantee equal protection for people of all races under the law. The Gaines family also alleges their loved one's treatment violated the Americans With Disabilities Act. The prison's "conduct was so deliberately indifferent as to Mr. Gaines’ nutritional, medical, and/or mental health needs as to violate his right against cruel and unusual punishment," the suit reads.

Apr 8, 2017
State, former healthcare provider agree to settle suit over prisoners’ untreated hernias
About 1,800 current and former Florida prison inmates who were denied medical care for hernias will be entitled to divide $1.7 million in damages from a class-action lawsuit under a conditional settlement agreed to by the Department of Corrections and its former prison health-care provider, Corizon, and filed in federal court in Tallahassee last week. The suit was brought by the Florida Justice Institute and the Coral Gables law firm of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton in September 2015 on behalf of three inmates. It alleged Corizon and the agency violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments by denying the inmates medical care in an effort to save money. The damages will be paid by Corizon, but the settlement agreement also requires the state prison system to adopt a new policy to provide consultations with surgeons for inmates with hernia symptoms in all Florida facilities. “Obviously, the inmates are there for a reason. We are not trying to make their time in detention a country club, but there is a responsibility to provide humane conditions for their incarceration and in this case we achieved a big step in making sure the medical treatment complies with the standard of care in the industry,” said Ken Hartman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle gave preliminary approval to the settlement at the March 29 hearing but because several of the affected inmates are residing in other states, the settlement requires that their state attorneys general be notified and given an opportunity to object to the agreement. Hinkle said he would enter a final an order in 100 days. Corizon would not comment on the settlement, citing the fact that it had not been finalized. Ashley Cook, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Corrections, would not comment on the specifics of the agreement. “The health and safety of our inmates is a top priority of the department, and we take any allegations regarding their well-being very seriously,” she said, adding: “Corizon no longer provides medical services to the department’s inmates.’’ But two months after the lawsuit was filed in September 2015, Tennessee-based Corizon announced it would not renew its $1.1 billion contract with the state to provide healthcare to an estimated 74,000 of the inmates in the state’s prison system. In February 2015, FDC was ordered to renegotiate the medical contract by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, after a series of reports in the Miami Herald and other news organizations showed suspicious inmate deaths were covered up or never reviewed and inmate complaints of harmful medical care were dismissed or ignored. In April 2016, Centurion of Florida, LLC, a joint venture between Centene Corporation and MHM Services, Inc., replaced Corizon as the medical provider in Florida’s prisons. “The chief goal of this litigation was to reform the way that FDOC treated patients with symptomatic hernias,” the settlement states. “Before this litigation, the practice was to refuse to provide surgeries, or even surgical consultations — despite the recommendations of doctors — unless the patient was experiencing an emergency ...” Although the settlement does not require the agency to order a surgery if a doctor recommends it, the agency may not unreasonably refuse to allow it. A hernia occurs when the abdominal wall tears or weakens, forcing other tissue through the opening. It can cause intense pain and further problems if left untreated. The settlement states the agency and Corizon for years engaged “in a pattern of not permitting FDOC prisoners to have hernia surgeries, by denying them at various levels.” “These scenarios played out for years, resulting in thousands of prisoners being left in severe pain, unable to engage in normal life activities, and at risk for serious complications or death,’’ the settlement says. Although the initial complaint was filed on behalf of three inmates Amado Parra, Archie Green, and Tracy Copeland and detailed the stories of 15 current and former prisoners, after the lengthy examination of the agency and Corizon’s health care records, the scope of the lawsuit was broadened to cover hundreds more. A consent order between the parties was reached on Sept. 23, 2016, to cover “all past and current prisoners in FDOC custody who were diagnosed with and/or treated for a hernia between Sept. 8, 2013 and May 31, 2016” while Corizon was the medical provider for that prison facility. To determine which current and former inmates were eligible, the lawyers reviewed all the medical records of inmates who arrived at the sick bays in Florida prisons during that time period and found the cases coded for a hernia condition, Hartman said. They also posted a notice in each of Florida’s prison facilities and collected the names of hundreds more eligible inmates. The settlement will be divided among the class members by giving $1.7 million to the affected inmates, divided into two subclasses: 308 will each receive about $2,760 each because a request for a surgical consultation was submitted and potentially denied, and 1,480 who exhibited symptoms but were denied a surgical consultation will receive about $574. Attorneys will be paid $385,000 and the three individuals named in the lawsuit will be paid an additional $5,000 each.

May 29, 2016
Lawyers: New evidence suggests error, cover up in attempted suicide that left Lee jail inmate with brain injuries
Carlo Laudadio arrived at the Lee County jail in October 2011 with a long history of mental health issues, including a suicide threat just one month earlier. Jail staff noted this in evaluation forms and ordered the 25-year-old to be placed on direct observation, better known as "suicide watch." Yet within two days, Laudadio was moved out of direct observation and into the infirmary for drug detoxification, where he didn't receive psychotropic medications and didn't require the strict monitoring he had received under watch. Laudadio appeared fine at first. But a few days later, he acted out, refusing to follow orders from a deputy. He was pepper sprayed, then ordered to clean himself off. While in the shower, Laudadio tried to hang himself, causing permanent brain injuries. "I don't know what happened because I wasn't there, but I do know that, knowing my brother and where he was at in his life, he should have been given his medication," said Laudadio's sister, Christina Bobbin. Nearly five years since Laudadio's attempted suicide, lawyers representing Bobbin allege they've uncovered evidence that suggests Laudadio wasn't evaluated before his move off suicide watch, and that staffers of the jail's health care contractor have tried to cover up their error. They point to emails and jail logs obtained in the case and provided to the Naples Daily News that they say show staffers with the jail's health care contractors scrambling to understand how Laudadio ended up off suicide watch. "We have just a few loose ends we'd like to tie up, but we think at this point that email is pretty conclusive proof that he was not evaluated," said Patrick Harland, a lawyer representing Bobbin. Bobbin has filed a 16-count lawsuit against Corizon Health, one of the nation's largest correctional health care providers, and the Lee County Sheriff's Office, which contracted with Corizon for its jail medical services. The lawsuit alleges, in part, that Corizon staffers failed to properly evaluate Laudadio and prescribe him needed medications, and that the Sheriff's Office improperly allowed the use of pepper spray on Laudadio. Corizon and the Sheriff's Office have denied the allegations in court filings. Corizon has said that Laudadio is responsible for his own actions and negligence, while the Sheriff's Office has responded that it acted appropriately. "Any and all actions undertaken were done so without malice, in pursuit of lawful duties, and with such force as was reasonably necessary under the circumstances," Robert Shearman, a lawyer for the Sheriff's Office, wrote in a November 2014 filing. Both Corizon and the Sheriff's Office declined to answer a series of written questions related to the case, citing the ongoing legal proceedings. "It is important to keep in mind the existence of a lawsuit is not necessarily indicative of quality of care or any wrongdoing," said Martha Harbin, Corizon's director of external relations, in a statement. From an early age, Bobbin noticed that her brother was different. Laudadio had a hard time concentrating and struggled with basic school subjects, like spelling and reading, Bobbin said. As he moved into his teenage years, Laudadio gravitated toward drugs, dovetailing into a series of crimes. "He always reached out for help, but he struggled from a young age with substance abuse," Bobbin said. By the time he was jailed in October 2011, Laudadio had been arrested in Florida about 20 times, mostly for drug crimes, battery, burglary and theft. According to a jail evaluation, Laudadio had also been diagnosed with several mental health issues: depression, borderline personality disorder, adjustment disorder and polysubstance abuse, among others. In September 2011, he was involuntarily committed under Florida's Baker Act after threatening to kill himself. So when Laudadio arrived in jail on Oct. 14, 2011, accused of violating probation on a cocaine possession conviction, Corizon staff members assigned him to Floor 5S, better known as the male suicide watch wing, records obtained in the lawsuit show. According to records dated Oct. 16, a Corizon nurse, Janet Stepnoski, completed an evaluation of Laudadio and recommended his transfer to the jail infirmary for detoxification. In the evaluation, Stepnoski wrote that Laudadio told her, "I am going to have a bad detox," and, "I am not going to hurt myself." The next few days were relatively event-free. But on the morning of Oct. 19, Laudadio refused to come out of a shower and demanded a new jumpsuit. As a result of Laudadio's refusal to follow orders, sheriff's deputy Rodney Payne used pepper spray on him, the records show. "I just wanted him to handcuff up and get him out of the shower so I could have somebody speak with him and see what was going on," Payne testified at a December 2014 deposition. "I was actually going to have him escorted right back down to suicide watch." A nurse then saw and cleared Laudadio, who was sent back into the shower to clean off. While in there, Laudadio took his jumpsuit, jammed it between the shower and door, and attempted to hang himself with a pant leg, the records show. About three minutes passed between the time Laudadio was last heard and the time he was found and cut down. Laudadio survived, but oxygen deprivation to the brain caused permanent damage. Within a week after Laudadio's attempted suicide, Corizon administrators noticed something missing in Laudadio's file: documents showing he had been evaluated before his transfer out of suicide watch. In an email, one that has become central to the allegations levied by Bobbin's lawyers, a Corizon Health Services administrator, Natalia Saunders, said the documents couldn't be found. "A clearance form was in the chart," wrote Saunders. "I spoke to the (mental health counselor) that signed it to inquire why she cleared (Laudadio) but did not evaluate him." Over the next several weeks, Corizon administrators grew worried about the form's absence. In one email, about a month after the suicide attempt, a top administrator wrote that Corizon's regional director for Florida was "afraid the note does not exist or they will not be able to find it." The evaluation was finally found in early December, about a month and a half after it went missing. In an email, Saunders wrote that Stepnoski, the nurse who authored the evaluation, found it in another patient's chart. But Bobbin's lawyers suspect the evaluation didn't exist when Laudadio tried to hang himself. First, Stepnoski doesn't remember finding the evaluation, as Saunders claimed she did. When asked in a May 2015 deposition whether she located the missing evaluation, Stepnoski replied, "I don't recall. It's been three years." "I believe they later told me we — it was found in someone else's chart," Stepnoski said. Second, jail logs don't show Stepnoski or anybody from the mental health unit coming onto the suicide watch floor in the time between Laudadio's arrival and 9:45 a.m. Oct. 16, the date and time written by Stepnoski on her signed evaluation. Stepnoski testified she was on the floor, as evidenced by the fact that five other inmates were released from that floor around the same time as Laudadio. Bobbin's lawyers are in the process of trying to track down the other inmates to question whether they recall seeing Stepnoski that morning. Harland, Bobbin's lawyer, said the documents they've received "point to supporting that email" by Saunders, who initially said Stepnoski cleared but didn't evaluate Laudadio. Corizon has been subject to critical media and governmental reports regarding its health care in recent years, particularly in Florida. In September, the state's independent Correctional Medical Authority reported "serious deficiencies" including "significant delays in treatment and inmate care" at Florida's largest prison for female inmates, where Corizon provided medical services. In November, Corizon chose to not renew its $1.1 billion contract to provide health care services in Florida's prisons, calling the agreement "too constraining." The company says it still serves about 430 facilities and 320,000 patients in 25 states. The Lee County Sheriff's Office ended its relationship with Corizon in 2014, switching to a new provider, Armor Correctional Health Services. Sheriff's officials declined to comment on the reason for the change, and they didn't comment publicly on the switch at the time. Laudadio now resides in a round-the-clock care facility in Wauchula, about 50 miles east of Sarasota. He can't care for himself, can't hold a conversation and has no short-term memory, Bobbin said. Bobbin's lawyers said the Wauchula facility costs about $300,000 per year, though the rehabilitation center hasn't required payment until the lawsuit is completed. Bobbin is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Bobbin knew her brother had struggled with drug addiction and brushes with the law, but she sensed an improvement shortly before his incarceration. "He wanted to do well. He was doing well at the time," Bobbin said. "There's always the what-ifs. I just want him taken care of."

an 2, 2016
Former Union Correctional nurse arrested in drug scheme

A former nurse at Union Correctional Institution was arrested Tuesday in a case that involved allegations of altering or falsifying a drug prescription, according to records released by the Florida Department of Corrections. Lloyd Collins, who worked for the prison health contractor Corizon Health, was charged with falsifying or altering records and fraud in obtaining medicinal drugs, the department said in a news release. Collins was fired in November. Records released by the department were heavily redacted to prevent release of protected information, but an arrest warrant indicates the case stems from an incident Nov. 2. Part of the warrant alleged that Collins "did knowingly cause a prescription for a medicinal drug … to be falsely made or altered."

Dec 5, 2015
After Corizon's Contract Cancellation, What Happens To Prison Health Employees?
As a private prison health provider’s contract with the state draws to an end, some wonder how Corizon’s cancellation of the contract will impact Florida inmates as well as employees. Corizon Health is the nation’s largest private prison health care provider company. It serves more than 110 correctional facilities, which includes work camps, across the state. In a video featured on their website, former Corizon CEO Woodrow Myers talks about the benefits of privatized prison health care they provide. “We are healthcare providers first and foremost,” he stated. “Quality of care is number one on our agenda. We are going to be as aggressive as we can in making sure our team is optimally prepared to do the best job we can do for our clients and our patients. Period.” But, back in January, Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones told some Florida lawmakers that the private prison providers in charge of inmate’s health care wasn’t up to par. By October 2013, the state fully privatized the inmate health care services. Corizon covered most of the state, and another company, Wexford, covered the Southern region. “The standard of healthcare with our current providers is not at the level that’s required by their contracts, and we’re working very diligently with those two vendors to try to get the standard of care up to the level that’s required in those contracts,” said Jones, speaking during a committee hearing. In addition to working with Corizon and Wexford, Jones had also already begun looking into rebidding those contracts to other providers. But, on Monday, Corizon sent a letter to Jones, stating it was terminating its current contract with the state and will stop the services by the end of May next year. In a statement, Corizon’s new CEO Karey Witty said while they’d tried to address the department’s concerns, they found the terms of the current contract “too constraining.” “If the constraints were to provide the proper health care for the inmates, then if that’s too constraining, then, they don’t need the contract,” said Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville). Gibson is the Vice Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which is looking into these issues. The chair, Sen. Greg Evers (R-Baker), is one of the lawmakers who has made unannounced visits to correctional facilities and expressed concern. Like Evers, Gibson has also expressed her disappointment in the medical services rendered. “I find it interesting that Corizon would terminate, rather than us terminate with them, which I’m sure they probably knew it was coming,” she added. “And, it’s good. It’s time that we do better by inmates, while they’re in our care and custody, because they are still human beings, whose health issues should be recognized and taken care of.” But, what about the employees, who will soon no longer be employed by Corizon? “I am not certain about that, and that’s probably something I would discuss with the chair of the Criminal Justice [Sen. Greg Evers], and probably ask him to have a presentation so we understand all the ramifications,” Gibson replied. And, Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) had similar thoughts. He says it’s really up to Secretary Jones to come forward with a plan. “So, I anticipate hearing from her very soon about what her plan of action is to make sure when May comes around, that there is no break in services and that we have a seamless transition to the next provider,” he said. Still, some unions already have an answer to that particular question: transfer those Corizon employees back into state employment. Worried about the loss of thousands of state employee jobs, AFSCME and the Florida Nursing Association were part of a lawsuit to stop the state from privatizing prison health care services. The unions lost, and while Corizon and Wexford employed many, there were still hundreds of layoffs as well as others moving to work for other state agencies. “We did have employees go to Corizon, and we have received calls over the last couple years that working conditions were not as good as the state employment that they had before and they were concerned about patients and inmate safety,” said Jeanie Demshar with the Florida Nursing Association. Demshar says she’s not surprised by this turn of events. And, she adds her organization is now working to save the situation. “We did predict that something like this would happen,” she stated. “As you know, we did file lawsuits and were involved in several legal actions contesting the privatization, but we did, in the end, lose. So, we did predict that the contracts would not provide adequate care for the inmates, and of course, a lot of our state employees lost their jobs. We are taking the position now that the state should return those positions now to the state employees.” Demshar says her union is already in contact with the legislature and the Governor’s office to start those talks. Meanwhile, Jones says she’s already working to ensure a “seamless delivery of services.” She’s also indicated despite the cancelation, the rebidding process may still be open to Corizon.

Dec 3, 2015
TALLAHASSEE (NSF) – Florida prisons chief Julie Jones is considering hiring temp agencies to fill in the gap after Corizon Health officials decided to walk away from the largest prison health-care contract in the country. Officials from Tennessee-based Corizon put Jones on notice Monday they intend to leave Florida — and a five year, $1.2 billion contract — as of May 31 because the agreement is “too constraining.” And, even though the company is fleeing the state years ahead of schedule, Corizon hasn’t done anything that would keep it from participating in the forthcoming invitation to negotiate, or ITN, for a new contract, Jones told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday. “What they have done in exercising a legal element in their existing contract, that does not preclude them from trying to re-bid on parts of the new ITN. It just depends on how they score out against other vendors,” she said. The possibility that the private provider — which cares for about three-fourths of the state’s 100,000 inmates — could be in the running for another deal left top Republican lawmakers who oversee prisons incredulous. “If you drop out on a contract, and you’re telling me that you’re not man enough to honor the contract that you entered into and now you want the state of Florida to turn around and allow you to bid again? No. Personally, for me, that dog don’t run,” said Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Greg Evers, R-Baker. Corizon, which hasn’t ruled out responding to the ITN, should be barred from participating, said House Criminal Justice Chairman Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami. Absolutely. We had a contractual agreement with them and they chose to opt out and move in a different direction. Given their quality outcomes, I just don’t think they’re a good partner for the state,” Trujillo, R-Miami, said. The ITN, which is a relatively common contracting method in state government, is expected to be released before the end of the month, but new contracts won’t go into effect until mid-2017, according to Jones. That will leave the Department of Corrections with a gap in providing health services after Corizon leaves. Jones intends to use health-care companies that provide temporary services for hospitals and other parts of the health-care industry to bridge the gap. The department will “have a third party gather up as many of the current Corizon employees as possible,” she said. “So it’s important, not only for me to get a seamless supply of adequate health care for these inmates, but it’s also important to me to make sure that we keep all of these folks employed,” Jones said. “Because they used to be our employees prior to Corizon coming.” Corizon has been under fire from lawmakers and attorneys representing inmates who accuse the company of routinely providing inadequate care since taking over services in most of the prisons in the central and northern portions of the state two years ago. Lawyers for Florida inmates in September filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections and Corizon, alleging that the state agency and the company were denying hernia operations to save money. Less than four months before Gov. Rick Scott was re-elected in 2014, former Corrections Secretary Michael Crews quietly agreed to pay Corizon and another prison health-care firm, Wexford Health Sources, an additional $3.2 million to stay on the job for another year. Scott had pushed for privatization of the prison health-care services. Two months after he inked the contract amendments, Crews threatened to stop payments to Corizon, saying the company failed to follow through after audits revealed shortcomings in multiple areas, including medical care, nursing and staffing. The corrections department has fined Corizon nearly $70,000 in liquidated damages so far this year, according to agency spokesman McKinley Lewis. What could have ultimately been the final straw for Corizon was whether the company’s payments should be adjusted annually according to changes in the Consumer Price Index. While its contract made allowances for such hikes, any increases would have to be approved by the Legislature, which has been inconsistent in authorizing partial increases for Corizon and never approved a full Consumer Price Index hike — as much as 4 percent — since the contract went into effect. The failure to get the increase was “distressing” to Corizon, Jones said. “Their concern was that their escalating costs for personnel and for drugs was increasing and they were not being compensated for it,” she said. “Now, that’s on them. I told them from day one that you agreed to this and there was no agreement that you were going to get CPI. But a significant driving force in terminating the contract with Florida was no CPI.” Jones said Corizon executives initially told her they were losing at least $1 million per month on the contract. “I told them weeks ago that going forward, if they were going to continue with us, that I would go and ask (the Legislature) for the money to cover their costs, basically,” she said. “I asked them how much are you losing. The original figure they gave me was $1 million. But in the meeting yesterday afternoon, they said it was much more than that a month and that’s why they finally just threw in the towel. They didn’t want to wait to see if the Legislature was going to give them the extra funding. It was a business decision, pure and simple.” Jones described her relationship with Corizon executives, who met with her on a weekly basis, as “collegial,” and spoke of the company’s decision to exit the state without animosity. Jones said she met in her office on Monday with Corizon executives, who told her of their intent to terminate the contract early. The company’s board of directors made the decision to pull out of Florida during a meeting less than two weeks ago. She acknowledged that its contract with Florida may not have reaped the benefits Corizon anticipated. “I do believe that they were losing money. Now, how much money, I have no way of knowing. And level of profit … I don’t know how much profit they’ve made on this contract and I don’t know what their expectations were,” she said. “But a private company like this, they have investors. I think those were the people that were making those decisions.” A spokeswoman for Corizon would not respond directly to questions about the company’s finances or if it was losing money on the deal. “We just made a decision to exercise the 180 days clause that’s allowed in the contract,” spokeswoman Martha Harbin said Tuesday. Critics of the current system say that it is time for the state to resume providing health care for inmates. “I think privatization in this particular area has just been a disaster. I think it will continue to be a disaster as long as they attempt to contract with private companies like Corizon,” said Florida Justice Institute Executive Director Randall Berg, who is representing inmates on the class-action lawsuit related to hernia care. It’s not the first time Florida has been left holding the bag. In 2006, Prison Health Services — which later merged with a company that became Corizon — gave the state 90 days notice that it was quitting a contract for inmate health care less than eight month after the job started. The company said it was terminating the contract because of unexpected costs after the state refused to increase its payments, according to a legislative analysis written in 2010. Florida lawmakers outsourced health care for inmates throughout the state in 2011 as part of the language in the state budget. Lawsuits kept the privatization switch on hold until 2013, when Corizon took over health care for the majority of the state’s prisoners. Wexford is being paid about $240 million to handle the rest of the inmates. A month after taking over the helm of the Department of Corrections in January, Jones announced that she would re-bid prison health contracts with Wexford and Corizon through the procurement process known as an invitation to negotiate. Through that process, the department indicated it wanted to address issues such as staffing, mental-health services and the use of electronic health records. Jones said Tuesday she is uncertain whether she will grant a contract to a single provider or parcel out the services. “We are going to allow vendors to bid on a part of the state or a service or the entire state. That’s the beauty of the ITN process. It really puts the vendor in the driver’s seat as to what their specialty is, rather than having a company come in and try to backfill on something that is so big and then not be able to accommodate all of the services, which is pretty much what happened with Corizon,” Jones said. “We’re going to look very carefully at these vendors and see what their capabilities are and make sure that they don’t stretch beyond their capabilities.”

Dec 1, 2015
Private prison healthcare in doubt as contract with Florida collapses
After two years of complaints about healthcare in Florida’s prisons, the private company that has been responsible for the largest share of inmate care — Corizon Health — decided not to renew its $1.1 billion contract with the state Monday, leaving the future of care for 74,000 inmates in limbo when the company pulls out in six months. The decision by the Tennessee-based company to exercise its right to terminate the contract that was scheduled to expire in 2018 came as the Florida Department of Corrections was attempting to renegotiate the agreement amid reports of inmate maltreatment, chronic understaffing and rising numbers of unnatural inmate deaths. “We appreciate the contracts for inmate health services permit very little of the flexibility that Secretary [Julie] Jones would like in order to address issues such as staffing, mental health care, and electronic health records,” Corizon Chief Executive Officer Karey Witty said in a statement. “We have tried to address the department’s concerns but have found the terms of the current contract too constraining. At this point, we believe the best way to move forward is to focus our efforts on a successful transition to a new provider.” In February, Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones was ordered to renegotiate the contract by Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, after a series of reports in the Miami Herald and other news organizations showed suspicious inmate deaths were covered up or never reviewed, staffing was inadequate, and inmate grievances and complaints of harmful medical care were dismissed or ignored. Audits conducted by the state’s Correctional Medical Authority found problems with inadequate medical care, nursing and staffing shortages, and hundreds of pending lawsuits against the state and the healthcare companies claiming inadequate care.  Last year, 346 inmates died in Florida prisons — 176 of them listed with no immediate cause of death. It was the highest number on record, even though the number of inmates in Florida prisons has declined. The decision is a blow to the effort by several legislators and Gov. Rick Scott to privatize medical care in Florida prisons. After failing to pass legislation to authorize the state to outsource its prison healthcare to companies that contributed heavily to Republican campaigns, a provision allowing the privatization effort was quietly inserted into the 2011 budget, during the governor’s first term. A union-led lawsuit challenged the language in court but it was upheld and the contracts were allowed. Under the deal first signed in 2013, Corizon Health is being paid $229 million a year until June 30, 2018, to provide healthcare to 74,000 inmates at 111 of Florida’s prisons, work camps and work-release centers in North and Central Florida. Wexford Health Services is being paid $48 million a year until Dec. 20, 2017, to provide health services to about 15,000 inmates at nine prisons in South Florida. The contract requires that both companies provide medical care to inmates for 7 percent less than it cost the state in 2010, but both companies sought and received increases in the terms of their original agreement. In 2014, former FDC Secretary Michael Crews agreed to raise the annual contract with Corizon and Wexford by $3.2 million. Subsequent audits revealed that even after the increased payments, Corizon failed to meet its contract obligations regarding staffing and medical care. Evers asked the agency to renegotiate the contracts with both private prison providers to demand higher standards of care and hold them accountable for deaths and injuries. Jones also criticized the contracts as too lenient for the vendors and issued an invitation to rebid the contract on Feb. 23. The department did not explain what will be next for the prison system, but said in a statement that updates would be forthcoming. “In the coming months, Secretary Jones will work closely with the Department’s Office of Health Services to ensure that the appropriate staff and resources are available at our facilities to continue seamless delivery of appropriate medical care to our inmate population,’’ the statement said. Evers said he was not prepared to comment on the decision but said he considered it a “good sign” that Jones was following through on directions to hold the company accountable for providing the level of care they agreed to when they signed the contract with the state. “This is good news,” said Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, who chairs the House Criminal Justice subcommittee that oversees prisons. He had been supportive of the effort to renegotiate the contract because “the healthcare outcomes were some of the worst in any sort of managed care.” “It’s a huge contract. People don’t walk away from this easily,” Trujillo said. “It further goes to show that the secretary is holding people accountable. Regardless of their reason for leaving, she’s forcing people to come to the table and push for the outcomes.” Trujillo said that the options include providing a “hybrid” system that would rely on private healthcare services in areas of the state where that is most efficient and return to in-house medical staffing in other parts of the state. 

Nov 7, 2015
Emergency Situation Declared At Florida Women’s Reception Center

An oversight board has declared a health care emergency at a Florida women’s prison, according to records obtained by WMFE. The Correctional Medical Authority’s did an audit of the Florida Women’s Reception Center in Ocala. It found “life threatening” issues that needed immediate medical care, according to a letter sent Sept. 22. “A thorough review of (Florida Women’s Reception Center's) healthcare delivery system … revealed several deficiencies related to delays in treatment and inmate care,” wrote Jane Holmes-Cain, the executive director of the Correctional Medical Authority, in a letter to state officials. “These findings are considered to be very serious, and require emergency notification and the Department’s immediate attention.” Inspectors found: A diabetic prisoner didn’t get insulin for two to three months. An inmate with a golf ball sized lump was denied an MRI in July, and still hasn’t seen a surgeon. An inmate with a history of cervical cancer had an abnormal screening in May, but no follow-up until August – despite having symptoms that the cancer had spread to her brain. Missing and incomplete records for the 1,000 inmates. Florida Department of Corrections spokesman McKinley Lewis said all the major issues identified in the audit have been addressed. The state is working through a correction plan. “I do know additional staff were brought in,” Lewis said. “They came from central office here, and I believe Corizon did bring in some additional staff as well to handle some issues. But I can’t speak specifically to what Corizon’s actions were.” Corizon is Florida’s for-profit health care contractor for prisons. Company officials didn’t respond to a request for comment in time for this story. State officials said they plan to re-bid Corizon’s contract in December or January after multiple reports of issues with inmates.

Sep 18, 2015

Lawsuit claims Florida inmates are denied surgeries

Three inmates are suing the Florida Department of Corrections and medical contractor Corizon, alleging Corizon refused to provide medically necessary surgical procedures in an effort to keep costs down. The class-action lawsuit, which cites several other cases of alleged inadequate care, accuses Corizon of violating prisoners’ Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. Corizon and a second prison system healthcare contractor, Wexford, have faced a flurry of litigation around the country, accusing them of cutting corners on care to save money, sometimes with fatal results. This latest lawsuit focuses on hernia surgeries. It claims that Tracy Copeland, 48, was repeatedly denied a hernia operation despite two recommendations from a doctor for the procedure, and that Amado Parra, 60, and Archie Green, 43, were also denied surgical evaluation for severely painful hernias that limit their ability to move. All three have had symptoms of groin hernias since 2012 and 2013. Copeland and Parra are serving time for second-degree murder. Green is imprisoned for a handful of charges, including burglary and grand theft with a firearm. “What they’re trying to do is maximize their profits as a for-profit medical care provider,” said Randall C. Berg Jr., executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, which filed the suit on behalf of the prisoners. “The unfortunate thing about inmates is if they don’t get surgery by the medical provider, they can’t go elsewhere. There’s no other entity to turn to get the medical care they need.” Martha Harbin, a spokeswoman for Corizon, said the company had not yet been served with the lawsuit and denied the company has a policy restricting surgeries for inmates. “Corizon Health has no policies limiting or preventing surgery for the repair of hernias or any other medically necessary procedures,” she wrote in an email. “We are first and foremost healthcare providers. Our mission is to deliver safe, effective and efficient healthcare services using best practices and evidence-based medicine.” “One of the most common misperceptions about our company is that we somehow benefit from providing lower-quality care,” she added. “To the contrary, what makes good business sense and good medical sense is excellent preventive care — intervening early to prevent and/or treat conditions before they become serious and cause disease-related complications.” The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring Corizon to provide surgery to inmates who need it, and requests punitive damages from the Brentwood, Tennessee.-based contractor. Corizon, which operates in 27 states, was awarded a five-year contract with the Florida Department of Corrections in 2013, despite already facing numerous lawsuits across the country for allegedly deficient care. Corizon manages medical care in 114 of the Department of Corrections’ 140 facilities, including prisons, annexes, work camps and other units. Department of Corrections spokesman McKinley Lewis said the agency is reviewing the complaint “to determine the appropriate legal action.” “The prescribed course of care varies from patient to patient and is based on the professional medical opinion of the attending healthcare provider,” he added. The Department of Corrections announced in February that it is rebidding its healthcare contracts before the end of the year.

Mar 12, 2015

As reported earlier this week in Florida Politics, Pete Antonacci - former general counsel for Gov. Rick Scott - is back in the influence business at his former firm GrayRobinson. Last week, Antonacci’s roster of clients were relatively anodyne, but not so as of today with the registration of his fourth client. Antonacci has signed up private prison giant Corizon, a firm that does a great deal of sensitive business with the state. New Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones is looking to overhaul exactly the kinds of facilities run by Corizon amid reports of prisoner abuse and neglect across the state. Jones is the second straight DOC chief to take an interest in the company: former Secretary Mike Crews - very much in the news these days – awarded Corizon a boost in its contract last year and has now been critical in legislative hearings of Florida’s prisons, particularly the for-profit variety. Doubtless, firms that contract with the state of Florida to provide correctional services could certainly use a PR push right about now.

Feb 22, 2015
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones announced Friday that she intends to rebid contracts worth about $1.4 billion with private companies to provide health care services to the state's 100,000 inmates. Jones's announcement came amid increased scrutiny of Florida's prison system, the third-largest in the country, after reports of guards abusing inmates, a rising number of unexplained inmate deaths and lawsuits from investigators who claim they were retaliated against after exposing wrongdoing. Lawmakers have recently focused on problems with medical services provided to inmates by Wexford Health Sources and Corizon Health. The for-profit companies took over prison health care nearly two years ago after a drawn-out court battle over outsourcing ordered by the Legislature in 2011. Jones has been highly critical of the state's current five-year deals with the companies and began exploring ways to rebid or cancel the contracts shortly after taking over as head of the department last month. Under the current agreements, Wexford is being paid $48 million a year until Dec. 20, 2017, to provide health services to about 15,000 inmates at nine prisons in South Florida. Corizon, which provides health care to more than 74,000 inmates in North and Central Florida as well as part of South Florida, receives $229 million per year. The Corizon contract was set to expire on June 30, 2018. Rebidding the contracts is expected to drive up costs because the department will want more services. "We are anticipating a cost increase. But we're also adding electronic health records, liquidated damages and other enhancements to the contract that will help us in the delivery of health care services," department spokesman McKinley Lewis said. Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Greg Evers ordered Jones to redo the current contracts after he visited several prisons in his Panhandle district and found they were understaffed by doctors and nurses, a common complaint in other states where Tennessee-based Corizon does business. Staffing was one of a variety of issues Jones outlined in a news release Friday announcing her intention to open a contracting process known as an invitation to negotiate "prior to the beginning of 2016." Jones is seeking "enhanced elements" to the current contracts that will include "the ability to ensure that appropriate staffing is provided by our contractors that enables a proper mix of administrative and institutional-level direct care, the presence of medical staff who possess the proper skills and qualifications to provide quality care to our inmate population and clinical oversight and supervision." Jones wants the contractors to perform internal audits of staffing levels, which will also be monitored by the state Correctional Medical Authority and the department's health-services staff. She also intends to demand higher penalties for the companies if they fail to meet minimum staffing or standard-of-care levels. In addition, the secretary is asking companies to use electronic health records "to support decision making and improve provision of comprehensive medical, dental and mental health services while ensuring continuity of care," she said. Last year, 346 of the state's 100,000-plus inmates died behind bars. More than half of those deaths — 176 — were initially unclassified, meaning state investigators had no immediate explanation for the causes of death. According to the Department of Corrections website, 146 inmates died due to heart attacks, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases or other medical problems. "I am confident in the ability of this department to meet the health care needs of our inmate population through a partnership with private health care providers. Through this procurement process, the department will take steps toward being better able to ensure that the health care services required to be delivered to our inmate population are done so in a professional, expeditious and quality fashion," Jones said in the news release. Evers was cautiously optimistic about Jones's announcement. "In the past year since the Florida correctional health care has become fully privatized, inmates' deaths have increased a staggering 10 percent. I'm encouraged to see that FDOC is responding to this health care crisis in our health care system. It's been a terrible deal for the Florida taxpayers. Floridians deserve better," Evers, R-Baker, said. "It is my hope and expectation that this time FDOC will rebid these contracts in an open and transparent process that includes proper accountability and oversight. We will be watching this process very closely to make sure that FDOC is not giving us whipped cream and telling us it's ice cream." Both companies have pledged to continue to provide services throughout the rebidding process. "We are pleased to see Secretary Jones doing exactly what she promised to do when she took over leadership of the Department of Corrections — making whatever changes are necessary to ensure the best outcomes for the state, its taxpayers, and its inmate population. This new procurement process will allow additional flexibility and increased cooperation between the state of Florida and its partners, and we believe we are well-positioned to continue as the state's principal correctional health provider," Corizon Health Chief Executive Officer Woodrow Myers, Jr., said in a statement issued Friday. Corizon, which employs 1,700 workers in Florida, is also "proud of the improvements we've made in recent months, for instance enhancing reporting on healthcare metrics and adding more staff at no additional cost to the state," Myers wrote. Wexford President Dan Conn said in a statement that his Pittsburgh-based company is committed to working with Jones. "We are confident Wexford Health has been meeting the many requirements of our contract with the State of Florida and know the overwhelming majority of concerns expressed by the secretary and legislators don't apply to the inmates under our care in Florida," Conn wrote. "The opportunity to rebid the contract will give us a chance to take Florida prison health care to the next level and implement additional cost-saving clinical programs not possible under the current contract, such as discounted drug pricing programs and electronic health records. Wexford Health looks forward to continuing our partnership with the Department of Corrections now and into the future." The rebidding of the contracts is the latest turn in Florida's decades-long struggle with inmate health care. In the mid 1970s, lawyers launched a a nearly 20-year court battle, known as Costello v. Wainwright, over prisoners' health care, resulting in the appointment of a special master and nearly a decade of federal-court oversight of health services in the Department of Corrections. The Correctional Medical Authority was created in 1986 as part of the settlement in the Costello case. The state's prison health system stayed under federal oversight until 1993, when a judge decided that the federal government could relinquish its role as long as Florida remained committed to using monitors, like the authority, to ensure that prisoners' rights were not being violated. In the midst of deciding to privatize prison health care in 2011, lawmakers effectively shuttered the authority by eliminating its $717,000 budget. That same year, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a measure that would have eliminated the agency altogether, calling it a "valuable layer of oversight." The next year, House and Senate leaders allocated $580,000 to revive the agency, shrunk from 12 workers to six with an oversight board of seven governor-appointed members. Critics of the revived authority say the agency no longer has the power it held when U.S. District Judge Susan Black agreed to end federal oversight. Disappointment in the current health-care contracts began not long after the privatization was fully implemented in late 2013. Less than four months before Scott, who pushed for the privatization, was re-elected last year, former Corrections Secretary Michael Crews quietly agreed to pay Wexford and Corizon another $3.2 million to stay on the job for another year. Two months after he inked the contract amendments, Crews threatened to stop payments to Corizon, saying the company failed to follow through after audits revealed shortcomings in multiple areas, including medical care, nursing and staffing. The threat of another Costello-like class action lawsuit and federal oversight is an additional incentive for lawmakers to try to rectify prison health-care issues, which one lawyer who represented the inmates said are worse now than when the case was settled. "Once those bids come in, if the private health care providers can't do it at a cost we can afford, then it may be cheaper because of the inadequate health care the inmates are receiving. The state may have to look at taking it back over," Evers said.

Oct 12, 2013

The two top executives of a state vendor who negotiated a $1.2 billion contract with the Florida Department of Corrections to provide medical care for thousands of state prisoners were abruptly dismissed on Wednesday. Tennessee-based Corizon, operating subsidiary of Valitas Health Services, declined to discuss the reason for the departures of Chief Executive Officer Rich Hallworth and President Stuart Campbell. The move, however, followed a Sept. 23 announcement by Moody’s Investors Service that it had downgraded approximately $360 million in Valitas’s corporate debt securities – changing the company’s rating outlook from stable to negative and increasing the likelihood of default. Last week, reported that Corizon, which began work in August at 41 state correctional facilities in north and central Florida, was sued 660 times for malpractice across the country in the last five years. Nearly half of those cases remain open. Of those that are closed, 91 – one in four – ended with confidential settlements. Wexford Health Sources, which has a five-year agreement worth $240 million to provide health services to state inmates in South Florida, was hit with 1,092 malpractice claims – suits, notices of intent to sue and letters from aggrieved inmates – from January 1, 2008 through 2012. Wexford paid a total of $5.4 million to settle those cases. Among the reasons cited by Moody’s for Valitas’s deteriorating financial position are the recent loss of prison health contracts with Maine, Maryland, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, as well as “competitive pricing pressure” elsewhere. Corizon/Valitas is the nation’s largest provider of healthcare services to correctional facilities, in charge of medical care for 410,000 inmates in 29 states. The company could be upgraded financially next year if earnings increase, according to Moody’s. Yet the sudden departure of the two executives who landed the enormous Florida contract, and Moody’s generally weak financial portrait of the company, are raising prior concerns about Corizon’s performance. In 2006, when known as Prison Health Services, Corizon walked away from a 10-year, nearly $800 million contract with Florida to provide healthcare to thousands of inmates in state prisons in South Florida. The Sun-Sentinel reported then that a spokesman said the contract had “underperformed financially.” “The company said higher than anticipated use of hospitals located off prison grounds was the main reason it was ending the agreement,” the newspaper reported. The Department of Corrections awarded Corizon the contract in 2005 “despite protests from legislators and competitors who said the company’s bid was too low to provide quality service.” That bid was $80 million less than its nearest competitor, the newspaper said. While there is concern that history might be repeating itself, a Corizon spokesman offered reassurance that was not the case. “This change in company leadership should not impact day-to-day operations with Corizon’s clients. The company will continue to focus on patient safety and exceeding client expectations in every aspect of our service delivery,” said spokesman Pat Nolan. Florida Corrections spokeswoman Misty Cash said the state is not concerned about Corizon’s future performance. “The placement of a new CEO at Corizon will have no impact on our contract with the company. The Department of Corrections looks forward to working with new CEO Woodrow A. Myers Jr., M.D. and his leadership team.” Corizon announced the appointment of Myers as CEO on Thursday, effective immediately. Myers is a Valitas board member and former executive vice president and chief medical officer of Indiana-based WellPoint. Valitas is majority owned by Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company, a Chicago-based private equity management firm. It reported revenue of approximately $1.2 billion for the twelve months that ended June 30.

July 25, 2013

MIAMI — With Florida embarking on an ambitious effort to privatize much of the state’s prison healthcare—the largest such undertaking in the nation—the time is ripe for journalists to take a deeper look into the history of such programs, and the companies getting massive contracts for taxpayer dollars. Newspapers in Florida have nibbled around the edges of this complex story, and problems with privatization efforts in prisons have been investigated periodically by news outlets around the country. (There are also, of course, plenty of problems with publicly-administered jails and prisons—more on that to come). Yet despite problematic records in other states, and even in Florida, the two companies privatizing healthcare at Florida prisons—Corizon Inc. and Wexford Health Sources—have received little recent scrutiny here. The Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald statehouse bureau has written about the court fight to stop the privatization, which state workers ultimately lost in June. The Times/Herald team has also noted that Corizon, the company that is about to take over healthcare at every Florida prison north of Palm Beach, to the tune of $230 million, has faced problems with contracts “from Maine to Idaho.” But these companies can be hard to track. Corizon was created in 2011 with the merger of Prison Health Services and Correctional Medical Services, companies that have had their own issues in the past. For example, Prison Health Services had to pay $5 million in fines and restitution in 2004 to resolve a Florida Medicaid fraud case, and has periodically lost contracts around the country because of concerns about cost overruns or problems with service. Correctional Medical Services has had its own difficulties in other states, and even in Florida. It has lost or walked away from contracts as close to home for Florida reporters as Palm Beach County. The for-profit prison healthcare industry is hard to penetrate, with tangled relationships and complex histories. A year before Palm Beach County dumped CMS in favor of a local company, Armor Correctional Health Services, Broward County dumped another company, Wexford Health Sources, in favor of Armor (which also has a contract with Hillsborough County jails). Armor was founded by the founder of Prison Health Services, and is “politically connected,” according to a story this month by The Tampa Bay Times that looked at the challenges and high costs of jail healthcare. Wexford hasn’t been written about as much in Florida, though it recently took over health services at nine state prisons in South Florida with, as the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “a five-year contract starting at $48 million a year.” But it has faced issues in other states. Corizon replaced Wexford in Arizona earlier this year, less than a year into Wexford’s conract, after Wexford was fined by the state and drew a class action lawsuit by the ACLU alleging “grossly inadequate medical care.” Corizon has seen a dramatic uptick in lawsuits filed against it, but those numbers may only reflect the dramatic increase in contracts Corizon has gotten recently. A deeper look is warranted. Wexford, too, appears to be seeing an increase in lawsuits, though its name is not as unique, and easily searchable, as Corizon’s. Again, there’s an opportunity there for an enterprising reporter to dig into the data. For-profit health companies serving prisons and jails aren’t the only piece of this puzzle that is ripe for investigation. Private companies running entire facilities have also come under scrutiny by reporters, prisoner advocates, and the Department of Justice. Last month the Atlanta Journal Constitution noted that a company running a juvenile lock-up in Georgia was singled out by a Justice Department survey that found it had the highest percentage in the country of sexual contact between the children and staffers— with 32 percent of inmates reporting such contact. The AJC noted the company, Youth Services International, has had problems in every state where it has a contract.

December 4, 2012WLRN
Private Prison Plan Is Flawed, Judge Rules The Florida Legislature has struck out again with an attempt to privatize some or all of the state prison system. FAIL: A judge rules Legislature must pass a law, not use a committee, to privatize prisons. A Tallahassee judge ruled today that lawmakers chose an unconstitutional method to turn prison health care services over to private contractors. As Mary Ellen Klas reported for The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times: The lawsuit was filed by the unions that represent prison employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Alliance of Health Care Employees, who argued that the state was not authorized to make the change through the 14-member Legislative Budget Commission but instead needed to make the shift through a full vote of the Legislature. (Leon County Circuit Judge John) Cooper agreed and ruled that the $229 million contract the budget commission approved for Nashville-based Corizon Correctional Healthcare, a for-profit company, was illegal. The ruling will keep about 1,900 prison workers on the job, instead of requiring them to apply for work with the new contractor. Early this year, under pressure from the prison guard union and dissident Republicans, the state Senate defeated a bill to privatize most of the prisons in the southern part of the state. A privatization plan in the 2011 Legislature succeeded briefly before it, too, was struck down as unconstitutionally designed.

July 31, 2012 News Service of Florida
A Leon County circuit judge has agreed to hold a hearing next week in the long-running dispute about whether the Florida Department of Corrections will privatize prison health services. Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll has scheduled an August 8 hearing, according to an online court docket. The Florida Nurses Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees filed a lawsuit in January challenging a legislative move last year to privatize inmate health services. Carroll early this month declined to rule on the constitutionality of the Legislature’s decision because it was included in budget fine print, known as “proviso” language, which expired at the June 30 end of the fiscal year. The nurses association and AFSCME, a state employees union, asked Carroll for a rehearing. Subsequently, the DOC said it would go ahead with the privatization, regardless of the expiration of the proviso language. The DOC said it had the authority to contract with two private companies under existing state law.

July 26, 2012 Tampa Times
Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, has lodged a formal objection to the Legislature giving final approval to budget transfers that would allow the prison system to privatize health care for 100,000 inmates. Rich wrote a letter (posted below) to Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, who chairs the 14-member Legislative Budget Commission. The prison system has asked the LBC to approve a transfer of $58 million between budget categories so the agency can move forward with the privatization and implement it by Jan. 1, 2013. The LBC generally functions as a rubber-stamp for mid-year changes to agencies' budgets, and in the past, an objection from a single lawmaker has carried great weight. The outsourcing of health care in Florida prisons has a checkered history, and this latest venture is highly controversial because it was created under budget proviso language that expired June 30 when the previous fiscal year ended. "But for the proviso, the appropriation would not be made," Rich wrote. "Consequently, I believe the DOC does not have the authority to privatize health services in prisons." Unions representing state workers and nurses in the prison system have threatened to file a new lawsuit seeking to block the project from going forward. Rich's effort to block the privatization comes as the leading vendor, Corizon Health, has agreed to pay a $1.85 million fine to the city of Philadelphia because of irregularities in its handling of a contract in that city's jail system.

November 21, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
After making a dramatic decision not to award a $707 million contract for prison health care, the Florida Department of Corrections spent its first day Monday managing the job itself. ''We are very confident that we can do this,'' said DOC Secretary Jim McDonough. ''I have been tracking it hour by hour and it appears that the transition is going very well.'' McDonough stunned the private prison-health-care industry late last week when he announced that the department was rejecting Tennessee-based Prison Health Services' latest bid to continue the work. The company's existing contract expired at just after midnight on Sunday. PHS has a troubled history with the department, one that began earlier this year when it announced it was pulling out of a 10-year contract it originally signed in 2005 because its $645 million bid did not anticipate the cost of hospitalizing sick inmates. The department recently announced that it was fining PHS $696,000 for failing to meet a series of benchmarks, including keeping legible medical records and missing deadlines to assign caseworkers and perform medical evaluations. Regardless, PHS was the department's choice again last month, after it was allowed to compete in a new round of bidding. That changed again after Pennsylvania-based rival Wexford Health Sources Inc. challenged the PHS award, saying that its lowest bid of $689 million should have made it the winner. McDonough said Monday that a new evaluation by outside experts showed that none of the contractors had the financial qualifications to complete the contract. ''Therefore, there were no responsive and responsible bidders,'' McDonough said. PHS spokesman John Van Mol said the company would have no comment. Wexford executives could not be reached for comment. As recently as this month, McDonough praised the effort to hand over the job of treating 16,000 inmates in South Florida to private industry, describing it as a $20 million cost saver for taxpayers. But at the same time, McDonough ordered his contract managers to begin an intensive review process to see if the department could perform the work itself. McDonough said the solution they came up with is a ''hybrid'' form of privatization that involves issuing 145 smaller contracts and purchasing orders. The department does not have to hire additional workers to get the job done, McDonough said. McDonough estimates that there will be a $12 million additional cost to the department in the first year, but that the department will save money in the long run. ''I have, in effect, cut out the middle man,'' McDonough said. ''I think we have come up with a very cost-effective way of doing it.'' Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, has been a critic of the privatization effort since it began under McDonough's predecessor. Aronberg pressured McDonough to impose the fines on PHS, and says he will be watching the department's performance under the new scheme. ''This is too important an issue to have a new policy in place every two weeks,'' Aronberg said.''We are very confident that we can do this. ..... it appears that the transition is going very well.''

November 17, 2006 AP
The Department of Corrections announced Friday that it will divide health services for nearly 18,000 inmates in South Florida prisons among many providers instead of bidding one comprehensive, multimillion-dollar contract. The agency has issued about 115 purchase orders and more than 30 non-bid contracts for its new health plan that goes into effect midnight Monday. A little-used state law provides an exception to bidding requirements for medical services, but two price quotes still were obtained for each contract, said department spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. The decision was made after a review by independent auditors caught an error in the state's financial analysis after a second round of bidding for a comprehensive contract last month. The revised analysis indicated all bidders failed to met financial responsibility requirements. In October the agency declared its intent to award a $703 million, 10-year contract to Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., as the only "responsible and responsive bidder" based on the erroneous financial calculations. The contract award had been subject to negotiating final terms and resolving another bidder's protest. The rebidding had been ordered in response to Prison Health Services' decision to pull out of its current $645 million contract, signed earlier this year, claiming it was losing money on the deal. "DOC has a legal and moral obligation to provide appropriate health care, while ensuring the most efficient use of taxpayer money," Corrections Secretary James McDonough said in a statement. "The department has taken all necessary steps to ensure those obligations are met." A spokeswoman for Prison Health Services' parent, American Service Group Inc., declined comment beyond a news release that simply announced the state's decision and that the company will not provide service past Monday. McDonough last month also announced he intended to levy fines against the company for shortcomings under the original contract. Wexford Health Resources of Pittsburgh, Pa., had challenged the department's intent to award the rebid contract to Prison Health Services. Wexford submitted the low bid of $689 million but the department deemed the company was not financially qualified. Wexford did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment. McDonough said he is confident inmates and taxpayers will benefit from the new plan. "This private-public hybrid is a groundbreaking approach to privatization efforts that have brought great savings to Florida taxpayers," he said.

November 7, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
A Pennsylvania-based prison health-care firm filed a formal protest Monday, disputing the Department of Corrections decision to award a $707 million, 10-year contract to a rival company with a troubled history. Wexford Health Sources Inc. filed a 10-page protest late in the day, saying that its lowest bid of $689 million should have given it the advantage and that the department made mistakes in calculating its financial strength. A Wexford executive questioned why the department awarded the bid to Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc., even though the department said Monday that it is fining PHS $696,000 for problems with its past work. ''The question has to come to mind, how can PHS be determined to be a responsible bidder?'' Wexford President and CEO Mark Hale said. Department spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said the department received the protest at the end of the business day and would not be able to comment until after it had time to study the document. PHS initially won the job in 2005 with a $645 million bid, tens of millions of dollars lower than Wexford. But PHS abruptly announced it was pulling out last year. PHS said it dramatically underestimated the cost of hospitalizing sick inmates and was losing too much money. However, PHS was invited to compete again when the department put out a new bid. ''Yes, $696,000 is a lot of money, but this is a $78 million-a-year contract and in terms of the overall contract, it is less than 1 percent,'' Plessinger said.

October 31, 2006 Palm Beach Post
Floridians who thought Gov. Bush was on to something when he touted privatization as the cure-all for government's ills know better now after seven years of disappointing results. When it comes to disappointment, no private contractor has been worse than Prison Health Services. The Department of Corrections awarded the company a contract to provide health care in 13 South Florida facilities late last year. Then-DOC Secretary James Crosby ignored warnings about the contractor's track record. PHS faces dozens of lawsuits across the nation over allegations of shoddy care. The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office dropped PHS in 2004 after a series of suits and complaints from inmates; the county health department also blamed the company for allowing staph infections to spread through the jail. Crosby discounted the complaints and insisted that PHS was the right choice. "As a result of this contract," he said, "it is estimated that Florida's taxpayers will save nearly $3 million between now and June 2007." When a company with a record of poor performance makes a deal that sounds too good to be true, the odds are overwhelming that it is. Within months, PHS was complaining that it was losing money and threatening to pull out of the contract. This month, the state accepted a revised bid and added another $58 million to the company's 10-year, $645 million deal. Crosby didn't have to answer for the mess because he was forced out of office in July after admitting taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks from another prison contractor. Jim McDonough, Crosby's successor, wrote a tough-sounding letter to PHS: "Having been disappointed by you in the past, I will be doubly vigilant to both your performance and your attitude. You can expect that the next time, it will be me, not you, who moves abruptly to exercise the withdrawal option." Sens. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, and Walter "Skip" Campbell, D-Tamarac, have asked Mr. McDonough to explain why the state shouldn't fine PHS for its dishonest behavior. Clearly, the company low-balled its bid to get the contract and, once the state was hooked, shook it down for more money. Either of two other bidders last year - one higher, and one lower than PHS - would have been preferable to the unfaithful partner DOC chose. Mr. McDonough should back up his tough talk with tough sanctions against PHS. Florida taxpayers know what to think the next time they hear about bargains from the private sector.

October 24, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
With a stern warning and a promise to levy stiff fines for past failures, Florida's top prison boss said Monday he would allow a controversial Tennessee company to continue providing health care to 17,000 South Florida inmates. The Department of Corrections announced that Prison Health Services is the only one of three competing companies that submitted a qualifying bid for the nearly $800 million, 10-year health-care-services contract. However, in a letter to PHS executives, DOC Secretary Jim McDonough noted the company's abrupt pullout from an original contract it signed last year. Company officials said they were losing money on their $645 million bid because they dramatically underestimated the cost of hospitalizing sick inmates. ''Having been disappointed by you in the past, I will be doubly vigilant in regard to both your performance and your attitude providing proper health services to the men and women under my care,'' McDonough wrote. ''You can expect that the next time, it will be me, not you, who moves abruptly to exercise the withdrawal option.'' McDonough also warned that the company faces ''significant fines'' for ''shortcomings of services provided by you under the original contract." McDonough has been under pressure from Democratic legislators who sit on committees that oversee prison spending. Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres and Walter ''Skip'' Campbell of Tamarac recently sent letters to McDonough demanding to know why the department has been slow to fine PHS for poor performance. In a letter McDonough issued Monday to the lawmakers, he said he did not want to reveal the amount of fines PHS faces to prevent companies from changing their bids. ''To have issued such a letter earlier could have impacted the current (bidding) process, resulting in adjusted bids that might have raised the bottom line to the taxpayer,'' McDonough said. Aronberg said Monday that he did not object to allowing PHS to compete again for the contract. But he didn't expect PHS to win the latest competition. ''I'm surprised because of the way the last contract was handled and terminated and because they were not the lowest bidder. My concern has always been making sure that the state fulfilled its end of the contract by imposing the fines,'' Aronberg said.

September 29, 2006 Tallahassee Democrat
Two South Florida Democratic lawmakers turned up the heat this afternoon on the Florida Department of Corrections, demanding to know why it hasn't imposed fines on a controversial prison health contractor. Sen. Dave Aronberg of Greenacres and Sen. Walter ''Skip'' Campbell of Tamarac, who is running for attorney general, released a letter they sent Wednesday to DOC Secretary Jim McDonough demanding to know why Prison Health Services has not faced fines. ''This information is critical to better understanding whether this privatization of prison health services is truly serving the best interest of taxpayers,'' the letter states. Tennessee-based PHS underbid its closest competitor eight months ago by tens of millions of dollars for a 10-year, nearly $800 million contract to treat 17,000 prisoners in 13 institutions in South Florida. PHS withdrew from the contract earlier this month after company officials said they dramatically underestimated the cost of treating prisoners who needed to be hospitalized. The company was invited to compete for a new contract that will be awarded this fall. McDonough issued a statement this afternoon defending the privatization effort. He said privatizing prison health care has saved the state $23 million since 2001 in South Florida alone. A review of PHS performance before it withdrew is still under way, McDonough said. ''No liquidated damages have been assessed of PHS at this time, but we remain in the review process, which means all matters are still on the table,'' McDonough said. PHS spokeswoman Martha Harbin said the company expects to face at least some fines, although she could not say how much. She described it as the cost of doing business with the state on such a large scale. ''We welcome these reviews as part of quality assurance,'' she said. ''At this point, I would say that the senators are probably just a little premature. There is a process for reviewing performance, and that process is not yet complete.''

September 19, 2006 Gainesville Sun
Back in January, the Department of Corrections thought it had health care for a quarter of all state inmates taken care of for a decade. Prison officials signed a nearly $69 million-a-year contract with Prison Health Services to provide health care for inmates in 13 South Florida prisons for the next 10 years. Instead of 10 years, however, the contract will end up lasting just over 10 months. Officials at Prison Health Services, owned by the publicly traded American Service Group, said they based their winning low bid for the contract on faulty numbers from the state. They also blamed rising health care costs for needing to bail out of a contract that they said "underperformed financially." Before ending the contract, the company tried to negotiate with Department of Corrections Secretary James McDonough, a tact that had been successful for the firm in other places, including: June 2002 - Philadelphia and Maine contracts were renegotiated after Prison Health claimed it was losing money. October 2003 - Kansas contract with Prison Health was transferred to another company after a failed renegotiation attempt. Winter 2006 - Wyoming contract renegotiated after Prison Health claimed it lost $600,000 in a single fiscal quarter. Summer 2006 - Renegotiations get under way in Vermont after Prison Health announced it had lost $800,000 in a previous fiscal quarter. Also during the summer, Prison Health tried to renegotiate the South Florida contract. "They (Prison Health) came to my office and asked if there was something I could do for them," McDonough said. "The answer was a polite no - there was nothing I would be doing for them." Among requests McDonough could recall Prison Health Services making during the meeting was to have medically expensive inmates transferred out of prisons in Region IV (South Florida) and into other regions where Prison Health Services was not contracted to provide medical care. Following the meeting, prison officials received the contract termination letter from Prison Health.

September 12, 2006 Ft Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
Only eight months after launching one of Florida's largest privatization projects, a Tennessee-based company has backed out of a $792 million deal to provide health care to 14,000 inmates in South Florida's state prisons over 10 years. Prison Health Services announced that, effective Nov. 20, it will end its state contract, which "has underperformed financially" for the firm, according to a company spokesman. The company said higher than anticipated use of hospitals located off prison grounds was the main reason it was ending the agreement. PHS won the contract last year despite protests from legislators and competitors who said the company's bid was too low to provide quality service. Publicly traded PHS was the low bidder among three experienced national firms that sought to do the work. PHS undercut the next-lowest bidder, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, by more than $80 million. Despite abandoning its deal with the state, the company intends to rebid to continue the work, possibly at a more lucrative price for the firm, according to Martha Harbin, a spokeswoman in Tallahassee for PHS. State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, grilled state officials before the contract was under way about whether PHS would be adequately compensated. On Monday, Aronberg said the company's decision to drop the contract shows the need for greater legislative scrutiny. "This is what I was warning about," Aronberg said. Last year, Aronberg noted, Gov. Jeb Bush vetoed legislation that would have created a commission to approve state contracts worth more than $10 million. Bush said the measure would add "layers of process and bureaucracy" and cause substantial delays in the purchasing of necessary goods and services. The measure came in the wake of questions about several state contracts, including the outsourcing of the glitch-filled state payroll system.

August 23, 2006 Gainesville Sun
One of the state's largest privatization efforts is ending abruptly with Prison Health Services' decision to end work with the Florida Department of Corrections nearly eight years before the contract was to expire. PHS, a Tennessee-based company that handles health care needs for local- and state-run jails and prisons around the country, announced on Monday that it would end its contract providing services to nearly 14,000 prisoners in more than a dozen South Florida prisons. "The contract has underperformed financially," a news release states, "primarily due to a higher than anticipated volume of off-site hospitalization services. The company's decision to terminate the contract was made only after diligent efforts on the part of both PHS and Florida Department of Corrections representatives to reach agreement on provisions that would allow the contract to continue on mutually beneficial terms." PHS will cease providing services for DOC on Nov. 20. DOC spokesman JoEllyn Rackleff said that was enough time for the agency to maintain prisoner well-being in the transition. DOC Secretary James McDonough has previously said he is willing to end privatization efforts and return oversight of certain programs to the agency. PHS won the South Florida contract last year, despite protests from some lawmakers that the bid was too low to provide quality service. PHS was set to receive more than $790 million over 10 years for the work.

August 21, 2006 Yahoo News
America Service Group Inc. (NASDAQ:ASGR - News) announced today that its primary operating subsidiary, Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS), has formally delivered written notice to terminate its contract with the Florida Department of Corrections, effective November 20, 2006. As previously announced, the contract has underperformed financially, primarily due to a higher than anticipated volume of off-site hospitalization services required for this patient population. The Company had been in discussions with the Florida Department of Corrections as to potential alternatives that could improve the future financial performance of the contract. The Company's decision to terminate the contract was made only after diligent efforts on the part of both PHS and Florida Department of Corrections representatives to reach agreement on provisions that would allow the contract to continue on mutually beneficial terms.

August 2, 2006 Nashville Business Journal
America Service Group Inc. saw its earnings for the second quarter plummet 81 percent compared to results for the same period last year. The provider of prison health care and pharmacy services showed a profit of $514,000, or 5 cents per diluted share, in the quarter ended June 30 compared to $2.8 million, or 26 cents per diluted share last year. Though earnings were down, the second quarter saw the company return to an operating profit - something that hasn't occurred since the second quarter last year. Nevertheless, the company's stock dropped nearly 19 percent, trading at $11.66 at 10:20 a.m. The 52-week range of the stock is $11.32 to $23.20. Brentwood-based America Service (NASDAQ: ASGR) lowered its guidance and now expects revenues to fall between $650 million and $660 million and earnings to range between $7.7 million to 8 million. The company cited an underperforming Florida Department of Corrections contract as the cause of the reduction. The company's previous guidance called for revenues between $660 million and $680 million and earnings between $9.4 million and $10 million. Second-quarter revenues were on the upswing, coming in at $160 million compared to $139 million in the second quarter a year ago. Expenses increased to $150 million in the quarter compared to $128 million in the second quarter last year. The company also recorded $1.0 million in charges associated with an audit committee investigation of its Secure Pharmacy Plus subsidiary. On March 15, the company said an investigation into financial improprieties at its Secure Pharmacy Plus unit found that the company failed to properly credit customers with discounts, rebates and savings and failed to give customers proper credit for returned pharmaceuticals. Expenses related to the audit amounted to $4.6 million through the first half of this year and the company expects it will spend another $400,000 to $900,000. The company continued its stock repurchase program approved in July of last year to repurchase and retire 217,000 shares at a value of $3.0 million. The repurchase was suspended during part of the second quarter when the company received a third-party proposal to acquire pharmacy services subsidiary Secure Pharmacy Plus. Ultimately, a deal wasn't reached.

April 1, 2006 Gainesville Sun
The Florida Department of Corrections has taken the unusual step of ending a contract for the splitting of pharmaceutical drugs, bowing to legislative pressure on the matter. In a letter delivered on Friday, the agency told TYA Pharmaceuticals that it was ending the $12 million contract to split pills for inmates effective May 1. The agency will perform the job, intended to save money by splitting high-dosage pills into smaller doses, in its own pharmacies. The agency also notified TYA, a Tallahassee company, that it will invite competing bids for the company's $72 million contract to repackage pills in bubble packages. The packages are used to prevent inmates from hoarding pills or misusing the containers. The corrections department will publish a request for bids in the next 10 days and have a new contract in place by July 1. Robby Cunningham, a DOC spokesman, said interim Secretary James McDonough felt the decisions "were in the best interest of the state."

February 18, 2006 Herald Tribune
A Florida company squeezed out of a lucrative contract to provide prescription drugs to South Florida prisons says its replacement may harm inmates by placing profits over proper prescriptions. And TYA Pharmaceuticals officials say they were used by industry giant Prison Health Services to secure the Florida contract late last year, before PHS replaced them with a PHS sister company after one month of work. Last year, PHS won the contract to supply health-care services to inmates in Department of Corrections Region IV facilities in South Florida. PHS said TYA Pharmaceuticals would handle the distribution of prescription drugs. The PHS contract with the state took effect in January. TYA founder Terry Yon said his employees had to begin working on Christmas Day to start filling more than 30,000 prescriptions for the transition. But earlier this month, PHS informed the agency that it was replacing TYA with a PHS subsidiary, Secure Pharmacy Plus. While there was a letter of intent between PHS and TYA, there was no signed contract. TYA has had a working relationship with the department since the late 1990s, though lawmakers have criticized that relationship, citing Florida Auditor General reports that show the Tallahassee-based company failed to provide basic oversight and accounting. Prison Health Services is based in Tennessee. "One could conclude that PHS intended all along to use TYA to obtain the contract because of our successful history with DOC and to do all the hard work associated with the transition and then to abandon TYA in favor of their own subsidiary," Yon said in a statement. "That certainly is how this story has played out." DOC officials have said PHS was the lowest bidder for the South Florida contract and was chosen on that basis. Yon also said PHS will use older anti-psychotropic drugs like Thorazine and Trilafon that "are less expensive for PHS, but they have the potential of producing more serious side effects." PHS spokeswoman Martha Harbin responded with a prepared statement: "PHS is continuing to provide quality medical care to the inmates in region IV and meeting each and every one of our contractual obligations we have to the Department of Corrections. Every action we take is done in support of that. PHS is now entering into a contract with Secure Pharmacy Plus. The DOC is fully aware and has approved this contract." Yon said PHS owes his company nearly $4 million for the month of work. His company has retained an attorney to study legal options related to their dismissal. TYA is fighting to keep its other business with the state. Lawmakers forced the DOC to rebid the two no-bid pharmaceutical contracts TYA had received for the splitting and repacking of drugs for inmate use in the state's other three regions. But despite the agency's search of more than 100 companies to find a suitable replacement, only TYA made successful bids. DOC officials are studying the financial advantages of the outsourcing and are considering canceling the contracts. Prison Health Services has been implicated in a number of deaths and mishaps in prisons and jails around the country, including injuries allegedly caused by inattentive care of a prisoner at the Sarasota County jail last year. A New York Times report last year found at least 15 inmate deaths at 11 Florida jails due to alleged inadequate care by PHS.

February 15, 2006 Herald Tribune
A controversial pharmaceutical company is losing its job of supplying prescription drugs to Department of Corrections inmates in South Florida. The company, Tallahassee-based TYA Pharmaceuticals, was chosen to dispense prescription drugs to inmates in DOC Region IV, which serves 18 counties including Manatee, Sarasota and Charlotte. Prison Health Services, a Tennessee-based company that has received a DOC contract to supply health-care needs for inmates in that region, selected TYA for the job. The DOC handles health care for inmates in its other three regions. PHS took over the Region IV contract in January and had agreed to subcontract the pharmaceutical program to TYA but never signed a contract. TYA has been performing the work since January. PHS notified the Department of Corrections that it has chosen to replace TYA with its own sister company, Secure Pharmacy Plus. Martha Harbin, a spokeswoman for PHS, did not supply specific reasons for the company's decision. "TYA doesn't have a contract with PHS. They've been trying to reach terms for a contract, and it's become clear that they're not going to be able to," she said.

January 12, 2006 Palm Beach Post
The Florida Department of Corrections is touting this week's deal with a private prison health-care company that sounds too good to be true. It is — since the company is Prison Health Services. The Brentwood, Tenn., firm underbid two rivals by tens of millions of dollars to get the 10-year contract to care for 14,000 inmates in 13 prisons from Vero Beach to Homestead, including those from St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. The PHS bid was even $7 million a year below the existing contract. The state will pay PHS about $792 million; Wexford Health Sources, which has held the contract since 2001, wanted $884 million and Correctional Medical Services more than $1 billion. Even if PHS had a sterling record, the bargain price would be suspicious. But PHS doesn't. A New York Times investigation found that the company's substandard care contributed to at least 15 inmate deaths in 11 Florida jails over the past 13 years. PHS provided care at the Palm Beach County Jail until 2004, and health department officials complained that the company's slow response allowed staph infections to spread, endangering workers, visitors and inmates. PHS, which provides care at the St. Lucie County Jail, faced lawsuits from, among others, inmates who said negligence and refusal to provide medication had caused them to go blind, lose limbs and suffer psychotic episodes. PHS has 110 contracts in 37 states; many of those prisons have stories similar to those from the Palm Beach County Jail. The low-ball bid seems particularly disingenuous because of the increase in infectious health conditions such as staph, HIV and hepatitis C. State legislators who supported giving the contract to the lowest bidder and dismissed attempts to consider other factors should prepare to give PHS more money when it comes back to lament its soaring costs. An unrealistic deal will have consequences.

January 9, 2006 Ft Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
Health care for inmates in all South Florida state prisons is being turned over this month to a national firm that promises to save the state millions of dollars a year.  Gov. Jeb Bush's administration is touting the boon to taxpayers that comes with putting Nashville-based Prison Health Services in charge of caring for more than 14,000 inmates in 13 prisons in southern Florida, including those in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Some legislators are wary, in part because Prison Health's bid for the work was tens of millions of dollars lower than its nearest rival bidders. They worry the company will take shortcuts that could bring unnecessary health risks to the prisons, and hidden costs like inmate lawsuits. "It all seems very suspect," said Sen. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat who sits on legislative panels dealing with criminal justice and corrections issues. "We know the health care in the prisons already isn't what it should be. There are deaths and there's almost an epidemic of tuberculosis and hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS. If this company is going to under-bid all the others, then I fear we can only expect greater disappointment. "Under the contract, the state Department of Corrections will pay Prison Health $792 million over 10 years. Wexford Health Sources, which held the southern Florida prison health care contract since 2001, would have charged $884 million. A third bidder, Correctional Medical Services, priced the contract at more than $1 billion. Prison Health, a publicly traded company with 25 years of experience in Florida, is represented in Tallahassee by an influential lobbying firm headed by Brian Ballard, who has ties to Bush and other Republican leaders. But the contract with the state was competitively bid and there are no indications the firm's political connections were key to its getting the contract. Wexford officials say they were shocked that Prison Health bid for the work at that price, and suggested the contract could be financially risky for Prison Health. Inmates in these institutions are considered to be among the sickest in the country, suffering disproportionately from health conditions like HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, diabetes and hypertension, according to prison health officials. "I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But past experience doesn't make me overly optimistic," said Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, who sits on criminal justice committees. The company has 110 prison health care contracts in 37 states and previously has been in charge of inmate care in Broward and Palm Beach county jails. Newspaper investigations and other reports have raised some concerns. The New York Times found last year that substandard care by the company contributed to at least 15 inmate deaths in 11 Florida jails since 1992, and it identified numerous administrative and healthcare problems at correctional centers under its care throughout the country.

January 4, 2006 St Petersburg Times
The state Department of Corrections has hired Prison Health Services, one of the nation's largest for-profit inmate health care companies, to care for more than 14,000 inmates in a sprawling southeast Florida region from Homestead to Vero Beach. The contract is for five years with a five-year option to renew at the 13 prisons. PHS' bid of $545-million was nearly $200-million less than its nearest rival, Wexford Health Sources, which held the contract since 2001. The third bidder was Correctional Medical Services. After a yearlong investigation of Prison Health Services, the New York Times reported last February that substandard care by the company contributed to at least 15 inmate deaths in 11 Florida jails since 1992. Pinellas County severed ties with Prison Health in 1995, after the death of a woman inmate from a heart attack. For two days, nurses refused to order the heart medication her doctor had prescribed. In 2004, a woman in the Hillsborough County jail sued Prison Health Services, blaming the company for the death of her newborn son from complications during delivery. The baby was born over an infirmary toilet at the Falkenburg Road jail. PHS' new deal with the state also means more state work for Terry Yon & Associates, a Tallahassee firm specializing in repackaging pharmaceuticals for use by inmates. Under terms of its state contract, PHS partners with other firms to provide pharmacy, mental health and dental services.

Franklin County Jail, Pennsylvania
EMSA was warned that it -- not taxpayers-- must pay any legal damages that might be awarded in connection with the death of an inmate last month. Inmate, Rocky Eickstadt, dies of complications from diabetes. Jail records show he requested medical help not knowing he was diabetic, complaining of problems and did not see a jail nurse for eighteen days. Family is suing. Three lawsuits are pending against EMSA and one against CMS in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on other issues. (Columbus Dispatch, October 5, 2000)

Fresno County Jail
Sep 22, 2018
Nurses formerly employed by Corizon Health allege they were not paid lawful wages
FRESNO – Several nurses previously employed by a health care company allege they are owed unpaid wages. Bruce Morrelli, Jose Rojas, et al., individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a complaint on Sept. 5 in the Fresno County Superior Court against Corizon Health Inc. and Does 1-25 alleging that they violated the California labor code and the business and professional code. According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that they were damaged by the defendant during their employment because of violation of labor codes. The plaintiffs hold Corizon Health Inc. and Does 1-25 responsible because the defendants allegedly failed to pay lawful minimum and overtime wages, failed to provide off-duty meal and rest breaks, failed to provide accurate wage statements and failed to pay all wages due and owing at termination of employment. The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek unpaid minimum and overtime wages, with interest, attorney's fees, costs, expenses and such other just and proper relief. They are represented by Daniel F. Kopfman and Lawrence M. Artenian of Wagner, Jones, Kopfman & Artenian LLP in Fresno. Fresno County Superior Court case number 18CECG03296

Jul 28, 2018
California: All better after Corizon leaves
The number of grievances filed by inmates at County Jail because of the medical treatment they’ve received has dropped dramatically in the past year while the number of inmates seeking medical treatment has gone significantly up. Accounting for this dramatic turnaround is a combination of factors: The jail has a new medical treatment provider ​— ​CFMG ​ (California Forensic Medical Group) — ​which is now entering its second year. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office is entering its second year of operating a more formalized grievance process, run by a 32-year veteran of jailhouse operations, Lt. Mark Mahurin, who has won major praise by mental-health activists who in the past were among the jail’s most relentless critics. “It’s really quite remarkable,” said Suzanne Riordan of Families Act!, which has watchdogged mental-health care at the jail for more than 10 years. “We call Mark or Lt. Shawn Lammer with a complaint, and they’re inside the jail cell almost immediately checking it out. We still have problems. They just get resolved a lot faster now.” Families Act! helped get the new grievance program started a few years ago when they released a dossier of medical horror stories from the jail. In the first three months of 2018, the jail received a total of 477 grievances, of which 87 were related to dental care, mental health, medications, or general medical care. In the first three months of the prior year, there were 520 total complaints, of which 138 related to health-care concerns. In the first quarter of 2018, 2,244 inmates sought medical treatment; the first quarter of the prior year, the number was 1,852. In 2018, all 87 grievances were resolved in an average of 3.8 days. The prior year, it took 5.6 days for resolution to be achieved. Last year, 15 cases required some form of follow-up before they were settled, and three went to appeal. This year, no cases required any follow-up, and none were appealed. Resolution, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the complaint was settled to the liking of the inmate; it means the complaints were investigated and a determination was made. Resolution could mean getting painkillers to an inmate experiencing chronic dental issues or scheduling an appointment with a gynecologist for an inmate complaining of an ovarian cyst. In another case, it could mean denying hormones to an inmate undergoing a gender change because there’s no history of the inmate receiving such a prescription. Mahurin said once the county supervisors gave the boot to the jail’s prior health-care contractor ​— ​Corizon ​— ​the opportunities for improvement abounded. Corizon’s response to complaints, Mahurin said, were too often “too vague and too general.” Corizon professionals cited medical confidentiality rules for divulging so little information, frustrating inmates, advocates, and jail custodial staff trying to get answers. Once CFMG took over, Mahurin said the county changed to a grievance procedure, asking inmates to sign confidentiality waivers so that health-care providers could no longer hide behind vague generalities. “It used to be, ‘We’ll look into it,’” Mahurin recounted. “Now we’ll get, ‘You’re right, that should never have happened, and we’re dealing with it.’” Mahurin praised several ideas proposed by task-force members. Thanks to Esther Lim of the ACLU Southern California Jails Project, he said, the jail website now allows inmates’ relatives to provide pertinent information to the health-care workers in the jail. Many inmates, especially those experiencing mental illness, are less than forthcoming or accurate about their conditions and the medications they need. Likewise, he gave credit to Families Act! for posting a volunteer-run informational table in front of County Jail every weekend to help inmates’ family members navigate what can be a confounding and intimidating system. Information gleaned by those volunteers, he said, has formed the basis of grievances in addition to the ones submitted by inmates themselves. In 2017, volunteers processed 33 grievances; this year it was 15.

Gaston County Jail
, Gastonia North Carolina
August 23, 2007 Charlotte Observer
Prison Health Services, Gaston County and Sheriff Alan Cloninger are being sued in the 2004 death of a jail inmate who suffered a seizure in his cell. The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that Prison Health Services, a company contracted by the jail, failed to provide Hugh Locklear Jr., 21, his epileptic-seizure medication and didn't monitor his condition. The suit, which seeks in excess of $75,000, alleges that the defendants violated Locklear's civil rights by showing a "deliberate indifference" to his "serious medical needs." It was filed in U.S. District Court by Pamela Dunbar. The suit does not specify her relationship to Locklear. Cloninger and the county's attorney could not be reached Wednesday. Citing patient confidentiality, Prison Health Services would not comment, spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said. On Aug. 28, 2004, Locklear collapsed in his cell, police said, and was pronounced dead at Gaston Memorial Hospital. His father, Hugh Locklear, 41, was also an inmate at the time. He has said his son never got epilepsy medication at the jail despite repeated requests. Locklear Jr. had been taking phenytoin and carbamazepine for seizures, but refused to take the medications after he was arrested in June 2004, according to an N.C. State Bureau of Investigation report.

January 6, 2005 Charlotte Observer
No criminal charges will be filed in the death last year of a 21-year-old Gaston County Jail inmate who collapsed in his cell and died of a seizure disorder.  The inmate, Hugh Locklear Jr., repeatedly asked for medication to control his epilepsy and never received any, said his father. Jail officials dispute that. So does Gaston County District Attorney Mike Lands. "There is no indication in here that Locklear (Jr.) asked for medication," said Lands, referring to a report from the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, which looked into the Aug. 28 death. Jail officials knew Locklear Jr. had epilepsy because he noted it on a form, but they said he refused to take any medication, the report said. Hugh Locklear said he filed several requests asking that his son be given medication, but the jail doesn't have any records showing that, the report stated.

October 23, 2004 AP
A seizure disorder caused the death of a Gaston County jail inmate two months ago, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office. Hugh Locklear Jr., 21, collapsed in his cell Aug. 28, turned blue and made gurgling sounds, police have said. Locklear died later that day at Gaston Memorial Hospital. He was the second Gaston inmate to die at the jail in August -- raising some questions about the Tennessee-based company that oversees the jail's medical care.
The medical examiner's report found that "the history of an untreated seizure disorder provides a sufficient cause of death" but that "there is nothing in the history to suggest foul play." The other inmate who died, Yolanda Patterson, 28, of Gastonia, died of a cocaine overdose, an autopsy determined. She went into cardiac arrest at the jail. The State Bureau of Investigation is still looking into the two deaths. The jail's medical care is provided by Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., which has come under fire in other states. The company has been criticized in two reports by New York state in recent years, and last week, Florida's Palm Beach County terminated a contract with PHS. Gaston officials renewed the county jail's contract in late August. They said they weren't aware of PHS's troubles in other states but have been satisfied with the level of care it has provided.

Gaston County officials say contracting with a private company for inmate health care saves money, but a watchdog group spokesman says such outsourcing is a growing practice that can lead to inadequate medical treatment.  Two recent deaths of people held at the Gaston County Jail have raised questions about the quality of medical care there. Gaston renewed its contract with Prison Health Services three days after the first death. The county expects to pay PHS $750,000 during fiscal year 2004-05.  Large companies that specialize in prison health care are interested in making a profit, so they cut costs where they can, said Ken Kopczynski, executive director of Florida-based Private Corrections Institute, a group that monitors privatization of prison health care. He's a lobbyist for the Police Benevolent Association and believes officers' safety depends on how inmates are treated.  "You get what you pay for," he said. "But the problem is, a lot of the people that are going into prisons and jails don't take care of themselves anyway. They probably already have medical problems."  (The Charlotte Observer, September 4, 2004)

Hugh Locklear Jr. did not have a trial. Yolanda Evett Patterson had not been charged with a crime. Yet each received a death sentence while incarcerated in Gaston County.  Officials at the Gaston County Jail need to find out why, and how to keep it from happening again.  Mr. Locklear, 21, died Sunday in the Gaston jail awaiting trial on drug and larceny charges. Ms. Patterson died at Gaston Memorial Hospital Aug. 20 after she stopped breathing in the jail. She was awaiting charges in connection with shoplifting.  Autopsies are not complete. Local and State Bureau of Investigation probes are under way. But contradictory facts raise specific questions about the care taken in Gaston County when medical emergencies arise behind bars. The circumstances of these deaths also warrant a pointed examination of the record of a private company paid to provide health care to prisoners.  Mr. Locklear's father, also a prisoner in the jail, said his son was epileptic and did not receive his medication. A jail nurse and the Gaston sheriff said the son did not cooperate and refused medical treatment.  Ms. Patterson's cousin, who faces charges of misdemeanor larceny, said she complained of breathing problems after being taken into custody. Yet jail officials did not respond for about 20 minutes, the cousin said, and called Ms. Patterson "a good actor."  Any police officer will tell you: Suspects in custody are quick to cry medical emergency if they think it will buy them preferential treatment in the harsh confines of a jail. It is often difficult to judge the difference between distress and a disruptive ploy.  Yet allegations that two prisoners' needs were either bypassed or ignored -- a response that may have contributed to their deaths -- must be resolved.  The record of Prison Health Systems merits scrutiny as well. Palm Beach County, Fla., officials said the company's performance in nine inmate deaths persuaded jail officials to drop it as a health care provider. In New York, the state Commission of Corrections has issued two reports critical of PHS's performance since 2001 in connection with two prisoner deaths.  Privatizing services is a proven way to reduce the cost of local government for citizens. Yet accountability is often the rub. Medical care in particular is difficult to monitor with quantitative measures because it requires subjective decisions.  Most ordinary citizens have never seen the inside of a jail cell. They do not give much thought to details like medical care for prisoners. Yet they bear the financial and moral responsibility for how suspects are treated when in public custody.  All citizens, then, have a direct interest in finding out what happened when two suspects held in Gaston's jail died. A medical emergency behind bars should not equate to a death sentence.  (The Charlotte Observer, September 1, 2004)

Gaston County Jail officials renewed their contract with Prison Health Services last week, just days after the first of two people held at the jail died after complaining of illness.  Gaston officials said they didn't know about PHS's troubles in other parts of the country where lawsuits have been filed alleging improper medical care.  Last week, the Palm Beach County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office dropped PHS as its medical provider before its contract expired, said Commander Diane Carhart Tuesday, citing concerns about PHS's quality of care.  Nine inmates at that jail have died in the last two years, and a staph outbreak that lasted about a year prompted county health officials to threaten legal action.  Nationwide, PHS serves about 235,000 inmates at more than 400 correctional facilities in 35 states. Fewer than 500 inmates die each year at those jails and prisons, said Dr. Carl Keldie, PHS's national medical director.  The nation's jails had 919 inmate deaths in 1999, according to a Census of Jails study from the Bureau of Justice that year. Those deaths included 324 suicides, 385 due to illness/natural causes, and 104 "others," including overdoses and accidental injuries.  The Gaston County Jail has had three deaths since it opened in November 1999. Two of those deaths happened within eight days of one another.  (The Charlotte Observer, September 1, 2004)

Jail officials said Tuesday that Hugh Locklear Jr., who was found not breathing in his cell Saturday, refused medical treatment during the first two weeks he was incarcerated.  As is customary, a jail nurse tried to fill out a medical questionnaire when Locklear was arrested June 7, said Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger. "He refused to answer any questions," Cloninger said. "He stood mute."  After 14 days, officers took Locklear, 21, to the jail's medical department, which is done when inmates refuse initial treatment, Cloninger said. But he refused a physical exam, he said.  Cloninger said Locklear's requests to see a nurse on June 23 and Aug. 22 were granted. But he declined to say why Locklear made the request and whether any medication was administered.  (The Charlotte Observer, August 31, 2004)

The company that provides medical care at Gaston County Jail, which has dealt with two recent deaths, was recently dropped as the healthcare provider by Palm Beach County, Fla., jail officials.  Palm Beach County officials blamed the performance of Tennessee-based Prison Health Services in nine inmate deaths in the last two years.  "I would think that at the very least, Prison Health Services with regards to their services to Gaston County, should warrant an audit," said Gaston County commissioner Tom Keigher on Sunday.  The most recent death occurred Saturday.  Hugh Locklear Jr., 21, was found not breathing in his cell that afternoon. His father, Hugh Locklear, 41, blames PHS.  Locklear said from jail Sunday that his son was epileptic. Father and son had asked repeatedly for medication since they were jailed about three months ago, but received none, Locklear said.  Autopsy results are pending for Locklear Jr., who was facing drug and larceny charges. A PHS registered nurse at Gaston County Jail said that before he died Locklear Jr. was "being taken care of."  (The Charlotte Observer, August 30, 2004)

Glenn Dyer Jail, Oakland, California
March 10, 2010 AP
Health care workers at both jails in Alameda County were locked out Wednesday, a day after they staged a one-day strike to protest stagnant contract negotiations. "It's just another intimidation tactic," said Maxine Persky, a nurse for 10 years at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin who was told she would not be allowed back to work until next week after showing up at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday. "How is this bargaining in good faith?" Nearly 140 health care workers — members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West — held a one-day strike Tuesday at both Santa Rita Jail and the North County Jail in Oakland after working more than two months without a contract and making minimal headway on a new one with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with Alameda County to provide both jails with health care staff and workers, such as nurses and medical record technicians. On Wednesday, Prison Health Services released another statement, saying it "will continue to fulfill its contract with the county and to maintain patient care through the use of temporary replacement employees through 6 a.m. March 16 or until we reach a settlement with the union, whichever comes first." Persky said the union and management are set to meet again today to try to work out a new contract, but in the meantime are concerned about the inmates. "We're concerned for them," Persky said.

March 9, 2010 Oakland Tribune
Nearly 140 health care workers at both jails in Alameda County took to the picket lines Tuesday to protest six months of stalled contract negotiations and what they call unfair labor practices. The workers, members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, approved the one-day strike last month after working more than two months without a contract and making minimal headway on a new one with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with Alameda County to provide health care staff, such as nurses and medical record technicians, to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the North County Jail in Oakland. "This is to show we mean business and we're not going to give in," said Kim Tovar, a medical records technician at North County Jail. Tovar and about two dozen others protested outside North County Jail while a much larger procession marched in front of the county's largest jail, Santa Rita Jail. Although workers called for a one-day strike, rumors swirled Tuesday that Prison Health Services was expected to lock out the workers for a week starting at 6 a.m. today. Prison Health Services officials would not comment Tuesday but did issue a statement Friday that said, "PHS regrets SEIU's decision to walk out and remains committed to negotiate a fair, reasonable and competitive contract" and said it would "ensure patient care is uninterrupted." Temporary workers did replace union workers at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said no problems at either facility had been reported. A memo from the company to staff was circulated last week saying the union workers would not be allowed back to work until March 16 or until a new contract was signed — whichever happened first. "I think it's dirty," Tovar said of the potential lockout. "I think it's low." Carrie Singleton, a licensed vocational nurse at North County Jail, said that if the company locks out workers, workers still must stand their ground. "If they do it, they do it," Singleton said. "We have to make a commitment to fight." The main sticking point in negotiations, according to the union, is what they see as a huge increase in health care costs employees must pick up. According to Blaire Behrens, a nurse at North County Jail for 19 years and member of the union's negotiating team, any proposed wage increase is more than eaten up by the 30 percent health care cost increase.

February 25, 2010 Oakland Tribune
Health care workers at both jails in the Alameda County have agreed to strike as early as next month if negotiations for a new contract remain stalled. About 140 workers — members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West — have voted to strike if their representatives cannot come to a settlement with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. That company has a contract with Alameda County to provide health care staff and workers — such as nurses and medical record technicians — to both Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the Glenn Dyer Detention Facility in Oakland. The current plan by the health care workers union is to hold a one-day strike March 9, according to Blaire Behrens, a nurse at Glenn Dyer jail for 19 years and member of the union's negotiating team. There are two bargaining sessions scheduled for next week. "It would certainly be better if both sides could come to an agreement," Behrens said. "It would be better for management, the inmates and the workers. "We work in a very difficult environment," Behrens continued. "But it's a job we want to do. We don't want to strike." Behrens said the main sticking point is what the union sees as a huge increase in health care costs employees must pick up. She said even though Prison Health Services is offering 3 percent wage increases, those are more than offset by the 30 percent health care cost increase. Starting nurses at the facilities make approximately $40.50 an hour. Behrens said the union has been negotiating with management for nearly six months with little movement. The current contract expired in December. The union has sought the help of both county supervisors and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office to help break the stalemate. Sgt. J.D. Nelson, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said if the union members do strike, it will be up to Prison Health Services to provide the county with replacement workers. Prison Health Services did not return multiple requests for comment.

February 6, 2007 The Daily-Californian
The medical center at a county jail that some say has poor medical care will hire additional personnel this year following the jail’s settlement of negotiations with the health care providers’ union. The health contractors said the conditions before the agreement led to potentially unsafe conditions for the 4,000 inmates in Santa Rita Jail, the primary jail facility for Alameda County. The facility’s safety has been questioned by inmates’ relatives in the last several years. In 2006, eight Santa Rita Jail inmates died. Most recent was the death of Berkeley resident and inmate Cedrick Pinkney’s, suspected to be related to longstanding health issues. Jail officials said Pinkney’s death was not due to medical negligence. That mortality rate is lower than both that of the general population and that in jails and prisons nationwide, said Bill Wilson, the jail’s health services administrator Regardless of the circumstances of those deaths, health care workers at Santa Rita Jail said the new agreement will mitigate what they considered to be unsafe levels of staffing. “It’s an excellent agreement for both the jail and the nurses as well,” Wilson said. The agreement, which officials expect to finalize next week, is the product of a settlement reached in December between Prison Health Services, the firm contracted by Alameda County to provide care to the inmates, and the union representing the jail’s 120 health care workers. Union officials said the health workers were ill-equipped to respond to the inmates’ medical needs. “There were many days when the staffing levels were as low as 50 percent of the staffing levels that Prison Health Services had committed to provide in their contract,” said Dana Simon, spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers-West. “Absolutely, it was affecting the basic care.” Understaffing put inmates with chronic conditions in particular danger, Simon said, because they cannot administer their own medicine. “There were many days when they just cancelled pill call in particular houses,” Simon said. But Prison Health Services representatives denied this claim.

January 5, 2007 Inside Bay Area
Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker is probing accusations that severe understaffing of medical personnel at two Alameda County jails is endangering their safety and inmates' health. The inquiry by Lai-Bitker, the board's Health Committee chairwoman, came in response to complaints by Prison Health Services workers that staffing was 30 to 50 percent below contract requirements from August to December. Nurses were forced to work overtime, and inmates' access to medical care was denied because too few nurses were available, according to Service Employees International Union-United Health Care Workers-West, the union that represents about 120 of the employees. "We are constantly plagued with understaffing in the Santa Rita jail," a registered nurse and union member said in a statement provided by the union on condition of anonymity. "We are all tired." Prison Health Services has contracted with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office since 1989. The company's current $51 million three-year contract, which serves about 4,000 inmates at Santa Rita jail in Pleasanton and Glenn E. Dyer jail in Oakland, expires in June.

December 20, 2006 Mercury News
Health care workers at two Alameda County jails late Monday night withdrew notice of a planned two-day strike that would have begun Tuesday, as negotiations continued to address staffing issues, according to a jail administrator. Leaders of the union that represents about 120 nurses, physicians and other health workers at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and the Glenn E. Dyer jail in Oakland called the strike early Monday after a bargaining session failed to produce a new contract. But by evening, they called off the plan because of progress in contract talks. The workers are employed by Prison Health Services Inc., a Tennessee-based firm that staffs more than 300 prisons and jails nationwide, including the two in Alameda County. "We're continuing to negotiate with the union this evening, and we're optimistic that we'll come up with a collective bargaining agreement," said Bill Wilson, administrator for the Alameda County jails. The workers claim the agency's failure to recruit and hire enough workers has endangered the health of inmates, said Dana Simon, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West. Workers and their supporters had planned to picket outside the jails in Dublin and Oakland beginning at 6 a.m. and return to work at 6 a.m. Thursday.

December 5, 2006 CBS 5
Healthcare workers negotiating a new contract with a firm that provides health services at two jails in Alameda County were threatening to give formal notice of a strike on Wednesday if talks failed to deliver an agreement tonight. Employees represented by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers-West are seeking a new contract with Prison Health Services, Inc., a Tennessee-based firm that serves Santa Rita and Glenn Dyer jails in Alameda County, among hundreds of other correctional facilities across the country. Union representatives and healthcare professionals allege the jails have a shortage of healthcare workers causing detrimental conditions for the patients they serve. A nurse working at Santa Rita Jail, Donna Chatman, said a recent example of substandard care she heard of was "that an inmate with a colostomy bag was not seen for days to get his bag changed because the nurse had to many patients to take care of. So he used a Pepsi bottle for a colostomy bag until he could see a nurse. That is what is happening in our jails." David Wolf, a spokesman for Prison Health Services, said he had no information on that allegation, or another alleged by a healthcare worker, in which an inmate with an infected foot saw his condition worsen due to lack of rudimentary care. Wolf said short staffing in the healthcare profession is common, but no more so at the Santa Rita Jail than anywhere else. "We are proud of the hard work that these nurses and the rest of the staff provide for the inmates," said Wolf. Union spokeswoman Dana Simon said that in addition to desiring a greater salary increase, "The main issue here is PHS is staffing the jails with 50 percent of the required number of healthcare workers as is required per the contract they submitted to the Alameda County Sheriff's Office." However, Santa Rita jail administrative Captain Wilkinson denied these allegations. "PHS is not violating their contract and they are providing adequate staffing when they are dealing with a shortage of nurses."

November 10, 2006 PR News Wire
Healthcare workers at Alameda County's Santa Rita jail in Pleasanton and Glenn Dyer jail in Oakland announced today that they will give formal strike notice to their employer, Prison Health Services (PHS), on December 2, if a new contract agreement is not reached. The caregivers are represented by SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW) and include RN's, LVNs, certified nursing assistants, technicians, and clerical workers. The workers point to wages that are 35% to 40% below area averages, resulting in dramatic understaffing. They consider the low staffing levels to be so serious that the facilities are no longer safe for the caregivers or the inmates/patients they care for. Workers also highlight the fact that under the contract with the Sheriff's Department, PHS is paid a rate based on specific staffing levels, but on most days reaches only about half those levels. "Staffing at half the level that is required by the contract between the Alameda County Sheriff's Department and Prison Health Services is not only unsafe for the caregivers and the patients, but PHS is also breaking its commitments to taxpayers and the Sheriff's Department," said SEIU UHW President Sal Rosselli. PHS, a Tennessee-based for-profit corporation, was the subject of a three- part New York Times expose in February, 2005 for practices harmful to the well-being of patients/inmates, issues similar to those cited by the healthcare workers in Alameda County. Access the entire article at: a81 097e61fe2c&ei=5070 SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, with more than 130,000 members, is the largest and most powerful healthcare union in the Western U.S. We represent every type of healthcare worker, including nursing, professional, technical and service classifications. Our mission is to achieve high quality healthcare for all.

Gloucester County Jail, Woodbury, New Jersey
August 29, 2006 Gloucester County Times
A former Gloucester County Jail inmate and his significant other are suing the county, alleging that he contracted an often drug-resistant staph infection while locked up and then brought it home. Michael DiFelice of Deptford Township was an inmate at the jail for seven months, starting on April 11, 2005. Not long after his release on Nov. 1, DiFelice's "domestic partner" began exhibiting signs of the same infection, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court. DiFelice and Kelly Filipponi have both been diagnosed with the boil-like skin infection, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that the county failed to properly inform its staff and inmates of other cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Also named in the lawsuit were the county department of corrections, the sheriff's department and Prison Health Services Inc. More than a dozen other lawsuits have been filed against the county from both former inmates and corrections officers at the jail.

July 13, 2006 Gloucester County Times
A fifth lawsuit filed against the county claims that a former inmate of the Gloucester County Jail became infected with staph while incarcerated there. Brantley Owens of Glassboro allegedly began "exhibiting signs and symptoms of an infection" caused by staphylococcus aureus bacteria shortly after his incarceration in August 2004, according to the complaint filed in Superior Court. Owens claims that jail officials knew of other cases of the often contagious and drug-resistant skin infection and failed to notify inmates and put policies in place to minimize or prevent exposure, according to the suit. Owens' suit is the fifth lodged against the county concerning staph infection -- one officer and two former inmates previously filed individual suits, and last month five people, corrections officers and their spouses, filed a joint suit. The most recent claim names the county, county freeholders, the county department of corrections, the county Sheriff's Department, Prison Health Services, Inc., former jail warden John Tevoli and former corrections director W. Stanley Nunn. County spokeswoman Debra Sellitto declined comment because the matter is in litigation. Owens' Attorney Scott McKinley, of the firm Hoffman and DiMuzio, has filed three other lawsuits on behalf of two former inmates as well as a corrections officer who claim they contracted staph while at the jail.

March 23, 2006 The Daily Journal
Gloucester County faces a third lawsuit over an outbreak of drug-resistant staph infections at the county jail in 2003 and 2004. The latest lawsuit -- filed by Jeffrey Maxie of Johnson City, Tenn., and his domestic companion, Marlene Byrnes of Westville -- accuses the county of failing to address the staph outbreak properly. The contagious skin infection can be fatal if untreated. Byrnes contracted staph from close contact with Maxie after he left the jail in April 2004, but before he was aware he had contracted it, said the couple's attorney, Scott C. McKinley. In a lawsuit filed last week in Gloucester County Superior Court, Maxie contends he contracted staph while in the jail on an unspecified charge in April 2004. The county "failed to inform the plaintiffs of the risk of exposure, failed to prevent said exposure, (and) failed to put procedures or policies (in) place to eliminate or minimize the risk of exposure," according to the lawsuit. County Counsel Samuel J. Leone could not be immediately reached for comment. The lawsuit also names as defendants the county freeholder board; the county's Department of Correctional Services; the Sheriff's Department; Prison Health Services Inc., which provides medical care at the jail; former warden John Tevoli; and W. Stanley Nunn, the former corrections director.

November 1, 2005 Courier-Post
A former inmate at Gloucester County Jail alleges in a lawsuit that negligent oversight of the jail caused him to contract a staph infection while he was incarcerated in 2003. The lawsuit, filed by Joseph Favacchia of Swedesboro, is the second to accuse the county of failing to properly address an outbreak of drug-resistant staph infections at the jail in 2003. The contagious skin infection can be fatal if untreated. Favacchia contends he contracted staph while in the jail on a violation of probation charge in November 2003. A year later, Favacchia learned that county officials had been aware of other cases of staph infections at the jail but "withheld and fraudulently concealed" that information, Favacchia contends in his complaint. The county "failed to inform the plaintiff of the risk of exposure, failed to prevent said exposure, (and) failed to put procedures or policies (in) place to eliminate or minimize the risk of exposure," according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also names as defendants the county freeholder board, the county's Department of Correctional Services, the county Sheriff's Department, Prison Health Services Inc., which provides medical care at the jail, former warden John Tevoli and W. Stanley Nunn, the former corrections director. In September 2004, county freeholders suspended Tevoli for two weeks without pay after determining he misled a Citizens Advisory Board about the extent of the staph outbreak. Tevoli resigned in January after two years as warden.

Guadalupe County Correctional Facility, Santa Rosa, New Mexico
Dec 24, 2016
Inmate sues prison health care provider over injuries
An inmate at a state prison in Guadalupe County has filed a lawsuit against two nurses and a prison health care provider alleging they provided inadequate exams after he was attacked by fellow inmates and suffered a jaw fracture. The delayed treatment, he says, left him permanently disfigured. Jeffrey Campbell argues that he was assaulted in November 2013 by other inmates at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility and was seen by medical staff “based on obvious trauma to his head and facial area.” He says in the lawsuit filed in state court last month that a Corizon Health registered nurse failed to perform an adequate medical exam, despite the fact that Campbell lost consciousness and could not remember what happened. He had injuries to his head and face, including a cut over his right eye, but was returned to his cell on the same night of the fight. The next day he asked for ice in the morning and evening, but was never examined for a concussion or a fracture. The next afternoon, he was given an anti-inflammatory medication and sent to the local hospital’s emergency room. When he was admitted, according to the lawsuit, he was unable to open his jaw, had raccoon eyes and a “bleed in the left ear canal.” “It’s important to recognize that the existence of a lawsuit is not necessarily indicative of quality of care or any wrongdoing,” Martha Habin, Corizon Health spokeswoman, said in a statement. “But due to patient privacy and pending litigation, we are unable to provide information that would provide a balanced perspective of this case.” According to the company’s website, Corizon Health is the “leading provider of correctional healthcare services in the United States.” Campbell says a CT scan revealed fractures of the jaw, and he was transported to the University of New Mexico Hospital for treatment. “As a result of the delay in treatment, (Campbell) suffered severe infections and later required a mandible fracture repair,” according to the lawsuit. That repair included two surgeries and a bone graft, which left Campbell with “permanent disfigurement.” He is seeking compensatory damages. Campbell’s attorney did not return requests for comment. The lawsuit, which does not give his age, says Campbell is currently an inmate in the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas. It does not give the reason for his incarceration.

Jun 29, 2016
New Mexico: Corizon pays out $4.6M
The former contract provider of medical care for state prison inmates has settled claims by inmates for nearly $4.6 million, according to information released Tuesday by a law firm representing the provider, Corizon Health.  The claims against Corizon were filed by 59 inmates at two prisons where a physician allegedly sexually assaulted some inmates during medical examinations. Responding to an Inspection of Public Records Act request by the Journal, the law firm of Chapman and Charlebois, representing Corizon, released a spreadsheet showing settlement amounts for each of the claims from inmates at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa and the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton. The settlements ranged from $7,130 to $192,400. There were 21 settlements of more than $100,000 each. The law firm said it needed additional time to provide the settlement agreements. The spreadsheet didn’t specify the nature of the claims made by the inmates, making it impossible to know whether all the claims were the result of alleged sexual assaults by Dr. Mark Walden, who reportedly was known among inmates as Dr. Fingers for his inappropriate rectal and other exams. Corizon, a national company based in Tennessee, began providing medical care for New Mexico inmates in 2007 under a contract with the state Corrections Department. It was recently replaced with Centurion, based in St. Louis. Under its contract, Corizon – not the state – had responsibility for dealing with lawsuits alleging improper medical care. More than 75 inmates have alleged in lawsuits that they were sexually assaulted by Walden, with at least three others claiming he provided inadequate medical care. Walden, Corizon and The Geo Group, which operates the Santa Rosa and Clayton prisons, denied the allegations in their court responses to the lawsuits. Walden, whose medical license has been suspended by the New Mexico Medical Board, lost his job after an inmate complained to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office in July 2012. Many of the inmate lawsuits alleged Corizon and Geo were “willfully blind and dumb” to what was occurring or at least should have known that Walden was abusing his patients. The lawsuits said Walden spent longer than he should have with inmates in the examination room. He was accused of performing twice as many digital rectal exams per month as other doctors and using a privacy screen with nearly every patient. Medical records allegedly showed that one inmate went to Walden for an eye problem and got a rectal exam. One 18-year-old inmate was allegedly ordered to have prostate exams monthly. The lawsuits alleged civil rights violations, medical malpractice and negligence. Walden said in court records that he never sexually abused or fondled anyone. Walden worked at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility from 2010 to 2012. He transferred to the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility, working there from February 2012 to July 2012. The Geo Group, based in Florida, operates both prisons under a contract with the state Corrections Department. Prosecutors reportedly have been building a criminal case against Walden since early 2013.

Jan 2, 2016
15th suit filed against former prison doctor
A 15th lawsuit has been filed against a former New Mexico prison doctor accused of sexual assault in performing unnecessary, intrusive rectal exams on inmates at two state prisons. To date, about 78 inmates have alleged in lawsuits that they were sexually victimized by Dr. Mark Walden, with three others claiming he provided inadequate medical care, according to federal court records. The latest case was filed Dec. 21 by a Guadalupe County Correctional Facility inmate who contended he didn’t come forward earlier partly because he was embarrassed and feared retaliation from corrections officers, medical personnel and other inmates. The prison is near Santa Rosa. Seven lawsuits filed since 2013 against Walden; the national medical firm Corizon Inc., which hired him; and private prison operator, The Geo Group Inc., have settled out of court. Some were settled within months of being filed; at least two before the defense had formally responded to the allegations. Walden, whose medical license has been suspended by the New Mexico Medical Board, lost his job after an inmate complained to local law enforcement in July 2012. Walden, Corizon and The Geo Group have denied the lawsuits’ allegations. Albuquerque attorney Frances Carpenter, who filed two of the earliest lawsuits against in 2013, told the Journal she hopes the litigation underscores the need for reporting of sexual crimes in prison. “I think these cases have created an awareness that this happens, and we’re hoping that other inmates who suffer sexual abuse aren’t afraid to come forward,” she said. “That’s the only way to ensure things like this don’t happen again.” She said the amount her clients received is confidential. Many of the lawsuits allege that Corizon and The Geo Inc. were “willfully blind and dumb” to what was occurring, or at least should have known that Walden was “abusing his patients.” “When made aware of possible instances of sexual abuse and potential violations of inmate rights, companies such as GEO and Corizon cannot simply maintain the status quo at their facilities, but must act immediately to put a stop to such misconduct,” Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall in a lawsuit that settled in May 2014. “Otherwise, as happened here, over a period of a couple of years, dozens of inmates are victimized, each being told that rectal and prostrate exams are ‘normal’ and ‘routine’ for scrapes, allergies, sore shoulders, sprained ankles or any conditions causing inmates to see the prison doctor,” Hall alleged. The lawsuits contend Walden spent longer than average time with inmates in the examination room. He performed twice as many digital rectal exams per month as other doctors who worked at the prison. And he used a privacy screen with virtually every patient. There was a “sudden notable increase in volume of digital rectal exams being performed, unindicated digital rectal exams on young inmates, refusal by Walden to have a third party present during exams,” according to one lawsuit. Medical records allegedly showed one inmate went to Walden for an eye problem and got a rectal exam. Another sought medical treatment for an asthma condition and was told to drop his pants for a rectal exam. One 18-year-old inmate was ordered to have prostate exams monthly. Federal court records show Corizon and The Geo Group denied the allegations when they responded to the lawsuits, which allege civil rights violations, medical malpractice and negligence. Walden said in courts records he never sexually abused or fondled anyone. Walden worked at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility from July 2010 to February 2012. He transferred to the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton and worked there from February 2012 to July 21, 2012. The GEO Group, based in Florida, operates both the prisons under a contract with the state Corrections Department, which also pays Corizon to provide medical treatment at two facilities. Other lawsuits filed against Walden are on hold pending a criminal investigation overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors have been building a criminal case against Walden since early 2013. Walden, 57, filed for bankruptcy in 2014. Inmates called Walden “Dr. Fingers,” according to one lawsuit, which alleges that the physician was “serially sexually assaulting” inmates at Guadalupe County Correctional Center, and was “unfit to practice medicine in that environment.” Another inmate’s lawsuit alleged that Walden’s reputation for sexual misconduct during exams was “common knowlege” inside the prison in 2011. Some inmates refused to go back to Walden for medical treatment after the sexual contact. Another inmate had to continue seeing Walden because he needed regular treatment for his diabetes. Others refused to go to follow-up appointments that Walden requested because there was no medical reason indicated. Several said they feared retaliation. Walden allegedly told one inmate “he had gotten another inmate sent to segregation for attempting to report Walden’s conduct, and threatened he would do the same to B.H. if B.H. ever attempted to report the abuse,” one lawsuit said. Another plaintiff, identified only as G.M., stopped the “inappropriate digital exam” and “pulled his pants up,” his lawsuit said. Walden is alleged to have told G.M. he would not provide further medical treatment and would report G.M. for drug seeking if he reported the incident. The most recent case filed by an inmate identified only as “O.F.” alleges he went to Walden for treatment of diabetes and Walden fondled, and played with his left testicle and penis, and used his ungloved finger to penetrate the inmate’s rectum. Nearly two years later, the inmate filed a grievance over the incident with prison officials. But his lawsuit said he wasn’t told of the outcome of the internal investigation until this September, when a Corrections Department notified him the case had been resolved and that he could “take whatever action you deem appropriate.” The New Mexico Medical Board investigated the sexual misconduct and other allegations against Walden, finding in 2013 that he violated five provisions of the state Medical Practice Act. A competency test later ordered by the board found Walden deficient in several areas of medicine. The board in November 2014 suspended Walden’s license but left the door open to eventual reinstatement if he completes a “full residency” program in medicine, such as a residency at the University of New Mexico. Court records show Walden is appealing the board’s decision to state district court.

Nov 2, 2013

A former prison physician accused of fondling multiple inmates during medical exams at two contract men’s prisons in New Mexico is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Mark Walden has also been suspended from the practice of medicine and has filed a notice of bankruptcy. The Justice Department’s notification to Walden that he is the target of an inquiry into the alleged violation of inmates’ civil rights is revealed in documents filed in three civil lawsuits now consolidated in U.S. District Court. Documents say Walden was notified in writing that “he is the target of a criminal investigation regarding alleged sexual abuse of male inmates at the Northeastern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Clayton and at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa.” The prisons are privately operated by Corizon Inc. The civil lawsuits against Walden, Corizon and others were filed on behalf of about three dozen current or former inmates at the two prisons by attorneys Katie Curry, Brad Hall and Frances Crockett Carpenter. Defendants moved the case to federal court. Walden’s attorney in the civil lawsuit said she does not comment on pending litigation. But in an answer she filed on behalf of Walden in one of the civil lawsuits, he denied performing any digital rectal exams that were not medically necessary or that were inappropriate in length or methodology. He denies sexually abusing inmates at anytime or that any conduct on his part was unreasonable, cruel or harmful. Walden also contends that the claims are barred by the statute of limitations and the Prison Litigation Reform Act and the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. The inmates have made claims in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to protect any recovery they may receive in the civil litigation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Torgerson stayed the civil cases in August until the bankruptcy is resolved. Walden was entitled to an automatic stay by virtue of his bankruptcy filing. Torgerson extended the stay to other defendants, including Walden’s former employer The Geo Group Inc., now called Corizon, wardens Erasmo Bravo and Timothy Hatch, and the health services administrator. There are no details on the Justice investigation, which has apparently been underway since before the civil litigation began in March. According to a statement from Corizon, the company “is unaware of any criminal proceedings being filed at this time. We will cooperate fully with any investigations related to this matter.” The wardens, Geo and Corizon filed answers in the civil cases in which they have denied allegations of negligent hiring and supervisions, medical malpractice and civil rights violations. The inmates have asked the court to permit the litigation to go forward without revealing the names of the plaintiffs because of the potential of greater harm and victimization. But one of Walden’s attorneys in the civil suits has denied sexual abuse allegations contained in the request and opposed the request for anonymity, saying inmate lawyers are engaged in a media campaign to “impact the pending litigation.” Walden’s attorney Nicole Charlebois said in a written filing that the unnamed plaintiffs attacked Walden in the media before even serving him with the complaint. Plaintiffs’ lawyers, she said in the filing, are “manipulating the underlying litigation, tainting the public perception and tainting the potential jury pool,” and that Walden has a right to know his accusers, “especially in light of their aggressive media tactics.” Suspension: The New Mexico Medical Board suspended Walden from practice in July, after sending him notice of contemplated action and getting input from two physicians hired as experts who reviewed available records. The board ordered Walden to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation arranged by the New Mexico Monitored Treatment Program, which was to send its findings and recommendations to the board for review. The recommendations “must demonstrate to the board’s satisfaction that (Walden) is fit to safely practice medicine.” The board will then determine his further licensure status. The board hired as experts a urologist with 33 years experience, including 5½ years participating in a prison clinic, and an emergency medicine physician described as having expertise in correctional medicine. The urologist said his review of the evidence indicated “sexual contact with a patient” by Walden on many occasions that were not legitimate medical procedures and constituted sexual abuse. The second physician found that Walden had not breached the standard of care and that his treatment of inmates was appropriate for the patient complaints documented in medical records. That doctor questioned the credibility of the inmates’ statements “because several of them indicated (Walden) had examined them without gloves, which (he) found very unlikely to have actually occurred.” Walden invoked his Fifth Amendment right and refused to testify at the medical board hearing.

Among over 40 pages of proposed factual findings:

•Walden regularly performed digital rectal examinations of inmate patients in their 20s and 30s. The Clayton prison offered exams routinely for men over age 50 and for men under 50 if they had specific complaints warranting such an exam.

•He did twice as many rectal exams each month as any other doctor at the Clayton facility, according to a prison nurse.

•A 40-year-old patient at the prison in Clayton asked a corrections officer as the inmate left the medical unit in July 2012 “if (Walden) was gay, and expressed discomfort with the examination he had received.” The officer prepared a statement based on the inmate’s statements that the doctor had turned him over and stroked his genitals. That was the only comment about any presumed sexual orientation of the doctor.

•Another patient reported on Aug. 5, 2012, that Walden had “played with” his testicles without gloves.

•A 28-year-old inmate reported that Walden called him for medical exams for three weeks straight on a Friday or Saturday, gave him a rectal exam and studied his penis.

•Another inmate filed a grievance about an Aug. 20, 2012, incident in which he said Walden asked him to drop his pants, rubbed his genitals and asked if it felt good.

•In patient statements provided by the facilities in response to a subpoena by the board, Walden diagnosed a prostate condition not confirmed by an independent analysis.

•Inmate patients are generally not referred out because of time, expense and safety issues in transporting prisoners off site.

•Only one patient at Santa Rosa filed a grievance with a nurse.

The hearing officer noted inmates “may be manipulative and will commonly do things for purposes of secondary gain,” such as getting strong pain medicine, special shoes or mattresses.

Mar 17, 2013

A New Mexico inmate claims he got an overly long and intrusive rectal exam when he went to the prison doctor for a torn meniscus in his knee. And his complaint isn’t the only one. Eighteen inmates in two separate civil lawsuits claim they were fondled or given intrusive exams – even when they weren’t needed – by Dr. Mark E. Walden, the prison physician at the time. The claims that Walden used his position to sexually abuse inmates are being made by men incarcerated at prisons in Santa Rosa and Clayton. Both prisons are operated under contract with the state by the Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO group, a firm that operates detention and re-entry facilities in Australia, Canada, South Africa and Britain, as well as the U.S. Walden was an employee of Corizon, a private contractor that provides healthcare services at over 349 correctional facilities across the country. The company, which is based in Tennessee, has a four-year, $177.6 million contract to provide prison medical services in New Mexico at both public and privately run prisons. Katie Curry of the McGinn Law Firm in Albuquerque, attorney for one group of prisoners suing Walden, GEO Group Inc., Corizon, prison wardens Erasmo Bravo and Timothy Hatch, and health administrator Sherry Phillips, said another attorney represents another 10 or so clients with similar complaints. “That’s who has come forward, but these guys move around a lot (to other prisons),” Curry said. “I can imagine there are others who are reluctant to come forward.” The lawsuit filed by Curry alleges at least 25 known victims. The New Mexico Medical Board is investigating Walden and, on Feb. 18, issued a notice of contemplated action. No hearing has been scheduled, but it is likely to take place in April or May, a board spokeswoman said. “As a matter of standing company policy, Corizon does not comment on any litigation. However, Corizon can confirm that Dr. Walden is no longer on staff,” said Courtney Eller of DVL Public Relations & Advertising in Nashville, which handles media inquiries for Corizon. GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez said in an email that the company, as a matter of policy, “cannot comment on litigation related matters, but we can confirm that Mr. Bravo and Mr. Hatch are employed by GEO and Dr. Walden is not employed by GEO.” Walden, who is now working in a medical practice in Raton, did not return a call for comment. He also allegedly failed to use proper hygiene and disease prevention techniques by not using gloves when he examined inmates. Prison administrators and Corizon didn’t ensure that a third person was present to protect the integrity of the exams, according to at least one of the suits. The potential for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct toward inmates by prison employees is well-known institutional problem, the lawsuits say, and administrators have a duty to protect the inmates. Inmates often view reporting abuse as futile because of the humiliation and retaliation they risk and the prospect of losing access to medical services, the complaints say. Doctors have far greater social status than inmates, further exacerbating the imbalance, they say. GEO and Corizon should have known about the abuse through inmate reports and the perceptions of staffers such as nurses, “or kept themselves willfully blind” to it, according to Curry’s lawsuit. “Corizon and GEO did not encourage reporting or documentation of these incidents, and enacted no discipline or retraining of … Walden,” the lawsuit says. Curry said there was a written complaint about Walden by an inmate in September 2011, “and apparently nothing happens, so it’s literally like the Catholic church where they know something and transfer him someplace else.” She said lawyers know a copy of the complaint went to State Police and that GEO was made aware of it. Walden initially worked at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa and was later transferred to the Northeastern New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton. One of the consequences of the alleged abuse, Curry said, was that some inmates stopped going to see Walden, even though they needed medical treatment. The lawsuit says staff became suspicious after Walden was hired “based on observations including a sudden notable increase in volume of digital rectal exams being performed, unindicated digital rectal exams on young inmates (and) refusal by defendant Walden to have a third party present.” An inmate who went to Walden for urinary tract issues and had an examination that was “excessive and inappropriate” and conducted without gloves reported the incident and had a sexual assault exam performed in Santa Fe, which revealed two anal tears, according to the lawsuit. “Corizon and GEO did not encourage reporting or documentation of these incidents, and enacted no discipline or retraining of … Walden.” - McGINN LAW FIRM: A separate lawsuit filed by Frances Carpenter of Albuquerque on behalf of nine more inmates says the abuses began in 2010 and continued through July 2012 during both routine and “symptom specific” examinations. They included digital anal penetration and probing and stimulation of the genitals. One inmate who saw Walden with a request for hemorrhoid cream was told he need to be examined first, the lawsuit says, and during the exam was penetrated by the doctor’s “entire ungloved fist.” The inmate, who reported the incidents to prison officials, continues to have nightmares and anxiety related to the alleged assault. Both lawsuits, filed in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, allege negligent hiring and retention, civil rights violations, negligence and breach of contract. They seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. Meanwhile, the medical board is expected to set a hearing this spring based on allegations that Walden, during prostate exams on some 17 inmates, “touched or attempted to touch these inmates in an inappropriate, sexual manner.” The board notice says Walden was subject to a “corrective action” for incomplete medical records that led the Union County General Hospital to terminate his privileges, and he did not report it to the board. The notice also says Walden’s professional medical liability insurance was canceled and that he gave incorrect information about it on his license renewal in 2011. Inmates say routine exams turned into horrific assaultsSee PRISON on PAGE A9from PAGE A1Prison doctor accused of sex abuse; inmates claim assaults”Corizon and GEO did not encourage reporting or documentation of these incidents, and enacted no discipline or retraining of … Walden.”<quote_attribution>McGINN LAW FIRM

Guilford County Jail, Greensboro, North Carolina
November 30, 2007 News & Record
The family of a 41-year-old woman who died in the Guilford County jail has reached a settlement with the national company that provides health care to inmates. Neither the attorney representing the family of Judy McDaniel Woodle nor a spokeswoman with Prison Health Services would discuss details of the settlement. Susan Morgenstern, spokeswoman for Prison Health Services, said the settlement carries a confidentiality clause. "The issue has been resolved pending approval by the court, and there is no fault involved," Morgenstern said Thursday. Woodle died April 30 inside her cell from what was determined to be a strangulated left femoral hernia. She had spent six days in jail awaiting trial on petty theft charges and was taking anti-diarrheal and pain medication for what was thought to be an ovarian cyst. Steve Bowden, an attorney for Woodle's family, said the matter was resolved this week. "I'm not allowed to reveal the terms. I'm just happy the family was able to get this resolved," Bowden said. No lawsuit was filed in Woodle's death, he said. Prison Health Services, based in Brentwood, Tenn., provides care to inmates in 180 jails and prisons across the country, according to its Web site. It has a contract to provide medical care to the Guilford inmates through June. The sheriff's office pays the company more than $200,000 each month for its services. Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said in May that Woodle began complaining of symptoms a few days after her arrest and that Prison Health Services medical personnel did not take her for a hospital evaluation. Barnes said Thursday that he does not fault Prison Health Services for Woodle's death, calling the care the company provides for the inmates "more than sufficient."

July 10, 2007 News Record
Attorneys for the family of a woman who died in jail said the hernia that killed her should have been detected by a simple physical exam. An autopsy report for Judy McDaniel Woodle , who died in April, showed she had a visible nodule on her groin. That lump was caused by the strangulated femoral hernia that killed her, according to the report. Eddie Darton , an attorney with the firm representing Woodle's family, said a physical exam should have easily revealed the nodule, which the report stated was 3-1/2 inches by 1-3/4 inches by 2 inches. That discovery, in conjunction with the fact that Woodle had been suffering from vomiting and stomach pain, should have led to the realization that she had a serious medical problem, Darton said. Instead, the hernia went undiagnosed, and Woodle died on April 30 in her cell. Attorney Steve Bowden , who is representing Woodle's family, said the outcome would have been different if the problem had been detected. "She'd be alive today," he said. Guilford Sheriff BJ Barnes said that a doctor had looked at Woodle while she was in the jail. Woodle had told correctional officers when she arrived at the jail that she suffered from an ovarian cyst, and she was receiving medication at the jail for that problem. Barnes said the nodule might have looked like a cyst, but Darton, who has a medical degree, said a cyst would not have had that appearance. Bowden said the family is looking for a financial settlement, and a lawsuit is possible. "It depends on what kind of cooperation we get," he said. "She's got five children." If an agreement isn't reached by the end of August, he said, the matter will move to court. Barnes said he has not spoken with Bowden but did not rule out the possibility of a settlement. "You never close any doors on anything," he said. Woodle, who was 41 , had been jailed six days before her death. She had been charged with stealing $5.09 worth of fish from a Food Lion. She also faced charges of resisting a police officer and failing to appear in court on a previous theft charge. According to the autopsy, the hernia led to gangrene, or the death of tissue, in the small intestine, and complications eventually caused Woodle's death. Medical care at the jail is provided by a private company, the Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. Guilford County pays the company more than $200,000 monthly to provide care at the Greensboro and High Point jails and the county prison farm. No changes have been made to the jail's medical procedures, Barnes said, but the sheriff's office is always looking for ways to improve, he said. "This did not end the way anyone wanted it to end," he said.

June 5, 2007 News & Record
The company that provides health care in the Guilford County jails told the sheriff last month it will not share records that explain how its staff makes medical decisions. Sheriff BJ Barnes requested documents from the company after an inmate died in April on her cell floor. The News & Record asked Barnes for some of the records mentioned in a policy manual he has made available to the newspaper. Barnes contracts with Prison Health Services Inc. for medical, dental and psychological care of inmates in three county jails. The Tennessee-based company turned over some information, including the names of jail medical staff. But in a letter dated May 25, a lawyer representing Prison Health told the sheriff's office that no documents would be shared, saying the records are "private, confidential, or otherwise protected material." Barnes on Monday declined to answer whether he believes the county has a right to records and manuals maintained by companies that work for him. "At the present time, I don't have a need for this information," he said. "There may come a time when I feel there is a need. If it does, I'll come to Matt (Mason, the sheriff's attorney) and say 'all right, let's force the issue.'" Because Prison Health is a private company, its records are not something the News & Record can directly receive under public records laws. Prison Health's attorney, Steven Weaver, could not be reached for comment late Monday. His voice mail message indicates he is out of the office until mid-June. Barnes and his top officers have maintained that medical staff acted properly in the days leading to the woman's death. They said they based their conclusion on talks with Prison Health staff without reviewing records themselves. "The medical field is not my area," Barnes said. "That's why we hire them. A doctor or a nurse oftentimes knows things that I don't know." The county is paying $2.7 million this year to Prison Health. Among the records it denied to the sheriff: l A copy of the Utilization Management Resource Manual, a document that, according to Prison Health's policies manual, is something medical staff can reference when making clinical judgments. l A copy of the most recent annual review of Prison Health's "Continuous Quality Improvement Program." l A copy of the clinical incident report stemming from the death of Judy McDaniel Woodle. Woodle, 41, died April 30 on the floor of her jail cell. The state medical examiner's office found she suffered from a strangulated hernia, where her intestines got pinched outside her abdomen and the lack of blood killed off part of the organ. While the autopsy report has not been completed, medical experts say that with most untreated strangulated hernias, the bowel ruptures once it dies, spilling bacteria into the bloodstream. Barnes said last month that Woodle had told staff on her arrival in jail that she suffered from an ovarian cyst. She had been taking antidiarrheal and pain medication at the time of her death. Woodle's family has hired an attorney to review her death. Attorney Steve Bowden was out of the office Monday and not available for comment.

May 12, 2007 News & Record
The attorney for Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes has asked a Tennessee-based health care contractor for internal procedural guidelines following an inmate death in the Greensboro jail. The News & Record had asked the sheriff's office for those documents and others after Judy McDaniel Woodle died on April 30. The county pays Prison Health Services more than $200,000 per month to handle inmate health care in its jails. The letter from attorney Matt Mason said the sheriff's office would assess the documents under public records laws and respond to the newspaper. Among the records requested were company documents outlining how its physicians should make clinical judgments. Sheriff's officials have said all proper policies and procedures were followed, even though they had not reviewed all of Prison Health's written policies. Woodle died of a strangulated hernia, health officials have said. The letter was addressed to Steven P. Weaver, a Greensboro lawyer who represents Prison Health.

May 10, 2007 News & Record
Guilford County sheriff's officials have maintained for the past week that jail medical staff followed proper procedures treating an inmate who died last month of a strangulated hernia. They stood by their findings on Wednesday, while acknowledging in an interview with the News & Record that they had not reviewed all the written policies of the company contracted to provide inmate health care. Nor had they examined the medical files of the inmate, Judy McDaniel Woodle. Sheriff's Maj. Deb Montgomery , accompanied by sheriff's attorney Matt Mason , said that officials discussed the death with medical staff from Prison Health Services, a Tennessee-based company. The sheriff's office determined no mistakes were made based on the discussions, they said. But Prison Health has not yet provided the sheriff's office with company documents outlining how its physicians should make clinical judgments. Sheriff's officials would not reveal details of the talks with Prison Health staff, citing federal health privacy laws. It is unclear why Prison Health has not given the sheriff's office the policy documents. The county pays it more than $200,000 a month to provide medical services to inmates at all three county facilities. Mason met with an attorney for Prison Health on Wednesday. He said he will brief Sheriff BJ Barnes today and it will be the sheriff's decision how to proceed on obtaining the records. The meeting of lawyers was called after the News & Record requested documents that show how medical staff determine the need for hospital care. According to Montgomery and records provided by the sheriff's office, Prison Health is responsible for the first $25,000 of any hospital care required for a condition that develops in the jail. If costs exceed that, the county covers the difference. A spokeswoman for Prison Health was unable to find answers to questions posed by the News & Record late Wednesday afternoon, including how jail staff are trained and who had been made aware of the inmate's complaints. As for the medical documents, sheriff's officials said those files were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office, which conducted the autopsy. Woodle, 41, of Greensboro, died April 30 in her jail cell. Staff had given her pain and antidiarrheal medication for what they believed to be an ovarian cyst. Woodle had not been taken for an ultrasound or other body imaging tests. The mother of five told jailers upon her admission she suffered from a cyst, and they observed that the medication appeared to be relieving pain. Woodle's family hired a lawyer this week and is now examining legal options. The family's attorney, Steve Bowden, could not be reached Wednesday afternoon for comment.

May 5, 2007 News Record
The Tennessee-based company that handles medical treatment in the Guilford County jail declined to comment Friday on why a local inmate died under its care. A spokeswoman for Prison Health Services Inc. said she was unaware that a Greensboro woman died until contacted by the News & Record four days later. Prison Health handles medical care in nearly 300 jails and prisons nationwide. "We will do a thorough review of our own files," spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said. "We will make sure all our policies were filed. Any time there’s a death, it’s what we do." Judy McDaniel Woodle, 41, died Monday night from complications of a strangulated hernia. Her intestine had been choked by a muscle or tissue in her left upper thigh, cutting off the blood flow. Still, officials have said all policies and procedures were followed. But the sheriff’s office could not provide a copy Friday of the written policies and procedures that govern medical care in the Greensboro and High Point jails, despite the fact that it had launched an investigation into the death early this week. Maj. Deborah Montgomery said a lawyer for the sheriff’s office has requested that documentation from Prison Health after the News & Record asked for it. Sheriff BJ Barnes previously said Woodle, facing charges of petty theft, told jailers when she was arrested that she suffered from an ovarian cyst. The diarrhea and abdominal pains she had matched those symptoms. "A lot of times, certain things have similar symptoms," Montgomery said. "That’s common sense." Prison Health Services last month paid a Florida woman $1.25 million in a settlement over claims of negligence. The former inmate sued when she gave birth over a toilet in her jail cell in 2004. The infant died. The woman claimed medical staff ignored her complaints of labor pains for several hours. Barnes hired Prison Health in 2005 when the county ended its contract with another provider because of performance dissatisfaction.

Gwinnett County Detention Center, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Gwinnett Jail Death Lawsuit Highlights Correctional Health Care
According to a lawsuit, Denise Forte's death in 2015 at the Gwinnett County jail could have been prevented with adequate medical care. The daughter of an inmate who died of pneumonia in the Gwinnett County jail is suing the sheriff, health care employees and the private health provider in charge of her care. According to the lawsuit, Denise Forte's death in 2015 could have been prevented with adequate medical care. The 53-year-old had been at the Gwinnett County jail for more than a year on drug charges. Her daughter's lawyer, Mark Begnaud, said Forte had a history of lung disease and was ignored as her symptoms started getting worse. He said after an initial visit with a nurse, "they didn't even bring her up to evaluate her. They simply told her 'No. We won't see you now. You're on the list to be seen by a doctor this week.'" She died before that could happen. Begnaud said jail records show the medical director there knew Forte's condition was serious. "She should have been admitted and immediately seen by a doctor, based on the symptoms she was presenting at the time," he said. At the time, Gwinnett County had a contract with Corizon Health, the country's largest private correctional health service provider. "There have been thousands of lawsuits,” said Maria Morris, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center. She’s suing the Alabama Department of Corrections over its health care system and has looked into the way Corizon operates in a number of states. She said what happened to Forte fits into a larger pattern. "If there's any way to avoid sending people out, they don't send people out to specialists in the community," Morris said. She said Corizon also has a record of using staff who aren't qualified for the jobs they're performing. Gwinnett County ended its contract with Corizon last year, though the county didn't respond when asked why. Both Fulton and Chatham counties cut ties with the company in recent years. For now, Corizon says it's not operating in Georgia. Morris said regardless of who holds these contracts or how they're written, jail and prison officials need to keep an eye on the medical care happening on the ground. "If they're not doing it, they're violating the Constitution, and they're also violating their contract, in most situations," she said. She said lawsuits like Forte’s are often the only way that oversight happens. In a statement from Corizon, the company said, “Our doctors and nurses work every day in extremely difficult settings to provide the best possible medical care for the patients in our care.”

July 24, 2008 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The widow of a Lawrenceville man who died after struggling with Gwinnett deputies and being stunned with a Taser has dropped a lawsuit against the county. The wife of Frederick Jerome Williams abandoned all claims in the wrongful death lawsuit against Gwinnett County and several deputies involved in the scuffle with Williams, the Sheriff's department announced late Thursday afternoon. The federal lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the Williams family cannot refile it at a later date, said Thomas Mitchell, the attorney who represented Gwinnett County. Williams' death drew a firestorm of criticism from civil rights groups such as the Gwinnett NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), who led three marches outside the Gwinnett County courthouse calling for a moratorium on Taser use by law enforcement. Yanga Williams, Frederick Williams' widow, did not return messages left on her home or cellphone Thursday evening. A receptionist at the office of her attorney, Keenan R.S. Nix, said he was out of the office. Yanga Williams' attorney is going forward with the lawsuit against Taser International and the contracted healthcare provider for the jail, Prison Health Services, Mitchell said. The suit alleges that a nurse working at the jail gave inadequate and lackadaisical medical care to Williams in the critical moments after he lost consciousness. On the night of Williams' arrest in May 2004, police were called to his Lawrenceville home to settle a domestic dispute. Williams fought with officers before his arrest. Later at the jail, Williams started to fight with deputies. A videotape shows deputies shocking Williams five times with the stun gun and then placing him in a restraint chair. He lost consciousness and died in a hospital two days later. Williams, 31, a native of Liberia, died of brain damage from a heart attack, according to the final autopsy report, although officials were unable to say what caused the heart attack.

September 25, 2007 Atlanta Journal Constitution
The death of an inmate who fell ill while being held at the Gwinnett County Jail awaiting transfer to another jurisdiction has spurred a lawsuit against the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department and its contracted health care provider. It is the fourth wrongful death lawsuit to be filed against the two parties within the past four years. According to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, William Hargrove was suffering from abdominal pains on March 5, 2006, when a doctor ordered that he be sent to a hospital emergency room. However, a supervising deputy told medical staff not to send Hargrove to the hospital and instead attempted to transfer him to Newton County, the lawsuit states. He died two hours later, before the transport had been arranged. An autopsy revealed the cause of death was a perforated ulcer of the small intestine. Police had picked up Hargrove March 4 for failing to appear in court in Newton County on a speeding violation. Representatives from both the Sheriff's Department and Prison Health Services declined comment. The lawsuit follows on the heels of another filed Sept. 7 in federal court on behalf of deceased inmate Harriett Washington. Washington died of leukemia on Oct. 17, 2005. Lawyers for Washington have criticized Prison Health Services staffers for repeatedly rebuffing her requests to be hospitalized during the days leading up to her death. Both PHS and the Sheriff's Department also were named in two Taser-related wrongful death suits. Earlier this year, county officials agreed to pay the family of Ray Charles Austin $100,000 to dismiss a lawsuit arising from Austin's death during a 2003 scuffle with deputies. A lawsuit is still pending in the 2004 death of Frederick Jerome Williams at the jail.

October 6, 2006 Gwinnett Daily Post
The president of the NAACP's Gwinnett branch wants county leaders to reconsider their decision to bestow a multimillion dollar contract for inmate health care services on a provider that faces multiple wrongful death lawsuits. County commissioners voted Tuesday to award a one-year contract to Prison Health Services for $6.15 million. John Stewart, the local chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, on Monday plans to review six bids submitted by other health care providers to determine if there were other viable options. "I understand the reason why PHS won a contract again was because of their financial stability and experience," Stewart said. "I am going to be looking to see if the other vendors have a track record of providing medical services and see if one of those vendors should be given the opportunity to have the contract." Stewart views PHS as "an enormous liability" to county residents and says negligent care is putting the lives of more inmates at risk. The private company has provided inmate medical, dental and mental health care in Gwinnett since 1997. It was recommended by officials from both the sheriff's and corrections departments who looked at cost, experience, references and financial stability before making their decision. Prison Health Services has been targeted in lawsuits filed by two inmates who died after struggling with deputies at the Gwinnett County Detention Center and being stunned with a Taser. Both inmates were black. The lawsuits claimed that medical staff at the jail were lackadaisical in their attempts to resuscitate one inmate, Frederick Williams, and failed to document a fear of needles in the medical file of the other inmate, Ray Austin. A third lawsuit is pending by the family of a black female inmate, 43-year-old Harriett Washington, who died of leukemia on Oct. 17, 2005. An attorney for Washington's family criticized PHS for repeatedly ignoring her requests to be hospitalized. District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau said Tuesday he was concerned PHS had been targeted by the recent lawsuits in Gwinnett, but "we aren't going to let lawsuits dictate how we do the business of the people." Stewart is also scheduling a town hall meeting for people who have been incarcerated in the Gwinnett County Detention Center to give public testimony about their experiences with Prison Health Services. "I am not sure if the county has all the information available as to the inadequate services provided by this provider," Stewart said.

October 4, 2006 Gwinnett Daily Post
Gwinnett County commissioners have signed on with an embattled inmate health care provider for another year. Six other companies submitted proposals to provide health care services for the Gwinnett County Department of Corrections and the Sheriff’s Department. However, the current provider, Prison Health Services, was granted the $6.15 million contract. The commissioners did not discuss the contract during Tuesday’s public meeting, but afterward said they supported the decision of a committee who evaluated the seven bids. PHS, a private company that has provided inmate medical, dental and mental health care in Gwinnett since 1997, had been recommended by officials from both the sheriff’s and corrections departments. A committee composed of officials from both departments looked at cost, experience, references and financial stability in making its recommendation. District 3 Commissioner Mike Beaudreau expressed concern that PHS had been targeted by two lawsuits in Gwinnett within the past 13 months, but said, “We aren’t going to let lawsuits dictate how we do the business of the people.”Joan Crumpler, one of the attorneys representing the Williams family in the lawsuit, warned that in voting for PHS on Monday, county commissioners were overlooking problems at the jail that could lead to more deaths. “If the Gwinnett decision-makers limited their criteria to cost, experience, references and financial stability, then they can easily justify contracting with PHS, since PHS owns 25 percent of the national marketshare for outsourced inmate medical care,” Crumpler said. “However, Gwinnett County must never ignore very real problems at the jail, including PHS’s failure to adequately respond to medical crises. It is this kind of problem that has resulted in unnecessary deaths.”

October 3, 2006 Gwinnett Daily Post
Several pending lawsuits against the company contracted to provide health care for Gwinnett County inmates has apparently done little to influence its chances of renewing a multimillion dollar contract. Six other companies have submitted proposals to provide health care services for the Gwinnett County Department of Corrections and the Sheriff’s Department, but Prison Health Services seems to be the front-runner. Its current contract expires Oct. 31. PHS was recommended by officials from both the Sheriff’s and Corrections departments again this year. Gwinnett County Commissioners will consider that recommendation today while reviewing proposals in a public meeting. If approved, the contract awarded to PHS to provide medical, dental and mental health care for inmates would be worth more than $6.1 million. PHS had the highest-scoring proposal of all those submitted for consideration, according to a county memo. But not all the feedback on PHS has been positive. The company was targeted by two lawsuits in Gwinnett within the past 13 months. It also came under harsh criticism in January following the release of an internal investigation by the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department into the death of a terminally ill inmate. Several deputies and inmates blasted PHS for its handling of the woman, who died of leukemia on Oct. 17, 2005. Harriett Washington, 43, repeatedly asked to be taken to a hospital in the days leading up to her death, but her requests were rebuffed by staff members who instead sent her back to her cell. Washington’s two cellmates and several deputies reported that she was sent to the infirmary three times in a two-day period only to be returned to her cell in the same condition — vomiting, experiencing high fevers and having difficulty breathing. Jonathan P. Sexton, an attorney for Washington’s family, said he plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against PHS and Gwinnett County in the next six weeks. He was dismayed to hear that PHS’ contract may be renewed. “I hope they don’t use them again,” Sexton said Monday.

May 2, 2006 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Nearly 175 inmates and employees at the Gwinnett County Detention Center were put on antibiotics after the weekend death of an inmate, officials said Monday. Detainee Zachary Harris, 20, died from an infection in his bloodstream at Gwinnett Medical Center on Saturday after being admitted three days earlier, jail officials said. A Detention Center physician said Harris' blood contained a bacterium that commonly causes meningitis. Harris, who had been at the jail a year, complained of a sore throat April 18 and was taken to the hospital Thursday when his blood pressure dropped dangerously low. He had been awaiting trial on multiple charges, including impersonating a police officer and drug possession. Detention Center doctor Lee Grose — who works for the jail's contract medical provider, Prison Health Services — said the bacterium can be spread through sneezing and coughing. Jail officials don't know how he contracted the bacterium but discounted that a visitor could have passed it on. Medical services at the jail have been under scrutiny since the October 2005 death of inmate Harriet Washington, 43, who had myeloid leukemia. Washington, who died in her jail cell, had asked to be hospitalized numerous times in the days before her death but was turned away by the Prison Health Services staff, internal jail reports said. At least four of the health provider's employees were fired, resigned or were transferred as a result of Washington's death.

April 21, 2006 Gwinnett Daily Post
After nine years, the woman tasked with supervising health care for Gwinnett County inmates has been reassigned to another post. The departure of Dwana Gebhardt, health system administrator for Prison Health Services, comes four months after allegations of inadequate health care at the Gwinnett County Detention Center surfaced following the death of a female inmate. Prison Health Services, based in Nashville, Tenn., is the nation’s largest private provider of correctional health care. The company has a contract with Gwinnett to provide medical services for both the detention center and Gwinnett County Comprehensive Correctional Complex. Officials at the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department say Gebhardt’s reassignment is not related to the recent hubbub over jail health care. “I don’t think it is,” said Maj. J.J. Hogan, who was appointed last month as the sheriff’s liaison and supervisor to Prison Health Services. Both the Sheriff’s Department and PHS came under scrutiny following the Oct. 17, 2005, death of a 43-year-old female inmate who was awaiting trial on a cocaine possession charge. Harriett Washington had previously been diagnosed with myeloid leukemia. An internal investigation at the Sheriff’s Department revealed Washington asked several times to be hospitalized in the days leading up to her death, but her pleadings were rebuffed by medical staff. Washington’s cellmates and deputies who were in the housing unit said they witnessed Washington vomiting repeatedly, experiencing dizziness, acting delirious and having difficulty breathing. She was taken to the jail’s medical unit at least three times in the two days before her death, but none of her visits were documented as required, according to the internal investigation. Each time Washington was sent back to her cell as her health deteriorated. After Washington died, five other inmates and a former PHS mental health counselor came forward to the Gwinnett Daily Post with other complaints about botched medications, lapses in medical documentation, patient neglect and staff indifference. In the months that followed, at least four PHS employees that were on duty that night or were in supervisory positions have been fired, resigned, retired or transferred. PHS officials have said none of the staffing changes were a result of Washington’s death or the subsequent complaints.

March 21, 2006 Gwinnett Daily Post
In the wake of a highly publicized inmate death and complaints about poor health care at the Gwinnett County Detention Center, a high-ranking deputy has been tasked with overseeing the jail’s contracted medical staff. Maj. Jim Hogan will supervise employees of Prison Health Services, the contracted medical provider for the jail, on a full-time basis beginning Monday. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway said his department pays Prison Health Services (PHS) about $6 million a year to provide health care for inmates. “I think we should have had a medical monitor before now,” Conway said. “I think with the size of that contract that it’s prudent for us to have someone on staff monitor the quality of the work.” Hogan will serve as the primary point of contact for PHS management, monitoring medical service issues, meeting daily with staffers, making policy recommendations, reviewing grievances and providing regular reports to the sheriff. Hogan is a 26-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. He has been second in command over jail administration since 1999. Both the Sheriff’s Department and PHS came under scrutiny following the death of a 43-year-old female inmate who was awaiting trial on a cocaine possession charge on Oct. 17. Harriett Washington had previously been diagnosed with myeloid leukemia. An internal investigation at the Sheriff’s Department revealed Washington asked several times to be hospitalized in the days leading up to her death, but her pleadings were rebuffed by medical staff. Washington’s cellmates and deputies who were in the housing unit said they witnessed Washington vomiting repeatedly, experiencing dizziness, acting delirious and having difficulty breathing. She was taken to the jail’s medical unit at least three times in the two days before her death, but none of her visits were documented as required, according to the internal investigation. Each time Washington was sent back to her cell as her health continued to deteriorate. After Washington died, at least five other inmates and a former PHS mental health counselor came forward with complaints about botched medications, lapses in medical documentation, patient neglect and staff indifference. Hogan said Monday he is up to the challenge of overseeing PHS.

January 22, 2006 Gwinnett Daily Post
A review of the personnel files of more than 60 employees of Prison Health Services, the contracted medical provider for the Gwinnett County Detention Center, reveals several employees have something in common with the inmates they treat — six have been arrested in the past. The six employees, including the jail’s medical director, were arrested as long ago as 1981 and as recently as this year for a range of offenses. In addition, a nurse and a certified medical assistant were accused of criminal behavior while they were still working at the jail less than three months ago. One has since been fired and the other resigned amid an internal investigation. While his resume lists an impressive amount of supervisory experience in the field, his personnel file reveals staff psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Howard Flatlow had his medical license put on probation by the Composite Board of Medical Examiners in 1985. The sanctions were lifted in 1993. The reason why Flatlow was on probation is not said, but the file does say Flatlow was in an “impaired physician’s program” or designated as a “recovering physician.” A pattern of supervisors tolerating mistakes also emerges from a study of the PHS files. Employees who were found to be sleeping on the job, providing inmates with the wrong medication, forgetting to document patient treatments or allowing an inmate to administer their own medication were given a verbal or written reprimand. However, some employees, such as Kessie, racked up as many as seven written reprimands in less than two years without losing their jobs. Kessie was finally fired in October upon being arrested and charged with providing an inmate with a cell phone. A high turnover of medical staff at the jail is also evident in the documentation PHS produces. The jail is staffed with 30 full-time health care employees and seven mental health professionals, according to Stacey Kelley, spokeswoman for the Gwinnett County Detention Center. A records request for the personnel files of staff currently employed and any staff members who left after Sept. 1, 2005, because of resignation or termination resulted in 63 employee files, thus 26 people left within that time frame. Stacey Kelley, spokeswoman for the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department, issued a statement on behalf of Sheriff Butch Conway this week saying he is weighing his options regarding PHS’ contract with the county, which expires this year on Oct. 31. No serious talks have occurred regarding termination of the contract, Kelley said. “I am in the process of determining what my options are regarding Prison Health Services,” Conway says in the statement. “When I do, I will make a decision that is in the best interest of the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department, the inmates and our personnel.”

January 20, 2006 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett Sheriff Butch Conway is trying to decide whether to fire the county jail's medical provider. The sheriff could decide to opt out of the county's $4.8 million annual contract with Prison Health Services. The company's performance was called into question in a scathing internal report on the 2005 death of a detainee. Harriet Washington, 43, who had been in the jail since June on a cocaine possession charge, died early on Oct. 17. She suffered from leukemia. The report states that jail deputies and Washington's cellmates urged that she be taken to a hospital, but that their pleas were ignored by employees of the Tennessee- based health provider. A letter from Washington's cellmates to Conway alleged that multiple requests that Washington be treated were ignored in the two days before her death. Washington had not seen an outside doctor since July, according to jail records. "Either party can opt out of the contract" with at least 10 days' notice, Conway said Thursday. The contract states that any violation of its provisions or stipulations is grounds for termination. Conway said he believes it would be possible to switch providers with a minimum of disruption, if that's what he decides to do. The report particularly questions the actions of Brian Woodard, a licensed practical nurse for Prison Health Services who treated Washington over a two-day span that ended with her death. Woodard could not be reached for comment Thursday. He has been a licensed practical nurse since at least 1994, according to state professional license information. Woodard resigned a week after Washington's death as a result of a separate, unrelated internal investigation into narcotics missing from the medical unit, the report says. The company already is named in at least two federal suits filed after Gwinnett inmates died in custody.

January 20, 2006 AP
Gwinnett County attorneys are blaming Taser International and Prison Health Services in the death of a jail inmate, who died after being repeatedly shocked with a stun gun. The county, which has been sued by the family of Frederick Williams, filed a cross claim this week blaming Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Taser International for providing false training documents and not warning users that their stun guns could be lethal if used repeatedly. Taser International and Brentwood, Tenn.-based Prison Health Services, which provides medical care at the jail, should be held accountable, the county says, especially if a court finds that Williams died from the Taser or because of improper medical care.

January 19, 2006 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jail inmate Harriet Washington was the victim of a confused and clumsy medical response when she died in front of her cellmates, concluded a Gwinnett Sheriff's Department investigation released Wednesday. Washington, of Norcross, died on Oct. 17. Jailed at the Gwinnett County Detention Center since June for possession of cocaine, Washington suffered from leukemia. She was 43. The internal affairs investigation clears Sheriff's Department deputies of any culpability, stating they "adhered to existing policy and acted in a manner consistent with the needs of the situation." The report raises questions, however, about the performance of Prison Health Services, the Tennessee-based company contracted to care for Gwinnett inmates. Deputies had urged that Washington be taken to the hospital, to no avail, the report states. "If the medical staff had ordered outside treatment at Gwinnett Medical Center, as sworn staff [deputies] had urged, instead of allowing the inmate to remain in the housing unit, the end result very well may have been the same," the report's conclusion states. "Had the inmate been transferred to the hospital, however, it would have eliminated the doubt surrounding the appropriateness of the treatment provided." Sheriff Butch Conway declined an interview on the report, but issued a prepared statement: "I am in the process of determining what my options are regarding Prison Health Services," it read. "When I do, I'll make a decision that is in the best interest of the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department, the inmates and our personnel." According to the internal affairs report, Washington was briefly taken to the medical unit at least once the day before she died but was returned to her cell a short time later. The report accuses the company of failing to adequately document her care. Records even conflicted on how many times she was taken to the medical unit. Inmate Cheryl Horstman, who was in the medical unit at the time, told investigators that nurse Brian Woodard and Deputy Benita Smallwood seemed "bothered" by Washington's presence. At one point, Woodard told Washington, "only one problem per visit," according to Horstman. In a subsequent debriefing with his superior in the medical unit, Woodard said, "I know I [messed] up" by failing to document Washington's treatment. Woodard submitted his resignation on Oct. 24 as a result of a separate internal investigation into narcotics missing from the medical unit, the report says without elaboration. Woodard could not be reached for comment Wednesday. On Oct. 16, as Washington was trying to move from her wheelchair to a "boat" — a plastic tub that serves as a bed in the detention center — she passed out, the report said. The nurse and deputy asked her why she had tried to move at all. "I don't feel right. ... I need to go the the hospital, something doesn't feel right," the report quoted Washington as saying. Horstman said Smallwood then told Washington, "There isn't even a doctor here on weekends. The whole jail is in lockdown, and you can't stay in medical. What do you think this is, the Hyatt?" In interviews with investigators, Smallwood denied making the comment. Washington was sent back to her cell but apparently received no assistance from medical personnel until midnight, when she received crackers and Pepto-Bismol during "pill call." At 2:41 a.m. Oct. 17, the "I" pod deputy pressed the panic button to summon help after Washington screamed in pain and collapsed. According to the report, a nurse and a medical assistant from the jail intake area — neither of whom was qualified as a first responder — arrived three minutes later but could not get a response from Washington. The report noted that no "progress notes" were kept of her vital signs or treatment, which violated Prison Health Services internal protocols.

December 11, 2005 Gwinnett Daily Post
The death of a cancer patient at the Gwinnett County Detention Center has touched off an avalanche of complaints by other inmates about substandard health care. The allegations paint a disturbing portrait of botched medications, patient neglect and staff indifference by the county's contracted medical provider at the jail, Prison Health Services. Before she died, 43-year-old Harriett Washington was known affectionately as "Sparkles" among her fellow female inmates. In and out of prison several times for cocaine possession, theft and forgery, friends said Washington was nonetheless an extremely likable woman who had been diagnosed with myeloid leukemia, a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood. The autopsy conducted by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's Office shows Washington's cancer was in remission prior to being jailed in June, but she died of leukemia in her jail cell just five months later. While she was incarcerated, the only documented medical complaint in her file was on Oct. 16, when she complained of knee pain, according to the autopsy. Washington died before daybreak on Oct. 17. Her cellmates, Kimberly Holmes and Carla Dotson, say Washington begged repeatedly to be taken to the hospital the week before she died. There are no records of this alluded to in the Medical Examiner's Report. Holmes and Dotson claim their pleadings to hospitalize Washington were repeatedly rebuffed by PHS staff. A spokeswoman for Prison Health Services would not release Washington's medical records, citing right to privacy laws which they believe still remain in effect despite Washington's death. One former PHS worker said she became furious with the company over their lack of concern for inmates' well being. Diane Yociss, a former Prison Health Services mental health counselor, was fired in October. Yociss said her supervisors told her it was because she had been written up for going to physical therapy appointments for an on-the-job injury and for giving blood during work hours. Yociss believes the real reason for her firing was that she was becoming too vocal about lapses in health care at the jail. Her claim couldn't be verified because Prison Health Services did not make her personnel records available by press time. Yociss said she couldn't discuss Washington's case or cite specific examples of inmate health care because it would violate a code of ethics for her profession. However, Yociss said she wasn't surprised to hear about Washington's death. "Turnover there is horrific," Yociss said. "A lot of times people's follow-up care gets dropped. Other times they do the right thing and send them out (to a hospital)." Yociss said she confronted supervisors several times about mistakes - severely neglected patients, medication mix-ups and poor medical documentation, but her complaints were largely ignored. Instead, supervisors made excuses for employee mishaps, Yociss said. "The whole attitude toward inmates when they came in was they are either faking, they're malingering, they want to get out of their cells, or they want medicine," Yociss said. "In a lot of cases, yes they are. But in other cases, no, they're not. They are genuinely sick." In a series of jailhouse and telephone interviews last week, several inmates talked about their encounters with nurses and doctors employed by Prison Health Services. The following inmates' stories couldn't be verified because PHS would not provide their medical records, citing privacy laws as the reason for their exemption from Open Records law. Natalie Horne, 20, in jail on a felony drug possession charge, said she had to be hospitalized after a nurse gave her the wrong medication in August. Horne was supposed to get medicine to treat pain in her ankle when the nurse came into the pod for daily "pill call." Horne, who is hearing impaired, couldn't hear the names being called, but she got in line to receive her usual dose. The nurse was supposed to check the identification on Horne's arm band before dispensing the appropriate medication, but she didn't, Horne said. Instead, the nurse gave her someone else's medication. Horne doesn't even know what it was, but it made her cough and her lungs hurt. "I was dizzy and weak and I didn't feel like eating for three days," Horne scribbled on a piece of paper during her interview. When Horne told the nurse she had been given the wrong medicine, she alleges the woman seemed indifferent and replied "Oh well, just throw up." Tina Thompson told a similar story. Jailed in June for allegedly violating her probation by possessing a small quantity of crack cocaine, the 35-year-old woman said she was supposed to receive 400 mg of a medication to treat epilepsy. Two weeks ago, Thompson said she was accidentally given 500 mg of the drug. Thompson said the nurse also dispensed another unknown medicine to her that she wasn't supposed to receive, but she threw the pill away because she didn't recognize it. "I told her it was too much, but she said 'No, no, no, you take. It's OK," Thompson said Thursday during a jailhouse interview. Thompson said she didn't suffer any ill effects from the overdose of epilepsy medication, but it could have caused her to go into seizures. When she brought the mistake to another nurse's attention, Thompson said she was told "People make mistakes." "That mistake could've killed me," Thompson said, shaking her head. There are also several allegations that the record-keeping at the jail is sometimes spotty, botched or misplaced. Georgia E. MacDonnell, 48, landed in the Gwinnett County Detention Center earlier this year because Hall County didn't have the medical facilities to treat her. Reached by phone Thursday at her Gainesville home, MacDonnell said her only crime was trying to kill herself. McDonnell said she was charged with aggravated assault for attempting to shoot herself after hearing her fiance had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. MacDonnell needed ongoing treatment while at the jail because she has a colostomy bag attached to her abdomen to collect her body's waste. She said the skin where the bag attaches became infected when PHS staff failed to provide her with supplies to change the bag every three days, as recommended by her doctor. She claimed she only received the supplies to change 17 bags during her entire five-month incarceration. MacDonnell regularly requested them at pill call, but she was usually told to wait because more were being ordered, she said. MacDonnell explained that the sticky bandage that the plastic bag attaches to is useless when it gets wet, so it must be changed after each shower just like a Band-Aid. When she wasn't supplied with the bandages, called flanges, MacDonnell said she couldn't take showers. On one occasion, MacDonnell said she took a mandatory shower. Afterward, she asked a deputy for another colostomy bag, but allegedly didn't receive one until six hours later. During that time, MacDonnell said she was forced to sit in the medical unit with her body's waste dripping out all over her, making her abdomen raw. On the only time she was taken to see a physician in the medical unit, MacDonnell said yet another snafu occurred. "The doctor had my nephew's medical records instead of mine, and they returned me to my dorm without treating me," MacDonnell said. "I think that Gwinnett needs to answer to a lot of things, especially the medical care." Holmes, who has hepatitis, also alleges a poor experience with one of PHS' doctors. She followed protocol by submitting a request to see a doctor for pain in the area of her liver. When Holmes was transported to the medical unit to see a physician, she claimed the doctor didn't even know what she was doing there. Then he dismissed her complaints as imaginary. "He never touched me or examined me," Holmes said. "He said I was imagining it." Yociss said the inmates experiences are not uncharacteristic with what she witnessed as a former PHS employee. "I am not disgruntled. I am furious that people are still being treated like this," Yociss said. "I am furious that people have to die. I am not anybody's guardian angel. I'm just doing this because it is the right thing to do."

December 10, 2005 Gwinnett Daily Post
Information in the medical files of a leukemia patient who died at the Gwinnett County Detention Center in October conflicts with her cellmates' allegations that the woman was repeatedly denied hospitalization, according to autopsy records released Friday. The autopsy conducted by the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner's Office stated 43-year-old Harriett Washington's cancer was in remission prior to her being jailed in June. However, she died of leukemia just five months later. The Gwinnett County Detention Center has no record of Washington receiving any cancer treatments during her stay there, according to the autopsy. The only documented medical complaint in her file was on Oct. 16, when she complained of knee pain. Washington died before dawn on the following day. "(Washington's) roommates found her to be experiencing seizure-like activity before losing consciousness," the autopsy said. "Responding staff members found her lying supine on the floor with her head resting on a pillow that had been placed there by her roommates. Staff members immediately called 911 and transported her to the clinic." Washington was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center in full cardiac arrest, where she was pronounced dead. Kimberly Holmes and Carla Dotson claim Washington was scheduled to see a specialist for cancer treatment two weeks before she died, but she was never taken. The inmates also claim Washington begged repeatedly to be hospitalized because she realized that she was relapsing and getting sicker.

December 9, 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Whenever a prison inmate dies in custody - especially when the death may have been the result of inadequate medical care delivered by a for-profit company - the public deserves to know what happened and why. Gwinnett County Sheriff Butch Conway has promised to investigate eyewitness claims that jail health workers largely ignored inmate Harriet Washington's symptoms for two days and let her suffer before she died in her county jail cell on Oct. 17. Jail officials knew Washington had leukemia. Washington's death is the third over the last two years to raise questions about the quality of medical services at the Gwinnett jail. The county pays Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., $4.8 million a year to provide nursing and physician care to inmates. The company has contracts with eight other jail facilities in Georgia and works at 310 facilities around the country. In September, the family of Ray Austin, who died at the Gwinnett jail in 2003, sued Prison Health Services, alleging company employees injected him with psychotropic drugs against his will shortly before being shocked eight times with a Taser during an altercation there. On Wednesday, the family of Frederick Williams filed a lawsuit against Conway, Taser International, Prison Health Services and several other defendants for another Taser-related death at the jail in May 2004. In Alabama, the state settled a class-action suit filed by inmates over inadequate care provided by Prison Health Services at state prisons. And Richland County, S.C., officials recently terminated a contract with the company after three inmate deaths in the county jail over the last three years. Many critics fear that in their quest for higher profits, private companies will cut costs through such arrangements as reducing shift workers, putting doctors on call instead of working on site at the jail, and giving employees unchecked decision-making power about what drugs are given to prisoners. Employees are also answerable to their employer, the private company, and not to those actually running the jail. Conway and Gwinnett officials need to ensure that's not happening at the county jail. The best way to do that is to make public as much of the investigation about Washington's death as possible and re-examine the staffing arrangement it has with Prison Health Services. The county may be able to contract out health care, but it can't contract out its legal and moral obligation to those in its custody.

December 7, 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Attorneys for a man who died after a Taser-related scuffle at the Gwinnett County jail today filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The Gwinnett State Court suit was filed today by attorneys representing the family of Frederick Williams, who lost consciousness and died after a May 2004 scuffle in the jail. The handcuffed and manacled inmate was shocked multiple times with a Taser. In the Williams lawsuit, attorneys named Sheriff Butch Conway, three of his deputies and two Gwinnett police officers allegedly involved in the altercation, weapon manufacturer Taser International and Prison Health Services, a Nashville-based company that provides medical services for the jail.

December 7, 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Tennessee company responsible for providing care to Gwinnett County jail inmates has faced a litany of lawsuits in at least four states in recent years. Already named in one Gwinnett County lawsuit linked to an inmate's death, Prison Health Services has been cited by cellmates of a woman who died in jail seven weeks ago. Harriet Washington, 43, of Norcross, died Oct. 17 in her cell. Her two cellmates said their pleas that Washington receive help went largely unheeded. The Brentwood, Tenn., company's Web site says it provides care to about 214,000 inmates in 310 jails and prisons in 37 states. The company says it serves eight facilities in Georgia. This year, Gary Watts, a coroner in Richland County, S.C., led an inquest after an inmate in the county jail hanged himself. A coroner's jury found that Prison Health Services had not provided the mentally ill man his prescribed medication for several days. "Horrible care," Watts said. "Absolutely horrible care." In Alabama, the state Department of Corrections settled a class-action lawsuit filed by inmates over health care provided by the company. Among other things, the lawsuit charged that inmates were not given their medication at the proper time or in correct dosages and were examined in rat-infested rooms. "There were some significant lapses in the system of medical care being provided at the facility," said Joshua Lipman, a lawyer at the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, which represented the inmates. Added Lipman, "Prison Health Services has problems all over the country right now." Prison Health Services was named in a lawsuit filed by the family of a Gwinnett inmate last September. Attorneys for Ray Austin's family allege that Austin was shocked eight times with a Taser after company employees injected him with psychotropic drugs during a September 2003 altercation at the jail. Austin lost consciousness and died after the incident. Austin's attorneys allege that Prison Health Services officials ignored a doctor's warning that Austin not be forcibly medicated. The warning was in his jail medical file, according to the lawsuit. Medical personnel and deputies also ignored Austin's wishes he not be medicated. Austin had signed jail paperwork granting him the right to refuse medical treatment, according to the lawsuit. "But for the decision on the part of ... medical personnel to proceed with forced administration of medication, Austin would not have resisted," the lawsuit said. "He would not have been in the altercation ... and would not have died." The details of Washington's death sounded familiar to David Almeida, executive director of the South Carolina chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Three mentally ill inmates have died at the Richland jail, including the man who hanged himself, in the past three years. After the third death, the Richland County Council voted to terminate its contract with Prison Health Services. The estates of the first two inmates who died settled lawsuits with Prison Health Services. "It just seems to me that when it comes to Prison Health Services, you have to be very careful," Almeida said. Watts, the coroner, said the inquest revealed a pattern of poor record-keeping, insufficient personnel and a failure to provide inmates with medication. Watts said that Prison Health Services employees subpoenaed in the inquest testified that that level of service was "almost a way of doing business: just go in, and do what you could. If you couldn't do it, don't worry about it."

December 6, 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett's sheriff promised a thorough investigation Monday into an inmate's death, which prompted two cellmates to allege inadequate medical response. Butch Conway also defended the jail's contract medical provider, Prison Health Services, of Brentwood, Tenn. The company declined comment on the Oct. 17 death of Harriet Washington, 43, jailed since June for possession of cocaine. Washington, who suffered from leukemia, died on the jailhouse floor as her two cellmates watched. Morgenstern said the company initiates an in-house review of every patient's death. The two inmates, Kim Holmes and Carla Dotson, said in a jail interview Monday that they can't get the images out of their heads. They described Washington screaming in pain and convulsing before dying. Holmes and Dotson began keeping a list of Washington's numerous symptoms. On Sunday afternoon, they say, a medical unit nurse came to assess her condition. Holmes and Dotson decided to risk retaliation by writing the letter because they think a change is needed. "The only thing I have to say is that I didn't want Harriet to die and nothing change," Holmes said. "I just appreciate knowing that we have a voice even though we're in here."

December 5, 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Two Gwinnett Detention Center inmates are alleging that shoddy medical treatment contributed to the death of their cellmate. Harriet Washington, 43, died in her cell Oct. 17 while being attended to by staff from Tennessee-based Prison Health Services, a private firm contracted by the county to provide medical care at the jail. In a Nov. 8 letter addressed to the medical unit supervisor and the Sheriff's Department's internal affairs unit, inmates Kim Holmes and Carla Dotson allege that Washington's multiple symptoms were for the most part ignored. Representatives of Prison Health Services did not return phone calls Sunday seeking comment. Holmes and Dotson were moved into Washington's cell about 8:30 a.m. Oct. 15. According to their letter, Washington was "extremely sick" and worsened as the day went on. The medical unit and a nurse who delivers medications at "pill call" were consulted, the letter says, but advised the women to fill out a medical request and turn it in. On Oct. 16, Washington eventually was sent to the medical unit, but was returned after an hour with no medications, according to Holmes. Several hours later medical was called again, the letter says. Washington was briefly taken back to the medical unit, the letter says, but was returned to her cell a short time later. Holmes' letter says she and Dotson continued to try to get medical attention for Washington, but were told that Washington had leukemia and nothing could be done, so she had to stay in the cell. Other times, they say, they were told that Washington "would be fine." Holmes further states that as Washington worsened and began to vomit continuously, she asked a deputy to seek medical help. The deputy returned and told her the medical department said vomiting was good for Washington. Early on Oct. 17, the letter states, Washington began screaming in pain and could not stop. According to the jail's Unusual Occurrence Report, a deputy notified medical at 2:10 a.m. and was told to bring Washington to the unit. Washington could not be moved, so the deputy pressed his "panic button" and announced a medical emergency. As he waited in Washington's cell, the report said, Washington "exhaled one loud breath and her eyes were open and fixated." The Unusual Occurrence Report states that nurses arrived at the cell at 2:44 a.m., but could not get any response from Washington. At 2:53 a.m., an ambulance was summoned. Homes' and Dotson's letter says that the medical staff decided that the hospital was necessary after the nurse announced that Washington had "no pulse." Holmes also alleged in her letter that Washington was supposed to see a cancer doctor every six weeks, but was already overdue. According to the jail's "inmate external movements" report, Washington last went to an outside doctor on July 18.

October 7, 2005 Gwinnett Daily Post
The nation's largest private provider of health care services to prison inmates has faced a recent lawsuit in Gwinnett and criticism from local officials in other states, but county commissioners have voted to extend their contract for another year. Prison Health Systems, a Nashville-based company, will continue providing medical, dental and mental treatment for inmates at the Gwinnett County Detention Center and the Department of Corrections until Oct. 31, 2006. Commissioners voted in September to extend the contract with PHS, said Kristine Tallent, budget division director for Gwinnett County. A lawsuit filed in September in the U.S. District Court's Northern District in Atlanta took aim at the company, claiming that medical personnel employed by PHS at the Gwinnett County Detention Center should not have forced deceased inmate Ray Charles Austin to receive an injection of an anti-psychotic drug. Prison Health Services has been faulted for inmate deaths in other jurisdictions, prompting some local officials to discontinue contracts with the company. A series of articles which ran in The New York Times beginning in late February documented cases of inmate suicide, shoddy care to children in custody and prisoners dying after being denied treatment. Last month, officials in Richland County, S.C., ended a contract with PHS following the deaths of three mentally ill inmates during the past three years, saying they were "terribly dissatisfied" with services. Nashville jail officials also replaced PHS last month with another inmate health care service in the wake of widespread criticism for failing to give inmates enough medical attention. Three diabetic inmates were alleged to have become ill there after receiving substandard care since January. Prison Health Services has a profitable business relationship with Gwinnett County in recent years. Last year, it was paid approximately $6.4 million, and the company has received more than $3 million in compensation this year.

September 22, 2005 Gwinnett Daily Post
An attorney for the children of an inmate who died after struggling with deputies has filed a lawsuit against the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department and its contracted health care provider. The lawsuit was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District in Atlanta on behalf of the son and daughter of Ray Charles Austin, who are both under the age of 10. The suit claims that deputies and medical personnel employed by Prison Health Services should not have forced Austin to receive an injection of a drug to calm a psychotic outburst at the Gwinnett County Detention Center. Austin, 25, struggled with deputies who were attempting to restrain him so a nurse could administer the injection on Sept. 24, 2003. Brian Spears, the attorney for Austin’s family, said Austin was a diagnosed schizophrenic and he was afraid of needles. During the struggle deputies shocked Austin about six to eight times with a Taser stun gun, according to the lawsuit. Austin bit off a portion of a deputy’s ear, and several deputies used their fists, choke holds, Taser shocks and deprivation of oxygen to retrieve the piece of flesh from Austin’s mouth. He subsequently lost consciousness and died.

September 21, 2005 Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The family of a man who died at the Gwinnett jail after being repeatedly shocked with a Taser has filed a federal lawsuit against members of the sheriff's department. The wrongful death suit was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by attorneys representing the family of Ray Charles Austin. It is the first of two Taser-related lawsuits expected to be filed by the families of inmates who have died after scuffles at the jail. Attorneys for Frederick Williams, an inmate who died in a similar altercation eight months after Austin, say they plan to file a lawsuit soon. The suit names Sheriff Butch Conway, three of his deputies allegedly involved in the altercation, and Prison Health Services, a Nashville-based company that provides medical services for the jail. Austin's attorneys allege in the suit that the 24-year-old man would not have died if deputies and a jail nurse had not forced him to take medication, shocked him eight times, beat and choked him. Gwinnett's medical examiner reported that Austin died of a heart attack but the autopsy did not clearly determine what caused the heart attack. Austin's attorneys allege that jail medical officials ignored a doctor's warning that he should not be forcibly medicated. The warning was in his jail medical file, according to the suit. Medical personnel and deputies also ignored Austin's wishes of not being medicated even though Austin had signed jail paperwork stating that he had the right to refuse medical treatment, according to the suit.

Hampton Roads Regional Jail, Portsmouth, Virginia
June 20, 2004
Three inmates at Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth who suffer from mental illnesses say the jail's medical staff failed to prescribe drugs that effectively treat their conditions.  For months they were wracked with feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, sleeplessness and delusional thoughts, they say. Sometimes they even wanted to harm themselves.  The men didn't get the medicine they requested until the end of May, after repeated calls to the press and to an advocacy group for the mentally ill. Since then, they say they're feeling better.  Hampton Roads Regional Jail holds about 1,060 inmates from Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk and Portsmouth. Of those, about 260 inmates are treated for mental illness by Prison Health Services, Inc., a private company that provides health care to inmates in 400 jails and prisons in 35 states.  The quality of medical care for mentally ill inmates treated by private companies has been the subject of investigations and lawsuits throughout the country in recent years. In Virginia, officials are examining the quality of mental health care at jails and prisons to see if mentally ill inmates are receiving the proper medications.  The issue boils down to this: Mental health advocates say these private companies often care more about their bottom lines than about the well-being of inmates. They say these companies are reluctant to prescribe expensive drugs, even if they provide the most effective treatment.  Prison health care companies typically devise their own pre-approved lists of drugs that often don't include more expensive, proven drugs, said Valerie Marsh, director of the Alliance. They can prescribe drugs not on the list, Phelps said, but they may be reluctant to do it.  (

Idaho Department of Corrections
Apr 2, 2017
Idaho inmates: Prison violations led to amputations, death
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho inmates are asking a federal judge to penalize the state after saying prison officials repeatedly violated a settlement plan in a long-running lawsuit over health care, leading to amputations and other serious injuries and even some prisoners’ deaths. In a series of documents filed in federal court, the inmates’ attorney Christopher Pooser painted a bleak and often gruesome picture of the alleged problems at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. The prison is the state’s oldest, with more than 1,400 beds, including special units for chronically ill, elderly and disabled inmates. Pooser and the inmates allege some prisoners were forced to undergo amputations after their blisters and bedsores went untreated and began to rot, and others with serious disabilities were left unbathed or without water for extended periods and given food only sporadically. The prison’s death rates outpaced the national average as well as rates at other Idaho facilities, according to the documents. And despite hearing evidence to the contrary, prison officials failed to double-check the numbers when its health care contractor, Corizon, reported being 100 percent compliant with state health care requirements. Meanwhile, prison officials were falsifying documents to make it look like all employees were trained in suicide prevention when many were not, the filings said. The inmates are asking the judge to hold the state in contempt of court and levy more than $24 million in fines against the Idaho Department of Correction. They say the state could cover some of the fines by recovering money paid under its contract with Corizon, but they also want the state to feel the budget hit so prison leaders will be motivated to make a fix. In a statement emailed to The Associated Press, Idaho’s corrections director, Henry Atencio, said he couldn’t address the specific claims in the motion for contempt because the allegations are now before the court. But he said his agency has been making an “all-out effort to bring the 36-year-old Balla case to a successful resolution for all parties” for the past two years. Corizon spokeswoman Martha Harbin said in an email that patient privacy laws prevent the company from discussing specifics. But she said the existence of a lawsuit doesn’t necessarily mean there was wrongdoing. “We strive to provide quality care that meets the needs of our patients and makes the best use of taxpayer resources,” Harbin wrote. The case started in 1981 when so many inmates from the Idaho State Correctional Institution began filing lawsuits that they threatened to clog Idaho’s federal court. A judge noted similarities between the cases and combined them into one class-action lawsuit, which became known as the “Balla case” after the lead plaintiff, Walter Balla. The claims ranged from overcrowding and excessive violence to limited access to medical care. Some have been settled, but the medical care complaints continue at the prison. The lawsuit seemed close to a conclusion a couple of years ago when all sides agreed to a deal in which the state would make several improvements to medical care, and the court would oversee the changes for two years to ensure Idaho officials followed through. Now Pooser and his clients say the state has violated the settlement agreement more than 100 times. In their latest court filings, they allege an inmate with pneumonia was ignored until he developed a flesh-eating infection and died of sepsis. Another inmate was forced to clean his own open wound surrounding an intestinal injury with tap water and paper towels, the documents said. At one point, a doctor whose medical license had been restricted because of sexual abuse and incompetence was allowed to work at the facility, and was simply transferred to another prison for a time after inmates complained. That doctor was fired after a federal jury ruled against him in a separate lawsuit. In his statement, Atencio said the Idaho Department of Correction disclosed the problems to a federal judge and the plaintiffs when an internal review found compliance issues in 2015. He said prison officials promptly created a plan to correct the errors. “We remain committed to providing oversight of our medical contractor, Corizon, to ensure quality health care at ISCI and throughout all IDOC facilities, and to working with the federal court and the Balla representatives to bring this case to a close,” Atencio wrote. Still, the inmates contend the problems have continued. “Since 1985, IDOC has had ample opportunities to achieve compliance ... but has repeatedly squandered those chances,” their attorney wrote. The state’s contract with Corizon allows for a type of fine called “liquidated damages” for failing to comply with the contract. At the low end, the fines are $464 per day, according to the inmates. They are asking for nearly $24.5 million in compensation for the damages, based on the number of days the state committed the 80 most serious violations listed in the case.They also want the court to start the two-year monitoring period over and levy additional fines to coerce the state into actually fixing the problems. The fines could be used to hire additional medical staff, expand and modernize facilities and take other steps to improve the health care problems at the prison, the attorney wrote.

April 29,2013     

Idaho’s prison system will increase payments to its medical and mental health care provider by hundreds of thousands of dollars after the company demanded a raise. However, the Idaho Department of Correction said it will only extend its $27 million annual contract with Corizon Correctional Healthcare until January, not another 12 months as previously announced. By then, the state Board of Correction hopes to have a new contract in place with a provider whose price tag better fits Idaho’s budget. During the six months starting July 1, Idaho will pay Tennessee-based Corizon about $250,000 more than currently budgeted. The move, approved at a Board of Correction meeting Thursday, came after Corizon President Stuart Campbell told state prison Director Brent Reinke he wouldn’t sign an extension for less money. On April 26, Reinke said Corizon told him its contract with Idaho wasn’t sufficiently covering the company’s costs and it needed more to continue providing service. “It’s just gotten more expensive to do business, and they just couldn’t afford to subsidize,” Reinke said, recalling Campbell’s justification for the hike. “The contract had just become too costly.” Corizon officials in Brentwood, Tenn., didn’t immediately comment. The rate Idaho has paid to Corizon has already increased about 20 percent in the past three years. Idaho has had a rocky relationship with the company in recent years, a period in which the state has been under pressure from a decades-old federal lawsuit to improve medical and mental health care for prisoners. The state fined Corizon $200,000 for missing contract benchmarks, and a federally appointed expert concluded its medical care was so bad it amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Corizon commissioned its own report released in May 2012, indicating it was meeting national prison standards with the care it was providing in Idaho. In 2012, the Department of Correction asked companies to submit proposals on providing medical treatment to prisoners — a preliminary step to putting the contract out for bid. Five companies responded, and Corizon was one of two that gave price estimates. Based on that response, Reinke now says he’s optimistic that an offer will emerge before January that Idaho can better afford. “There are other providers that responded that are very interested in this contract,” he said. “So we hope it’s in a very close range of the existing budget amount.”

May 11, 2012 AP
The national prison health care company Corizon says a scathing court-ordered report on the care provide at an Idaho prison is full of errors and that a review they commissioned themselves proves it. But a close review of both reports show that they largely focused on different aspects of the health care system and that they noted some similar problems. The medical care at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise is a major part of a long-running lawsuit brought by inmates against the state 30 years ago. Over the years the inmates won many of their claims, forcing the state to make changes to operations and procedures at the lock-up. And a federal court has continued to oversee some aspects of the prison. Last year, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill appointed correctional health care expert Dr. Marc Stern to review the health care at the prison in hopes of finally bringing the lawsuit to a close. Stern's report found several problems. He said terminal and long-term care inmates sometimes went unfed and were left in soiled linens. The report also said nursing mistakes or failures were likely to have resulted in some deaths and one inmate wasn't told for seven months that he probably had cancer.

April 2, 2012 KTVB
The Idaho Department of Correction is telling a federal judge that a scathing report about health care at a Boise-area prison isn't accurate and doesn't reflect current conditions. Attorneys for the state filed their response to the report late last week, saying a court-appointed health care expert didn't do a thorough review at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. Dr. Marc Stern was appointed by the federal court to examine the care at the prison as part of a long running lawsuit between inmates and the state. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill has said he will use Stern's findings to help him decide whether to end the lawsuit. Stern's report was damning, finding that the medical care was so poor that it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

March 20, 2012 AP
Medical care is so poor at an Idaho state prison that it amounts to neglect and cruel and unusual punishment, according to a report that was unsealed Monday. Correctional health care expert Dr. Marc Stern said there have been some improvements at the Idaho State Correctional Institution south of Boise. But terminal and long-term inmates sometimes went unfed, nursing mistakes or failure likely resulted in some deaths, and one inmate wasn't told for seven months that he likely had cancer, he said. The Idaho Department of Correction and the prison health care provider, Brentwood, Tenn.-based Corizon, said they're disappointed and are preparing a response that will show the care delivered to inmates meets constitutional and health care standards. Stern was appointed to study the care prison near Boise as part of a long-running lawsuit brought by inmates. Some of the medical problems described in the report are disturbing, including Stern's findings that inmates who were terminal or required long-term care and who were unable to move on their own were sometimes left in soiled linens, given inadequate pain medication and went periods without food and water. Stern said those conditions were ``inhumane.'' Emergency care was also found deficient in the report, with medical staffers routinely failing to bring parts of a basic resuscitation device — a ventilator mask for rescue breathing — to inmates experiencing medical emergencies. Prison guards reported to Stern that they sometimes had to call the health staffers multiple times to get them to respond to inmate emergencies, and sometimes the nurses only responded by phone, telling the guards to have the inmates request care the following day. In another case described by Stern, a nurse who found an inmate unconscious and having serious breathing problems didn't take any other vital signs and failed to give the man oxygen. ``Such evaluation was critically important at this point because it was highly likely the patient was not getting enough blood to his brain and required resuscitation,'' Stern wrote. Instead, he contends, the nurse moved the patient to the health unit and only assessed him a few minutes later, when he was having a heart attack. The patient died. ``It is impossible to know if immediate application of life saving measures in the living unit would have saved this patient,'' Stern wrote. ``However, failure to provide these measures greatly reduced any chance for survival.'' The report focuses only on the Idaho State Correctional Institution, though Corizon provides medical care for all inmates in Idaho's state-run prisons. Inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution, called ISCI, sued more than 30 years ago, alleging that they were subject to violence and rape by fellow inmates, denied adequate medical care, subjected to poor diets and forced to deal with extreme overcrowding. Over the next three decades, they won several rulings designed to improve conditions at the prison, and the federal court continued to oversee operations to make sure that the state was complying with all of its orders. But U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill is eager to end the court's babysitting role, and the Idaho Department of Correction hopes the lawsuit will be closed for good. The inmates, however, said some of the rulings still aren't being complied with — particularly the orders to improve access to medical and mental health care. Complicating matters is that the prison has grown and changed over the years, and the state now says it's difficult to apply the old rulings to the facility as it now stands. Attorneys for the state argued against releasing the report, saying the public could confuse Stern's findings with the court's opinion. The state said the report should be sealed until both sides had responded to the findings in court. Corizon is not named as a defendant in the case. But in a joint statement released moments after the report was unsealed Monday, officials from the company and the state acknowledged a few of the allegations in the report ``may be well-founded but unfortunate anomalies'' but most of them have been or are being addressed.

May 22, 2005 AP
A prison healthcare company from Saint Louis, Missouri, has beaten out the existing provider of medical care for Idaho Department of Correction prisoners. Correctional Medical Services will take over duties at all Idaho prisons July 11th. It offered to provide inmates with medical and dental care for nine-dollars and 75 cents per day per prisoner. Teresa Jones, a D-O-C spokeswoman, says that was less than the bid of Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. Idaho has roughly 64-hundred prisoners across the state.

Department of Correction Director Tom Beauclair is disappointed in the contractor providing medical care to prison inmates and says his agency has launched three separate investigations into employees of Prison Health Services.  Beauclair declined to elaborate on the investigations or complaints that precipitated them.  An official with Prison Health Services, which has a $12 million contract to provide medical care to the state´s more than 5,820 inmates, denies that Idaho prison inmates are being hampered from getting the medical services to which they´re entitled.  “We are doing a fine job out there,” said Rod Holliman, a vice president for Prison Health Services.  However, Beauclair said that while the company is providing the health care to inmates required by the U.S. Constitution, the work is still not up to par.  “There are concerns,” Beauclair said.  “We have employee management issues, communication issues and accountability issues,” Beauclair said of the company.  (Idaho Statesman, April 6, 2004)

Idaho State Correctional Institution
Oct 4, 2022 lmtribune

Transgender inmate who sued Idaho to get $2.5M in legal fees

BOISE — A federal judge has ordered Idaho and its prison medical care provider to pay more than $2.5 million in legal fees to a transgender inmate who sued after she was denied gender confirmation surgery. The cost, however, will not come out of taxpayer dollars. Instead, it will be covered by Corizon Correctional Healthcare under a separate agreement with the state. Adree Edmo sued the state and the Idaho Department of Correction’s health care provider, 2017, alleging that they were violating her Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment by denying her gender confirmation surgery. Edmo identifies as female, but she had long been housed in the men’s prison while she served a 10 year sentence for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy. In her lawsuit, she asked a judge to order the state to allow her to change her name, provide her with access to gender-appropriate clothing, transfer her to a women’s correctional facility and provide her with gender confirmation surgery. U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled in 2018 that the state must provide Edmo with the surgery and said that continuing to deny the treatment would place her at risk of irreparable harm. Edmo had shown that she had a serious medical need for the surgery because she had severe gender dysphoria — a condition that occurs when the incongruity between a person’s assigned gender and their gender identity is so severe that it impairs their ability to function. The state appealed Winmill’s ruling. It was two more years before Edmo received the gender confirmation surgery, becoming the second person in the U.S. to undergo the surgery while incarcerated. She was transferred to a women’s prison to serve the remainder of her sentence, and was released in 2021. During the appeal process, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Edmo’s claims that Idaho Department of Correction employees and officials were “deliberately indifferent” to her medical needs. But the appellate court did find that a Corizon physician was deliberately indifferent in the case. Edmo asked Winmill to award her more than $2.8 million in attorney’s fees and other court expenses. She was represented in the case by seven different attorneys, including Boise attorneys Deborah Ferguson and Craig Durham, lawyers with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and representatives from several other law firms. The judge lowered that figure to roughly $2.5 million after agreeing with the defendants that some of the charges were too high — including hourly rates for a few hearings that multiple attorneys attended. Corizon and the Idaho Department of Correction agreed in December that Corizon pay the costs of any legal fees awarded to Edmo in the case, and in exchange the state wouldn’t ask Corizon to also cover the cost of the state’s attorneys. Corizon’s contract with the state includes wording that says it must defend and “hold harmless” the state from any claims or costs incurred because of negligent or wrongful acts of Corizon employees.

Indiana Department of Corrections
Mar 11, 2017
Corrections health firm to lay off nearly 700 Indiana employees
The health care provider for the Indiana Department of Corrections has lost its contract with the state and plans to lay off nearly 700 employees by the end of the month. Corizon Health, based in Brentwood, Tennessee, filed notice of the layoffs with the state’s Department of Workforce Development on Monday. It said that it was made aware on Feb. 22 of the decision by the IDOC not to renew its contract. Corizon employs 699 workers in 22 locations across the state, according to the filing. Their employment will end on March 31. After a bidding process for the services, IDOC chose Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources Inc. for the contract, according to department spokesman Ike Randolph. Corizon’s three-year contract was worth nearly $300 million, according to the South Bend Tribune. Since Jan. 1, 2014, when the most recent three-year contract took effect, Corizon has provided not only basic health care for prisoners, but also mental health, vision, dental, pharmacy and rehabilitation services. In such a situation, it’s not unusual for the new contractor to hire employees of the former contractor, Corizon Human Resources Manager Christopher Heeg wrote in the notice to the state, “although there is no guarantee that it will do so.” Corizon, the largest correctional medical company in the country, was the subject of an investigative series by the Tribune last year titled “Profits over Prisoners?” It noted a spike in the number of inmate medical complaints, questions about oversight and allegations that profit often took priority over critical health services for inmates.

Jan 29, 2017  
Indiana prison medical chief works for private Illinois firm
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The chief medical officer for Indiana's prison system held an overlapping position with a for-profit Illinois company that provides health care to correctional facilities in more than a dozen states, according to a published report. Dr. Michael Mitcheff worked for Peoria, Illinois-based Advanced Correctional Healthcare while also overseeing Indiana's prison health care contract with a competing company in his $234,000 state job, the South Bend Tribune reported ( ). Mitcheff is listed as "corporate medical director" on the Illinois company's website. Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison acknowledged Mitcheff's overlapping jobs. He told the newspaper that dual employment is not prohibited and Mitcheff kept the department informed of his work with the competing vendor. "Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) has not placed a bid for the (Indiana) inmate health care contract and is therefore not under consideration to be awarded such a contract," Garrison wrote in an emailed response to the newspaper's questions. Garrison said Mitcheff is no longer working full time for the state, having switched from full time to intermittent employment. As of Jan. 16, Mitcheff is now being paid by the hour, Garrison said. Mitcheff is assisting the department in a search for a full-time medical director. In December, Mitcheff resigned from his state post, then weeks later rescinded that resignation for personal reasons, the Tribune reported. Mitcheff worked in the private correctional health care sector prior to his work in Indiana government and, in his government position, has been overseeing a contract for a company for which he'd worked. Indiana contracts for inmate health care with Tennessee-based Corizon Health, Mitcheff's employer until 2014. Under Mitcheff, Indiana recently gave the company a three-month extension on a three-year $300 million contract. Mitcheff has been in his Indiana government position since July 2015, the newspaper reported. Mitcheff did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment. The newspaper reported in June that Mitcheff's medical license was suspended in 1998 for prescribing addictive painkillers for his personal use. After resolving his licensing issues by going through a monitoring program that included drug screening, he became a prison doctor. "It was a good transition back" to medicine, he told the Tribune in June, "and it worked out well. (Addiction) has given me the background to better understand the patient in the population I'm dealing with as well."

Jan 8, 2017
Questions surround Indiana's prison health care contract
Indiana officials signed a 90-day extension with Corizon Health, the Tennessee-based private company that has long provided medical care to the state’s prisoners, just a few days before its contract was set to expire last weekend. State officials aren’t saying what fueled the delay in a longer-term agreement or whether the state is still actively engaging in discussions with other correctional medicine companies. But the three-page extension includes substantial financial concessions not seen in previous contract documents. Corizon was the focus of a Tribune series in June. The company has faced mounting numbers of lawsuits across the country, and it denies accusations that profit motives result in inadequate medical care and unnecessary prisoner deaths. Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Mitcheff of Osceola, Indiana’s chief medical officer since July 2015 and a longtime Corizon employee before that, submitted his resignation with the Department of Correction on Dec. 6, effective Jan. 3, according to a DOC spokesman. But Mitcheff, who has ultimate state authority over prisoner medical care, rescinded his resignation Dec. 30 “for personal reasons.” DOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon retired in late November. Incoming Gov. Eric Holcomb will be sworn in on Monday, when his new DOC commissioner, Rob Carter, also takes office. Indiana’s DOC has been affiliated with Corizon for well over a decade, including under previous company names. Since Jan. 1, 2014, when the most recent three-year contract took effect, Corizon has provided not only basic health care for prisoners, but also mental health, vision, dental, pharmacy and rehabilitation services, for about $100 million a year. Previous contracts and amendments spell out the DOC’s expectations, standards of care and staffing levels. Payment is based on a daily rate for each prisoner, a “per diem.” Previous recent contracts have called for 1.5 percent increases in the per diem rate to account for inflation; an amendment filed in August, just before the state began its bid-seeking process, raised the per diem rate by 2.98 percent. The recent 90-day extension raises the rate 4.6 percent more. The pact also absolves Corizon of other financial requirements called for in earlier pacts: * Corizon is not required to provide a surety bond during this time. * It is not asked to reimburse savings in medical costs for prisoners who are enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare, which use state or federal money. * The extension states, “Corizon is relieved of its obligation to pay the IDOC for staffing paybacks related to staffing vacancies” after Dec. 31, when the original contract expired. “Corizon will make best efforts to continue to staff and fill open positions.” This alone could be a substantial amount: Corizon repaid more than $2 million for just seven months of staffing shortages in 2014, according to a contract document. A spokesman for the state Department of Administration, which oversees large contracts with state agencies, sent a written response from the DOC when asked whether the concessions could be interpreted that Indiana and Corizon have negotiated a buyout of sorts. “Any conclusion that Corizon does not have the opportunity to obtain a future long term contract with the IDOC is unreasonable,” the statement said. “To our knowledge, there is nothing stopping Corizon from participating in the current RFP which specifies a long term contract of three years.” The Tribune series in June documented various cases of inmates and their families accusing the state prison system of poor health care, sometimes with fatal consequences. Amanda Cole, a 31-year-old in the Indiana Women’s Prison, first noticed in February that her tongue was swollen and began moving on its own. The problem grew such that she couldn’t eat, she said, with more than 30 pounds dropping off her small frame within five months. Other symptoms began to pile on, including pain, migraines and forgetfulness, and blood in her urine. Then she noticed great pain whenever she tried to use the bathroom — and finally realized that her colon was painfully descending in a tight ball out of her rectum. Cole said in a recent interview that guards accused her of making things up and that she was disciplined at least five times, including being sent to solitary confinement for four days, for screaming in pain, begging for help and continuing to fill out health care request forms. She recalls that a few guards said, “This isn’t right, Amanda. They’re going to let you die.” When Cole finally did see a doctor and outside tests or specialist visits were ordered, “They just kept telling me, ‘Oh, it’s got to get approved, it’s got to get approved,’ “ she said. “I was praying for death,” she said, “because I just couldn’t take it no more.” In November, Cole reached out to The Tribune, writing in an email, “I’m scared. Please help me.” After the Tribune contacted DOC spokesman Doug Garrison, Cole was sent to a specialist. During emergency surgery to fix the prolapsed rectum, a ruptured cyst that had been filling her abdomen with blood was discovered on an ovary, according to recent tort claim documents. “If I live to make it out of here, there is no coming back,” Cole said of the drug addictions that led to her imprisonment. Despite the possibility of retribution for speaking out, she said, “somebody has to continue to let people know what’s happening here. I’ve never been so broken in my life.” Indianapolis civil rights attorney Michael Sutherlin filed a tort claim dated Dec. 13 on Cole’s behalf, against the DOC commissioner, the attorney general and the superintendent of Indiana Women’s Prison. The same day, he filed a tort claim on behalf of a prisoner in Rockville Correctional Facility, a women’s prison near Terre Haute. That prisoner, Tiffany Smith, described in a letter the events that began with excruciating pain, nausea, and a large knot that emerged on the right side of her abdomen, where her skin had turned black. The 35-year-old said even guards remarked on the lack of medical response to what turned out to be a ruptured appendix. After a first emergency surgery, Smith wrote, the surgeon said her body cavity was filled with the most infection he had ever seen. After several days in an ICU, she was dismissed back to the prison infirmary with prescriptions and strict instructions about wound care, which she alleges were not followed. Near death again, Smith and the tort claim allege, she was rushed back to a hospital for emergency surgery, where “the surgeon had to remove my organs, wash the infection off of them, and put them back.” The tort claim describes several instances in which guards and some medical staff insisted Smith be sent to a hospital but were overruled by a doctor — for a common condition that “is also easy to diagnose if the proper steps are taken.” Smith — like Cole — will have to remain in prison significantly longer because of so much time missed in programs in which they were enrolled. DOC and Corizon authorities have consistently declined comment on specific cases, citing privacy concerns and policy involving litigation. “I get depressed a lot,” Smith, a former alcoholic, wrote in an email. “I get worried when I go over to the infirmary for anything because of what they allowed to happen to me.” 

Jun 12, 2016
Is Indiana putting profits over prisoners when it comes to health care?
A private company hired to provide medical treatment to Indiana's prisoners while saving taxpayer money has come under increasing scrutiny amid a spike in complaints, questions about oversight and allegations that profit often takes priority over critical health services for inmates. Corizon Health, based in Brentwood, Tenn., is the largest correctional medical company in the country. It provides health care services to jails and prisons in 25 states, including Indiana and Michigan. A spokesman for Indiana's Department of Correction defended the medical care provided to the state's approximately 26,000 prisoners, saying, “I am confident that our clinical metrics for chronic conditions are better than the free world.” Family of woman who died in shackles: 'Nobody wants to tell us the true story'. Rachel Wood, 24, died in an ambulance after her condition deteriorated for weeks. But in the last few years:
• The number of inmate medical complaints filed with the ombudsman for Indiana's DOC has spiked, from 153 in 2010 to 509 in 2015. The number of prisoner deaths, including suicides, also rose, reaching 86 in 2015.
• Prisoners or their families have filed at least 178 medical-related civil rights lawsuits in federal courts in Indiana against Corizon since 2011 — 46 of those in 2015 alone. The state has settled nearly three dozen of those cases, paying out more than $1.2 million.
The settlements range from $300 for a prisoner whose appeal relating to his cataracts was denied, to $400,000 to the mother of a prisoner who was murdered by a mentally ill cellmate. A spokesman for the state attorney general's office emphasized that settlements are not admissions of guilt but "avoid the uncertainties of further litigation where taxpayer dollars would be at stake."

• When asked about prescription drugs for inmates, state officials provided two different and varying sets of figures — both of which showed odd patterns.
One showed the number of drugs prescribed to inmates staying exactly the same for a 24-month stretch. This came despite the fact that the number of inmates overall in the state prison system fluctuates. The second set, meanwhile, showed an oddly consistent pattern of prescribing drugs for inmates that persisted for years. From 2012 to 2015, the numbers of prisoners prescribed drugs climbed steadily for the first half of the year before dipping in the final months, the figures showed.

• A group of federal judges in Indiana, worried about prisoners struggling without proper legal help with medical cases, have pushed to set up a system to recruit attorneys and possibly medical experts to help poor prisoners with those cases.
• Officials across the country, most recently in such states as Florida and New York, have accused Corizon of cutting corners to save money, resulting in inadequate care. Many of those states have ended their contracts with Corizon.
Michael Sutherlin, a civil rights attorney in Indianapolis, calls Corizon's philosophy “a profit model” rather than “a medical model.” Inmate dies after 37 days in Indiana prison Federal appeals court grants a rare re-hearing for the legal case of Nicholas Glisson
. Sutherlin and other attorneys accuse the company of being reluctant to prescribe certain medications or send offenders outside prison walls for specialized testing, diagnoses or treatment as ways to cut costs. The results, they say, are often unnecessary suffering and even deaths. Corizon's relationship with Indiana extends back to 2005, when it first won a contract with the state for health care under former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who was leading a charge to privatize various state services. The company has changed its name twice over the last several years after mergers, formerly operating as Prisoner Health Services and Correctional Medical Services. As it has done so, the company's contract renewals have expanded the range of services it provides in Indiana prisons, now including medical, mental health, rehab, dental and vision. The most recent, three-year contract, which expires at the end of this year, was worth nearly $300 million. As of April, 39 health care providers, including nurse practitioners, worked in 24 state corrections facilities. Corizon operates its own correctional pharmaceutical company and subcontracts with other companies for some services. But information about the company, and its work in Indiana, can be hard to find. Indiana's current deal with Corizon includes requirements for regular reports to the DOC, including staffing shortages and reviews of inmate deaths. But those reports are not made public, with a DOC attorney citing the confidentiality of inmate medical information. The Tribune was provided lists of prisons and their consistently high scores during inspections from 2011 to 2015. But they did not include details about the inspectors or what they may have found to be deficient. A 2011 directive laying out rules for the DOC's quality assurance program includes a paragraph deeming a "quality assurance product" to be strictly confidential, including "in discovery during lawsuits." The Human Rights Defense Center filed a lawsuit in March against Corizon and the state of New Mexico demanding a list of settlements in prison health care cases, after Freedom of Information Requests had been denied. “The reality of it is that generally Americans don't really care what's going on unless it personally and directly affects them,” said Paul Wright, the center's executive director. Yet “every penny (Corizon gets) is a taxpayer dollar.” Dr. Michael Mitcheff, of Osceola, chief medical officer for Indiana's DOC and a top Corizon official in Indiana for several years before that, agrees the company must make a profit. But he insists that profit does not take priority over health care for prisoners. “The question is, 'How do you make money in this industry and provide great service?' There is a way, and we did it in Indiana,” Mitcheff said. “That isn't by withholding care, because typically withholding care down the road is going to cost you more money. … The way to be cost-effective and make money in this industry is by providing great-quality preventive care.” Gov. Mike Pence and DOC Commissioner Bruce Lemmon declined interviews about Corizon and prison health care, referring all questions to Mitcheff.

May 29, 2016
7th Circuit grants en banc hearing in Indiana prison death suit
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals set aside its ruling affirming summary judgment in favor of a medical services provider in an Indiana prison death lawsuit, ordering a review by the full panel of circuit judges. The court on Tuesday ordered en banc review of its Feb. 17 ruling in Alma Glisson, as personal representative of the estate of Nicholas L. Glisson v. Indiana Department of Corrections, 15-1419. The estate of Nicholas Glisson claimed his Eighth Amendment constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment were violated when Corizon, also known as Correctional Medical Services, failed to adequately treat him at the Plainfield Correctional Facility. He died from complications of laryngeal cancer and renal failure. The majority of a three-judge panel, Judges William Bauer and Diane Sykes, affirmed District Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Corizon defendants. The majority held claims that Corizon failed to implement a Department of Correction directive regarding a centralized care plan could not be proven to show deliberate indifference without evidence of a series of incidents or widespread practice against other inmates. Chief Judge Diane Wood dissented, writing she would reverse and send the case to trial. She held that “a rational jury could find that Corizon deliberately structured the delivery of medical care in a way that lacked critical oversight. That policy in Glisson’s case predictably had fatal results.” The order granting en banc review of the appeal said a date for oral argument will be announced in a separate order.

Feb 1, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS — A lawyer on Tuesday blamed a culture of indifference for the death of a severely ill woman who was passed from one Indiana prison to another so often that the state Department of Correction lost track of her. Michael K. Sutherlin, the Indianapolis attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Rachel Wood's family, blames the prison agency and Corizon, the Tennessee-based company hired to provide health care at the prison. Corizon has been accused of providing poor care at prisons it serves in other states. "That is just the attitude of these guys, is saving money rather than providing health care," Sutherlin said. Wood, 26, was serving time for a first-time drug offense when she died in April 2012, court documents said. She had lupus and another immune system disorder, a blood clotting disorder and depression, the lawsuit filed Jan. 21 said. "Notwithstanding the duty of the prison medical staff to provide adequate medical care to Rachel and to treat her very serious life threatening conditions, prison medical staff willfully and callously disregarded her condition, and allowed Rachel to deteriorate and die," said the lawsuit, saying that Wood's treatment amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. "It's just an attitude of meanness," Sutherlin said. "They're not just insensitive, they're mean." "Our goal is to provide quality health care to all our patients, and our teams work hard every day to fulfill that mission," Corizon spokeswoman Susan Morgenstern said in a prepared statement, and declined further comment. Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the Indiana attorney general's office, said the office would defend the state prison agency and would address the lawsuit in court. Wood's father, Claude Wood, 57, of Carmel, said prison officials misled him about the severity of her illness despite his repeated phone calls inquiring about her well-being and shuffled his calls from one facility to another and back again. Documents claim that the Department of Correction lost track of Wood's whereabouts at one point and declared her an escapee while she remained in prison. "They lied. We felt they hid her from us. Every time we got close they hid her from us," Wood said. The lawsuit filed this month in a Marion County court alleges that Rachel Wood was moved between prisons in Rockville and Madison and the Indiana Women's Prison in Indianapolis, as well as several hospitals, after one of her fellow inmates told her father she had been taken away in an ambulance, bleeding from her eyes and mouth. "She died a horrible death and she died alone," said her father. It isn't the first time the care Corizon provides for prisoners has drawn fire. Last October, Corizon made headlines when one of its nurses at an Arizona prison potentially exposed as many as 24 inmates to hepatitis and HIV by repeatedly using the same needles. Ten of the 24 were among a group of inmates who were involved in a similar scare at the same prison in August 2012. The same month, Corizon lost a bid to renew its contract with the Minnesota Department of Corrections following staff complaints of substandard care and legal action against the company. A 2012 Star Tribune investigation found that at least nine Minnesota inmates had died since 2000 due to denial or delay of care while Corizon was the state's prison medical contractor. More than 20 had suffered serious or critical injuries during that period, the newspaper's investigation found. The state's three-year contract with Corizon sets a per diem fee of $9.41 per prisoner, with a cap of about $293 million over the three-year period from January 2014 through the end of 2016. Privately held Corizon, whose website says it is the nation's largest health care provider for prisons in the United States, was formed in 2011 by the merger of PHS Correctional Healthcare and Correctional Medical Services, its predecessor in Indiana. The company, based in Brentwood, Tennessee, says it provides medical, dental, and mental health care to about 381,000 inmates in 28 states.

March 2, 2005 Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
The Department of Correction’s ombudsman should investigate the performance of a private prison health care provider that receives $35 million annually to provide care in Indiana’s jails. Since the late 1990s, Public Health Services, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based organization, has provided health care for about 24,000 inmates in Indiana. Given that the current prison health care contract lapses at the end of July, investigating the company should be more of an imperative for Indiana Ombudsman Bureau. The bureau, housed in the state’s Department of Administration, has broad powers to investigate and attempt to resolve complaints concerning the Department of Correction. In Indiana, the company faces a lawsuit from one ex-employee, and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union has been critical of prison health care for a number of years. A Department of Correction spokesman would say only that Public Health Services has met its obligation to Indiana’s prisoners. It has not been the best week for Prison Health Services. The company is currently battling a reputation-battering series in the New York Times that focused on inmates who have died in New York state jails serviced by Prison Health Services. The company characterizes the Times investigation as a “blatantly unfair story” that contains many “mischaracterizations, exaggerations and  oversimplifications.” However, the story details plenty of damning evidence, including New York State Commission of Correction reports that faulted Prison Health Service’s “policies, or mistakes and misconduct by its employees” in 23 deaths in New York City and six other counties. Prison Health Services continues to dispute the commission’s analysis. Although nothing like what’s happening in New York has been documented in Indiana, Prison Health Services and the Department of Correction have had their fair share of trouble. In 2003, the ICLU sued on behalf of an inmate who suffered from a hernia since 1997. Although the lawsuit has not been settled, Prison Health Services has changed its policy on hernia operations, the ICLU’s Ken Falk says. The ICLU receives hundreds of letters annually from prisoners complaining about health care, Falk says. Then there’s the case of Barbara Logan, who, in April, filed a lawsuit against the correction department and Prison Health Services for wrongful termination. Logan complained about inmate care.

Jackson Health System, Miami, Florida
July 28, 2011 Miami Herald
Jackson Health System announced Thursday it is reversing course and will not out-source inmate healthcare – ending two years of planning, hearings and appeals involving a plan once considered a major initiative to turn around the struggling hospital group. Executives last year were so convinced that out-sourcing would save money that they placed the estimated $8 million savings in the budget for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. When Jackson’s new chief executive, Carlos Migoya, arrived in May, he reviewed the program, which covers 6,000 Miami-Dade County inmates. After the final bids came in earlier this week – the second set of final bids -- he decided the proposals were “notably higher” than what his team thought it would cost Jackson to perform the same service, he said Thursday. “There was a big difference,” he said. Chief Financial Officer Mark Knight said the lower of the two bids was $60.5 million. Executives now believe Jackson can provide the same services for no more than $58 million – and perhaps considerably less next year with reduced labor costs. The decision-making was long and torturous because Jackson has been struggling to determine its exact costs of inmate care, as it had with many of its services at its three hospitals and four clinics, which lost $337 million the past two years and $71.7 million so far this year. The out-sourcing quest began in the summer of 2009, when then-Chief Executive Eneida Roldan projected huge savings if Jackson made the change. She originally wanted the out-sourcing done within 90 days, but the county’s formal competitive bidding system stretched the process out, ending with a battle between two bitter rivals, Prison Health Services and Armor Correctional Health Services. A selection committee spent months studying the bids. In January, the committee decided PHS, now known as Corizon, had submitted the best proposal and began negotiating final contract terms. Lobbyists for Armor protested to county commissioners and Jackson board members that it was unfair to allow PHS to negotiate final terms without Armor being allowed to counter. Jackson executives agreed and reopened negotiations with both companies. One major problem was that Jackson couldn’t determine if an outsider would save them money if it didn’t know its own costs.

May 20, 2011 Miami Herald
In his first major step toward cost-cutting, Carlos Migoya, Jackson Health System's chief executive for three weeks, said Thursday he is eliminating 189 positions for an annual savings of $13.3 million. Most of those positions are vacant. Forty-nine employees will be affected, Migoya said, but some will be able to move to other vacancies within the system, which has lost $337 million during the past two years. Coral Gables Migoya said the eliminations would not change patient care. He didn't offer details on what kinds of positions would be cut. The reductions amount to 1.7 percent of Jackson's 11,100-member workforce. Also at Thursday's meeting of the new Financial Recovery Board, members heard that Jackson plans to start over in its attempt to out-source inmate healthcare — an arduous process that has been going on for more than a year and a half in attempt to save the system money. Former Jackson chief Eneida Roldan originally wanted the out-sourcing to begin in October 2009. That was delayed by a formal bidding process that attracted Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services and a national firm, Prison Health Services. A formal bidding council made up of Jackson and county managers spent months studying the competing bids before declaring PHS the winner. In January, Jackson started negotiating with PHS to get the best possible deal. Lobbyists and attorneys for Armor complained that Armor, too, should be allowed to talk to Jackson about improving its bid. On Thursday, the board voted to waive the competitive bidding process and begin negotiations anew with the two companies. Jackson's 2011 budget projected that inmate out-sourcing would save the system $8 million this fiscal year, but board members said Thursday they were uncertain how much inmate care now costs Jackson and whether any money could be saved by out-sourcing. Board Chairman Marcos Lapciuc said he had heard that inmate care costs about $70 million a year, while board member Joaquin del Cueto said he'd "heard it was as low as $25 million," the figure shown in some Jackson financial statements. Nine months ago, The Miami Herald asked Jackson how much inmate healthcare cost and has yet to receive an answer.

Jefferson City Correctional Center
Sep 23, 2021
Iberia woman indicted for allegedly having sex with JCCC

An Iberia woman is facing multiple charges after authorities claim she had a sexual relationship with an inmate at the Jefferson City Correctional Center. Amy Murray, 43, is charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse and three counts of offender abuse. The Cole County Grand Jury indicted Murray, finding there was enough evidence to send her case onto the circuit courts for possible trial. A Missouri Department of Corrections probable cause statement states Murray was employed as a nurse in September 2018; she was working through Corizon Health, a private company that provides health care at the state's prisons. She was later fired from the company. Authorities said Murray met and eventually had a sexual relationship with an inmate in the unit where Murray worked. She created an email account and began to send and receive "romantic emails" with the inmate. She later provided the inmate with a phone number, and the two began to allegedly engage in conversations of a romantic nature. In late September 2018, Murray and the inmate engaged in sexual intercourse on three different occasions and in different locations, authorities said. Murray's last shift at JCCC was in October 2018. The two contacted each other by phone in January 2019 and in one call, authorities alleged that Murray and the inmate expressed their love for one another and planned to get married. Investigators later interviewed the inmate who allegedly admitted to having a relationship with Murray. Investigators then tried to talk with Murray in the Miller County Jail in February 2019, but she invoked her Miranda Rights and refused to talk. This investigation was initiated because Murray has been charged with the murder of her husband in December 2018 in Miller County. Murray pleaded not guilty in September 2020 to first-degree murder, armed criminal action, second-degree arson and tampering with physical evidence, all felonies, for the death of her husband, Joshua Murray, who died in a fire at the couple's home. Her case is scheduled to be back in court in October, with the trial scheduled to start in January. Joshua's body was found after the fire on Dec. 11, 2018. The Missouri Fire Marshal's Office and the Miller County Sheriff's Department determined the fire was a result of arson. It originated in the master bedroom, and an accelerant had been used to start the fire. An autopsy concluded Joshua had been dead before the fire and had died of poisoning, with indications he had been poisoned with antifreeze. Cellphone records indicate Murray was at the residence a half-hour before the fire was reported to 911, according to a Miller County Sheriff's Department probable cause statement. She later told investigators she had left the residence with her 11-year-old son and two dogs, and drove to McDonald's in Osage Beach. After listening to recordings of phone conversations at the prison, investigators said they learned Murray had told the inmate she didn't want to be around her husband and wanted to divorce him. She later told the inmate they could get married because her husband was dead. The two also talked about getting the inmate an attorney so he could be released from prison early.

Kane County Jail, Kane, Illinois
February 15, 2010 The Daily Herald
A convicted robber has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was given the wrong medication while incarcerated at the Kane County jail. Michael H. Morris, 30, of North Aurora, was "unable to urinate, suffered neuropathy in his feet and had difficulty breathing" after the jail gave him a form of insulin that doctors had concluded was "no longer effective" in treating his diabetes, the lawsuit says. Morris claims he repeatedly was treated incorrectly, despite protests from himself and his mother, during a 90-day jail sentence he served after pleading guilty to aggravated robbery in 2007. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court says Morris' "blood sugar levels went dangerously high, to more than double the normal range," and also accuses jailers of acting "willfully and wantonly, maliciously, and with a conscious disregard and deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's rights." Kane County Sheriff's Lt. Pat Gengler said the office does not comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, names as defendants Sheriff Pat Perez, the county and the jail's medical provider, Prison Health Services, as well as four unnamed guards and the jail's health services administrator.

May 7, 2006 Kane County Chronicle
At 12:01 a.m. Saturday, a controversial correctional health-care company took over medical services for Kane County Jail inmates. Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc. has seen its share of scandal, with New York state investigations revealing "flagrantly" and "grossly" inadequate service in two cases of inmate death. Lawsuits against the company allege poor care in jails in several states, leading to deaths and, in one allegation, the amputation of a woman's legs below the knees. In December 2005, the Kane County Board, on the advice of the sheriff's office, approved a $1.97 million contract with Prison Health Services, which, as of August 2005, served 310 jails and 214,000 inmates nationwide. As of Saturday, the Kane County Jail housed 401 inmates. Since the jail was built in 1975, it has increased from 102 beds to 399 beds. The infirmary area, however, has not increased since 1975. It has six beds. Kane County Sheriff Kenneth Ramsey said he was aware of some issues in Prison Health Services' past, but that the company was the best of the four that submitted bids last year. "[Prison Health Services] had some problems in the past," Ramsey said. "They straightened them out." However, Prison Health Services spokesman Pat Nolan said the past incidents had not led to any change in company policy. "We've just continued to do the best job that we can, and that's how we've responded to it," Nolan said. David Fathi, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, said the problem is not with Prison Health Services, but with the process of subcontracting health services. "Prison Health Services is one company. I'm not saying it's better or worse than any others. The real problem in our view is farming out a constitutional service to the lowest bidder," he said. "If you or I are not getting good care, we can go somewhere else. Prisoners do not have that option."

Kent County Correctional Facility
Corizon Healt 
Dec 16, 2022
Buckfire Law Wins Jail Death Trial Against Corizon Health’s Employees

         SOUTHFIELD, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A six-person jury handed down a $6.4 million verdict against Corizon Health’s employees in a federal court trial in Lansing, Mich. The wrongful death lawsuit was filed Jan. 14, 2020, and the verdict was rendered on Dec. 1, 2022. Attorneys Jennifer Damico and Sarah Gorski of The Buckfire Law Firm tried the case to verdict after three weeks of witness testimony. Corizon Health is a privately held prison healthcare contractor in the United States. The company provides healthcare to approximately 28 clients in 15 states, including 139 state prisons, municipal jails, and other facilities. The company is headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn. Corizon had contracted with Kent County to provide medical care and treatment to inmates at the Kent County Correctional Facility in Grand Rapids, Mich. The lawsuit alleged Wade Jones died from grossly mismanaged serious alcohol withdrawal syndrome due to the deliberate indifference of the healthcare company’s employees in violation of his federal rights under the United States Constitution. “Delirium tremens is a known, fatal and preventable complication of alcohol withdrawal. No one should die from alcohol withdrawal syndrome if properly managed. Mr. Jones was at the mercy of the Corizon medical staff. He could not leave. He could not go to an emergency department on his own,” Damico said. “The Defendants had numerous chances to save his life. They made conscious and repeated decisions to not act — and the Jury found their conduct to rise to the level of deliberate indifference.” Mr. Jones was serving a five-day sentence for third-degree retail fraud (theft of under $100.00). Four hours after he was booked into the jail, Mr. Jones began to exhibit signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Despite this life-threatening condition and clearly exhibiting behaviors consistent with a medical emergency, Mr. Jones was not afforded appropriate health care for his known, serious medical condition by the Corizon medical staff. On April 27, 2018, he suffered a cardiac arrest after being transferred to jail infirmary, instead of a hospital. After his arrest, he was transported to Spectrum Butterworth Hospital, and he was declared brain dead on May 2, 2018. The lawsuit alleged violations of Mr. Jones’ Eighth Amendment right, which imposes duties on prison officials, including privately contracted healthcare companies to provide humane conditions of confinement. Prison officials must ensure that inmates receive adequate food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, and must “take reasonable measures to guarantee the safety of the inmates.” The suit alleged the Corizon Health employees acted with deliberate indifference to Mr. Jones by denying him reasonable and adequate medical care and treatment. The lawsuit further alleged that the Corizon employees were professionally negligent under Michigan law. After several days of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of $6.4 million, against three Defendants, on Plaintiff’s claim for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. The award included $3 million for Mr. Jones’ pain and suffering damages prior to his death, the sum of $400,000 for his family’s past loss of society and companionship, and $3 million for the future loss of companionship suffered by his family. Mr. Jones was survived by his parents and siblings, all of whom testified at the trial.

          About Buckfire Law Firm

          The Buckfire Law Firm is in Southfield, Mich. Founded in 1969 by David Buckfire, the firm specializes in cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death. The law firm is recognized for having the highest degree of skill and integrity and as U.S. News Best Lawyers® Best Law Firms by U.S. News and World Reports. Jennifer Damico is a skilled trial lawyer with 28 years of experience.


King Pharmaceuticals, Brentwood, Tennessee
December 9, 2004 Porterville Recorder
King Pharmaceuticals Inc. said Wednesday it was restating its earnings for 2002, 2003 and the first six months of 2004 to recognize expenses related to product returns _ a move that was not a complete surprise but could affect the firm's takeover by Mylan Laboratories Inc. The companies announced last July that Mylan would take over the Bristol, Tenn.-based drug company in a deal valued at $4 billion. However, the deal has a condition that would allow Mylan to back out if King revised its financial statements. As a result of the restatement, net sales in 2003 are expected to be reduced by $16.4 million while net income will be reduced by $13.9 million or 6 cents a share. The company is still determining whether the remaining $37.6 million of net sales and $23.8 million of net income should be reflected in 2002 or whether financial results for 2000 and 2001 should also be restated. Last year, the SEC subpoenaed drug-pricing records and other documents from King involving sales in 1999 and 2000 to VitaRx, a Louisiana-based national mail order pharmacy, and Prison Health Services, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based health care company serving jails and prisons around the country. The SEC ordered King to turn over its "best price" lists, all documents related to the pricing of its drug products to any Medicaid agency during 1999 and records concerning accrual and payment of rebates on the heart drug Altace from 2000 to early.

The top contributor to Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore’s gubernatorial campaign is a retired Tennessee millionaire whose former pharmaceutical company is under federal investigation over how it set prices on drugs for government health programs.  John M. Gregory, of Bristol, Tenn., has contributed $325,000 to Kilgore through personal donations and gifts from an investment company he owns.  The reason for Gregory’s generosity toward Kilgore is unclear, but the businessman has a history of giving to Republicans, particularly those who have publicly identified themselves as conservative Christians.  Gregory has credited his own religious conversion for his success in starting King Pharmaceuticals Inc. The company thrived until last year, when the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified the firm that officials are looking into whether King followed federal rules requiring it to offer its cheapest prices on drugs for the government-operated Medicaid insurance program.  Gregory also is being sued in federal court by investors who accuse him and other former King executives of artificially inflating sales to enrich themselves, a scheme those stockholders say has cost them millions of dollars. King officials notified their investors that the SEC is looking at rebates on Altace that King gave to Prison Health Services, a Tennessee company that provides health care to prison and jail inmates.  A spokesman for Prison Health Services said he knew nothing about the investigation. He said the company’s Virginia clients include the Virginia Department of Corrections, the Hampton Roads Regional Jail and the Portsmouth city jail. A contract with the Norfolk city jail ended last month.  DOC officials said the agency began doing business with the health company in February 2001, long after Kilgore had left his previous position as the state’s secretary of public safety. The health company provides medical and dental services at prison clinics. Officials estimated the annual contract at $33 million.  (The Virginian-Pilot, August 2, 2004)

King Pharmaceuticals is the subject of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation that appears to be focused on the company's sales to two wholesale customers. The SEC has not disclosed the underlying cause of the investigation, but King officials said Tuesday that documents requested by subpoena seem to focus on two years worth of King sales to VitaRx, a national mail order pharmacy, and Prison Health Services, a Tennessee-based company serving jails and prisons around the country. The SEC requested all documents related to sales of Kings products to the two companies during 1999 and 2000. (Johnson City Press, March 12, 2003)

Lane County Jail, Oregon
Oct 28, 2013

The guardian for a former Lane County Jail inmate who sustained a catastrophic spinal injury while in custody is suing the county and a private health care contractor for $30 million. Kelly Conrad Green II is now a quadriplegic as a result of the neck injury, according to a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene. He accuses the county and Corizon Health Inc. of negligence and violation of his constitutional rights. Green, who evidently was mentally ill at the time, broke his neck after lowering his head and running into a concrete wall at the jail, the suit says. It accuses Corizon and the county of ignoring his neck injury and leaving him naked, paralyzed and incontinent in a jail cell for six hours before calling an ambulance. Corizon took over the job of providing health care for inmates at the jail last year. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office, which used to handle inmate health care with its own medical employees, switched to a private contractor as a money-saving move, saying it could save the cash-strapped county as much as $650,000 a year. A Lane County spokeswoman said the county has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. A spokesman for Corizon did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The suit claims the treatment of Green by the county and Corizon violated Green’s rights under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which provides for equal protection under the law for all citizens and the right to due process in matters that could result in the loss of life or property. It also claims the county and Corizon were negligent in caring for Green and that Corizon is guilty of gross negligence and reckless misconduct. Other defendants named in the suit include the national medical director, chief mental health officer and national nursing officer for Corizon, five local Corizon employees and three Lane County sheriff’s deputies working at the jail. It also names 10 unidentified jail health care workers. According to the suit, Green was booked into the jail on Feb. 11 after being arrested on a warrant. The suit doesn’t identify the charge, but court records show the only pending case involving Green at that time was a citation for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, and that Green had failed to show up for an arraignment on the charge in January. From the time he was booked, Green showed signs of having mental health problems, the suit says. He appeared to be experiencing paranoid schizophrenia, was talking to himself and inanimate objects and, according to jail records cited in the lawsuit, “barely made it through the booking process.” While being arraigned at the jail, Green began to talk to himself, the suit says. As described in the lawsuit, he then ran toward a concrete-block wall 8 to 10 feet away, lowered his head and hit the wall, collapsing and bleeding heavily from his head. Corizon workers were called, and Green reportedly told them he was paralyzed. But the suit claims they made no effort to stabilize his neck or spine and instead loaded him on a wheelchair and took him out of the jail courtroom with his feet dragging behind the chair. A physician’s assistant sutured the head wound but did not do a neurological exam, did not arrange for an exam by a physician and took no neck or spine precautions, the lawsuit alleges. It said Green, who had lost control of his bowels, was returned to his cell, stripped of his clothes and put on the bed. Over the next six hours, Green allegedly told several jail workers that he was paralyzed and unable to move and needed help. When he was interviewed by a Corizon mental health specialist several hours later, the suit claims the specialist said he didn’t believe Green was seriously injured. At one point, the lawsuit claims, a Corizon employee told a deputy who reported that Green was not moving that as long as he was breathing there was “no immediate concern.” After about six hours, a jail worker called an ambulance and Green was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield. He was diagnosed with a neck fracture and spinal cord injury and underwent three hours of surgery that evening. The suit alleges a long list of failures and shortcomings in Green’s treatment. It claims Corizon staff failed to provide prompt or adequate treatment, and aggravated Green’s injury by carelessly dragging and moving his body after the injury and leaving him naked and paralyzed in a cell for six hours. The defendants also are accused of failing to screen mentally ill inmates, providing inadequate medical treatment and failing to meet accepted standards for medical care. The suit accuses Corizon of gross negligence and reckless misconduct for refusing to attend to Green and for saying he didn’t need medical attention as long as he was breathing. Corizon provides medical services at more than 400 facilities in 31 states and handles health care at two other county jails in Oregon, in Clackamas and Washington counties. Its corporate headquarters is in Brentwood, Tenn., and it has a regional office in Hillsboro.

Lee County Jail
, Naples, Florida
Sep 22, 2018
Federal court denies health care company's motion to dismiss lack-of-care lawsuit
FORT MYERS –  The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently denied a motion by the health care company providing services to Lee County Jail to dismiss a lawsuit that alleges the firm deliberately failed to provide health care and breach of contract with the county. U.S. District Judge Sheri Chappell issued a 16-page ruling Sept. 13 in the lawsuit filed by Anita Andrews against Corizon Health Inc. and five other defendants. According to court documents, "On the late evening of Nov. 6, 2012, (an election day) until the early morning of Nov. 7, 2012, plaintiff was a passenger in a pickup truck driven by her friend, Keith O’Bryant, undertaking post-election clean up by removing political signs from the public roadways and intersections." The same documents said that "around 1 a.m., Deputy Brandon Marshall with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) pulled O’Bryant’s truck over for a broken headlight." Andrews refused to provide identification, and was immediately booked into Lee County Jail, with counts of loitering and prowling.

Feb 20, 2013

The widow of a Lee County jail inmate, who died in 2009 after being repeatedly pepper-sprayed while in custody, reached a $4 million settlement , her attorney said Tuesday. Joyce Christie, who lives in Ohio, settled out of court last week with Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, Prison Health Services Inc. and deputies and nurses at the jail. The suit claimed those involved were guilty of assault and battery, excessive force, and deliberate indifference to Nick Christie’s medical condition. Joyce Christie will receive part of the $4 million, after expenses and other fees are paid, according to her attorney, Nick DiCello. “She’s happy she stuck with it after all these years,” he said. “The civil system has done its job.” Nick Christie, who was in Southwest Florida to visit his brother, was 62 when he was arrested on a disorderly intoxication charge March 25, 2009, and March 27 on a trespassing charge. Christie was taken to the hospital March 29 and died two days later. After Christie’s death, the medical examiner termed it a homicide and pointed to restraint and pepper-spraying by guards as factors. Christie’s widow told The News-Press on Thursday that she’s glad it’s over. “There has not ever been justice for Nick, so to speak,” she said. “Nobody was ever found guilty, nobody was ever relieved of their job, which upsets me.” In 2010, the state attorney’s office cleared five corrections deputies — Kurtis Calhoun, Daniel Falzone, Monshay Gibbs, Frank Hansen and Dathan Pyle — of criminal wrongdoing in the case. DiCello was unable to say how much each portion of the settlement was costing the sheriff’s office, which Scott said comes out of a risk management fund, and Prison Health Services, which provides health care to county inmates. Scott said the sheriff’s office portion was paid through the Florida Sheriff’s Risk Management Fund, a self-insurance program administered on behalf of many agencies across the state of Florida. Prison Health Services is now known as Corizon and is based in Tennessee. The company provides services to 283 correctional facilities , according to its website. Courtney Eller, Corizon spokeswoman, said the company doesn’t comment on lawsuits, especially those involving inmates. “It’s a very sensitive area,” she said. In 2011, The News-Press reported that more than 30 lawsuits had been filed against the company in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties.

September 9, 2012 News-Press
A federal appeals court has upheld a $1.2 million settlement given to a Fort Myers man after he was partially paralyzed because of inadequate care during a stint in the Lee County Jail. On July 6, 2007, Brett Allen Fields, 30, was booked into the jail with a spider bite that became infected but was never properly treated, according to the ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit “Like clockwork, or maybe as if by pact, all the nurses agreed on the same approach: They did nothing,” the ruling reads. The suit was filed against Corizon Health, formerly known as Prison Health Services. One nurse, Betty Joyce Allen, testified it was not the company’s policy to treat paralysis as a medical emergency that would warrant transport to a hospital. Fields filed suit in August 2009, stating he requested medical attention for a wound in his left arm on July 10, 2007. A nurse identified his wound as a boil caused by staphylococci and tried to treat it. Two weeks later, Fields filled out an inmate medical request form stating the medication didn’t work, but he claims his request was ignored. Shortly after, Fields began to suffer from severe back pains and weakness in his lower extremities, the lawsuit said. On Aug. 7, a nurse examined Fields and scheduled an appointment for the next morning. On Aug. 8, he was confined to a wheelchair. The physician's assistant ordered Tylenol and returned Fields to his cell. The next morning, Fields tried to use the toilet by dragging himself across the floor. His intestine started to escape from his bottom and when Allen responded she allegedly used K-Y Jelly to shove them back in, according to the ruling. Twelve hours later, a doctor examined Fields, who was taken to Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center, the lawsuit said. Medical staff diagnosed Fields with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and he underwent surgery to remove an abscess compressing his spine. According to the lawsuit, Fields suffers partial paralysis in both legs.

March 18, 2011 Naples News-Press
Brett Fields shook his head in disappointment today when he heard a jury determined his pain and suffering from being paralyzed after a delay in medical care at the Lee County Jail was worth $100,000. After a four-day trial, a federal jury deliberated a little more than 3 hours before finding in Fields’ favor in the amount of $1.2 million against Prison Health Services, the company contracted to provide health care for the sheriff’s jail facilities. The jury found nursing supervisor Bettie Joyce Allen and physician’s assistant Joseph Richards Jr., both of whom treated Fields at the jail, were not liable. Fields, 28, shook his head in frustration as the dollar amounts were read aloud by U.S. District Judge John Steele. The jury awarded $600,000 for lost earnings, medical bills and loss of future earnings, $100,000 for pain and suffering and $500,000 to punish the company for its conduct. Fields’ attorneys didn’t ask jurors for a specific amount — they decided to allow the jury to decide, said Fields attorney Dion Cassatta of Fort Lauderdale. They didn’t have a dollar amount in mind, Cassatta said. “I’m a little surprised the pain and suffering was $100,000,” said Fields’ other attorney, Greg Lauer of Fort Lauderdale. “The pain and suffering I’ve seen my client endure — it’s beyond computation.”

March 17, 2011 Naples Daily News
A 28-year-old North Fort Myers man broke down in tears Thursday as he told jurors how his pleas for help as he became paralyzed at the Lee County jail were repeatedly ignored. “I just didn’t understand why it was taking so long ... to have someone examine me and make the call to take me to a hospital,” Brett Allen Fields Jr. told jurors in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers. “I just wanted help.” Fields, a once-healthy construction worker, broke down and wiped tears as his mother, Toni Silvers, and girlfriend, Amanda Duhamel, sobbed nearby. Judge John Steele let attorneys Greg Lauer and Dion Cassata take a break with Fields as Silver and Duhamel consoled him. Fields’ testimony came the third day of trial in his 2009 civil rights lawsuit against the jail’s medical provider, Tennessee-based Prison Health Services; Joseph A. Richards Jr., its former physician’s assistant; and nurse Bettie Joyce Allen, who retired. Today, Steele will instruct jurors on the law, they will hear closing arguments from Lauer and defense attorney Gregg Toomey and then begin deliberations. On Thursday, defense medical expert Dr. Arthur Fournier, University of Miami’s associate dean of community medicine, the only defense witness, testified Richards and Allen provided good care. He said he was impressed with Allen’s empathy toward Fields when she’d opted to keep him in observation the morning of Aug. 9, 2007, until he could be seen by a doctor, rather than take him to an emergency room, where Allen said Fields would wait for care and tie up deputies.

December 14, 2010 News-Press
Brett Fields walked into the Lee County Jail on July 6, 2007, a healthy 25-year-old. He left a month later, paralyzed. That's according to a pending federal lawsuit filed against two jail medical staffers and Prison Health Services, the Tennessee-based company contracted to provide care at the Lee County Jail. Fields, of North Fort Myers, is one of 33 inmates who have filed federal lawsuits against Prison Health Services in Lee, Charlotte and Collier counties, where it runs health care at the jails. The company says its rate of lawsuits is low. But advocates say inmates are often ignored because they have legal and financial hurdles in the way of successfully bringing a lawsuit. "They have a constitutional responsibility to provide minimally adequate health care," said Dion Cassata, Fields' Fort Lauderdale attorney. "They do get sued. It doesn't mean all of those lawsuits have merit. Some have merit and some do not." Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, recently dropped as a defendant from Fields' lawsuit, said he believes Prison Health Services provides good care, considering the clientele. "Generally speaking, they're doing a good job. Mistakes are made. But that's anywhere," Scott said. "I give these guys a little bit of room because of the baseline they're dealing with." Lawsuit details Fields was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and violating a protective injunction. According to his lawsuit, Fields was diagnosed with a staph infection that caused a pus-filled boil on his arm four days after he was booked. Within weeks, he began to suffer from back pain, numbness and weakness in his lower extremities but was ignored. Physician's assistant Joseph Richards Jr., a defendant in the lawsuit, saw the wheelchair-bound Fields and ordered Tylenol and a follow-up a week later. The next morning, Fields' rectal muscles were visible outside his body and he was taken from his cell on a sheet, the suit says. Nurse Betty Joyce Allen, another defendant, noted Fields was in pain but didn't order a doctor's visit until 12 hours later, when he was transferred to the hospital and diagnosed with a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus-related abscess in his spine, the lawsuit states. He had surgery and has undergone two years of physical therapy, although the father of three suffers partial paralysis in his legs, the lawsuit states. He is seeking an undisclosed amount. "There never is any justification for a delay when an otherwise healthy person shows signs of loss of motor skills," said Cassata, who refused a News-Press request for an interview with his client. Carla Cesario, Prison Health Services division vice president, said the company's policy is not to discuss litigation.

July 1, 2010 Naples Daily News
The widow of an Ohio man killed by heavy exposure to pepper spray in the Lee County Jail has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the jail’s medical contractor and a slate of deputies and nurses involved in the 2009 death. Twenty individuals are named in the suit, filed in federal court in Fort Myers, including Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and the director of Prison Health Services, the jail medical provider. In a 59-page complaint, Joyce Christie, of Girard, Ohio, contends all violated her husband’s civil rights through their “acts, failures to act, and omissions committed, and policies, procedures, and customs in place.” The defendants used excessive force that showed “deliberate indifference” and “callous disregard” for her husband’s welfare, the lawsuit asserts. The lawsuit requests an unnamed amount of compensatory and punitive damages, and it asks the court to curtail jail practices that resulted in the death, as well as force better care of inmates from medical contractor Prison Health Services. Nicholas Christie, 62, a retired boilermaker, died from cardiac arrest on May 31, following his exposure to pepper spray 10 times in 43 hours as an inmate at the jail. Arrested four days earlier on trespassing charges, Christie was placed in an observation wing after becoming loud. As he continued acting up, jailers sprayed him repeatedly, fogged his cell with the chemical and eventually restrained him in a chair. He was rushed to Gulf Coast Medical Center and died two days later. The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death a homicide. An investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office found that Nicholas Christie had refused to tell nurses about his heart condition during booking. It also noted that nurses checked Christie after each application of the spray. Nurse Maria Canete told investigators that when she warned one of the jailers, Kurtis Calhoun, about the level of pepper spray being used, he called it “good training for everyone,” and laughed. Another nurse, Linda Sundo, said the spray was heavy in the observation ward and that during one check of Christie, she didn’t get very close to him, for fear of the chemical. Canete, Calhoun and Sundo are all named in the complaint. The State Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute any of the individuals involved, concluding that Christie represented a threat and that jailers didn’t show “reckless disregard” for his life. Scott declined to review jail policies following the investigation.

May 26, 2010 Marco Eagle
A former Marco Island man who served a sentence for drunken driving is suing the county jail's medical provider, contending medical staff ignored repeated pleas for medical help for his heart condition, causing him to pass out and break his spine. Vernon Criner, 62, who is now a quadriplegic living in Lansing, Mich., is suing physician's assistant José Hernandez, who works in the Collier County jail, and its contracted medical provider, Tennessee-based Prison Health Services. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers on Tuesday, seeks damages for failure to provide medical treatment, unconstitutional county or Prison Health Services medical customs or policies, and compensation for medical and hospital expenses and loss of income. "It is our policy at PHS because of patient confidentiality requirements that we cannot comment on pending litigation," said PHS Spokesman Pat Nolan. It's the second lawsuit to be filed in less than a year against Prison Health Services by an inmate who contends its lack of care caused paralysis. In August, Brett Fields, 27, of Bokeelia, sued Prison Health Services and Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott. Prison Health Services has been the target of lawsuits nationwide involving poor medical care. Many plaintiffs obtained confidential settlements, while others — including a Tampa woman whose baby died after she gave birth on a toilet — won multimillion dollar jury awards or settlements. "They just didn't want to pay for a pacemaker," said Criner's attorney, Paul Broschay of Southfield, Mich., adding that Prison Health Services is paid a flat fee and it benefits them to deny care to cut costs. "It was pretty clear to them he had problems. He was flopping around all over the place." Broschay said Prison Health Services did send Criner to a hospital two months before his spine fractured, but they sent him back after checking him. "The guy needed a pacemaker and they finally gave it to him after he fell over," Broschay said.

January 13, 2010 News-Press
The widow of Nicholas Christie, who died shortly after he was released from jail, intends to sue the Lee County Sheriff's Office, as well as the company contracted by the county to provide medical care to inmates. Christie, 62, of Girard, Ohio, was arrested twice last March after traveling to the area while suffering what his wife described as a mental breakdown when he stopped taking his medication. He died three days following his second incarceration, during which he was pepper sprayed eight times; another two times, his cell mate was sprayed. The medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide. Earlier this week, the state attorney's office cleared the five corrections deputies - Kurtis Calhoun, Frank Hansen, Daniel Falzone, Monshay Gibbs and Dathan Pyle - of criminal wrongdoing in the case, though federal investigations are ongoing. A separate internal review of policy and protocol was not conducted, according to the sheriff's legal director, Barry Hillmyer. In a letter sent to the sheriff's office, attorneys for Joyce Christie allege corrections officers "used excessive force, acted with deliberate indifference to Nicholas Christie's need for medical care and violated his rights under state and federal law." Last week, attorneys also sent a letter to Prison Health Services Inc., saying the jail's medical staff did not properly care for him while Christie was in custody. Ohio attorney Nicholas DiCello, who is working in conjunction with Tallahassee attorneys, said a letter of intent to sue has been sent, which has to be done in civil suits against government agencies. He expects the lawsuits will be formally filed by April.

August 11, 2009 Naples News
A 27-year-old Bokeelia man filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and the jail’s medical provider, alleging that he walked into the jail a healthy man and left paralyzed a month later. The lawsuit filed by Brett Allen Fields against Scott and Tennessee-based Prison Health Services comes just days after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was investigating the death of a Lee County jail inmate who was pepper sprayed in March. Prison Health Services has been the target of lawsuits nationwide involving poor medical care. Many plaintiffs obtained confidential settlements, while others — including a Tampa woman whose baby died after she gave birth on a toilet — won multimillion dollar jury awards or settlements. John Van Mol, a spokesman for Prison Health Services, and Tony Schall, a spokesman for Scott, said they do not comment on pending litigation. The lawsuit gives the following account of what occurred after Fields was booked into the jail on July 6, 2007: He requested medical attention four days later for an infected wound on his left arm. A nurse examined him, determined it was a boil, and prescribed an antibiotic, Bactrim. Two weeks later, on July 24, 2007, after it hadn’t healed, he filled out an “Inmate Medical Request Form,” but it was ignored by the sheriff and medical staff, the lawsuit says. In early August, he began to suffer from severe back pains, difficulty standing up, numbness and weakness in his lower body. He pleaded with medical staff and sheriff’s employees, asking for medical help and saying he hadn’t urinated in days, but his pleas were ignored, according to the suit. The evening of Aug. 7, 2007, a nurse examined him and he told her of neurological problems and physical symptoms, including numbness and weakness in his legs. She scheduled an exam for the next morning. When he was examined by a physician’s assistant that morning, he could no longer walk and was confined to a wheelchair. He told the physician’s assistant how a boil had progressed into numbness and neurological damage and the assistant conducted a cursory examination and prescribed Tylenol. Once back in his cell, Fields, who could no longer use his legs, dragged himself to a mattress, where he remained until the early morning hours of Aug. 9, 2007. When he used the toilet, he realized his insides were coming out and were visible outside his body, a condition known as a rectal prolapse. Cellmates alerted medical and jail staff, who pushed his insides back into his body and removed him from the cell. “Despite the grave and critical nature of these symptoms, PHS waited almost 12 hours to have a doctor examine Fields,” the lawsuit alleges. At 12:30 p.m. that day, he was transferred to Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center with almost complete paralysis in his lower body. Hospital staff diagnosed him with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)-related abscess in his spine causing paraplegia, and he underwent surgery. “Despite two years of intense physical therapy, Fields still suffers partial paralysis in both legs,” the lawsuit says. “Fields’ now-permanent spinal injury could have easily been avoided had defendants not been deliberately indifferent to Fields’ obvious serious medical needs during his incarceration and provided him with basic medical care.” Jail records show Fields, who has a minor record that includes petty theft convictions, was booked into the jail on charges he violated a domestic violence restraining order, criminal mischief and a probation violation, all misdemeanors. Court records show he was sentenced to 26 days — credit for time served.

December 13, 2005 Bonita Daily News
A former Lee County Jail inmate who miscarried less than two weeks after first reporting medical problems cannot take her case to trial because she didn't follow internal grievance procedures, a federal judge has ruled. Michelle Goebert, 43, filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers last year contending that she miscarried 11 days after reporting to jail medical and detention staff that she was leaking amniotic fluid. Almost 14 months after filing suit, U.S. District Judge John E. Steele tossed it out, saying her daily informal requests for medical help didn't meet the jail's requirement to first exhaust the internal grievance procedures. Goebert's eight-count civil suit alleged that her civil rights were violated because she suffered cruel and unusual punishment, and that sheriff's staff and medical workers with Prison Health Services Inc. were negligent in her care. She sued the Sheriff's Office and sheriff, Capt. Thomas P. Weaver, Lee County, Prison Health Services Inc., EMSA Correctional Care Inc., jail doctor David F. Brown, and jail nurse Sandee Malanoski. Steele tossed Lee County from the suit in January. If inmates can't reach informal resolution for complaints, they must file a request with the shift commander, who investigates their claims and forwards the requests to the facility commander. That commander then investigates claims' legitimacy, Steele wrote. If deemed legitimate, requests are forwarded to the Grievance Committee chairman, who schedules them for hearings. After the Hearing Commission's recommendation, the facility commander may approve, deny or modify the recommendation. If an inmate is dissatisfied, he or she may appeal to the detention bureau commander within five days of receiving the decision. After her miscarriage, Goebert didn't appeal Weaver's Nov. 29 reply. Sheriff's spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi said jail staff could not provide the Daily News on Monday with the number of grievances forwarded this year to the Grievance Committee's chairman. Jail staff also could not provide the number of grievances set for hearings, nor the number of cases appealed to the detention bureau's commander. Buried in Steele's ruling, he said if Goebert's lawsuit wasn't tossed out, her claims against Brown and Prison Health Services would have gone forward. A "reasonable jury ... could find that Dr. Brown acted with an attitude of deliberate indifference to Ms. Goebert's serious medical need," Steele wrote.

September 6, 2005 News-Press
Sheriff Mike Scott plans to ask the Lee County Commission today for nearly $1 million to pay for unexpected inmate medical expenses. Sheriff's budget director Bill Bergquist said the $982,153 is needed because of rising costs for inmate health coverage. The budget year ends Sept. 30, but Bergquist said the fund is nearly depleted. The commission is obligated by law to provide health care to county inmates. Prison Health Services is the provider contracted with the county.

April 14, 2005 Naples Daily News
A federal judge ruled Wednesday to drop the Lee County Sheriff's Office from a lawsuit filed against it by a former inmate who contends she miscarried after leaking amniotic fluid while jailed. Michelle Goebert, 42, filed suit in October in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers against the Sheriff's Office and sheriff, Capt. Thomas P. Weaver, Lee County, Prison Health Services Inc., EMSA Correctional Care Inc., Dr. David F. Brown, and nurse Sandee Malanoski, saying that spanning 11 days in 2001, she leaked amniotic fluid while in the Lee County Jail in Fort Myers. On the 11th day she was hospitalized and, three days later, her baby died, according to the suit.

January 29, 2005 Naples Daily News
Lee County has been dropped from a federal lawsuit filed in fall by a former Lee County Jail inmate who said unnecessary delays in medical help there caused her to miscarry. The civil suit, filed in October in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers, says that during 11 days in 2001, Michelle Goebert leaked amniotic fluid while jailed in Fort Myers. On the 11th day she was hospitalized, and three days later the baby died, according to the suit. U.S. District Judge John E. Steele ruled Thursday that Lee County could be dismissed from the suit, saying the county was not responsible for what Goebert contends happened. "The sheriff, and not the defendant Lee County, has the responsibility to operate the Lee County Jail, and funding by the county does not affect this responsibility," Steele said in the order.

January 17, 2005 Naples Daily News
An HIV-positive prison inmate is suing the Lee County Sheriff's Office and jail's medical care provider, saying it took too long to receive the life-sustaining drug cocktail his doctors prescribed. And to compensate him, he wants $10 million.
Jimmy D. Hatten, 41, was remanded into custody after a March 30, 2004. When he was booked into the Lee County Jail, he told medical staff from Prison Health Services he needed the medications and how to reach his doctors, Hatten said in his suit. He said he suffered facial swelling, a fever, bleeding and an infection because he didn't receive his medication, the suit said.

December 12, 2004 News-Press
A Lee County sheriff's deputy arrested Ralph Scheibel on March 7 at Gulf Coast Hospital and took him to jail, where he had a heart attack the same day and died.
His death was followed by eight more inmate deaths — three men who committed suicide, two who died of complications from HIV, two more heart attack victims and Byron Black, 39, who died Nov. 27 after being pepper-sprayed and Tasered while struggling with guards. But Sheriff-elect Mike Scott said he is concerned about the jail — and the number of deaths — and plans to make changes when he takes office in January. Black's cause of death may not be determined for weeks. The District 21 Medical Examiner's Office is awaiting toxicology results before releasing a finding. The private company that performs medical care at the jail is Prison Health Services, which is based in Brentwood, Tenn., and is the largest provider of inmate health care in the nation.  Prison Health Services is supposed to screen inmates entering the jail for medical conditions that need monitoring. Scott said he will review Prison Health Services' contract. But neither he nor Ferrante said they could find fault with the company when they're "on the outside looking in."

November 23, 2004 Naples News
Lawyers for the state's jail medical care providers are asking a federal judge to toss out a lawsuit brought by an Estero firefighter's father after the man died one day after being jailed. Roger H. Barnhart Sr., of Bonita Springs, filed suit in May against Prison Health Services, Lee County Sheriff Rod Shoap, his department and jail medical staff after Barnhart's 42-year-old son died the day after being jailed on a drunken driving charge. The elder Barnhart's suit contends that Roger H. Barnhart's death resulted from medical negligence and a violation of his civil rights.
Prison Health Services attorney Gregg Toomey said the elder Barnhart's civil rights complaint against the company should be dismissed because his attorneys haven't proven his son's right to medical treatment and diagnoses was violated.

October 16, 2004 Naples News
Just three days after her 39th birthday, Michelle Goebert lost a baby she repeatedly tried to save while imprisoned at the Lee County jail in 2001. In a span of 14 days after her Oct. 19, 2001, arrest, Goebert asked for medical help or to visit an obstetrician because she was leaking amniotic fluid and feared for the life of her unborn child. Medical staff at the jail took her to a local hospital too late, Goebert contends, and the 41-year-old Lee County woman now seeks an unspecified amount in damages in a federal civil rights and negligence lawsuit filed Thursday at the U.S. District Courthouse in Fort Myers. From Nov. 19 until Nov. 30, 2001, Goebert leaked amniotic fluid and asked daily to see a prison doctor or go to an outside hospital, according to the suit against the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Sheriff Rod Shoap, Capt. Thomas P. Weaver, Prison Health Services Inc., EMSA Correctional Care Inc., doctor David F. Brown, nurse Sandee Malanoski and Lee County government. Taken to the hospital on her birthday, Nov. 30, doctors there said the baby's chances of surviving were slim because Goebert lost so much amniotic fluid, the suit says. Her child died Dec. 3.

September 16, 2004 News-Press
The day before Gregory Kokolakis took his own life, he called his mother from the Lee County Stockade in agony. "He called me crying," said his mother, Adrienne Croom. "He said, "I am in so much pain. I can't stand it.' " Kokolakis, 21, wasn't allowed access to his methadone, an opiate used by doctors to help addicts off painkillers. "He said 'Mom, my medication is in my property, and they won't give it to me,' " Croom recalled Wednesday. On Sept. 7, Kokolakis wrapped a sheet around his neck, tied it to an air vent in the stockade barracks and attempted to hang himself. He died five days later. Kokolakis was the third inmate to commit suicide since July. The Lee County Jail has a contract with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services Inc. to provide medical treatment, including treating inmates' withdrawal from narcotics.

June 26, 2004 News-Press
A Bonita Springs man is suing Lee County sheriff's officials and the company that provides jail medical services, claiming officials failed to provide appropriate medical care to his son while he was in jail.  Roger Barnhart Sr.'s son, Roger Barnhart, 42, died about 10 hours after being released from custody on a DUI charge.  The lawsuit claims jail officials failed and refused to provide appropriate medical care. Barnhart was not "unlawfully under the influence of alcohol but rather was suffering from an adverse reaction to prescribed medication and/or psychiatric or medical illness," the lawsuit states.  

Leon County Jail, Tallahassee, Florida
Jul 30, 2016
Leon County Sheriff's Office Sued for Inmate Death
TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- The Leon County Sheriff's Office is facing a wrongful death lawsuit. The mother of Shanike Miller says her daughter died of liver failure from a mood stabilizer given to her while she was an inmate. Also listed in the lawsuit are the jail, its health provider, and a doctor at the jail. Miller was arrested on September 30, 2013 and booked in the county jail that day. Three months later, she died. The lawsuit claims Miller was given the wrong medication which led to her death. According to the lawsuit, Miller suffered from psychiatric problems and was placed under the care of Corizon Health and a doctor at the jail. Miller was given Tegretol despite refusing the drug several times. The lawsuit states Tegretol shouldn't be prescribed without first getting blood tests. However, in this case, no tests were taken, but the drug was given anyway, according to the lawsuit. A few weeks before she died, Miller's lab results indicated she had jaundice, but rather than get an immediate referral, corizon and the doctor delayed it for at least a day, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit also states Corizon Health was "negligent" in treating Miller and their actions "were done with reckless indifference" to her rights. WTXL has reached out to the lawyers representing Miller's estate and the sheriff's office about this case for comment.

September 25, 2005 Tallahassee Democrat
The family of the late Ruth Hubbs, who died at the Leon County Jail infirmary, is being paid $350,000 by Prison Health Services, a company that oversees inmate care at the facility. Hubbs, 39, was found dead in the infirmary May 16, 2003, about a day after deputies reported seeing her sitting on the floor of her jail cell and yelling incoherently to herself. Some correctional officers later reported the jail's medical workers seemed unconcerned about her condition. An autopsy found she had an intoxicating level of an antidepressant in her system, but an investigation was unable to determine whether the jail's medical workers had given her too much medication. Last year, her parents filed a lawsuit against PHS, three of its employees and Sheriff Larry Campbell. The PHS employees named in the lawsuit were Susan Cole, the health-care administrator at the jail; Dr. William Primas, the staff doctor; and another physician who later was released from the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, Hubbs died because she was overmedicated. The lawsuit states she was given increasing doses of the antidepressant Doxepin, and that PHS had a policy of rarely using a safer but more expensive medication. "Hubbs objected to taking the medication," the lawsuit states, "and for at least two weeks before her death, Hubbs showed signs of being chronically overmedicated. Her attorney, a social worker and corrections officers made repeated complaints which were ignored by Prison Health Services, their agents and employees." Two other inmates have died at the jail since Hubbs was found dead. Clyde Fuller, 26, was found dead in the infirmary June 12, 2003, after being sprayed with pepper spray, placed in a restraint chair and injected with a sedative. According to a Sheriff's Office report, he had been screaming and spitting at staff members. An autopsy found cocaine in his system. Steven Tomiano, 32, died after hanging himself with a sheet in his cell Oct. 31, 2004. An investigation determined no foul play occurred.

August 31, 2005 Tallahassee Democrat
Leon County commissioners took the following actions during their Tuesday meeting: • Voted 5-1 to accept a report on three inmate deaths at the Leon County Jail that occurred from May 2003 to September 2004. Ruth Hubbs died May 16, 2003, and a subsequent investigation found she had an intoxicating level of a psychotropic drug in her system. Investigators were unable to determine whether she had been storing pills in her mouth or jail medical workers had over-medicated her. Clyde Fuller died June 12, 2003, after he became combative with correctional officers and was sprayed with pepper spray, placed in a restraint chair and injected with a sedative by a jail nurse. An investigation found that cocaine and marijuana in his system might have contributed to his death. Steven Tomiano died Oct. 31, 2004, after hanging himself in a cell with a sheet, and investigators found no foul play occurred. Sheriff Larry Campbell said that at the time of the deaths, he was unhappy with the service of the jail's medical provider, Prison Health Services. But Campbell said PHS since has made improvements and that he now is satisfied with the company's performance. Changes in jail health care include creation of a medical-grievance committee that takes up inmate health complaints and a medical hot line for family members to call with concerns about inmates. Rodney Holliman, PHS vice president of operations, said the company is doing a "phenomenal job" in caring for inmates. Commissioner Bill Proctor also said improvements have been made. But Commissioner Bob Rackleff, who cast the only dissenting vote, worried that not enough is being done to prevent future tragedies.

December 14, 2004 Tallahassee Democrat
Improving the county jail. Making health insurance more affordable. Boosting economic development. Those are the top issues for Leon County commissioners, who met Monday for their annual priority-setting session. Commissioners expressed concern about a variety of jail issues, from staffing and employee pay to overcrowding and inmate health care. Commissioners Bill Proctor and Dan Winchester said they are aware of patients who haven't been able to get medications they needed. And Commissioner Ed DePuy expressed "grave concerns" over the company that provides medical care to inmates. But commissioners, who have the authority to assume control of the jail, said they want to continue delegating that responsibility to Sheriff Larry Campbell. DePuy in particular emphasized a desire to work with Campbell to make improvements. "This is to work in a constructive fashion with the sheriff and his staff," he said.
Prison Health Services, which provides medical care to inmates at the jail, and the Sheriff's Office are being sued by the family of a 39-year-old woman who died last year after medical staff gave her fatal levels of antidepressant drugs.

October 29, 2004 Tallahassee Democrat
A year and a half after a mentally-ill inmate died at the Leon County Jail, a local judge Thursday ordered that another inmate diagnosed with schizophrenia receive his medication, lawyers said.
Circuit Judge Nikki Clark ruled that the jail psychiatrist should confer with inmate Shayne F. Huber's doctors today, according to Assistant Public Defender Joel Remland, who represents Huber. "We got what we wanted," Remland said. "The jail just needs to be more conscientious and improve their own procedures to avoid lapses in treatment." Remland noted the case of Ruth Hubbs, 39, who was found dead in the jail's infirmary in May 2003. She was awaiting sentencing on a burglary charge. An autopsy revealed fatal levels of the antidepressant jail medical staff had been giving her. Records later revealed that corrections officers and her attorney had complained for nearly two weeks before her death that she appeared to be overmedicated. Medical staff largely ignored those concerns, according to reports. The jail clinic is run by Prison Health Services, which earns $2.6 million a year for the job, records show.

September 14, 2004 Tallahassee Democrat
A lawyer for the family of Ruth Hubbs has filed a lawsuit against Prison Health Services and the Leon County Sheriff's Office over her death in the county jail last year. The suit alleges Hubbs was subjected to "cruel and unusual punishment" and died as a result of negligent health care. It is at least the second pending death-related lawsuit against PHS in Florida. Hubbs, 39, was found dead in her cell in the jail's infirmary in May 2003. She'd recently been acquitted of a fraud charge and was awaiting sentencing on a burglary charge. An autopsy revealed fatal levels of the antidepressant jail medical staff had been giving her.  Records later revealed that corrections officers and her attorney had complained for nearly two weeks before her death that she appeared to be overmedicated. Medical staff largely ignored those concerns, according to the reports. Also, examiners said Hubbs had to take the lethal dosage all at once, even though she'd shown overdose symptoms for weeks, and detectives could find no evidence she'd purposely taken the pills.

Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell isn't known for his patience. So it's easy to understand his justifiable frustration with the private company that provides medical services to inmates at the county jail. Leon County taxpayers shell out $2.6 million a year to Prison Health Services, a national company with a mixed record of performance and an unenviable trail of lawsuits. Sheriff Campbell's concern comes on the heels of an investigation by his detectives into an inmate's suspicious death last year. The results of the sheriff's probe into the death of Ruth Hubbs were inconclusive. Ms. Hubbs died from a probable overdose of antidepressant medication, according to her autopsy report, which also was inconclusive. But the company's performance in Leon County - correctional officers and inmates' families have reported inferior medical care - as well as the firm's record of complaints, investigations and lawsuits elsewhere lead to inevitable questions about the wisdom of continuing to do business with PHS. (Tallahassee Democrat, February 17, 2004)

Records from Ruth Hubbs' stay in the Leon County Jail last year raise serious questions about the cause of her death - and point to the medical care she received as a possible factor. For at least two weeks before she died, Hubbs showed textbook symptoms that she was suffering from chronic overdoses of her jail-prescribed depression medication. Corrections officers, a social worker, her attorney and Hubbs herself made repeated complaints that she was being overmedicated - concerns that senior administrators of the private company that runs the jail's medical services are accused of ignoring. After she died, an autopsy proved inconclusive but showed the most likely cause was "doxepin intoxication" - in other words, an overdose of the antidepressant. The infirmary recently had been turned over to Prison Health Services, a company paid $2.6 million a year to provide medical services. (Tallahassee Democrat, February 15, 2004)

Autopsy results show it was a massive overdose of prescription drugs that killed a Leon County Jail inmate earlier this year - medication likely administered by the jail's own infirmary. Ruth Hubbs, 39, was found dead in her cell May 16, only hours after medical staff reportedly ignored complaints from deputies that something was wrong with her. Now, detectives with the Leon County Sheriff's Office are trying to figure out how she received a lethal amount of the anti-depressant doxepin. A medical exam found more than 20 times the recommended dosage in her system. It's not clear yet whether doxepin was one of the drugs Hubbs - who was bipolar - was taking in the medical unit. (Tallahassee Democrat, August 6, 2003 )

Inmates at the Leon County Jail get their medical treatment from a company with a mixed health-care record and a splintered public image. Prison Health Services took over the jail's infirmary in October. Since then, three inmates have died, two of them while in the medical unit under the company's care. There is no evidence to date of improper medical practices. However, jail deputies reported that PHS staff did not respond to their concerns about a female inmate just hours before she died. Ruth Hubbs, 39, was found dead May 16 on the floor of her cell in the infirmary, wedged between the bed and the wall. A search of the Lexis-Nexis database and the Internet turned up dozens of reports of deaths and medical problems at jail health facilities the company operates under contract. Many of them detail allegations of understaffing, denial of medication and a general lack of compassion. By contract, PHS has to keep a certain number of nurses, doctors and other staff on duty at any given time. If the company falls short, it pays back money to the Sheriff's Office. That's happened every month since December. For example, at one point the jail had only a part-time psychiatrist who visited from out of town. And, in some months, the infirmary was short on nurses by as many 200 to 400 work hours. (Tallahassee Democrat, June 30, 2003)

Limestone Correctional Facility, Limestone County, Alabama

December 1, 2009 Huntsville Times
State prison officials today released a 795-page report showing Farron Barksdale, who killed two police officers, died from hypothermia after being heavily medicated with anti-psychotic drugs. Barksdale, 32, of Athens, sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to capital murder in the shooting deaths of two Athens police officers, died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his prison cell. After he was rushed to a Montgomery hospital, it was discovered he had several large, fresh-looking, bruises around his waist, arms, legs, elbows and knees. But Sarah Geraghty, senior attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said questions still remain about how Barksdale received such extensive bruising. The report said Barksdale was given several different drugs that could cause bruising. And they noted the special seat belts used to transport Barksdale from the Limestone County Jail to the Kilby Correctional Facility could also have been responsible for some of the bruises. When a private ambulance company was summoned to take Barkdale to the hospital after he collapsed, according to the report, paramedic Angela Anderson said she "found patient lying on treatment table by himself with distressed respirations, unresponsive; no medical personnel in room; saw bruises on his body on abdominal and pelvic area; noted they were unusual for size and location . . . "Patient had no oxygen therapy being (administered and) there was no medical personnel in the room (with) the patient the entire time while on scene only DOC personnel. Patient had several bruises throughout body major-sized bruises noted anterior on lower abdomen/pelvic area measuring in comparison to a salad plate covering most of the area from hip joint area to umbilicus. "Color of bruises indicate newly sustained. Patient also had bruising to both forearms posterior area in same color as ones noted to abdomen/pelvic area." In addition, Heath Bruner, an EMT, was quoted in the report as noting "massive" bruising on both sides of pelvis. He also noted there were no nurses present in the room with Barksdale at Kilby. Barksdale's mother, Mary, earlier this year won $750,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit against former Kilby Warden Arnold Holt, Dr. Joseph McGinn of MHM Correctional Services in Vienna, Va., and Dr. Arnold Holt of Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn. Ken Williams, general counsel for the Corrections Department, said Tuesday that McGinn was responsible for prescribing the drugs to Barksdale and leaving him in an unairconditioned cell rather than transferring him to an air-conditioned mental health unit.

August 1, 2005 New York Times
If there was ever a prison that needed help, it was Limestone Correctional Facility. Even within the troubled Alabama penal system, this state compound near Huntsville was notorious for cruel punishment and medical neglect. In one drafty, rat-infested warehouse once reserved for chain gangs, the state quarantined its male prisoners with H.I.V. and AIDS, until the extraordinary death toll - 36 inmates from 1999 to 2002 - moved inmates to sue and the government to promise change. Alabama's solution was to fire the local company in charge of medical care and hire Prison Health Services, the nation's largest commercial provider of health care behind bars. Prison Health's solution was to recruit Dr. Valda M. Chijide, an infectious-disease specialist who arrived last November with a lofty title: statewide coordinator of inmate H.I.V. care. She was an unlikely candidate for the job in one sense, having never stepped inside a prison. But it did not take her long to conclude that the chaos was continuing, and that much of the problem was Prison Health itself. Though the company had promised the help of other doctors, she said, she was left alone to care for not only the 230 men in the H.I.V. unit, but the 1,800 other prisoners, too. Nurses were so poorly trained, Dr. Chijide said, that they neglected to hand out life-sustaining drugs or gave the wrong ones. Medical charts were a mess, she said, and often it was impossible to find such basic items as a thermometer, or even soap. Dr. Chijide lasted barely three months. After she complained in writing, Prison Health suspended her for reasons it would not disclose, and she quit. Her short, frantic stint - battling for drugs, hospitalizations and extra food for skeletal inmates, she said - was not unusual in the world of Prison Health Services, which has had a turbulent record in many of the 33 states where it has provided jail or prison medicine. But her story, a rare firsthand account of a doctor in charge of a prison's health care, offers an intimate glimpse of the company's work at a moment when the need for change could not have been more pressing, and the spotlight on Prison Health could hardly have been more intense. Limestone is not the only hitch in Prison Health's effort to transform a penal backwater. Two hundred miles south, at the state's Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, another federal monitor reported that Prison Health lacked any "organized and structured medical program," and deplored the care given two inmates who died last year. There is, of course, a higher authority that Prison Health must answer to: the state official charged with making sure it lives up to its contract. That person is Ruth Naglich, who as associate commissioner of the Alabama Corrections Department is supposed to review the company's work. Three years ago, Ms. Naglich was a Prison Health executive, vice president for sales and marketing, at the company's headquarters outside Nashville.

May 6, 2005 Birmingham News
Prison Health Services has been under the gun, and rightly so, for the way it's provided medical care to Alabama inmates. The Tennessee-based company was hired to improve health care in Alabama prisons, which had been sued over services provided by a previous contractor. But the care in prisons remains unacceptable. A recurring theme is a shortage of doctors, nurses and other staff to tend to the inmates, with predictable consequences. At best, the care has been inadequate. At worst, it may have been downright deadly. The state of Alabama, which has the ultimate responsibility (and liability) for what happens to prisoners in its custody, has every reason to demand better from Prison Health Services. And withholding part of the company's payment is an appropriate place to start. The state is reducing the company's $143 million contract by $1.2 million for staffing shortages, and may cut more if staffing levels aren't increased. Why not? The state is paying Prison Health Services to provide a certain number of professionals and support staff to administer inmates' health care. If the company is not meeting the requirements of the contract, it should not expect to be paid as if it were. Besides, what's really at stake here is bigger than money. Too many inmates are not receiving proper care for chronic conditions, and some are dying unnecessarily as a result, according to doctors who monitor prison health care for the courts. At the Tutwiler women's prison, the monitor found that three inmates who died last year received poor or incomplete care, and two of them may have died as a result. At Limestone Correctional Facility, which houses HIV-positive inmates, the monitor found prisoners weren't getting crucial medication and that a required HIV specialist was not on staff. It's true that turnover has been a big problem. Prison Health Services has had problems retaining doctors and other health care workers; some have left complaining they didn't have the resources to do their jobs. But the bottom line is that the company agreed to provide a certain level of services, and it has been failing to do so. At the very least, the state should adjust the payments to Prison Health Services accordingly. So the company is losing dollars. Inmates are losing their lives.

April 29, 2005 Tuscaloosa News
Recent complaints by HIV inmates over medical attention at Limestone prison are "misleading and inaccurate," attorneys for the prison system and its health provider said in asking a federal judge to dismiss a contempt motion. The attorneys' filing says the state Department of Corrections and Prison Healthcare Services have taken adequate steps to comply with a settlement over housing and medical care for some 240 HIV inmates at the state prison in Limestone County. The document was in response to a complaint filed last week by inmate attorneys at the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. The complaint said the prison system and health provider have yet to show they are carrying out any plan to correct "extensive noncompliant acts." Southern Center attorney Gretchen Rohr said the plaintiffs have asked U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham to hold the state in contempt of court for failing to follow the April 2004 settlement. Though DOC and PHS concede that they don't have a permanent HIV specialist as required by the settlement, they "have worked tirelessly to retain" one, according to the court filing. They said several candidates have lost interest in the position after learning about the highly publicized complaints of the plaintiffs.
The post opened after Dr. Valda Chijidi resigned earlier this year. He had sent PHS several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the north Alabama prison. The plaintiffs allege that inmates still have to provide emergency care to other inmates because an adequate nursing staff is not available - a claim denied by the prison and PHS. Rohr said she appreciates the efforts to improve conditions at Limestone, but remains skeptical about the plan actually being implemented. "For a long time we've been hearing that they have a plan and voluntarily are taking action. Not to rain on your parade, but we've heard it before," she said.

February 19, 2005 WPMI
Attorneys for 240 HIV-positive prisoners at Limestone Correctional Facility have accused prison officials of violating an agreement to improve their medical care. The north Alabama prison has no specialist for them and has constant gaps in medication, the attorneys claim in a contempt motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. The attorneys have asked U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham to hold the state in contempt of court for failing to follow the April 2004 settlement in a lawsuit over inmate housing and medical care. Department of Corrections attorney Kim Thomas said Friday she couldn't comment on the motion until she has read it. According to the motion, two physicians, hired in the last eight months as part of the settlement, recently resigned. One of the doctor's memos detailed dozens of medical shortcomings, including a rat in the exam room and chaotic record-keeping. Dr. Valda Chijide wrote of being unable to care for patients because of disorganization in the medical unit and because prison staff has overruled her medical decisions. Once she walked in on a heart patient with chest pains who was trying to give himself nitroglycerin because no nurse was in sight, she wrote. "The law of diminishing returns sets in after riding on a skeletal staff and scanty resources for so long," Chijide wrote in a Jan. 25 letter to supervisors at Prison Health Services, the private prison medical company that Alabama contracts with to provide medical care at all state prisons. Now, one physician handles care for more than 2,200 prisoners, including the HIV Unit. A PHS supervisor in Montgomery also has been filling in, Keldie said. "The state is ultimately the one who is responsible for the medical care and the state should be forcing PHS to implement the settlement agreement that we've reached," said Joshua Lipman, a Southern Center for Human Rights attorney. "What they've done so far is pretty appalling."

Louisville Metro Corrections, Louisville, Kentucky
Dec 27, 2015
Metro Government to pay $50,000 to family of inmate whose death could have been prevented
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city has agreed to pay $50,000 to the family of a 27-year-old inmate whose 2012 death at Louisville Metro Corrections could have been prevented with better medical care. Samantha George, one of seven inmates who died in Metro Corrections in 2012, was found unresponsive in her cell on August 8, 2012. Her death "would have been prevented had she received timely and appropriate medical care," an investigation concluded in 2013. George's family sued Metro Corrections and Corizon, the jail’s healthcare company at the time. Corizon provided "negligent" care and failed to follow procedures for treating inmates undergoing narcotics withdrawal, Dr. William Smock found in reviewing George's death. "There is compelling evidence of a significant deviation from the standard of care and medical negligence on the part of the medical providers," Smock, a medical examiner and police consultant, wrote in his report. On Nov. 25, Metro Government agreed to pay George’s estate $50,000 with the stipulation that the city and Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton doesn't admit it was at fault, according to the settlement, obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act. Jessie Halladay, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Attorney's Office, which represented the city in the lawsuit, said the settlement "speaks for itself." It is unclear if George's family has also settled with Corizon. Because the company is private, any settlement would not be available under the open records law. A call to the family's attorney, Chad McCoy, was not immediately returned. George was one of three 2012 Metro Corrections deaths that investigations found could have been prevented with better care, according to records obtained by WDRB. Arrested on a felony theft charge, George spent one night at a Bullitt County jail before being taken to Metro Corrections shortly before 7 p.m. on August 7, 2012, according to police and prosecutors' reports on the events leading up to George's death. George was booked at Metro Corrections at 6:40 p.m. and screened by a nurse shortly before 9 p.m. George was found to be a diabetic with an antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection. The nurse "failed to place an observation form to Inmate George which would have required her to be monitored at more frequent times," according to a summary of the police investigation into George's death. Alone in her jail cell, George was vomiting and nauseated when nurse Kristen Laws checked on her around 3 a.m. George received an insulin shot to help lower her blood-sugar levels, which Laws said were "high." George was also being monitored for detoxification. At 6 a.m., Laws called a physician who ordered Phenergan, a medicine meant to ease George's nausea. Medical staff gave George the Phenergan and ice chips at around 6:20 a.m. Laws told police investigators that she asked the doctor, whom she doesn't identify, if he wanted to send George to an emergency room. The doctor told her that he would see George later that day, Laws said. "I think another nurse saw her and checked her again before she went to court, so I don't think the doctor ever saw her that day," Laws said in a police interview. George's condition was "slightly better" when she was checked around 8 a.m., according to the Commonwealth's Attorney's summary of the police investigation. But medical examiner Smock, in his review of jail cameras, noted that George bumped against an elevator door frame and was holding her stomach when walking into an elevator shortly before 8:30 a.m. After sitting down in arraignment court around 8:45 a.m., George twic