Category Archives: Corrections.Health

They thought they were going to rehab. They ended up in chicken plants

Source: Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter, Reveal News, October 4, 2017
 
Across the country, judges increasingly are sending defendants to rehab instead of prison or jail. These diversion courts have become the bedrock of criminal justice reform, aiming to transform lives and ease overcrowded prisons.  But in the rush to spare people from prison, some judges are steering defendants into rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry, an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has found.  The programs promise freedom from addiction. Instead, they’ve turned thousands of men and women into indentured servants.  The beneficiaries of these programs span the country, from Fortune 500 companies to factories and local businesses. The defendants work at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Oklahoma, a construction firm in Alabama, a nursing home in North Carolina.  Perhaps no rehab better exemplifies this allegiance to big business than CAAIR. It was started in 2007 by chicken company executives struggling to find workers. By forming a Christian rehab, they could supply plants with a cheap and captive labor force while helping men overcome their addictions.

… At some rehabs, defendants get to keep their pay. At CAAIR and many others, they do not. Legal experts said forcing defendants to work for free might violate their constitutional rights. The 13th Amendment bans slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States, except as punishment for convicts. That’s why prison labor programs are legal. But many defendants sent to programs such as CAAIR have not yet been convicted of crimes, and some later have their cases dismissed. … CAAIR has become indispensable to the criminal justice system, even though judges appear to be violating Oklahoma’s drug court law by using it in some cases, according to the law’s authors. … The program has become an invaluable labor source. Over the years, Simmons Foods repeatedly has laid off paid employees while expanding its use of CAAIR. …

Nurse says she was fired for missing work during Hurricane Irma

Source: Lauren Seabrook, WFTV.com, September 21, 2017

Hurricane Irma hit Leesburg, Florida, hard, and resident Ami Honea’s neighborhood has piles of debris to prove it. Just before the storm blew through, Honea said she made a decision that ended up costing her job. … Honea said she told her boss she felt that her only option was to leave and that he never told her she would lose her job for it. … Attorney Kelli Hastings, who spoke to WFTV before the storm, said that because Florida is a right-to-work state, the termination is legal. … WFTV contacted the privately contracted company that fired Honea, Armor Correctional Health Services, and was referred to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. Officials with the Sheriff’s Office said they have nothing to do with the hiring or firing of the medical employees at the company.

Commission blames ex-medical provider for 3 inmate deaths at Nassau jail

Source: News12 Long Island, September 18, 2017

The former health provider at the Nassau County Jail is blamed in connection with the deaths of three inmates in three scathing new state reports on each of the deaths. The state Commission of Correction detailed its findings on Armor Correctional Health Facilities in the three reports. The commission found Armor “incapable of providing competent medical care, alleged “gross incompetence” by a doctor, and uncovered a continued “failure and unwillingness” to address the problems. The state agency says Armor’s lack of adequate health care was directly responsible for the deaths of 63-year-old William Satchell, 20-year-old Emanuel McElveen and 62-year-old Michael Cullum. …

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Records: Nassau knew of Armor lawsuits before approving contract
Source: Paul LaRocco, NewsDay, July 23, 2016 (Abstract)

Nassau lawmakers were presented with allegations of poor care by the county’s embattled private jail medical provider before they approved its initial contract five years ago, records show. The county legislature’s Republican-controlled Rules Committee in April 2011 voted along party lines to approve a two-year, $22 million agreement with Armor Correctional Health Services — despite concerns…

Low Staffing Levels at Arizona Prisons Could Lead to Big Fines

Source: Jimmy Jenkins, KJZZ, August 9, 2017

A federal judge will appoint an outside expert to address low health care staffing levels in Arizona prisons and could soon issue economic sanctions against the state. For years the state has failed to comply with performance measures from a settlement between the state and the inmates. The main reason for the failures is staffing, and Judge David Duncan said economic currents are to blame. At a status hearing Wednesday, Duncan said the state’s private contractor, Corizon, has made the decision to simply pay fines instead of paying for full staffing at state prisons. … Duncan became increasingly incensed when hearing of the state’s failure to comply with measures that guarantee inmates access to their prescribed medicine. He repeated his threat that the state is facing steep fines and suggested economic sanctions to counter Corizon’s profit motive. …

Concerns Raised About Health-Care Contractor at Clarke County Jail

Source: Blake Aued, Flagpole, April 26, 2017

At least one commissioner and activists are raising questions about the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office’s choice of a contractor to provide medical care at the county jail. Sheriff Ira Edwards and Chief Jailer Tommy York have recommended Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. for a five-year contract paying nearly $1.7 million next year, rising each year to $2 million in fiscal 2022. The current contractor, CorrectHealth Athens, lasted just one year, and the contract was opened up for bidding, with five companies responding. Athens for Everyone’s Tim Denson expressed concern about Armor in a letter to the Mayor and Commission, citing “questionable deaths” in New York, Milwaukee, Oklahoma and Florida. …

Illinois prison agency rescinds nurse layoffs to still talk

Source: Associated Press, April 27, 2017
 
The Illinois Department of Corrections has withdrawn its plan to lay off 124 nurses while continuing to negotiate with the state employees’ union.  Corrections spokeswoman Nicole Wilson said Thursday the department had informed the Illinois Nurses Association that it would not remove the nurses June 15. She says prison officials are available to meet any time but the union is unavailable until May 8.  Union spokesman Chris Martin says the Corrections Department decision is welcome news. He encouraged support for legislation to halt privatizing prison jobs that was sent to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. …

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Lawmakers seek to block privatization of prison nurse jobs
Source: Tony Reid, Herald & Review, April 11, 2017
 
The prognosis for a group of unionized prison nursing jobs across Central Illinois hangs in the balance as last-ditch efforts are made to save them.  The correctional facility nurses – seven in Decatur, 12 in Vandalia and four in Lincoln – are among 124 nurses statewide who have been told by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration their state jobs will end in June 15. … Among those supporting the effort to save the jobs is state Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, who is among the sponsors of new legislation that would prevent the nurses from being laid off and their work from being outsourced.  All that is needed is for Rauner to sign the bill, a hope that appears to be on life support given the governor’s oft-stated anti-union stance. Nicole Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections, has previously said that privatizing the nursing jobs would save taxpayers $8 million a year. …

Senate OKs prohibition on privatizing prison nurses jobs
Source: Associated Press, March 29, 2017

The Illinois Senate is telling Gov. Bruce Rauner it doesn’t want prison nurse jobs filled by private contractors. Plainview Republican Sen. Sam McCann’s measure won approval Wednesday 40-15. It would prohibit the Department of Corrections from eliminating jobs of any state employees who provide prison health care services. Republican Rauner’s administration announced last week it intended to dismiss 124 union nurses and privatize their positions this summer. …

Two state senators file bill to stop Rauner’s plan to privatize jobs of 124 prison nurses
Source: Molly Parker, The Southern Illinoisan, March 28, 2017

Two state senators are co-sponsoring legislation they say would stop Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration from outsourcing additional medical and mental health service jobs from state prisons. This past week, 124 nurses employed at 10 state prisons learned that they were being laid off and their jobs privatized. In Southern Illinois, that includes 13 nurses employed at Menard Correctional Center, and 13 at Vienna Correctional Center. … That number includes 150 nurses who are members of the Illinois Nurses Association, the majority of whom received layoff notices. It would protect an additional 172 medical technicians and mental health professionals who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. …

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County lawsuit claims jail medical service company at fault

Source: Martha Bellisle, Associated Press, April 1, 2017

Inmates and their families are suing Pierce County after they or their loved ones suffered medical problems or died at the jail, and in turn, the county is suing the for-profit company that provided medical services to those inmates, saying it was “wholly inadequate.” A jury likely would find the operation of the jail medical clinic by the company, Correct Care Solutions/Conmed, was “incompetent, unprofessional and morally reprehensible,” Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Grace Kingman told a Conmed lawyer in a letter acquired by The Associated Press. Pierce County isn’t alone in dealing with legal challenges to Conmed’s medical services. Cowlitz, Clark and Kitsap are among the counties facing lawsuits that allege inmates received poor or questionable medical care while being held at the jails.

… Among the lawsuits’ allegations:
— A Kitsap County Jail inmate died while going through heroin withdrawals.
— A Clark County Jail inmate who suffered from schizoaffective disorder and other mental illnesses wasn’t given his medications and died during an altercation with officers.
— Four inmates died in the Cowlitz County Jail between 2013 and 2014 while needing medical attention.
— A Pierce County inmate didn’t receive his medications and suffered two seizures and a fall that resulted in a traumatic brain injury and fractures to his eye sockets and wrist.

Dan Hamilton, a Pierce County deputy prosecutor, said a yearlong contract with Conmed/Correct Care Solutions resulted in 11 legal claims and four lawsuits over medical care, so the county is fighting back. It hired Conmed to provide medical and dental services at the jail starting in February 2014. But from the start, Conmed failed in a list of areas: significant pharmacy problems; staffing shortages and almost weekly turnover; delay in medical care; failure to provide basic services; and poor record keeping, according to Kingman’s letter to the company. After repeated complaints to the company, Pierce County decided to stop paying Conmed, in hopes that it would fix the problems, Hamilton said. Conmed kept asking for more time, and the county obliged, but the troubles continued, he said. The county eventually ended the contract and found another service provider. Conmed filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court seeking payment, but the county continued to refuse to pay, arguing Conmed was the one at fault. …

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Pierce County Jail outsources medical care, lays off 15
Source: Steve Maynard, News Tribune, February 14, 2014

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department began contracting out medical care at the county jail Feb. 1 in a cost-cutting move that laid off 15 full-time workers. …..The department is paying Conmed Inc. $4.3 million to provide medical services at the jail for the last 11 months of this year.….The county’s medical staff members, who were union employees on the county payroll, were told in January 2013 that the Corrections Bureau was looking into contracting the work they do. Dylan Carlson, who represented medical staff for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, could not be reached for comment.

Jail considers private sector medical staff
Source: Steve Maynard, Bellingham Herald, January 29, 2013

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department is exploring the possibility of saving money by contracting out medical care provided by 38 nurses, physician assistants and other workers at the county jail. Declining jail bookings and revenue, coupled with overtime expenses, are putting pressure on the Sheriff’s Department to reduce costs…. A contract would not include mental health services, Troyer said. Mental health care is “a whole different issue,” he said, and jail staff will continue to provide those services. …

Officials Ruled Inmate’s ‘Boiling’ Death An Accident. But Documents Show They Omitted Key Details.

Source: Matt Ferner, Huffington Post, March 29, 2017

The June 2012 death of Darren Rainey, an inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution in South Florida, attracted national attention after other inmates claimed he was burned like “a boiled lobster” after about two hours in a shower that guards had modified to punish prisoners. A Florida prosecutor issued a 101-page report earlier this month that cleared guards of any wrongdoing in Rainey’s death. The prosecutor, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, called Rainey’s death an accident resulting from his schizophrenia and heart disease and from confinement in the shower room. But a trove of official documents reviewed by The Huffington Post indicates that some information from police, the prison and emergency services was not included in the prosecutor’s final report, which raises questions about the circumstances surrounding Rainey’s death. A review of the documents was permitted by a person with close access to the investigation who asked not to be identified sharing non-public information. …

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Madness: In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards.
Source: Eyal Press, The New Yorker, May 2, 2016

Shortly after Harriet Krzykowski began working at the Dade Correctional Institution, in Florida, an inmate whispered to her, “You know they starve us, right?” It was the fall of 2010, and Krzykowski, a psychiatric technician, had been hired by Dade, which is forty miles south of Miami, to help prisoners with clinical behavioral problems follow their treatment plans. The inmate was housed in Dade’s mental-health ward, the Transitional Care Unit, a cluster of buildings connected by breezeways and equipped with one-way mirrors and surveillance cameras. “I thought, Oh, this guy must be paranoid or schizophrenic,” she said recently. Moreover, she’d been warned during her training that prisoners routinely made false accusations against guards. … Krzykowski mentioned that she had overheard security guards heckling prisoners. One officer had told an inmate, “Go ahead and kill yourself—no one will miss you.” Again, Perez seemed unfazed. “It’s just words,” she said. Then, as Krzykowski recalls it, Perez leaned forward and gave her some advice: “You have to remember that we have to have a good working relationship with security.” … A few days later, Krzykowski was running a “psycho-educational group”—an hour-long session in which inmates gathered to talk while she observed their mood and affect. After a dozen inmates had filed into the room, she noticed that the guard who had been standing by the door had walked away. She was on her own. Krzykowski completed the session without incident, and decided that the guard must have been summoned to deal with an emergency. But later, when she was in the rec yard, the guard there disappeared, too, once more leaving her unprotected amid a group of inmates. Around the same time, the metal doors that security officers controlled to regulate the traffic flow between prison units started opening more slowly for Krzykowski. …

… Reached by phone, Perez declined to comment, telling me that I could direct any questions to Wexford Health Sources, the private contractor that now provides mental-health services at Dade. In 2013, Florida privatized all the health services in its prisons. According to a series of investigative articles by Pat Beall, of the Palm Beach Post, this policy change has resulted in grossly substandard care. One difficulty with entrusting mental-health services to a for-profit company is that there is a disincentive to acknowledge abuse, because doing so could jeopardize the contract. Wexford’s Web site describes “integrity and ethics” as the “foundation” of the company’s culture. Wexford, too, declined to comment.

Lawsuit: ‘Systemic failures’ led to Randall County jail injury

Source: Robert Stein, Amarillo Globe-News, March 29, 2017

A recent civil lawsuit alleges a “systemic failure” to provide medical care by Randall County jail officials led to a detainee suffering permanent brain damage. Jail personnel in 2015 failed to provide prescribed medication to Ralph Karl Ingrim, a 53-year-old man being held at the jail after an arrest for misdemeanor trespassing, despite requests to do so from Ingrim’s mother and signs Ingrim was “out of it,” the lawsuit says. As a result, the lawsuit alleges, Ingrim had a seizure, fell and suffered a skull fracture and brain bleed. … The lawsuit, filed Friday in Amarillo’s federal court, comes about two months after Randall County settled a wrongful death lawsuit also involving allegations of withheld seizure medication at the jail. The suit also says a third person sued the county for failing to provide anti-seizure medication. … The recent suit names as defendants Randall County; Sheriff Joel Richardson; private medical service provider Correct Care Solutions, LLC; and jailers Nick Wright and Cristina Gibbons. It alleges the jailers were aware of Ingrim’s need for anti-seizure medication but ignored it, denying him constitutionally required care. The lawsuit further claims Correct Care, which contracted with the county to provide medical services for inmates, “chronically understaffed” the jail and did not properly evaluate or monitor Ingrim. … As evidence of a recurring problem at the jail, the lawsuit cites a 2014 incident in which a 52-year-old Randall County inmate named Wendell Carl Simmons was also allegedly injured after being denied anti-seizure medication. … Correct Care was also named as a defendant in the Simmons case. …

Prison violations led to amputations and death, Idaho inmates say

Source: Associated Press, March 27, 2017

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. …