Category Archives: Corrections.Health

Jailhouse doctor’s record raises questions about private inmate health care

Source: Brian Sonenstein, Shadow Proof, August 17, 2015

The conduct of jail doctors working on behalf of medical contractor Advanced Correctional Healthcare is at the center of an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit facing Dearborn County. Despite the fact that ACH touts its staff as being “correctional trained,” an examination of the records of their Doctors Nadir Al-Shami and Ronald Davis raise questions about the standards of care provided by the company, even though the company and the doctors are no longer named in the suit. …


Advanced Correctional Healthcare doctor faces multiple federal lawsuits
Source: Brian Sonenstein, Shadow Proof, August 10, 2015

… Dr. Al-Shami has been sued in multiple states because ACH physicians are what is known as “circuit riders.” They serve as the site physicians for more than one jail at a time, managing the healthcare of hundreds of inmates. These doctors are also on-call to fill in for one another in the event they can’t make their shifts. Although ACH contracts stipulate their site physicians are supposed to visit their jails once a week, the majority of their day-to-day care is provided over the telephone because the doctors usually live far from the facilities to which they are assigned. … Analysis of statements by ACH officials indicate the company believes the key to efficiency in so-called “correctional health care” is discerning when and when not to treat an inmate’s medical issue. This includes decisions to discontinue or alter prescription medications ACH deems, in their own words, “inappropriate” for use on the inside.

Advanced Correctional Healthcare’s brutal brand of jailhouse medicine
Source: Brian Sonenstein, Shadow Proof, August 3, 2015

… Today, ACH is one of the largest inmate medical providers in the state of Indiana, and its reach extends across the midwestern United States. The company oversees health care at over 200 jails across 17 states and advertises an expertise in providing treatment in the “correctional environment.” … Representatives from Advanced Correctional Healthcare claimed they would save taxpayers about $120,000 annually during their pitch to the Dearborn County Commission on February 15, 2005. ACH was the only offer on the table that day, on personal recommendation from a nearby sheriff … ACH’s proposal covered all in-house medical services with some notable exceptions: “anything that deals with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, rabies, [multiple sclerosis], cancer or court order[ed treatment].” All on-site pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs would be included except for those dealing with these specific conditions. If they had to treat someone suffering from one of these exceptions, they would bill the sheriff at their “discounted network cost.” In corporate documents, ACH states these illnesses and diseases are excluded because of their rarity among the prison population. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found “inmates in jails and prisons across the United States (US) are disproportionately affected by multiple health problems, including HIV, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), tuberculosis (TB), and viral hepatitis.”

Checkup time for Corizon, America’s prison medical contractor

Source: Beryl Lipton, Muckrock, August 7, 2015

It’s expensive to get sick in America. For some, the good news flip side of that is that there’s a lot of money to be made in healthcare. For our prison population, that healthcare might be provided by the government, but increasingly towns and states are finding medical costs and care too burdensome, and the task is being outsourced. More often than not, it’s being outsourced to Corizon. Corizon Health is currently the nation’s top provider of correctional medical care, proudly serving nearly 350,000 individuals in over 500 facilities in 27 states. These are some great numbers for them. But, since the company formed in 2011 through a merger of Prison Health Services and Correctional Medical Services, the company has been involved in hundreds of lawsuits, has lost contracts from Maine to Minnesota, and has faced scrutiny in Washington, D.C. (where it failed to win a contract this year) and Florida, where it still holds sway. … So, while Corizon is on the hook for certain violations, there is something to the fact that the government agencies that hired the company weren’t keeping a close eye on it. One can’t expect that the company itself is going to draw attention to breaches of contract – the agency outsourcing the work is responsible for ensuring that there is a useful infrastructure in place for calling problems out.

Corizon Health Inc. implementing changes to reduce workplace violence hazards for employees at its locations /Settlement with US Labor Department follows Rikers Island OSHA citations

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Region 2 News Release: Press Release, BOS 2015-135, July 1, 2015

Corizon Health Inc., which provides medical, dental and mental-health services to inmates at correctional facilities nationwide, including the Rikers Island facility in New York City, will implement changes to reduce workplace violence hazards for employees at its locations.
Part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor, the changes resolve citations issued by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In August 2014, OSHA cited Corizon for failing to develop and implement an effective program to prevent workplace violence for its Rikers Island employees. Corizon initially contested the citations, but has withdrawn that contest as part of the settlement agreement.

After critical probe, NYC drops jail health care contractor
Source: Jake Pearson, Associated Press, June 11, 2015

New York City on Wednesday dropped the private company that delivers health care in its jails after a year of scrutiny over high-profile deaths of mentally ill inmates and a city probe that found the company hired felons and provided questionable care. Corizon Health Inc.’s contract, which is set to expire Dec. 31, won’t be renewed and instead the city’s public hospital system will run medical and mental health care for the roughly 70,000 inmates who pass through Rikers Island and other city jails every year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. …. The DOI report released Wednesday takes an in-depth look at Corizon’s hiring practices, concluding that its background checks of new hires – which in some cases were nonexistent – failed to fully account for prospective workers’ financial, criminal and professional histories, leaving them susceptible to corruption.

DOI Report Finds Significant Breakdowns by Corizon Health Inc. Failures in Employee Screening and Mental Health Treatment of Inmates in City Jails
Source: City of New York, Department of Investigation, Press Release, Release 16-2015, June 10, 2015

Today, Department of Investigation (“DOI”) Commissioner Mark G. Peters issued a critical review of Corizon Health Inc. (“Corizon”), a private company contracted by the City to provide medical and mental health services in Rikers Island jails. The Report highlighted acute failures in Corizon’s hiring processes and treatment of mentally ill inmates. The investigation also revealed the City’s Department of Correction (“DOC”) and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DOHMH”), both responsible for supervising Corizon, failed to properly oversee the company’s hiring and supervision of clinical staff. DOI’s Report follows this release and can also be found at: …. DOI began its investigation after arresting a Corizon nurse in September 2014 and charging him with taking bribes to smuggle in tobacco and alcohol. Over the last six months, DOI investigators reviewed thousands of pages of documents and conducted surveillance of and site visits to 28 of 30 housing areas reserved for inmates needing mental health treatment. DOI found Corizon failed to provide adequate care to inmates, including improperly removing inmates from court-ordered suicide watch, failing to supervise inmates with serious mental illnesses, and poorly supervising inmates while they took medications, including psychiatric prescriptions. DOI’s Report found that two of these inmates died. One of those instances is now under criminal review by DOI and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office…….

Violence in the Workplace: American Horror Story
Source: Jordan Barab, National Law Review, August 18, 2014

The setting: Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City
The scene: A group of inmates gather around a cell where an employee has been locked in a cell, while other inmates pass around a ‘hit list’ of other employees they plan to target.

This is not a scene from a crime drama, like Oz or Law & Order, but rather the daily reality for a group of medical, dental and psychiatric professionals contracted by Corizon Health Inc. to provide services at Rikers Island. These employees are threatened, punched in the face, kicked and knocked unconscious with surprising and horrifying regularity. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at Rikers to investigate incidents like the ones described above, an additional six reports of workplace violence were made. …

Corizon Health Cited for Inadequate Safeguards at Rikers Island
Source: Occupational Health & Safety, August 10, 2014

According to a DOL news release, Corizon Health Inc. knowingly failed to protect its employees adequately against workplace violence and assault. The medical, dental, and psychiatric provider was inspected by OSHA and new faces $71,000 in fines. OSHA has cited Corizon for one willful violation for allegedly failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program for its employees at Rikers Island.

Rikers Health Contractor Fined for Worker Assaults
Source: Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, August 7, 2014

The New York City contractor that provides medical and mental health services to inmates at Rikers Island was issued the highest level of censure by the federal Labor Department on Thursday for failing to protect employees from violence at the jail complex. A six-month investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is overseen by the department, found that the contractor, Corizon Health Inc., “failed to address the serious problem of assaults against its employees,” Robert Kulick, OSHA’s regional administrator in New York, said in a statement. The agency fined Corizon $71,000 and issued a “willful violation” against the company, because it was aware of the problem and failed to do anything about it, said Andre J. Bowser, a spokesman for the agency….

Corizon Health Inc. cited for inadequate workplace violence safeguards at Rikers Island correctional facility in New York – US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes $71,000 in fines
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration, Region 2 News Release: 14-1409-NEW, August 7, 2014

Corizon Health Inc., which provides medical, dental and psychiatric services to inmates at the Rikers Island correctional facility in New York City, knowingly failed to protect its employees adequately against workplace violence and assault, an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has found. The company faces $71,000 in fines following an inspection by OSHA’s Manhattan Area Office that began Feb. 7, 2014, in response to a complaint.
OSHA cited Corizon for one willful violation for failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program for its employees at Rikers. A willful violation is one committed with intentional or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Florida state prisons health service provider retools amid a struggle

Source: Arek Sarkissian, Gainesville Sun, July 6, 2015

A company that provides health care services for state prisons throughout North Florida has replaced two of its top-level managers in Florida as it fights to save its nearly $1.2 billion relationship with the Florida Department of Corrections. In mid-June, St. Louis-based Corizon Health Care appointed its southeast chief executive officer, JM Courtney, as interim replacement for John Dallas, who was relieved of his role as vice president overseeing the DOC contract. … The new leaders were brought in after Corizon was fined $67,500 by the DOC in May for failing a series of performance audits conducted over the past year. The problems ranged from improperly filing paperwork to distributing psychotropic drugs to inmates without evaluations….
Florida’s Secretary for Corrections Writes Corizon about Health Care
Source: Correctional Health Care Report, Vol. 16 no. 2, January/February 2015
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Michael D. Crews’ letter of bitter complaint about the level of health care in Florida’s prisons and an explicit threat tied to withholding payments to the health care provider, Corizon, LLC.
Florida’s New Prison Boss Vows to Change the Culture
Source: Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald, January 21, 2015

In an unprecedented moment of candor, Florida’s newly installed prisons chief told a Senate committee that private contractors have provided inadequate medical care to Florida’s inmates while crumbling infrastructure and years of staffing cuts have fostered “culture” problems in the massive agency. … The Palm Beach Post has reported in-depth on deaths linked to the quality of medical care provided by Corizon and Wexford, the companies that have lucrative contracts with the DOC….

Profiting from prison: the challenges of inmate care by the private sector
Source: Adam Geller, Associated Press, January 19, 2015

Months after he landed in Florida’s Manatee County Jail, Jovon Frazier’s pleas for treatment of intense pain in his left shoulder were met mostly with Tylenol …. As an inmate, his medical care had been managed not by the county sheriff’s office that runs the jail, but by a private company under contract. That company, Corizon Health Inc., is under growing pressure after losing five state prison contracts, downgrades by analysts and increasing scrutiny of its care of inmates held by some of its largest customers, including New York City. Corizon, responsible for 345,000 inmates in 27 states, is the country’s biggest for-profit correctional health provider, but is just one of many firms vying for billions of public dollars spent on prisoner care.

Company’s struggles highlight challenges of inmate care
Source: KTAR, January 16, 2015

Months after he landed in Florida’s Manatee County Jail, Jovon Frazier’s pleas for treatment of the intense pain that radiated from his left shoulder to his elbow were met mostly with Tylenol. ….Four months later, after Frazier’s 13th request resulted in hospitalization and doctors quickly diagnosed bone cancer, his arm had to be amputated, according to a lawsuit filed by his family. But the cancer spread and Frazier died in 2011, months after his release. As an inmate, his medical care had been managed not by the county sheriff’s office that runs the jail, but by a private company under contract. That company, Corizon Health Inc., is under growing pressure around the country after losing five state prison contracts, downgrades by credit analysts and increased scrutiny of care of inmates held by some of its largest customers, including New York City. But Corizon, whose responsibility for 345,000 inmates at prisons and jails in 27 states makes it the country’s biggest for-profit correctional health provider, is just one of many firms using a similar model to vie for the billions of dollars states and counties spend on prisoner care….

…Corizon’s handling of health care for the 11,000 inmates at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex is under “comprehensive review” by officials, who say they are concerned about problems including at least 16 deaths since 2009 and are looking into the possibility of replacing the firm with a teaching hospital or a city-run agency. A year after Florida privatized medical care in its state prisons and awarded Corizon with a $1.2 billion contract, news reports point to rising inmate deaths. If the company does not address substandard care, the state’s corrections commissioner wrote to Corizon’s CEO in a September letter, Florida may begin withholding payment. In Arizona, where Corizon was hired last year to replace the second largest provider, Wexford Health Sources Inc., after its management of inmate care came under fire, an advocacy group citing a rising number of deaths warned that “if anything, things have gotten worse” under the new contractor. The state recently settled a lawsuit by the ACLU that calls for stepped up monitoring of inmate medical treatment….

Private prison vendors could face new scrutiny

Source: Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald, April 19, 2015

Looming in the background in the legislative debate over prison reform is a question that could come into new focus: How productive was the move to privatize prisons and inmate health care and how much farther should it go? Florida legislative leaders last week tentatively agreed to the creation of a joint legislative oversight board with the power to investigate and monitor the performance of Florida’s troubled Department of Corrections. It’s goal is to secure the safety of inmates in the face of mounting reports of suspicious inmate deaths, excessive use of force and allegations of cover-ups at the agency that houses more than 101,000 prisoners, said sponsors of the measure, Sen. Greg Evers, R-Baker, and Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami. But the legislative panel could also open the door to an evaluation of the recent shift in priorities that has led the state to open seven private prisons, contract out services for 21 inmate work camps, and shift mental healthcare and substance abuse treatment and inmate health care to private vendors….
Evers looking to make substantial reforms to prison system
Source: Tome McLaughlin, Daily News, February 7, 2015

As he embarks on his final term in the state Senate, Greg Evers is confronted with the greatest challenge of his long legislative career. The state’s prison system is in turmoil, as recent scrutiny has revealed deficiencies and evidence of negligence or even corruption that has led to inmate deaths. …. He said the number of corrections’ officers working in state prisons has dropped by about 3,000 since 2009 and somewhere between 2,300 and 4,000 positions need to be filled or created. …. The governor has also proposed spending to replace DOC vehicles, replace its food service contract, additional electronic monitoring, adjustments to health services contracts and substance abuse and mental health programs and treatments.

Council Blocks Controversial Jail Contract

Source: Will Sommer, Washington City Paper, Loose Lips blog, April 14, 2015

Endorsements from two mayors and a heavy lobbying campaign weren’t enough to convince the D.C. Council to let controversial correctional health provider Corizon take over at the D.C. Jail. After months of wrangling with the Tennessee-based company, a slim majority of the Council voted to disapprove the jail health contract backed by Muriel Bowser. The dispute came down between six opponents of the contract, which looks bad because of Corizon’s record for attracting lawsuits over its allegedly deficient inmate care, and proponents who either want the Council out of contract approval or because they actually think it’s a good deal. After a motion to change an approval resolution from backer Vincent Orange was amended by six councilmembers to become a disapproval (a majority on the temporarily eleven-member Council), the contract’s fate was clear. Charles Allen, Mary Cheh, David Grosso, Phil Mendelson, Brianne Nadeau, and Elissa Silverman voted to disapprove, while Yvette Alexander, Anita Bonds, Jack Evans, Kenyan McDuffie, and Vincent Orange voted against efforts to shut down the contract. With the contract blocked, current jail health provider Unity will keep running jail health services for now….
D.C. Council to vote on controversial proposal for prison’s health services

Source: Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, April 12, 2015

The D.C. Council is expected to vote Tuesday on a controversial proposal to manage health care in the city’s jail system that would award a $66 million contract to a company that has been mired in legal troubles in other states where it has performed similar work. A contract with Corizon Health would cost the District government 7 percent more than an offer made by the company’s chief competitor and the city’s current provider, Unity Health Care. It would take the work away from a locally run nonprofit group and hand it to a Tennessee-based for-profit corporation. And it would go against the fervent opposition of scores of civil rights groups that say that Corizon has an abysmal track record in inmate care….

The Shady For-Profit Company Poised To Take Over DC Prison Healthcare
Source: Alice Ollstein, ThinkProgress, December 16, 2014

The DC City Council could vote as soon as Wednesday on a 5-year contract for the notorious prison healthcare company Corizon to operate at the DC Jail and Correctional Treatment Facility. The contract would give the company jurisdiction over the medical care of the more than 10,000 DC residents that cycle through the jail every year….

Medical battle behind bars: Big prison healthcare firm Corizon struggles to win contracts

Source: David Royse, Modern Healthcare, April 11, 2015

…Corizon, the licensed vocational nurse’s employer, is the nation’s largest for-profit provider of correctional health services. In February, Corizon and Alameda County together paid an $8.3 million settlement to Harrison’s family. It was the largest civil-rights wrongful-death settlement in California history. That was only the latest high-profile setback for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Corizon, which has lost five contracts with state prison systems over the past three years and is fighting to hold on to others. In New York City, some officials want to end Corizon’s contract in city jails because of quality-of-care concerns. The firm also is under pressure in Florida, where the head of the state prison system said she plans to rebid its healthcare contracts, including one with Corizon. In Washington, D.C., members of the District Council, citing litigation and complaints about Corizon services elsewhere, oppose the mayor’s push to approve a Corizon contract to serve the city’s inmates. There have been numerous allegations of quality problems with Corizon’s care raised in lawsuits and news reports around the country, including charges of long waits for care and prisoners dying after not being properly diagnosed with cancer and other diseases. Corizon staff reportedly gave a 19-year-old Florida inmate Tylenol for severe pain for months before outside doctors found bone cancer that later killed him. In New York City, an inmate allegedly was told to throw his severed finger away because it couldn’t be reattached, though it later was. Last August, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Corizon’s parent company Valitas. In issuing its negative outlook, Moody’s cited, in part, “operating headwinds due to recent contract losses.” ….

….According to a 2014 report by the Reason Foundation, only 14 states operate their own prison healthcare, while 36 contract for at least part of it and 24 have contracted out all prison healthcare services. There are no data on how many local jails use private medical vendors. Privately held Corizon became the largest correctional healthcare provider in 2011 when Valitas Health Services, parent of the former Correctional Medical Services, acquired America Service Group, creating a company serving more than 400 facilities. Valitas is majority-owned by Chicago-based private-equity management firm Beecken Petty O’Keefe and Co. Corizon had $1.4 billion in revenue for the fiscal year ended June 2014 and now cares for 345,000 inmates in 27 states. Competitors include Nashville-based Correct Care, which cares for about 250,000 people in 37 states, and Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health, which cares for 112,000 inmates in 13 states. Other providers include St. Louis-based Centurion Managed Care, a joint venture between Centene Corp. and MHM Services, and several other smaller for-profit and not-for-profit providers. Many of Corizon’s contracts are holdovers from its predecessor companies. Since the merger, it has won new contracts, including taking over Arizona’s state prison contract from Wexford and winning part of Florida’s business after a long court fight there over whether prison healthcare could be privatized. States spend $8 billion a year on prison healthcare, the Pew Charitable Trusts says. States spend $8 billion a year on prison healthcare, the Pew Charitable Trusts says. But since 2012, Corizon has lost statewide contracts covering 84,000 inmates in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. ….

Broken equipment, shattered promises: For-profit prison healthcare

Source: Beryl Lipton, MuckRock, April 7, 2015

…Incarceration does not prevent illness. It does, however, prevent clear access to appropriate care; it does make it more difficult to advocate for treatment. The lack of adequate medical care in private and public prisons alike is one of those issues of human decency also contributing to facilities’ inefficient operation and failure to rehabilitate its inmates.

A riot in February at the private detention center Willacy County Correctional was caused in part by frustration over an inability to get reasonable medical treatment. It’s a frustration being shared by prisoners across the country. MuckRock wants to help you find out who and where.

In January, we received a response from Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County for its contracts with Corizon Health. Corizon is one of the largest private providers of correctional healthcare in the United States and provides medical services to the Allegheny County Jail. But the quality of those services have repeatedly been called into question, most recently by the ACLU, which alleges that inmates with HIV were not provided medications in a reliable way.

Criticism has been leveled against Corizon in Pennsylvania since they assumed responsibility of Allegheny’s prison health operations in 2013. Since then, the Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has conducted an audit of the provider, finding a range of inadequacies in the staffing, the care, and the record keeping. According to the contract, which contains a list of equipment in various states of usability provided to Corizon as part of the deal, Allegheny County is on the hook for half of the cost of a new electronic medical record-keeping system for the facility.

The contract also notes that Corizon is not responsible for “suicide watch” and that the facility has just one psychiatrist for the roughly 2700 prison occupants. Grievances are handled by a system run by Corizon itself….

Here are Six Companies Who Get Rich off Prisoners

Source: Ashley Nicole Black, attn:, February 21, 2015

There are currently 2.4 million people in American prisons. This number has grown by 500% in the past 30 years. While the United States has only 5% of the world’s population, it holds 25 percent of the world’s total prisoners. In 2012, one in every 108 adults was in prison or in jail, and one in 28 children in the U.S. had a parent behind bars.

Why do we have so many people in prison?

Money is a huge reason we have so many prisoners.

Several corporations make huge profits off prisons. It costs an average of $23,876 annually to house a state prisoner for a year. To save money, cash-strapped states (aka, us, the taxpayers) pay companies to deal with their prisoners. Companies make money by running prisons as cheaply as possible and squeezing the prisoners and their families for money for basic necessities and fees. As a result, private prisons are a $70 billion industry. …

Six companies and industries making a profit off of incarceration
1. Global Tel-Link ….
2. Corizon ….
3. The Bail Industry ….
4. Law Enforcement (Asset Forfeiture) ….
5. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and 6. The GEO Group (Private Prisons) ….

Inmate Care More Complicated Since Privatization

Source: Sue Lincoln, WRKF, February 10, 2015

When Earl K. Long Hospital closed nearly two years ago, LSU’s private partner in Baton Rouge—Our Lady of the Lake—took over patient care, but refused to take care of inmates. That meant a whole lot of scrambling for Angola Warden “We had to first get hospitals. So we go to Lane, depending on the emergency, because it’s the closest to the prison,” Cain says. Lane Regional Medical Center is in Zachary—about an hour’s drive from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Lane’s CEO Randall Olson says they are providing emergency care for inmates from Angola, as well as for inmates from Dixon Correctional Institution in Jackson, Louisiana. But it’s not something they brag about. …. When inmates need more extensive hospitalization, they are transferred to the LSU hospital in New Orleans. That’s created staffing problems back at Angola, as guards must stay with the prisoners at all times. The warden says he has finally been able to contract with what he calls a “babysitting service”— off-duty law enforcement officers, who will guard the prisoner until he is well enough to return to Angola.
All these changes have made inmate medical care more expensive for the prison, since Angola must now pay doctors’ salaries, “babysitters”, and hospital bills — all things that were formerly covered directly through LSU’s charity hospital system. To offset some of the costs, Cain says they’ve had to get creative. …. It’s a work in progress for the taxpayers, too, as what the state now pays to Our Lady of the Lake under the privatization contract is nearly 70 percent more than it cost to run Earl K Long, according to the Legislative Auditor. ….