AFSC-TUCSON: AZ DOC's DEATH YARDS

For Kini Seawright, and all the other women who gather crying tears that fill a million oceans...

Parsons v Ryan is now a certified CLASS ACTION!!!

As many of you know, under the current administration of Governor Jan Brewer the suicide and homicide rates among state prisoners doubled almost immediately, and has persisted over the course of the past four years, on the watch of Arizona Department of Corrections' Director Charles Ryan. On March 6, 2013, "Parsons v Ryan" , the civil rights lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU and Prison Law Office, among others, against Ryan and AZ DOC Health Services Director Richard Pratt on behalf of 14 state prisoners was certified as a CLASS ACTION!!!! That means every prisoner in the state is now a litigant.

Thank you not only to all the legal staff who brought it this far, but also to Wendy Halloran, KPNX, and the families who have survived the horrors of prison violence in this state with a resolve to make sure that the gross indifference to human life at the AZ DOC kills no more.

FREE MARCIA POWELL: NO HUMAN INVOLVED

Monday, September 8, 2014

"NO HUMAN INVOLVED": HELP FREE MARCIA POWELL!!!

a free Marcia Powell in 2008
 on Van Buren and 16th st, downtown Phoenix
Photo by Gary Millard


As many of my friends in Phoenix know, from time to time over the course of the past few years an awesome Australian filmmaker by the name of PJ Starr has come out to visit me and film area activists for her documentary about the death of Marcia Powell - the catalyst for Arizona Prison Watch to be born in the summer of 2009. 

Well, folks, it's finally almost done. We need some help to finish it, though, so please give if you can - there's an Indigogo fund set up for it, and we can really use your help. The title of the film comes from a time when the cops would document homicide victims as being male or female; in the case of prostitutes, however, they would write "NO HUMAN INVOLVED".

Here's PJ talking about "No Human Involved", along with the trailer - it looks really compelling. 

Thanks to Ruth Jacobs for this interview.

Please help Free Marcia Powell, and visit the Indigogo page...


---------------------




‘No Human Involved’: Filmmaker PJ Starr Discusses Her Documentary Telling Marcia Powell’s Story


PJ Starr Photograph by Mike Shipley taken during filming
PJ Starr – picture taken during filming
Photo credit: Mike Shipley

Can you tell me about your current project No Human Involved?

In 2009 my friend and colleague Cris Sardina (who is now the co-coordinator of the Desiree Alliance) sent me an email about the death of Marcia Powell in Perryville Prison outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Marcia had been serving a 27 month sentence for solicitation of prostitution and corrections officers had left her out in the sun in a metal cage in searing heat until she collapsed. Soon after, in hospital her life was ended when the Director of Arizona Department of Corrections removed her from life support.



Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance holding pictures of Marcia Powell
Photo credit: PJ Starr

Cris Sardina of Desiree Alliance holding pictures of Marcia Powell Photo credit: PJ StarrAfter reading about what happened, Marcia’s story was always with me.

Later in 2010 at the Filmmakers’ Collaborative at the Maysles Institute in Harlem, NYC, I began to develop the idea of investigating Marcia’s case as a potential documentary film. Many of my peers at Maysles—who were people with a lot of community organizing knowledge already—were quite astounded by the sentence she was serving and what had happened to her. I knew then that documenting what had happened to Marcia Powell could be a vital step in educating the general public about the real harms caused to people in the sex trade by the prison industrial complex.

It was a departure for me to embark on this documentary for a wide range of reasons. In 2010 I didn’t know anyone in Phoenix, I wasn’t acquainted with the organizing there and I didn’t know Marcia personally either. My previous work had always been with folks I had known for years. But my film mentor Carol Leigh encouraged me to try this new step and connected me to several key activists in Phoenix, most importantly with Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch. In March of 2011, I visited Peggy and several other the local activists to ask if they thought the film should be made and if my approach appealed to them. I knew from being involved in grassroots organizing that so often “outside experts” suck the energy out of community to “tell a news story” or make a film and this was something I wanted to avoid doing. Everything fell into place during that first journey, we all were on the same page. People were also beginning to reflect on how Marcia’s death had set a series of events in motion and wanted to talk about that in the context of a documentary.
Marcia Powell - Peggy's Chalking
What do you hope this project will achieve?

Chalking by Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch

I want people to understand that what happened to Marcia can happen again. The film is not about an isolated, shocking incident (even though the case is horrific), rather it explores an example that exposes the system. As a member of Phoenix Food Not Bombs said at Marcia’s memorial service in 2009, “this has happened before, it will happen again, it happens to men, women and transgender people.” There is a mistaken belief amongst concerned people out there that somehow going to prison can “turn someone’s life around” and help people “escape” prostitution or drug use. So, the first part of the message of NO HUMAN INVOLVED is that prison is not safe, you don’t get comprehensive services there, you are dehumanized. If you are a woman who doesn’t conform to a very narrow set of gender norms set out in prison, you are at greater risk, or if you are trans, or queer, or if you have a mental health issue. The second part is that a web of terrible laws and policies—ranging from statutes to prevent walking and sleeping in public space and surviving through sex work—are sending people to prison for very long periods of time under mandatory sentencing. And to spell out the point, I think there are many, many people in the general public who want women like Marcia to “be helped” but they don’t yet understand the real functioning of the law, how policing happens, what happens to you in the court room and the system that classifies you once you are inside a prison. NO HUMAN INVOLVED unpacks all of this step by step so that audiences can think differently about what needs to change. The film is also raises awareness about the sheer numbers of people being arrested under the current criminalization of the sex trade in Arizona and the sheer numbers of people being placed in jails and prisons for doing what they need to live.

Can you share about the research you’ve undertaken to get this off the ground?

When I first started developing the film idea in 2010 and early 2011, I read a lot of online materials and reports about Marcia’s death. Since then the ACLU Arizona has published some very important documents about the experiences of prisoners that also form background information for the film. Over time NO HUMAN INVOLVED has evolved into very much a community project. Even though I have experience in doing research, finding accurate information relating to incarceration has been a learning curve and I am in awe of what folks in Phoenix can do. A colleague in Arizona has shown me how to request extremely detailed information from Arizona Department of Corrections and my good friend Monica Jones not only explained how the courts function in Arizona but encouraged me to find recordings and video tapes of Marcia’s court appearances. Kini Seawright (of the Seawright Prison Justice Project), has helped me seek out connections in the activist community to find people who personally knew Marcia. Kini keeps me putting my heart into the film. I’ve spoken to scores of people to record background interviews, including some with amazing women who were in Perryville with Marcia who have shared about who she was and how she was treated. I’ve met and interviewed people from the corrections system and a local filmmaker gave me truly vital original footage of Charles Ryan (the director of the Department of Corrections) speaking about the case at a memorial for Marcia organized by activists in 2009. In order to document how the community has responded in the years since Marcia’s death, I’ve attended (and filmed) church services, memorials, meetings at local women’s groups, rallies, actions, I’ve filmed (with permission) in the court and spoken to law enforcement. I’ve seen (and documented) the emergence of SWOP Phoenix as a presence to challenge the policing practices that put Marcia on that path to Perryville Prison.

What stage is the project at currently?

I am working with a very dedicated editor in the NYC area on the second cut of the film. Once we have enough funding, we will refine it, and create the DVD to begin the film’s distribution. As with most films these days NO HUMAN INVOLVED has been a labor of love (ie unfunded) but there are certain things such as mastering the DVD that I need to have done professionally in order to get Marcia’s story the attention it deserves.

Are you looking for people to be involved?

If folks are on social media they should follow/like the NO HUMAN INVOLVED project on Facebook and Twitter or send me an email to get updates as the film is completed and released. Currently I am hosting the first online fundraiser I have ever done to support one of my own creative projects to raise what we need for the absolutely essential things that a really polished documentary needs. Donations are tax deductible and every cent will be going back to support the film.

In the future as we plan actions and connect to campaigns related to the film, there will be many other things for people to engage with so please find a way to get in touch. I am also always happy to share what I have learned with others in the community so if a reader wants support in developing a rights based project related to the theme of NO HUMAN INVOLVED then I am happy to do as much as I can to share information, skills and connections.

Who is the target audience and what message do you want them to take away with them?

With this film I am taking a step out to interface with people who may know a little about the impact of incarceration but who have not yet had a chance to connect the dots about anti-prostitution policies, policing, the prison industrial complex and people in the community who also happen to be engaged (or profiled as engaging) in sex work. And even though as rights based activists we have collectively made enormous strides in explaining all of this, I am sure that there is a very large number of people out there who want to do the right thing by the communities of people mentioned in the film (sex workers, people with mental health issues, people with experiences of incarceration) but need more information. The film is a rights project engaging with the audience to explain that prisons are not a solution and that human rights, not “rescue” by the police, are what work best. The phrase “no human involved” indicates that the powers that be are not interested in investigating violence committed against certain groups of people because their lives are considered unimportant. The documentary NO HUMAN INVOLVED reaffirms Marcia’s humanity and is an investigation of its own kind. Finally, the phrase “free Marcia Powell” (first used by Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch) is repeated throughout the film and will anchor social media strategies in a call for liberation of Marcia’s spirit and all those who are still incarcerated.

What are your plans for the future? 

Once NO HUMAN INVOLVED is completed, I will turn my activist attention to ensuring the film leads to the change that we intend. But I am also beginning to work on another project with Monica and some other people in Phoenix.

Where can people find out more about your project?

I am keeping updates flowing very regularly on Facebook and Twitter, and the film is currently fiscally sponsored as a Women Make Movies project.

Recommended websites/further reading:

I highly recommend checking out Peggy Plews writing at Arizona Prison Watch.

The book Women’s Resistance Behind Bars by Victoria Law illustrates how women in prisons seek justice and is essential reading. Victoria is also an advisor to NO HUMAN INVOLVED. Victoria and colleagues at Truthout also provide an instructive commentary on documentary and journalist portrayals of prisoners at a 2014 panel discussion at the Left Forum in NYC. They describe what works and what undermines activism and recommend some excellent films to view as well.

For very honest and insightful information from someone who has worked within the Department of Corrections at a senior level, I recommend the various writings of Carl Toersbijns.

To support the final phase of producing the documentary NO HUMAN INVOLVED click here to donate to the Indiegogo campaign.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Corizon Deaths in Custody: Suicide of John Kahler, 51.

Another suicide, this one at ASPC-Tucson/Cimarron (a pretty rough yard, by all accounts). All I can tell you about John Kahler is that while he was being held in the county jail, pending trial, he was deemed incompetent to aid in his defense ( I suspect he was symptomatic when he committed his crime, and should maybe not even have been prosecuted...). Within days of being found competent, he pled guilty to get the hell out of the Maricopa County jail - and got placed on mental health probation. It appears he planned to do his four years in Montana, but he apparently violated his probation within a short period of time, pleading guilty during a "group advisement" - he was immediately sent to prison by Commissioner J. Justin McGuire, it appears, no discussion

How sad they couldn't give him another chance. That 5 year prison stint became a death sentence, as John was only in the custody of the AZ DOC less than 2 months before killing himself...and based on all the mail and calls I get about Corizon's poor mental health care, I'd bet they weren't treating his mental illness appropriately. He must have felt terribly alone, if his family was back in Montana.

Condolences to John's loved ones. If anyone knows anything more about his life or death, please contact me. I am Peggy Plews at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

john kahler, 51



      ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS


1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133


JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR
CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release


For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov

Friday, September 05, 2014

Inmate Death Notification


TUCSON (Friday, September 05, 2014) – An inmate at the Tucson prison complex has died as the result of an apparent suicide.

51 year-old John Kahler, ADC# 292841, was found unresponsive in his housing location at approximately 8:50 AM.  Officers immediately responded and began lifesaving measures which were continued by paramedics.  Kahler was later pronounced deceased at a local hospital.

Kahler was serving a five year sentence out of Maricopa County on a conviction for arson of an occupied structure, and had been in ADC custody since July, 2014.

All deaths are investigated in consultation with the county medical examiner’s office.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Corizon body count climbs: Suicide of Barry Wilkins, 55.

I know nothing of the circumstances of this suicide, or any of this man's struggles.  I can, however, tell you that from his DOC record it appears as if he was actually at ASPC-PHX/Alhambra, not at Ft. Grant in Safford, when this happened- which is where the DOC has its intake unit, and where they assess prisoners who are seriously mentally ill. That tells me he was in a known psychiatric crisis of some kind already.

Condolences to Barry's loved ones; I can refer you to an attorney if you need one - it may be the only way to get to the bottom of how and why he died. I can also use your help, if you want to fight back.

If anyone out there knows more about this man's life or death, please drop me a line at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com.

---------------------

      ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS


1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133


JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR
CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release


For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Inmate Death Notification

SAFFORD (Wednesday, August 27, 2014) – An inmate at the Ft. Grant unit of ASPC-Safford has died in an apparent suicide.

55 year-old inmate Barry Wilkins, ADC #070104 was found unresponsive Wednesday morning by ADC personnel who began lifesaving measures that were continued by paramedics upon their arrival.  Medical personnel later pronounced Wilkins dead.

Wilkins was admitted to ADC custody on September 16, 2002.  He was sentenced out of Maricopa County on multiple charges including burglary, theft, unlawful use of a means of transportation, criminal damage, forgery, fraudulent use of a credit card, criminal damage and resisting arrest.

All inmate deaths are investigated in consultation with the county medical examiner’s office.

https://apps.azcorrections.gov/mugshots/070104.jpg

Monday, August 18, 2014

The "execution" of Lino Flores, ASPC-EYMAN: Even supermax isn't "safe".


Another homicide at the AZ DOC, this time in the Supermax prison, ASPC-Eyman. Interestingly, according to the records below, both prisoners were both moved to their current location at Eyman on the same date, perhaps together. Also of note - the victim was Native American, while the killer is identified as Mexican American. That means this crime was intensely personal and spur-of-the-moment, or Salazar had the permission of - perhaps was under the orders of - one of the gangs to take Flores out; otherwise this might start a race war.  

How either of these two men were considered to be lower than MAX custody is a puzzle, since they had both apparently killed someone in custody before. Wow, in fact, this was Flores' case. More startling, here is one of the reports about Salazar's history: it says he actually stabbed an officer in the head in 2007 - and that was apparently before he killed someone else. And he was only close custody? Yet they bury political prisoners and the mentally ill guys who have harmed no one in solitary for years...). 

Inmate 156258

Last NameFirst NameMiddle InitialBirth Date
SALAZARJULIOC01/22/1982
GenderHeight (inches)WeightHair Color
MALE 69165BLACK
Eye ColorEthnic OriginCustody LevelInmate/Detainee
BROWNMEXICAN AMERICANCLOINMATE
SentenceAdmissionPrison Release DateMax Supervision End Date
Sentence Information Below01/23/200109/18/2035
Cur. AbscondedHist. AbscondedRelease TypeMost Recent Loc
-N---RECEIVED FROMEYMAN
Community Supervision ParoleLast MovementCommitment StatusStatus
04/30/2014COMPLETE AND VERIFIED ACTIVE
Commitment Information 2 record(s)
Commit#Sentence CountyCourt Case#Offense DateSentence StatusCrimeFelony Class
A01 MARICOPA 2000007153 04/29/2000 IMPOSED MANSLAUGHTER CL2
B01 PINAL 2007-00258 01/17/2007 IMPOSED MURDER 1ST DEGREE CL2
Sentence Information 2 record(s)

I don't know why the DOC didn't have Flores in Protective Custody - he was a target, with that sex crime conviction on his record; it looks like he murdered his rape victim. I'd really call this one a state-assisted execution, not a "murder".


Inmate 040338
Last NameFirst NameMiddle InitialBirth Date
FLORESLINO09/23/1960
GenderHeight (inches)WeightHair Color
MALE 67140BLACK
Eye ColorEthnic OriginCustody LevelInmate/Detainee
BROWNNATIVE INDIANMEDINMATE
SentenceAdmissionPrison Release DateMax Supervision End Date
Sentence Information Below11/19/1979LIFE
Cur. AbscondedHist. AbscondedRelease TypeMost Recent Loc
-N---RECEIVED FROMEYMAN
Community Supervision ParoleLast MovementCommitment StatusStatus
04/30/2014COMPLETE AND VERIFIED ACTIVE
Commitment Information 5 record(s)
Commit#Sentence CountyCourt Case#Offense DateSentence StatusCrimeFelony Class
A01 MARICOPA 0106761 04/13/1979 IMPOSED MURDER 2ND DEGREE CL3
A02 MARICOPA 0106761 04/13/1979 IMPOSED SEXUAL ASSAULT CL3
B01 PINAL 0009748 10/15/1981 IMPOSED DANG/DEADLY ASLT BY PRSNR CL1
B02 PINAL 0009748 10/15/1981 IMPOSED PRISNR POSS DEADLY WEAPON CL4
C01 PINAL 0010992 01/03/1984 IMPOSED MURDER 1ST DEGREE



Unfortunately, this man's death is not just "one less bad guy off the taxpayers back" (a comment left at the end of this AZCENTRAL.COM article below by one reader). Yet another homicide in the AZ DOC is symptomatic of the huge problem of violent gangs and thugs running the AZ Prison system under Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan (Jan Brewer's chief disciplinarian); even minor drug offenders are vulnerable to being murdered over petty debts. This victim was probably asking for some kind of protection and denied it before he was killed, and the killer was likely given no choice but to do the deed or be killed himself. That's the way it works in the AZ DOC, under the Mexican Mafia's rule. Better take a closer look at the recent suicides, too - they have a habit of strangling guys and leaving them hanging in the showers.

Due to the high rate of violence, medical neglect, and outright abuse of prisoners in the past 6 years, the AZ DOC has come to be known as the most poorly-run prison system in the country; officers and prisoners alike aren't safe in any of the state prisons, not even in Protective Custody ( where the last two homicides occurred). 

So before we celebrate this man's murder - be it because of the seriousness of his own crimes or whatever other reason one may think it represents "justice" -  think about how many lives and tax dollars are being wasted warehousing potheads with murderers in the kind of hellhole where they are more likely to develop a new heroin habit than get any kind of substance abuse treatment. We should all really be asking Jan why she still stands by her man there...



photo by Robert Haasch
art by Margaret J Plews

 the day the nazis came to town 
 (phoenix, november 2010)


---------from the Arizona Republic----






Florence inmate death may be homicide, officials say

Authorities are investigating a suspected homicide at a state prison in Florence, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Prison officials found Lino Flores unresponsive and suffering from traumatic injuries at about 2 p.m. Saturday in his cell at the Eyman prison complex, ADC spokesman Doug Nick said.

Paramedics pronounced Flores, 53, dead at the scene, Nick said. Flores was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, sexual assault, possession of a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon.

Investigators are questioning fellow inmate Julio Salazar, Nick said. Salazar, 32, is serving time for first-degree murder and manslaughter.

No other information was immediately available.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parsons v Ryan: AZ AG/DOC seeks settlement talks, as CORIZON treats cancer with antacids.


Condolences to the family of Glen Huggins and every other AZ DOC prisoner who has died from the violence of deliberate indifference under this governorship. May we soon see an end to the drug war, and the beginning of the end to our legislature giving blessings to those who would maximize profit by stealing public resources from the sick and dying. The prisoners, the ACLU-AZ and the Prison Law Office, among others, are doing their part to fight the parasites our state does business with, having filed Parsons v Ryan (which goes to trial in October, unless it's settled first). Please do your part as well, and honor Glen's dying wish that no more have to suffer as he did. Demand that your legislators launch an investigation into the DOC's ineffective leadership, high number of unnecessary prisoner deaths, and poor oversight of contract agencies. You can find them here:


Arizona State Legislature
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890


Also call on Governor Brewer's office to sack AZ Department of Corrections' Director Charles Ryan for this mess, and insist that a new director improve health care as a top priority - Ryan's DOC has only sought to grow prisons and the profits of folks like Corizon. 

Her contact info is here:

http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

(602) 542-4331

 

Thank you to CH 12/KPNX and Wendy Halloran, from the prisoners and the family members I've spoken to about Corizon and the AZ DOC's complicity in depriving state prisoners of the most basic things they need to survive - which begins with recognizing their humanity, as well as our own.

If you are the loved one of a prisoner of the AZ DOC who is suffering without care, contact Arizona Prison Watch. I will provide what resources I can to help - including a list of attorneys who have sued the state prison system and don't give me kickbacks for referrals (likewise, if you know of any good lawyers who may help other families, please let me know). I can be reached at:arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com or 480-580-6807

Here are a couple of other blog posts that give concrete info about fighting the AZ DOC on medical issues.




Please also contact KPNX/AZ Republic's parent company, to tell them we need more stories like the one below, because prisoners' lives matter. Cut and paste this email to reach them at connect@ad.gannett.com

 
-------------from CH12/KPNX-----------

Costs up, no improvement in prison healthcare quality

Wendy Halloran, 12 News | azcentral.com 

 10:50 p.m. MST August 1, 2014





First they refused to admit there's a dire problem. Now, after a 12 News investigation, the Arizona Department of Corrections is offering to settle up with inmates in a class-action lawsuit filed in 2012.

We first brought you the story of inmates not getting proper healthcare, even though taxpayers are footing the bill, in May. Our reporting revealed there were at least 16,000 delays in medical care to Arizona inmates in 2013.

So far, the only action taken has been imposing fines on Corizon, the company contracted to provide healthcare for inmates in the state.

HEALTHCARE RATE INCREASE 

The state has paid Corizon $130 million a year to provide healthcare for inmates. Arizona taxpayers have paid, on average, $348,000 per day.

In July, a rate increase went into effect, from $10.10 per inmate per day to $10.42, due to changes made by ADC. According to Corizon's contract, the increase is to pay for 34 more staff positions to hand out medications. This followed an ADC policy change regarding what medications inmates were allowed to self-administer after multiple suicides and overdoses.

So costs have gone up, but newly released records obtained by 12 News show the problems inside the state's prisons are getting worse.

ADC-employed monitors routinely document Corizon's performance in monthly reports known as MGARs. In our review of the new batch of reports covering November of last year through April, we found numerous cases of delay, lack of treatment, noncompliance with the terms of the contract, ADC monitors noting staff shortages, and lack of medication and psychiatric care for mentally ill prisoners.


THE STORY OF INMATE GLEN HUGGINS

On December 15, 2013, Glen Huggins had 72 hours left to live.

Huggins was serving a 12-year prison sentence on drug convictions at the state prison in Tucson. He had already served eight years when he suddenly became gravely ill.

In August of 2013 Huggins complained to prison staff in Tucson about abdominal pain. He filled out what is known as an HNR, a Health Needs Requests inmates are required to fill out to get medical care. He complained he had not been able to swallow his food and keep it down since June, and had been losing weight.

More than a week later, a nurse saw Huggins. His symptoms were documented but his case was deemed "not urgent."

At the end of August, a nurse practitioner saw Huggins and, thinking the pain was due to Hepatitis C and acid reflux, gave him an antacid.

"That wasn't doing anything," Huggins' son, Cody, told us. "Meanwhile he's still losing weight, he can't swallow."

Huggins' family provided 12 News his medical records, which show he had a family history of cancer.

We asked Dr. Palav Babaria, a primary-care physician in Oakland, California to review the documents and give her opinion on whether the family's allegations of delays in care were accurate.

Dr. Babaria has done work for the Prison Law Office, one of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.

"For someone like Mr. Huggins, who had the medical history that he had, any complaints of not being able to swallow accompanied by profound weight loss he was talking about, I think any competent physician would have worried about cancer until proven otherwise," said Dr. Babaria.

On September 17, Huggins wrote in an HNR the antacids he was taking weren't working and his condition was getting worse.

In an October request, Huggins wrote a nurse had seen him eight times and an abdominal X-ray was normal, but still no doctor was assigned to examine him.

He filed more HNRs complaining of continued difficulty swallowing food and keeping food down. He wrote that the antacids were not helping with his pain.

Dr. Babaria says an abdominal X-ray was not an appropriate test.

"The two easiest ways of doing that are getting X-rays called a barium swallow, and see if liquid that shows up on the X-ray is passing or not, or just doing an endoscopy, going down with a camera to get a really good look and do biopsies," she said.

Dr. Babaria says, in Huggins' case, it seems that none of that was done when he first complained of the symptoms. Instead he was treated as if he only had acid reflux.

According to records obtained by 12 News, Huggins was just one of several inmates at the Tucson prison who suffered from a lack of medical care.

The Department of Corrections' own monitors documented long delays for inmates to be seen by outside specialists. Only nine patients out of 33 received urgent consultations in a timely manner. The requirement is that urgent consultations are done within 30 days, which goal Corizon met only 27% of the time.

A SON'S STRUGGLE 

Reading his father's HNRs was upsetting for Cody Huggins.

"You see a man that is just pleading for help and asking for help practically begging for help there at the end," he said.

According to Huggins' prison records, on October 23, 2013 a possible diagnosis of cancer is noted after a mass extending from Huggins' chest to his navel was discovered. This was made by the Corizon nurse practitioner.

Only then did Corizon approve sending Huggins to an outside hospital. The first time Huggins was seen by a doctor was when he arrived in the emergency room. According to Huggins' medical records, within an hour, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer.

The cancer spread from his esophagus to other parts of his body. The doctors could not put a stint in to open up his esophagus because of the size of the tumor. Instead, they inserted a feeding tube in his stomach so he could get some nourishment.

His medical records show he lost almost 40 pounds in the months he kept requesting treatment and reporting problems.

On December 5, 2013 the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency recommended his sentence be commuted due to "imminent danger of death."

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a clemency order on December 11. Huggins was medically paroled the next day. His family took him home to die.

Huggins died on December 18, less than a week after his release.

Cody Huggins called it inhumane and hopes this doesn't happen to any other inmates or their families.

Dr. Babaria says the degree of suffering was preventable.

Now, Huggins' family plans to file suit against Corizon, accusing the healthcare provider of denying Huggins adequate and competent care.

Corizon denies any wrongdoing in Huggins' death. The company issued this statement:

"State and federal privacy laws forbid disclosure by Corizon of any identifiable patient medical information, let alone argument of factual claims regarding patient care in the news media. We can state that the allegations made by Ms. Halloran related to the patient's access to nursing staff and medical providers are not supported by the medical record. The inmate patient received timely, appropriate and professional care. The onset and advance of the patient's condition were unfortunately rapid and aggressive, just as they are often so among other similarly stricken patients. Allegations to the contrary are misleading and untruthful."

Cody Huggins struggles with his father's death. He thought his dad would be released from prison for the last time and they could rebuild their relationship and start a new one with Cody's young daughter.

Over the last two quarters, Corizon has been sanctioned by the state for a total of $71,000 based on its performance. An ADC spokesman emailed us this statement:

"The MGAR reports are valuable tools to document compliance with identified performance measures. Corrective action plans are implemented to hold Corizon accountable for those measures. ADC has imposed financial sanctions on Corizon as part of the company's contract with the state.

"As with any such contract, Corizon's agreement is subject to the state Procurement Code as well as adherence to the Department of Corrections Department Order 302, Contracts and Procurement, to ensure transparent, fair and equitable practices and has the approval of the Attorney General's Office and State Procurement Officer."

Meanwhile, the class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Arizona, ACLU National Prison Project, and the Prison Law Office is scheduled to go to trial this October in Phoenix. It accuses the Department of Corrections of providing inadequate medical care, mental healthcare and dental care that has led to deaths.
Defending against the suit is private law firm Struck, Wieneke & Love PLC of Chandler. So far, billing records reveal taxpayers have paid this firm approximately $3.4 million to defend the Arizona Department of Corrections against the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the Prison Law Office has confirmed via email that settlement talks are underway to avoid a trial, issuing the following statement:

"The AG's office filed a request seeking a settlement conference, and after preliminary discussions with the AG's office we agreed to that request. A court-supervised settlement conference is scheduled for August 5."