I received the following letter from a woman at ASPC-Perryville who is
deeply concerned for a friend’s welfare, and hopes that publishing her
story will help improve the quality of care she gets from Corizon
staff and the AZ DOC. She’s one of few women I’m in touch with who really knows how to
fight back through the grievance process and civil rights suits. Thank you, Laura Medley. You rock!
prisoner Dominique Keys
“In 2006, Dominique Keys developed osteomyleitis. This is an infection
of bone marrow and/or bone structures usually caused by a bacteria. For
months she had a fever up to 104 degrees, and AZ Department of
Corrections (DOC) medical told her nothing was wrong with her.
her knowledge, this infection ate through the spinal vertebrae causing
two cervical fractures. For months medical left Dominique in her cell
partially paralyzed in her own urine and feces telling staff that there
was nothing wrong with her.
By January 2007, (medical) sent
Dominique to the hospital where the fractures were discovered. After
which Dr. Naftaly Attias performed a corpeltomy fusion at C 5-6, C4-7
with a steel cage. The doctor did not bother to tell Dominique that he
had accidentally drilled a hole through her spinal cord. In fact, she
didn’t find this out until 2012.
By 2013, after Corizon
assumed the control I wrote a letter to Corizon’s legal department.
Dominique was examined by a physician at St. Luke’s Hospital who stated
that the damage to her cervical spine was irrepairable and re-affirmed
that she still required a second surgery(A spinal rod). The surgical
consult was approved in December 2013, however, nothing has been done.
filed a medical malpractice case against Dr. Attias in Maricopa County
Superior Court (CV 2012-017403) I waived all of the motions and oral
arguments for Dominique. Even with a court order, it has taken months
just to get a copy of her medical records. Just short of a contempt
ADOC did not want the release of these medical
records not only because of the spinal issues, but because of several
issues. In 2011, Dominique fell transferring from the toilet to her
wheelchair. You could clearly see a dislocation of her left shoulder and
medical refused to address the issue.
So, once again I wrote
a letter to Corizon’s legal department. Last November, St. Luke’s
hospital performed an MRI. All of the muscles tore, arthritis, and
healed improperly, rotator cuff blown out and she requires complete
joint replacement. Even with surgery, Dominique will never have full use
of her left arm and shoulder. 3 months later, medical claims that
they’re trying to find a doctor to perform the procedure.
had cardiac issues. Specifically aneurysm on the carotid artery with
high blood pressure and several blocked arteries. After DOC was notified
that Dominique required cardiac surgery, it’s been several YEARS since
she has been seen by a cardiologist.
Dominique is a 70-year
old woman. With respect to her spine, intermittent paralysis and extreme
pain. These assholes wouldn’t even approve her with a wheelchair. Her
daughter bought her a wheelchair. She’s in agony with her shoulder. With
the cardiac, the pain has her blood pressure at stroke levels.
is being done and essentially ADOC wants her to remain in a cell, shut
up and die! At this point, in considering adding Arizona as a party to
the Attias lawsuit just to obtain orders for medical treatments…” ------------------------ Dominique
apparently just returned to Perryville from the hospital on 5/11/14 - I
dont know what procedure she may have had there, but expect to hear
back from her friend soon.
Please, readers, contact Governor Brewer’s office and urge her to appoint an executive team to investigate
the privatization of the DOC’s health services - the performance of
these private companies has been criminal, for which they are making a
profit off of the tax dollars stolen from our schools to care for
prisoners - in fact, Corizon is being paid over $300,000 a day to deny
prisoners the essential care they need. Governor's Office Executive Tower 1700 West Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85007
those of you who are also fighting for a loved one’s medical care at
the AZ DOC, please refer to these posts below, and call or email me if
you need help. Your loved ones MUST be filing grievances, not just more
HNRs, if they aren’t getting the care they need. Reach me, Peggy Plews
at 480-580-6807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor Brewer has apparently informed the federal government that Arizona has no intentions of protecting its prisoners from rape by abiding by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which is now supposed to be going into effect across the country. Given the current conditions in Arizona's state prisons, this should be no surprise. This is just one more piece of evidence that AZ Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan has no regard whatsoever for the health, safety, or welfare of his prisoners: his actions consistently speaks louder than his words. And we can't let it go this way without a fight. The Department of Corrections (DOC) sucks up over 10% of the state budget, but NO ONE wants to hold them accountable for how that money is being spent, for some reason.
Rejecting the PREA standards means the state actually loses federal funding for the prison system, so there must be some serious problems preventing the DOC from thinking they could comply. As folks may recall, the NAACP sent the AZ DOC Director, Charles Ryan, a letter last fall expressing concern for the safety of gay and transgender prisoners in his custody, as we had received numerous complaints that they were being targeted with violence and the DOC was routinely, repeatedly, refusing to place those who needed it into protective custody (PC), leaving them to be brutalized in general population (GP) or giving them disciplinary tickets and punishment for refusing to house in GP. Ryan responded with his assurances that he cares about each and every one of his prisoners, of course, and wouldn't dream of letting them get hurt, if he can help it.
I've also received reports of DOC staff responding to rape victims with abusive language, harsh housing assignments, loss of privileges, accusations of lying, and hate speech and violence in response to a gay prisoner who was raped. Most often the victim is put in the hole during a brief "investigation" ("Hey, did you rape Joe? He says you did. NO? Oh, sorry to bother you then...."). Once the DOC investigates and fails to substantiate anything, the victim is then moved to another GP yard to be further traumatized and violated, while the accused (often a prisoner in a position of power on the yards) is left in place to brutalize others - this teaches rape victims at the AZ DOC not to speak up at all, which means there are likely far more prison rapes in our state than are reported. The AZ DOC is so incapable of adequately investigating rapes that occur in their facilities, in fact, that in 2013, out of more than 80 allegations of inmate-on-inmate "non-consensual sexual acts" (they wont even call it rape) or "abusive sexual contact" they weren't able to substantiate a single one - not a single rapist in their custody was found to have done a thing as of the time their 2013 PREA report was due. I find that astonishing - I'd fire the whole DOC Criminal Investigations Unit over that. Maybe that's why they don't want to comply with federal standards protecting prisoners from rape - Director Ryan clearly must not think there really is such a thing as rape in his prisons.
I hope all you families out there bombard the Governor's office this week with complaints about her decision to allow the DOC to refuse to comply with PREA guidelines, and demand that she take responsibility for investigating the escalating violence against gay and trans prisoners, the brown on black race war, the flourishing heroin trade, the control of most general population yards by gangs, and the horrendous disaster that the privatization of health care at the DOC has been. Please cc your correspondence to the Governor's office to the local media, too. Contact info is below. One thing which makes it easier for Arizona to get away with rejecting PREA standards, I'm sure, is the fact that the state's "Victims Bill of Rights", as enshrined in the AZ Constitution, deprives one class of people of the same rights everyone else in this state gets when they become crime victims: individuals "in custody for an offense". Even Walmart has more legal standing in court as a crime victim than actual human beings in state custody have. That means that if your child is murdered in custody - even by agents of the state - you also have no "victims rights" guaranteed to you as a survivor (no wonder the DOC leaves so many homicides unsolved...).
It seems to me that if he really cared about ending the violence and evil humans perpetrate on eachother in this world, Steve Twist would be urging Governor Brewer to reconsider her position on prison rape and implementing the PREA standards across the AZ DOC.The failure to
implement PREA standards will place kids in the juvenile and adult
criminal justice system at greater risk of sexual abuse, too - and Steve Twist is on Brewer's Children's Protective Services Task force,
so it's not like he wouldn't have her ear on this issue. Please especially write to him if you are a survivor of prison violence. He needs to hear from you, now, not me.
STEVEN J. TWIST
ARIZONA VOICE FOR CRIME VICTIMS P.O. Box 12722
Scottsdale, Arizona 85267
If you folks who care about prisoners don't contact the Governor and media on this, your loved ones will be at even greater risk in custody in this state than they are already, so please, everyone, call or write both the Governor and Gannett News and protest her decisoon on PREA. Here is the contact info you need:
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer Arizona Governor Executive Tower 1700 West Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85007 WEB CONTACT FORM (602) 542-4331
states are refusing to comply with a federal law designed to reduce
sexual assaults in prison, with governors criticizing the decade-old law
as counterproductive and too expensive to implement.
governors of Idaho, Texas, Indiana, Utah and Arizona have informed U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder that they won't try to meet the standards
required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Governors were required
to certify by May 15 that their states either met the standards designed
to curb widespread sexual abuse behind bars, or to promise that they
were actively working toward that goal.
"Idaho supports the
spirit and intention of PREA and the National PREA Standards, but a law
with good intent has evolved into a law with too much red tape," Idaho
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter wrote in a letter to Holder sent five days after
the deadline. It would cost the state millions of dollars to meet some
of the standards, Otter said, and he believed the cost would have little
ultimate benefit. Besides, the governor said, the state has taken
substantial steps to reduce sexual victimization in correctional
Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Holder in April that his
state wouldn't comply because the rules were too costly and violated
states' rights. Perry's letter also encouraged other states to reject
the federal law, and said that instead, his state would continue the
programs it already has to reduce prison rapes. Perry's spokesman Rich
Parsons said Friday that Perry sent a subsequent letter last week to
Holder, contending that some PREA standards are in conflict with Texas
Brenda Smith, a former commissioner on the National
Prison Rape Elimination Commission which helped create the PREA
standards, said the decision by some states to opt out is shameful.
are not some high falutin', unreachable standards. These are things
that are constitutional, based on best practices that have been
determined in the field and in the courts," Smith said. "As a state you
can move over to the sidelines, but people in custody don't get to move
over to the sidelines. Providing them safety from sexual abuse is the
minimum we can do."
At least 10 more states — Alaska, New York,
Ohio, California, Washington, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Colorado,
Mississippi and Illinois — have said that they can't meet all the
requirements yet, but are actively working toward that goal. New Mexico
says it's fully compliant with the law.
Leaders of Just Detention
International, an organization that works to end sexual abuse in
detention facilities, said they were encouraged that most states are
working toward PREA compliance.
"We want actual certifications to
be meaningful, so states should certify only when they know that they
are in full compliance," said the organization's executive director
Lovisa Stannow in a prepared statement. "Until then, the Department of
Justice must strictly monitor states to ensure that they are using their
federal funds appropriately. No state should be meeting its five
percent financial commitment by diverting funds away from essential
inmate services like rape crisis counseling - doing so would run counter
to the intent of PREA."
The Prison Rape Elimination Act was
passed unanimously by Congress in 2003. The next several years were
spent developing PREA standards, and in 2012 those rules went into
effect. The Department of Justice is expected to publish a list of
PREA-compliant states by September.
The major provisions of PREA
are designed to change the culture of prisons to one that has zero
tolerance for sexual victimization; to change prison facilities so that
there are fewer opportunities for rape to occur; and to change reporting
policies so that inmates have a safe way to report a crime and a safe
place to go if they are sexually victimized.
The law's only
enforcement mechanism is a partial loss of grant funding. States that
don't comply with PREA can lose up to 5 percent of the federal grant
money they receive for corrections. States can keep the money if they
promise to use it to come into compliance with the law.
potential human impact is huge: The Department of Justice says that at
least 216,000 of U.S. prisoners were raped or sexually abused behind
bars in 2011, and cautions that the number is likely low, because prison
rapes are seldom reported. The ACLU estimates that about 2 million
people have been raped or sexually abused behind bars since PREA was
enacted by Congress.
What follows is an interview with a Corizon whistleblower/former employee, Teresa Short, and the results of extensive research by KPNX investigative journalist, Wendy Halloran. Wendy has even posted critical evidence for us from her research below. Teresa worked in the infirmary at ASPC-Tucson/Rincon, and was deeply troubled by much of what she saw while there. If you or a loved one of yours has been mistreated at ASPC-Tucson/Rincon in the past year, please get in touch with me. And to anyone out there who is or will be litigating Corizon: you need to send this article to your attorney. These people are preying on the sick and dying. AZ DOC prisoners and their families owe both Teresa and Wendy a debt of gratitude for their willingness to risk retaliation by the powerful to bring the truth to light. Even our state's legislators are afraid to call DOC and Corizon out for what they've been up to. This experiment has not only been a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars that could be used to prevent crime and incarceration, but will be sucking resources out of the state budget long after Corizon has run away with its profits. At great cost to Arizonans - with the blessing of our Republican legislature and governor - Wexford and Corizon have perpetrated additional harm on the very people the DOC is supposed to be "rehabilitating", costing the lives and livelihoods of far too many individuals who do not deserve to be thrown away.
Rather than whitewashing things like this poor man bleeding out due to negligent care, DOC Director Ryan should be pounding down the Governor's door saying "THIS ISN'T WORKING!!!!", and begging the legislature to reverse their order to privatize state correctional health care. He owes them the truth - he owes that to all of us.
To all the rest of you at the DOC and Corizon who are trying to do the right thing by the patients you serve: thank you for all your acts of kindness and professionalism, but your silence still makes you complicit with the real bad guys. Please talk to SOMEONE about what you have seen and been ordered to do as well, if it goes against yours or your profession's ethics. Otherwise, they will most surely get away with this fraud, waste and abuse. You might want to start with contacting Wendy Halloran at KPNX. If anyone can put the info you may have to good use, it's her. Wendy Halloran, KPNX/12News 200 East Van Buren Phoenix, AZ 85004 602-444-1212
taxpayers are footing a $10.2 million per month bill for healthcare a
12 News investigation has found leaves some patients untreated.
Arizona taxpayers pay $125 million a year to Corizon,
a company contracted to provide healthcare to Arizona's inmate
population. A 12 News investigation revealed there are questions about
whether the company is driving up its profits at the expense of
That filing accuses the department of not providing adequate medical care, mental health care and dental care to prisoners.
The state hired Struck, Wieneke & Love PLC,
a private law firm in Chandler, to handle its defense. Legal billing
records show taxpayers have already paid the firm $2,988,910.68 as of
In an interview, Dan Pochoda, the legal director for
the ACLU of Arizona, says the defense of the lawsuit was given to a
private firm too quickly. He questions why the Attorney General's Office
is not defending the case.
"The Attorney General's Office, they
have a section that does the defense for this specific agency, in this
case the prison systems, as they do for other agencies and presumptively
it should start off obviously with the AG," he said. "You know it's
going to be a significant expense once we go outside. These are
profit-making firms just like the health-care provider is a
profit-making provider. Their bottom line is making more money."
nearly $3 million in public money to a private firm defending the
Department of Corrections against allegations its private healthcare
provider is doing an inadequate job.
Questions about inmate care
reviewed records from March through October 2013 and found at least
16,000 medical delays, ranging from not treating an HIV-positive
prisoner to inmates not getting antipsychotic medication.
Why should taxpayers care? Every day Corizon is on the job, we pay on average $339,000, whether it does its job or not.
Short worked as a patient care technician for Corizon at the state
prison in Tucson. She resigned in March and has since had trouble
dealing with the death of an inmate she cared for.
That inmate was James Copeland. Copeland was serving time for failing to register as a sex offender.
was diagnosed with dementia and kidney disease. He was a dialysis
patient housed in the medical unit where Short worked at the prison.
Copeland had a vascular catheter inserted in his chest, which is a port
That device prompted Short to warn her colleagues on
several occasions after she caught Copeland disturbing its cap. Short
was nervous and believed due to his dementia he needed constant
supervision or he might compromise the catheter. She was very skeptical
about Corizon's decision to house Copeland there rather than in a
Corizon nurse's progress notes on Copeland on November 19, 2013 reveal
signs of dementia. The nurse wrote that Copeland became agitated and
stated "he wants to go that way, pointing to the other end of the unit,"
and pulling on the lines attached to medical equipment such as his
vascular catheter and blood-pressure monitor.
On November 23, the nurse writes of Copeland's state, "confused and needs frequent directions and orientation."
Copeland would pull on oxygen lines during dialysis treatment, would
pull on his vascular catheter lines and would stand up all the time when
he was supposed to be sitting down receiving treatment.
show Short checked on Copeland at 4 a.m. on November 28, 2013. That was
Thanksgiving Day. He was hungry and asked for food.
check log shows a corrections officer accounted for all inmates being
alive and well in that wing of the prison at 4:46 a.m.. Copeland
displayed no unusual behavior.
At 5:25 a.m., Short went to Copeland's cell to give him some food and discovered him lying on his bed in a pool of blood.
"When I walked into the room, I was stepping on blood clots that were the size of livers, I mean they were huge," said Short.
Copeland had done what Short predicted, ripping off the cap which covers the catheter opening.
Short says she could see blood on the walls and even Copeland's shoe print in blood near the door.
"I felt like I failed him," she said.
The Department of Corrections Inmate Death Notification
says medical responders performed life-saving techniques on Copeland.
Pictures taken by DOC's investigation team show patches from a heart
defibrillator on the inmate's chest.
The report shows an AED
(automated external defibrillator) was utilized, but did not recommend
shock. Medical staff determined not to perform CPR due to the fact that
Copeland had bled out and there was not a sufficient amount of blood
left to try to resuscitate.
the DOC's criminal investigative report, Nurse Brenda Hinton and Nurse
Robin Sheppard pronounced Copeland deceased at 5:45 a.m. Nurse Hinton
was directed by the on-call doctor, a Dr. Barciaga, to call 911.
report states there was a disagreement among Hinton, Sheppard, and
Barciaga. The Tucson Fire Department, which has a station across the
highway from the prison, did not arrive on scene until 6:58 a.m. and
pronounced Copeland deceased.
The report does not detail what the
disagreement was about, but makes it sound like the two nurses were
arguing about whether to call 911 or disobey the instructions of the
On December 30, 2013 the Pima County medical
examiner listed the cause of death as exsanguination - fatal blood loss -
due to an uncapped vascular dialysis catheter. The manner of death was
In a statement to 12 News, DOC Director Charles
Ryan says, "All inmate deaths are investigated criminally and
administratively. This process involves a review conducted by Corizon, a
review by ADC, as well as an independent report by the county medical
examiner. This investigative process determined conclusively that the
death of inmate Copeland was accidental; a fact independently
corroborated by the Pima County medical examiner.
"At the time of
the incident, the unit was appropriately staffed and inmate Copeland's
welfare was documented on a regular basis. He was discovered
unresponsive by a certified medical technician who immediately alerted
an ADC correctional officer and the on-duty RN and LPN. Each of these
investigations determined that the death of inmate Copeland was
accidental and none raised any concerns about the medical protocols for
inmate Copeland either prior to or following his death."
to DOC monitor reports, prepared monthly by staff in the Department of
Corrections' Department Health Services Contract Monitoring Bureau, a
problem with infirmary staffing was identified on October 30. Just weeks
later, Copeland died at a time when staffing levels at the infirmary
were still inadequate, according to Short.
"We're the ones who have to carry the burden
when something is preventable and we cannot prevent it because we don't
have enough people to supervise the ones that need supervision the
most," she said.
Teresa Short says she was compelled to blow the whistle. If not for Copeland, for the people footing the bill.
taxpayers need to really see what's happening to people," she said. "I
think most people would be disgusted. They care about the bottom line,
they care about the dollar."
Copeland's death just the tip of the iceberg
to the Department of Correction's own monitors, Corizon failed to
deliver timely medical care at least 16,000 times during an eight-month
period in 2013.
In fact, some of the documentation shows the provider was not providing any healthcare. These cases include:
At the prison in Tucson, an HIV-positive inmate received no treatment.
Chemotherapy for two other inmates was delayed.
An inmate had to have a craniotomy after falling 33 times because he wasn't supervised in the infirmary.
At the Eyman facility, Corizon failed to reorder chronic-care medication for dozens of prisoners.
No timely treatment for an inmate with prostate cancer.
In Yuma, mentally ill prisoners had not been seen by doctors since December, 2012.
Psychotropic medications were not renewed.
At Perryville, the women's prison, long delays to see the doctor once prisoners were referred by nurses.
examples of what you see month after month after month," said Corene
Kendrick, an attorney for the Prison Law Office in Berkeley, Calif.
I were a taxpayer, someone who feels very tough on crime, I would be
outraged by this because it's taxpayer money that's going into the
pockets of a corporation," she said.
is one of the attorneys behind the class-action lawsuit filed by the
ACLU and the Prison Law Office against the Arizona Department of
Corrections. The suit alleges inadequate medical, mental health, and
Kendrick contends no effort is being made by the
Arizona Department of Corrections to hold Corizon accountable for the
violations when the evidence, she says, is overwhelming in the reports
being made by DOC's own monitors.
Which brings us to four inmates
who've been granted medical parole in the last six months by the Arizona
Board of Executive Clemency.
Medical parole date
Margaret Van Wormer
Huggins and Kanabar have already died.
Vocke was given six months to a year to live. Before he was medically
paroled, Vocke had ten months left on his sentence for vehicle theft
when he complained about back pain in October, 2012.
Vocke gave 12
News permission to review his medical records for our reporting; we are
not publishing them due to the amount of personally identifying
information they contain.
His first appointment was cancelled
because no provider was available. X-rays taken at the end of February
showed bone abnormalities consistent with cancer. The nurse requested an
"They wouldn't do an MRI, they kept denying an MRI, denying an MRI," Vocke said. "They didn't want to spend the money."
the end of May, 2013, medical staff ordered CT scans, but Corizon
denied it. Finally, at end of July, 2013 a CT scan was performed.
It confirmed Vocke had cancer which now had spread to his hips and his spine.
"And finally [the cancer] ate my pelvis and my hip away," said Vocke.
In September a second CT scan showed the cancer spread to his abdomen and one of his kidneys.
Medical records show there was an eight-month delay in treating Vocke, because of Corizon's actions.
was kidney cancer that could have been 95 percent survivable and now
they're saying I can't survive it whatsoever," Vocke told us.
Vocke's physician sent a request to the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency for early release due to imminent death.
From that request, the clinical summary and prognosis read:
Vocke has been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma with metastasis to
the bone. He underwent a right nephrectomy and will start chemotherapy
in a few weeks. This is a very aggressive form of cancer and his
oncologist and onsite Medical Director for ASPC-Tucson have both
recommended clemency. Since inmate Vocke is wheelchair bound and in the
advanced stage of the disease, he is not considered a threat to society.
of the aggressive and advanced nature of his cancer, he is not expected
to survive this illness. The oncologist has indicated that for this
type of cancer, about 50% of patients may survive up to six (6) months
while about 35% may live up to one year."
The physician indicated Vocke has a life expectancy of six months or less.
October 31, 2013 the Board of Executive Clemency commuted Vocke's
sentence. He was granted medical parole, so he can die surrounded by
family. His wife Laurie says it's torn them apart.
We tried to seek comment from Corizon on the many issues outlined in our reporting.
Morgenstern, a spokeswoman for Corizon asked us to supply her with the
documentation we obtained under Arizona's Public Records Law. We
requested the quarterly and monthly monitoring memos and reports
referred to above, known as MGAR (short for Monitoring-Green-Amber-Red)
In response to our questions, Corizon provided these answers via email:
Copeland. You asked about the investigation into the tragic death of
Mr. Copeland. As I believe you know, it has been investigated and
officially determined to be an accident. It's been thoroughly reviewed
by several agencies; and the care provided and protocols followed were
As you know, HIPPA [sic] prevent health care
providers such as Corizon from providing any medical details about
specific individuals to you or anyone else. But I can assure you that we
are always willing to review individual care plans to be sure
appropriate care is provided.
As for your very general
allegations, we would be happy to check into them and provide
information if you could give us enough detail to do so. You referenced
delays in care and prescriptions; can you give us the specific instances
you are talking about (date/time/location/documentation)?
also talked about four unnamed inmates who were medically paroled and
alleged they did not receive proper care. If you will give us the names
of these individuals, we will review their medical records to ensure
they received proper care.
Finally, you've alleged there are
staffing shortages, but that is simply not accurate. When the transition
to Corizon occurred in March 2013, we immediately assessed the staffing
and began an aggressive recruiting and training program. Today all
current staff levels exceed the contract requirements.
believe that Corizon is providing quality care to the patients we treat
every day, and we stand behind our medical professionals who work inside
the correctional facilities.
Corizon responded with a second statement after we provided more specific information.
Teresa Short: A former Corizon employee alleges lack of care, staffing shortages, and that she was "set up to fail."
is first and foremost a health care provider, whose top priority is the
health and safety of patients. To that end, we practice evidence-based
medicine as prescribed by licensed medical professionals and focus on
providing quality health care.
The vast majority of our current
staff levels exceed the contract requirements. For example, since the
time of the MGARs provided you, the staffing for mental health care at
the Yuma facility has increased substantially.
We not only
empower our employees to succeed in fulfilling our mission, we also
require them to meet the highest standards of conduct and
MGAR Reports: Various allegations
you know, MGAR reports are monitoring tools meant to raise issues that
are then addressed and resolved. By design, they capture issues
requiring attention at a specific moment in time, some of which are
immediately resolved. The MGARs provided you are now 8-9 months old.
addition, Corizon is prohibited by HIPAA from discussing individual
patient cases, just as any other health care provider or hospital is
But it's important to note that Corizon care follows
the guidelines of the NCCHC and the ACA, which are the correctional
Complaints from patients who were medically paroled
Again, HIPAA prevents Corizon from discussing details of individual patient care.
a health care provider focused on quality, we stand behind our
dedicated medical professionals and the treatment plans they provide to
The process for inmate compassionate discharge is
initiated by the inmate or the family and is considered by the Board of
Executive Clemency, not Corizon nor the ADC.
Our staff has all necessary and appropriate licenses, so this allegation is simply not true.
30 year old prisoner Victor Romero-Sangria was sentenced out of Pinal County last fall to spend 2.5 years in prison for marijuana violations...I really cant believe we still put people in prison for pot, but we do. He arrived in the custody of the AZ DOC on 10/02/13. He apparently killed himself less than 8 months later. If anyone knows why, please contact me.
Here's what I suspect, based on what I see in his record on-line, and have heard from hundreds of prisoners. This is just a guess...
I suspect Victor arrived in prison with "bad paperwork" - ie, his police report would show he snitched. Or perhaps he was gay, and someone outed him. Or maybe he just didn't like to play by the racialized political rules. Or maybe he was raped - after you've been raped once in prison, you're an easy target for repeated victimization, if word gets out about it.
In any case, I think this young prisoner feared a fate worse than the death he could bring on himself, and that he begged the AZ DOC to be placed in protective custody. They denied his request because he couldn't afford an attorney and - being a Mexican National - they knew he (or his family, now that he's dead) was hardly likely to ever sue the DOC for an injunction.
Despite whatever danger this man faced and begged for relief from, the DOC most likely ordered him onto a General Population yard, where he would have to report to the head of his race to be approved to walk the yard or found to be "no good", and targeted for violence and exile. He was terrified, and refused to go out on the yard. That's when they gave him a ticket for an AGGRAVATED REFUSAL Of AN ORDER...(Refusal to House, or RTH ticket for those of you just picking up the jargon). Then they would have taken his property and privileges, adding points to his classification score, and stuck him in the hole for being afraid. That's what it looks like happened on November 14, 2013, anyway.
Next thing that shows up on Victor's inmate file on the DOC website is an assault on staff on February 7, 2014. My bet is that whatever got him into hot water with the gangs that dominate the lives of Mexican national prisoners was something he was offered a chance to "clear his name" over. The only way to do that is to commit a crime for the gang, usually an assault on another prisoner or an officer. Another possibility is that he thought if he attacked an officer, he would be placed in solitary for the rest of his time in prison, and that it wold keep him safe. In any case, he assaulted an officer which could have gotten him more time, so he must have been pretty afraid. He probably sought PC again after that assault in February, and was denied again - perhaps even the day he died. That drives many men to try to kill themselves at the DOC.
Or the Mexican Mafia or Border Brothers actually got a hold of him and just made it look like a suicide. Many homicides in prison are hidden that way and the DOC lets them slide, like in the case of Pete Calleros. HIs mother had a second autopsy done which proved he was strangled by attackers, and the DOC had more than one witness who reported he had been murdered and the suicide was staged....strangely, the DOC never told his mother they knew it wasn't a suicide. I suspect there's less liability involved if a prisoner commits suicide than if they've been murdered in your care. So, if you want to know the truth about your loved one's death in custody, do your own investigation- don't believe everything the people responsible for their safety tells you.
At least that's how it goes down far too often - I'm just speculating about this kid's life and death right now; I could be way wrong. My condolences to Victor's family - please contact me if there's anything I can do to help you.
a familia de Victor. Lo siento mucho por su pérdida. Mi español es muy
malo, pero póngase en contacto conmigo si puedo ayudarte a descubrir lo
Below is just one more example of Corizon's deliberate indifference to the pain and suffering of patients in the AZ Department of Corrections. They are paid handsomely to perpetrate their neglect on state prisoners at great cost to all of us, thanks to legislators like John Kavanagh who insisted that privatizing medical care in the prisons would save taxpayers money - seems to me that so far all they've done has been to steal from us, instead. As for this kid doing 5 years for possession - shame on all you judges locking addicts away thinking they will
get any treatment or assistance with their addiction whatsoever in
prison. As you can see, they can hardly get the basic medical care they
need - only 4% a year get any kind of substance abuse treatment, period.
Most will just be bringing home Hep C and a new heroin addiction to show for their time away. This kid is lucky to be making it home at all... Thanks to News 4 Tucson for digging into this.Stay tuned for more exposes in the weeks to come, as more and more of
Corizon employees refuse to participate in their profit-driven machine
at the expense of their patients, like Michael Levy.
came into my box on Friday. Given how I raked Mr Pratt over the coals on
the issue last week, I owe it to him to post this response he gave to
some questions Donna Hamm raised about my previous post on Corizon. Her
questions to him are in bold, his answers are in italics.
source still stands by her account of what has transpired at
ASPC-Tucson/Rincon, however, and will be sharing it with mainstream
media. They have the resources to do the fact-checking; I just amplify
the voices of those who are otherwise effectively silenced by the
system. If anyone out there has additional information about how
ASPC-Tucson/ Rincon has been run the past year, please let me know. My
contact info is at the top of the page.
FOLLOWUP FROM Middle Ground: parasitic infestation of the elderly, sick and dying at Tucson/Rincon ICU...
What was done to stop the spread of scabies once it was initially
discovered? Did the seven alleged cases result from staff ignoring the
first case and letting it spread, or was it not discovered until several
people already had it at approximately the same time? If the first
case was ignored and then it spread from that case into several cases,
what is being done specifically to insure that serious attention will,
in the future, be given to even a single outbreak of such a serious
condition? What safeguards are in place to insure that it is readily
diagnosed and treated for an inmate who reports symptoms prior to
spreading it to others?
To be clear, let me reiterate, there has been no parasitic outbreak of scabies.
03/24/14 a CNA working night shift in the IPC reported that she had a
rash for approximately one week that was not resolving. She was
immediately sent to occupational health and treated for scabies. Her
diagnosis was made without confirmation by any skin scrapings. No
inmates or other staff were diagnosed with scabies at that time. The
employee subsequently quit her job without notice citing personal
On 04/23/14 seven IPC staff members reported a rash of varying
degrees, after they were comparing symptoms with each other. They were
sent to occupational health and five of them were given a cream to treat
scabies. Again, this diagnosis for those five employees was made
solely based on presentation and statements from staff regarding
scabies. The other two staff were diagnosed with contact dermatitis and
a napkin rash. All seven have been cleared and have returned to full
duty. One staff member also reported having a child with scabies
approximately one month prior. 2. Without violating their HIPPA privacy rights, are
there in fact seven Corizon employees who've contracted scabies but were
not permitted to take sick leave due to staff shortages, as is implied
in Plew's original email?
No. The information implied in Ms. Plew’s original
e-mail is not correct. One staff was restricted from coming back to work
for six days, four staff returned to work within 24 hours (full duty),
and the other two staff (not diagnosed with scabies) returned without
any restrictions. All of the Corizon staff were permitted to leave work
upon reporting, and the only restrictions were based upon doctor’s
orders. Paid time off was granted for anyone undergoing treatment or
with work restrictions. No one was denied sick leave for any reason. An
alternative staffing plan was put into place in the event all of the
employees would have been taken off work for an extended period of time.
3. Has someone investigated the physician assigned to that
unit (Rincon) who is accused of ignoring patients presenting with
symptoms of scabies? As Plews noted, some of the individual prisoners
may not have the ability (physical or mental) to file grievances or
complain in any effective manner, but that does not relieve the DOC
and/or Corizon of the responsibility to investigate.
The doctor overseeing the infirmary has advised that with regard
to the inmate population there were no confirmed cases of scabies within
the IPC at any time during this period. Please note that these inmates
are also seen daily by numerous nursing staff where any complaints can
be voiced. 4. With respect to the allegation that insufficient
amounts of food are given or that bedsheets are not being changed in a
timely manner, is there any procedure in place for you to make
unannounced inspections? If not, why not? What can or is being done to
insure that this issue, allegedly reported by a former Corizon
employee, is not actually happening?
I have received no reports with respect to these allegations. The
medical monitoring team has full access to the infirmary 24/7 (without
announcement) and inspects all aspects of patient care. Most of the
inspections are unannounced, and take place many times each and every
month, to include different shifts.
5. Plews didn't identify the prisoner who allegedly died
of "natural causes," but whom the Corizon ex-employee reports as having
died due to neglect, so I am not sure how you can check into this,
especially since no time frame was given to define "recently." Can you
somehow investigate this allegation to insure that no prisoner has died
due to neglect or indifference? Again, what active "hands on"
inspections by you or someone in your office takes place at each
health/medical unit -- in particular at the Tucson complex -- and how
many of those inspections are unannounced? How often do you visit the
units to see things with your own eyes?
There is a mortality review process for any deaths within the
department which involves the monitoring bureau. I attempt to get out to
the field personally whenever time permits. I also have administrators
who travel regularly in the field supervising the complex monitors.
6. The allegations regarding tampering/altering records at
Tucson/Rincon ICU are especially troubling, and they originate from an
ex-employee at Corizon. What does the DOC intend to do regarding these
extremely serious allegations regarding withdrawal/changing of
medications, at "other yards" (which Plews doesn't identify).
Even if the ex-Corizon employee chooses not to come forward to
contact you with her allegations or with more specific information, I
urge you to investigate these claims on your own. If all of her
allegations are false, it will simply confirm that Corizon is doing the
job they are contracted to perform and that your contract monitors are
doing their jobs, too. If any of the allegations are true, then
immediate remedial measures need to be taken. I hope I need not remind
you that the bulk of the tragedy at the Kingman Prison a few years ago
was a result of the DOC contract monitors not doing their job; I would
hope that the Department will not allow such tragedy to repeat itself
with the multi-million dollar inmate health care contract. Record reviews are just one part of the monitoring taking
place in the field. It is not uncommon for a monitor to copy certain
records at one point in time, and go back to the record at a later date
to determine if any improper alterations have been made to the original
records. We do our best to ensure that the inmates are receiving the
constitutionally mandated care they deserve. Of course, specific
allegations are able to be investigated more appropriately than general
claims painted with a broad brush. As I have indicated in the past, I
appreciate issues that are brought to my attention relating to the
health care of the inmate population.