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
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.
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:
The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
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:email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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.
have gone up, but newly released records obtained by 12 News show the
problems inside the state's prisons are getting worse.
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.
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."
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.
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.
has done work for the Prison Law Office, one of the plaintiffs in the
class-action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
December 5, 2013 the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency recommended
his sentence be commuted due to "imminent danger of death."
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.
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:
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:
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.
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."
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.
the Prison Law Office has confirmed via email that settlement talks are
underway to avoid a trial, issuing the following statement:
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."