The past and present problems of a for-profit prison health care provider should serve as a warning regarding states and local governments ceding their responsibilities to provide proper, adequate, and timely medical care and health care services to inmates and prisoners in their custody.
Corizon Health Inc. (“Corizon”) is a private, for-profit provider of medical services to prisons and jails throughout the United States. Corizon was created as a result of a merger that occurred in 2011 and is owned by a Chicago private equity firm. By 2013, Corizon enjoyed $1.4 billion in revenue, although it faces mounting competition. Corizon states on its website that it “provides client partners with high quality healthcare and reentry services that will improve the health and safety of our patients, reduce recidivism and better the communities where we live and work.” Source
Corizon is responsible for approximately 345,000 inmates and prisoners in 27 U.S. states and is the largest for-profit correctional health provider in the United States. State prison systems spend about $8 billion each year on prison health care (one-fifth of their budgets for correctional activities); local jails spend millions more on health care for those who they lock-up.
However, it has been reported that Corizon has lost five state prison contracts since 2012 (in Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania) and it has faced claims regarding its alleged failures to provide necessary and proper health care, resulting in serious injuries and deaths of inmates. Claims against Corizon include its failure to timely address and provide for off-site medical care for inmates, and poor record-keeping by Corizon.
A court-appointed expert issued a report in 2012 that criticized Corizon’s care provided to Idaho inmates. Corizon’s care of 11,000 inmates at New York’s Riker Island is under comprehensive review in light of at least 16 deaths of inmates since 2009. In Florida, where Corizon obtained the $1.2 billion correctional health care contract a little over a year ago when Florida privatized its prison care, there have been increasing inmate deaths, which has resulted in Florida threatening to withhold payments to Corizon. An audit in Minnesota last year determined that inadequate communications between Corizon-employed prison doctors and prison staff during overnight hours may have contributed to inmate deaths.
When people are incarcerated in state prisons or jailed in local jails, the states and local governments are responsible for the safety of the prisoners/inmates in their custody – those who are incarcerated are not free to choose who provides them with health care, when they are provided health care, or the health care that they are provided. Along with the awesome power to restrict people’s freedoms and rights by placing them in correctional facilities that limit and control their movements and their daily lives comes the necessary responsibility to reasonably protect them from harm and to properly provide care for their medical needs. However, because incarcerated people are out-of-sight and out-of-mind, their needs and rights are often overlooked or breached without effective recourse.
It has been said that the measure of a society is its efforts and successes in protecting its most vulnerable, which would include not only the very young, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor, but also those who are incarcerated.
If you or a family member were seriously injured (or worse) as a result of inadequate, untimely, and/or improper medical care while incarcerated (sometimes referred to as a deliberate indifference claim), you should promptly seek the advice of a local attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your prison medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a claim for injuries due to correctional medical malpractice, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with prison malpractice lawyers who may assist you.
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