Skip to main content

It's interesting, the state of medical care at Arizona prisons. Maybe the right word is appalling, but sometimes I wonder if I am over-using it when it comes to Arizona news. While the authorities do everything in their power to obtain enough drugs to execute a few inmates on Death Row, getting medicine to treat illness and keep inmates from dying, not so much of a priority.

The Arizona Republic has documented four cases of inmates dying for lack of adequate health care in the last two fiscal years, along with dozens of other preventable deaths -- suicides, homicides, accidents. Wildfires of outrage ensue over Arizona when organ transplant patients get their chances cut by the Austericons in the state legislature, and rightly so; but meanwhile, inmates suffer and die.

At least we haven't built the prisons up into amusement parks. There may be hope for us yet...well, unless some of the state reps stay up late watching Toonami.

From the Arizona Republic article:

A review by The Arizona Republic of deaths in state prisons over the past two fiscal years found at least four inmates, in addition to Dix, whose medical care was delayed or potentially inadequate leading up to their deaths. The records of these cases, together with interviews of officers, medical staff and inmates point to a system in which correctional officers routinely deny inmates access to timely care, and in which treatment sometimes falls short of accepted standards.
In spite of this, the Director of Corrections, Charles Ryan, denies that the health care is inadequate. I'm sure it's the best in the world, right? When you can get it. Perhaps that just makes it slightly worse than outside of the state prisons.

I found it interesting that a Republican representative in the state legislature, Cecil Ash, was the one pushing for improving health care in the prisons. His reasons were perhaps more...pragmatic, wanting to avoid lawsuits like the one filed in March by the ACLU and the Prison Law Office. Credit where it's due, I suppose, he tried. But his attempt was futile in the current legislature. This was Rep. Ash's explanation.

"They're out of sight, out of mind. And they don't vote," he said of inmates.

There is also a general lack of public sympathy for prisoners, particularly those who have committed heinous crimes.

And every time the papers report on a heinous crime, I see examples of that if they allow comments on the articles. Every time. This is what allows the state gov't to cut payments to their health care contractors; this is what allows them to set up a privatized health care system for the prisons that is likely destined for the same failure.
By the end of June, Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Pittsburgh will assume responsibility for medical and mental-health care at Arizona's state prisons under a three-year, $349 million contract. Wexford's contract includes performance standards for inmate care, including deadlines for inmates to be seen following a request for care and guarantees that prescriptions will be filled within a specific time.
This move to privatize the system and, of course, turn our gov't into a corporate ATM, is something I've written about before. The Dept. of Corrections has long denied systemic problems regarding their health care system, and wanted organizations like the Prison Law Office to name names of inmates, and now they've got some: names of the dead, who died on the department's watch.

Critics of the plan cited in the AZ Republic article are skeptical of privatization improving care, and they can count me in on that skepticism, too. But I don't know why society sees fit to capture and hold these people and not treat them like human beings. It seems to run counter to society's stated principles. I still don't know what to think about that. But sometimes it takes a lawsuit to force the issue. We get that a lot in Arizona.

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:23 AM PDT.

Also republished by Baja Arizona Kossacks.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

    by tytalus on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:23:47 AM PDT

  •  If Arizona was not part of the US... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...they would be building concentration camps like the Nazis.  I guess they may do that anyway.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:34:21 AM PDT

    •  I wouldn't put it past them (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Shockwave, FarWestGirl

      I don't keep up on the state of prison systems in the country as a whole, though. I read about Arizona because I live here. I'd like to think that they're better in other states, but I suspect it isn't so.

      "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

      by tytalus on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:37:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In Oregon they make inmates pay for all their (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        care, meds, dental care, everything. There is no healthcare provided, short of on the brink of death. I don't know about the state penitentiaries, but the local jails are that way.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 02:37:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tent Jail? nt (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus, Statusquomustgo, Shockwave

      Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

      by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:57:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It'd be a stretch (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Shockwave, FarWestGirl

        but perhaps the case could be made about political reasons. The crackdown on immigrants has worked out well for Sheriff Joe thus far.

        Internment is the imprisonment or confinement[1] of people, commonly in large groups, without trial. The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) gives the meaning as: "The action of 'interning'; confinement within the limits of a country or place."

        Most modern usage is about individuals, and there is a distinction between internment, which is being confined usually for preventive or political reasons, and imprisonment, which is being closely confined as a punishment for crime.

        "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

        by tytalus on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 11:04:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Deprivation of rights is just punishment for crime (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mariachi mama, FarWestGirl

    And health care isn't even a human right, if conservatives are to be believed.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:41:14 AM PDT

    •  I could believe that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueMississippi, FarWestGirl

      if they weren't actively denying it:

      Corrections Director Charles Ryan denies that health care in Arizona's prisons is inadequate or that there is an institutional indifference toward ailing inmates.

      Read more:

      I don't know if Director Ryan is a conservative, but he does serve at the pleasure of same.

      It would be one thing if society chose to do that, deprive inmates of health care, deny it's a right, that sort of thing. It'd be appalling, if honest. Instead, society seems to do it while claiming otherwise.

      "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

      by tytalus on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 10:56:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately, it ain't just AZ. (6+ / 0-)

    For-profit immigrant detention is Big Biz. This is from Atlanta.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 11:32:49 AM PDT

    •  Whew (5+ / 0-)
      In 2010, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest owner and operator of privatised correctional and detention facilities in the US, grossed more than $1.7bn in total revenue. The GEO Group's contracts with ICE increased from $33.6m in 2005 to $163.8m by the end of 2010. These companies aggressively lobby DHS and Congress. CCA and GEO spent more than $20m on lobbying from 1999 to 2009.
      That bit from your link pretty well sums it up, although the Republic article wasn't specifically about immigrant detention...the corps spend a few million, and get hundreds of millions back.

      "Creationists make it sound as though a 'theory' is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night." - Isaac Asimov

      by tytalus on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 11:44:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah I read that article and quoted it in the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, Larsstephens, tytalus

      Republic on the first article in this prison series they are doing.  Along with this:

      In Arizona, the company has cultivated high-level connections. Former U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini sits on CCA's board of directors. Perhaps the highest profile among CCA's 22 registered lobbyists in Arizona belongs to Chuck Coughlin, president of HighGround Public Affairs Consultants and a senior political adviser to Gov. Jan Brewer. Besides CCA, HighGround's 23 lobbying clients include Maricopa County and Salt River Project.

      Coughlin served as chairman of Brewer's transition team when she took office in 2009 and as her campaign manager in 2010. He also has managed election campaigns for Senate President Russell Pearce.

      Other heavy hitters with ties to CCA include Paul Senseman, a lobbyist with Policy Development Group, who served until last fall as Brewer's spokesman and whose wife, Kathryn Senseman, lobbied for that group while he worked for Brewer; and Bradley Regens, who joined CCA in 2007 after nine years as an Arizona legislative staffer, including two years as director of fiscal policy for the state House of Representatives.

      Brewer has advocated for privatizing Arizona prisons. But even other privatization supporters say her CCA connections raise red flags.

  •  In the old days, the SCOTUS said that government (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, FarWestGirl, Larsstephens

    may not both lock people away from seeking medical care, and fail to provide medical care to incarcerated persons. And letting inmates free to see the old family doctor would have complications that are self evident.

    So, yeah, the guy seeking increased spending for medical care in the system knows that not doing so presents the real possibility of putting prison operations under the direct control of a federal judge. A number of states have gone that route at one time or another, and none of them have enjoyed the experience.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 12:37:52 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for writing on this. I was going to but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    have been sick lately and slept all day.

  •  I can tell you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...from personal experience that an Arizona prison is the worst place I can think of to be sick or injured.  During a work detail, a friend of mine fell from a roof, impaling himself on a piece of rebar.  When the paramedics arrived, the guards denied them access to the inmate for 40 minutes, citing "security concerns".  He, like most in prison, was in for what the state deemed a "non-dangerous, non-repetitive" crime.  There were no real security concerns.  It would end up being the best care he would receive.  What would mean a full recovery on the outside, means a lifetime of chronic pain and suffering for this man.  Arizona prisons can't keep medical staff, because those willing to work for such low wages, usually can't pass the absurd background check.

    When elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers. -- African Proverb

    by LouisWu on Wed Jun 06, 2012 at 05:53:00 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site