by Ben Tschirhart
On March 31, 2022, an agreement was entered by Michigan’s Macomb County paying $1.15 million to the estate of David Stojcevski, 32, a detainee who died from drug withdrawal while in custody in the county jail. Separately, the jail’s privately contracted healthcare provider, Correct Care Solutions (CCS) ...
by Kevin W. Bliss
After an Illinois prisoner developed a painful anal abscess and fistula, his medical care was “appalling” and the prison healthcare system was “dysfunctional.” But that’s just negligence, and the Constitution doesn’t protect prisoners from that.
That’s the takeaway from a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on February 23, 2022, which held that a lower federal court correctly granted summary judgment to Illinois prison officials and their privately contracted healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources, in a suit brought by a former prisoner over his negligent medical care.
The prisoner, Michael Reck, was held by the state Department of Corrections (DOC) at Menard Correctional Center (MCC) in 2015 and 2016. He had a history of Crohn’s disease with perianal abscesses and fistulae, and he had already received surgeries for seton placement, fistulotomy, fistula plug and anorectal flap, according to the complaint he later filed.
That complaint alleged that through much of 2015 he submitted several request slips to be seen by a doctor for a perianal abscess and extreme pain he was experiencing. He said many of these requests were ignored, and when he finally was treated for his condition, both Wexford ...
by Ben Tschirhart
Some 20 newly unionized workers and their supporters manned a picket line at CoreCivic’s Central Arizona Florence Correctional Complex (CAFCC) on August 12, 2022, after pay negotiations broke down over a company offer the union representative called “insulting.”
Despite alleged attempts by CoreCivic to thwart their vote, 17 maintenance workers at the prison in Eloy joined UA Local 469 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union in March 2022, after a National Labor Relations Board election. Union organizer Chad Jessee said that after not getting a raise from CoreCivic in almost 12 years, 15 workers voted for the union and two abstained.
Now CoreCivic has proposed “a 44 cent raise the first year, and 22 cent raises for each of the following two years,” Jessee said, explaining the firm’s proposed hike in the workers’ hourly pay, which is currently $22.
“That’s less than a $1 raise!” he said. “They haven’t had a raise in ten years and this is what they’re offered.”
Union member Dave Gossett said the workers keep vital prison systems running, including “boilers, kitchen equipment, HVAC, the fire system, all the plumbing.”
“When you don’t have working water or HVAC systems, when the toilets are plugged up, ...
by Ed Lyon
In January 2022, when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced the closing of the state prison complex in Florence, he pointed to the facility’s age—it was built in 1904—and said spending an estimated $150 million on needed repairs “just doesn’t make sense.”
What does make sense? Apparently a $420 million, five-year contract with private prison giant CoreCivic to house up to 2,706 state prisoners dislocated by the closing at a facility the firm operates in Eloy.
Before the new contract was signed, the firm’s 3,096-bed La Palma Correctional Center (LPCC) was underutilized, holding fewer than 1,000 immigrant detainees for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For the privilege of buying up slack space in a desert prison nobody else wanted, the director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry, David Shinn, thanked “our successful partnership” with CoreCivic, “along with their modern correctional facility capacity.”
He might have also thanked the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), which ended its contract with CoreCivic to house some 2,000 prisoners from the Golden State at the Arizona facility in June 2019, thereby freeing up the space. That move was seen as an effort to keep a promise made ...
by David M. Reutter
On October 7, 2021, the Board of Commissioners of Michigan’s Macomb County agreed to pay $1 million to settle claims by survivors of a detainee who hanged himself at the county jail in 2017. The jail’s privately contracted medical provider, Correct Care Solutions (CCS), now known ...
by Matt Clarke
On February 1, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Virginia Department of Corrections (DOC) did not violate the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq., by requiring a Muslim prisoner to purchase prayer oil though the prison commissary’s sole vendor, a firm which also sold pork products and religious items for practitioners of other religions.
The prisoner, Brad Faver, was held at Augusta Correctional Center, where he alleged that his religious practice was unduly burdened by DOC’s refusal to allow him to “grow a beard at least a fist’s length” or to provide him “a diet containing meat that is ‘ritually slaughtered in the name of Allah,’” according to a complaint he later filed. Moreover, while DOC allowed him to “apply perfumed oils for prayer,” the prison’s sole commissary vendor, Keefe Commissary, also sold items for other religions that he considered “idols” as well as food that Muslims shun, leaving the firm’s prayer oils “tainted in the eyes of Allah,” he said.
In 2016, Faver filed suit pro se in federal court for the Western District of Virginia against DOC Director Harold Clarke, ...
by Jo Ellen Nott
During testimony before Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee on July 14, 2022, state Department of Corrections (DOC) Director David Shinn admitted that communities in the Grand Canyon State would “collapse” without cheap labor from state prisoners.
Shinn’s comment came in answer to questions about a proposed contract for a private prison company to operate the Florence West state prison.
“There are services that this department provides to city, county, local jurisdictions, that simply can't be quantified at a rate that most jurisdictions could ever afford,” Shinn warned lawmakers, referring to prisoners who perform tasks such as maintenance for 50 cents to $1.50 per hour. “If you were to remove these folks from that equation, things would collapse in many of your counties, for your constituents.”
At the Florence West prison, the state’s new contract guidelines anticipate payment of a per diem rate for 675 prisoners, regardless of how many people are incarcerated there. As of mid-July 2022, only 457 prisoners were held in its 750 beds.
State Rep. Kelli Butler (D-Scottsdale) asked Shinn why the state should agree to a contract that requires it to pay for so many empty beds, to the tune of $78 to $85 ...
by Harold Hempstead
A recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit illustrates the importance of expert testimony in a prisoner’s claim he was denied constitutionally adequate medical care. In its ruling on September 17, 2021, the Court affirmed the decision of the federal court for the Western District of Kentucky, granting summary judgment to defendant employees of Correct Care Solutions, LLC (CCS), now known as Wellpath, the privately contracted health care provider for the state Department of Corrections (DOC).
The claim was brought by a DOC prisoner, Donald R. Phillips, who was incarcerated on a murder conviction in 1999. In May 2014, he injured his calf in an altercation with his cellmate, and after a lump then appeared and reached the size of a golf ball, he submitted a sick-call request to see medical staff. The lump was diagnosed as a hematoma (pool of blood), caused by a ruptured plantaris muscle.
Phillips was seen several times by different CCS/Wellpath providers, including Shastine Tangilag, M.D.; Lester Lewis, M.D.; Ted H. Jefferson, D.O.; and Angela Clifford, M.D. He underwent two ultrasounds, a CT scan, and an MRI. He was also “given pain medication and referred to physical ...
by Kevin Bliss
Though a state investigation concluded a Mississippi prisoner had inside help making a short-lived escape in September 2021, no charges have ever been announced for officials at East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF), the privately operated prison where he was held.
In fact, even as allegations of rampant gang activity and prisoner killings mount at EMCF and two other prisons operated for the state Department of Corrections (DOC) by Utah-based Management and Training Corp. (MTC), there have been no announced charges at all in the upper ranks of prison officials nine months later.
The escaped prisoner, Garnett Hughes, 33, was recaptured after a five-day manhunt on September 15, 2021. He had been granted leave to attend his mother’s funeral and broke free of two escorting police officers before fleeing with the help of his girlfriend to Akron, Ohio, where he was then found. The girlfriend, Yvette Mendoza, 51, was arrested on charges she abetted his escape. [See: PLN, Nov. 2021, p.62.]
Hughes was serving 15 separate life sentences for kidnapping, sexual battery, armed robbery, assault on a law enforcement officer, and escape. Yet despite that history—not to mention a DOC ban on prisoner leave during the COVID-19 ...
By Kaden Gicker
The academic testing program at Montana’s Crossroads Correctional Center (CCC) was “indefinitely suspended” after a test administrator was found helping prisoners cheat. The tests under suspicion were high school equivalency exams, and the allegations resulted in the wholesale shuttering of the program, HiSET, on April 13, 2022.
CCC, which hold 758 male prisoners, is operated for the state Department of Corrections (DOC) by private prison firm CoreCivic. The discovery, according to the state Office of Public Instruction (OPI), was made after a former prisoner at the facility reported witnessing test cheating, alleging administrators corrected answers to test questions and gave essay questions to prisoners to study in advance, along with other instances of cheating and plagiarism.
After the program was suspended, an investigation was opened by ETS, a private firm that administers the HiSET program for DOC. CoreCivic and its warden at CCC, Pete Bludworth, promised to cooperate in the inquiry. The company also said it would continue to provide educational programming to prisoners so that tests can resume once the program is restarted. But OPI said it was unclear whether the facility would be redesignated a testing site after the ETS investigation wraps up. OPI’s HiSET ...