by Dale Chappell
An “egregious” lack of medical treatment that resulted in the death of a jail prisoner led Albany County, New York and its private health care contractor to settle a lawsuit filed by the prisoner’s family for over $1 million.
Mark Cannon died in 2014 after he suffered ...
by Christopher Zoukis
A December 11, 2017 report issued by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) harshly criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for serious deficiencies at four immigration detention facilities.
The OIG report arrived just weeks after two non-profit groups, Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights, released a damning review of 201 immigration detention facilities that concluded they operate under inadequate standards with insufficient accountability, under contracts with “perverse incentives.”
The analysis by the pair of non-profits did not include the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas, which houses female ICE detainees. That facility is operated by private prison company CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corp. of America). It was also the site of a November 2017 complaint filed by Laura Monterrosa, from El Salvador, who claimed she was sexually abused by a guard at the 500-bed detention center.
Many other detainees had already suffered sexual abuse, according to Sofia Casini, the coordinator of immigrant programs at Grassroots Leadership, a non-profit based in Austin, Texas. “You have to keep in mind that all of the women in Hutto are asylum seekers and many have experienced sexual assault. Not ...
by Derek Gilna
Everett Joseph Jewett, a disabled prisoner held in the medical unit at a jail in Shasta County, California, filed suit in federal court in 2013 alleging the facility had failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. After five years of intense discovery and motion practice, and the filing of five amended complaints, the parties finally agreed to settle the case pending final approval by the district court.
Jewett’s original complaint alleged that the Shasta County jail was in violation of the ADA because it did not have a solitary confinement unit for disabled prisoners, who were instead classified as being held in administrative segregation; because detainees with disabilities were not housed in “the most integrated setting appropriate to [their] needs”; and because disabled prisoners were held in medical areas when they were not “actually receiving medical care or treatment.”
According to Jewett, those failures to adhere to the ADA unfairly penalized a dozen disabled detainees at the jail, who were unable to participate in programs offered to non-disabled prisoners in the general publication.
Jewett also sued the jail’s private health care provider, the California Forensic ...
by Sytonia Reid, Green American Magazine
Every day, incarcerated and detained people in both US government and private prisons perform labor during their sentences, with few exceptions. Many provide services for the prison itself, such as cooking, laundry, and maintenance tasks, while others make goods or provide services for the government or private companies. The prisoners and organizations that advocate on their behalf say they’re being forced to work in intolerable conditions for virtually zero pay.
While there may be some benefits for prisoners who work while incarcerated, the prison system strips many of these workers of their fundamental rights.
A History of Exploiting Prisoners
The use of prisoner labor has roots that go back to the system of slavery in the US. Passed three years after the 1862 Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in Confederate states after the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution outlawed any continuance of slavery, “except for punishment of a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
The amendment created an incentive for the South to criminalize more people to replace the now-freed slaves on whose backs their entire economy once rested, say experts. Their main target: recently emancipated ...
by Christopher Zoukis
Officials at Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, a private prison operated at the time by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison company now known as CoreCivic, agreed to settle with a prisoner who was denied kosher meals required by his religious beliefs in Judaism. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
During certain periods in 2010, the Saguaro facility was on lockdown, meaning the prisoners remained locked in their cells and would have their meals brought to them. Robert S. Cardines Jr., who was incarcerated at Saguaro at this time, was allegedly given bologna and other processed meats, and his requests for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were denied. Because the meat and dairy products provided were not kosher, they violated his religious dietary laws, and he couldn't eat them.
On September 2, 2010, Cardines filed a pro se complaint in federal court against CCA Regional Director of Operations Daren Swenson, Warden Todd Thomas, and Assistant Wardens Ben Greigo and J. Bradley. Cardines argued that his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated, as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). He filed another claim for ...
by Christopher Zoukis
Emmett Ellerbe, a prisoner at Louisiana's Winn Correctional Center who was allegedly denied adequate medical treatment, reached a settlement with the prison, the warden and the medical staff. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Winn Correctional Center is a private prison operated at the time by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison company now known as CoreCivic. While at Winn, Ellerbe maintained that he was suffering from bleeding hemorrhoids, and that numerous requests for treatment were rejected by Medical Director Pat Thomas, prison Doctor Alphonso Pacheco and Warden Tim Wilkerson. Ellerbe was able to obtain a treatment recommendation from an outside specialist, but prison officials refused to follow the prescribed treatment. Instead, Ellerbe asserted that he was prescribed medication that caused his condition to worsen, developing an infection that required surgery.
On May 6, 2010, Ellerbe filed a pro se civil rights complaint in federal court against Thomas, Pacheco, Wilkerson and CCA, arguing that they acted with deliberate indifference to his medical needs. He claimed that he was denied medical treatment and subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Ellerbe sought an order requiring the ...
by Ed Lyon
A tide of complaints has surfaced around Florida-based Trinity Services Group, one of the largest food service providers to correctional facilities in the nation. At issue is the provision of adequate, nutritious and healthy meals, since one study has found prisoners are six times more likely to contract a food-borne illness than non-prisoners. But prison safety is also a factor, considering that prisoners sometimes riot or protest due to poor food.
For example, describing their watered-down meals as “soupy,” hundreds of Michigan prisoners at the Kinross Correctional Facility staged a hunger strike in March 2016 to protest the substandard food served by Trinity. Other strikes followed the next month, involving prisoners at the G. Cotton Correctional Facility and the Chippewa Correctional Facility. Another on May 24, 2016 involved over 700 prisoners at the Marquette Branch Prison.
The protests failed to improve Trinity’s food service, however. A riot broke out at the Kinross prison in September 2016, in which poor food was a factor. Late in 2017, officials found maggots in three separate incidents at the Cotton facility, where prisoners also complained about “crunchy dirt” in potatoes. [See: PLN, Feb. 2017, p.48].
After switching in 2015 from Aramark ...
by Derek Gilna
The Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) and its contracted private medical care provider, Corizon Health, were held in contempt of consent orders entered in 1984 and 2014 in a class-action suit. The original November 1, 1984 order required prison officials to adopt a special dietary program for medically infirm prisoners, create 24-hour emergency medical care, hire a full-time physician, provide a properly staffed medical delivery system and establish a psychiatric care program. See: Balla v. Idaho State Board of Correction, 595 F.Supp. 1558 (D. Idaho 1984).
In the decades following the original consent order, numerous court hearings were held as court-appointed monitors and the IDOC clashed over the execution of the order and its progeny. Due to those conflicts, starting in 2011 the federal district court appointed a special master to determine whether there was substantial non-compliance by Idaho prison officials.
As previously reported in Prison Legal News, the special master found the IDOC and Corizon were not in compliance, and the parties agreed to institute a mediation process to avoid the time and expense of a trial in the case. In 2014, “The parties crafted the Modified Compliance Plans (collectively, ‘MCP’) in and after the ...
by Derek Gilna
The family of Kansas Department of Corrections (KDOC) prisoner Marques Davis filed suit in federal district court in October 2017, alleging that officials at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility and the prison’s for-profit medical care provider, Corizon Health, failed to treat his fatal brain infection.
Davis died on April 13, 2017 when, after months of unsuccessfully seeking treatment from Corizon employees, he began to exhibit bizarre behavior. Earlier he had told the prison’s medical staff, “It feels like something is eating my brain.”
According to the Denver Post, shortly before Davis’ death, “An MRI done at the facility showed widespread fungal infection throughout his brain. A CT scan conducted later at a hospital revealed it was so swollen that the upper part of Davis’s brain was forced down to the lower part.”
The lawsuit claims that Corizon’s inattention to Davis’ symptoms caused his “staggeringly slow, physically and mentally excruciating death.” It accuses prison officials, Corizon, and three doctors and 11 nurses of negligence and federal civil rights violations.
Prison Legal News has reported dozens of lawsuits and millions of dollars in damages paid by Corizon Health in cases across the country, mostly related to failure ...
by Ed Lyon
The City of Adelanto in San Bernardino County, California owns a detention center – not a prison – according to Pablo Paez, a spokesman for the GEO Group, a private prison firm. “The ICE Processing Centers operated by our company are very different than local jails and prison facilities and we strongly reject that [prison] characterization,” he said.
GEO Group operates the facility for the city, which in turn is paid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to house detainees waiting for asylum and deportation hearings – proceedings that can drag out for years.
GEO receives up to $112 per day per detainee, and described Adelanto as a “state-of-the-art, culturally responsive residential center” with “artificial soccer fields, flat-screen televisions and modern classrooms with up-to-date technology.” The 409,000 square foot “not a prison” is surrounded by barbed wire fences.
Adelanto also offers “around the clock medical care,” according to GEO.
But in April 2015, Sergio Alonso Lopez died after being taken to the infirmary when he began vomiting blood. The following month, Vicente Caceres-Maradiaga died en route to a hospital from “acute coronary syndrome.” On December 23, 2015, Jose Azurdia-Hernandez had a fatal ...