Even with a law like this, it is highly unlikely that the truth will emerge about prison deaths. If you have not seen personally what goes on in prison, READ Culture of Cover UP!
Hold the horses! The BOC is overseeing the jails – that’s the fox guarding the henhouse! HERE is the only solution to prison abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
As of May 2018, Virginia’s Board of Corrections (BOC) had counted 21 jail deaths in the state since the start of the year. But thanks to a new law passed in 2017, the BOC now has authority to review deaths in local and regional jails. The statute is a direct result of the lack of accountability in the 2015 death of 24-year-old prisoner Jamycheal Mitchell.
As previously reported in PLN, Mitchell suffered from mental illness and died of starvation at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail (HRRJ). He had been arrested for stealing $5 worth of junk food from a convenience store, and his death, following 101 days in custody, sparked a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. [See: PLN, Feb. 2017, p.24; Jan. 2017, p.44].
Mitchell’s death revealed problems at the jail that compelled lawmakers to act. “Nobody seemed to have responsibility or was willing to take responsibility for how this actually occurred,” then-Governor Terry McAuliffe said at a press conference, where he signed the new law on February 25, 2017.
The statute redefines qualifications for the nine-member BOC, requiring expertise in areas like mental health, medical care and correctional facility management. It also clarifies that the BOC has authority to investigate jail deaths at the state’s 60 local jails, which previously had no outside oversight unless a crime was committed.
While the law was ballyhooed as great progress for jail oversight, implementation has been slow. Following a delay in funding, investigator T. Stephen Goff reported for work in November 2017. Another staff member performs administrative tasks.
Within the first nine months after the law was passed, seven people died in Virginia jails; two of those deaths were at HRRJ. Jakim Funderburk, 20, was found hanging from a bed sheet on November 19, 2017. Prior to his transfer to HRRJ, he was found by a guard at the Chesapeake Jail “with a sheet around his neck hanging,” Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office spokesman Janelle Scott wrote in an email.
The devastation was most profound for Funderburk’s family, who blamed jail officials for his suicide.
“We knew he had problems. They knew he had problems. They should have known better,” said Gary Funderburk, Jakim’s uncle.
The second prisoner death at HRRJ was that of Davageah K. Jones, who was held on charges of marijuana possession and breaking and entering. Jones, 18, died on May 15, 2018 after suffering an unspecified medical emergency.
Two suicides occurred at the Southwest Virginia Regional Jail Authority within a month. There were two deaths at the Riverside Regional Jail and another at the Henrico County Jail. Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade said Wayne Burnett Marshall, 45, apparently suffered a fatal stroke while watching TV. He was being held on a charge of sex trafficking.
Altogether, there were 54 jail deaths between the date the new law took effect on July 1, 2017 and Goff’s report to the BOC in May 2018, when he said 17 of the cases had been closed. Another 36 cases remained open and pending. Of those, Goff said 22 appeared to be the result of natural causes, while 11 were suicides, two were homicides and one was unknown.
One occurred at HRRJ in March 2016. William Otis Thrower, Sr., 69, had been constipated for five days and requested medical assistance both verbally and in writing. Linda Bryant, the jail’s assistant superintendent, said medical staff believed Thrower was fine. A wrongful death suit filed by his estate seeks almost $14 million in damages.
The other lawsuit arose from the July 2016 death of Kendra Nelson, 23, at the Portsmouth Jail. The defendants include the facility, then-sheriff Bill Watson, jail medical provider Correct Care Solutions and four staff members.
Lynda Johnston, Nelson’s mother, said the young woman suffered from untreated symptoms of heroin withdrawal as well as a heart condition. Kendra Nelson was arrested after illegally walking in a roadway and failing to produce ID when asked by police. She began frothing at the mouth and died within her first 24 hours at the jail. Her mother’s suit alleges that medical personnel dismissed Nelson’s symptoms as “dope sick[ness].”
“Any policies on this will be set by the board itself,” declared Michael Kelly, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office. “We will of course advise the board on its obligations, responsibilities and authorities under the law, but ultimately, it will be up to the board to decide how they want to handle these situation.
The incredibly greedy people running The GEO Group, Corizon, CoreCivic and other private profiteers of mass incarceration are already making millions of dollars at the cost of inmates’ lives; now there is a plethora of litigation over their forcing inmates to work for $1 a day.
In case you do not know it, it is well documented that these “detention facilities” with contracts from ICE are hotbeds of assault by inmates on inmates, staff on inmates, rapes of men, women, and children, and the health care is virtually non existent. tRump’s immigration policies are rewarding extreme cruelty; these are the worst prisons in America, one reason why they use the euphemism: detention centers.
Excerpts from the Article:
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit in superior court against The GEO Group in September 2017, alleging the private prison contractor had violated the state’s minimum wage laws by paying immigrant detainees $1 per day to perform work at the company’s Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma.
NWDC houses up to 1,575 immigrant detainees until the resolution of their deportation cases; GEO has operated the facility under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2005. The lawsuit demands that GEO pay the state minimum wage to detainee workers and divest any ill-gotten gains.
According to Ferguson’s suit, the company uses a “voluntary” work program at the facility that “rewards” detainee for their labor at a rate of $1 per day. In some cases, snacks and food are provided in exchange for work. ICE’s most recent National Detention Standards, released in 2011, require that detainees be paid at least $1 per day if they perform work at detention facilities. Ferguson argues that GEO Group must pay such workers the state’s minimum wage, which is currently $11 per hour.
“A multi-billion dollar corporation is trying to get away with paying its workers $1 per day,” Ferguson stated in a press release. “That shouldn’t happen in America, and I will not tolerate it happening in Washington. For-profit companies cannot exploit Washington workers.”
Washington’s prison system does not pay minimum wage for work performed by prisoners in state facilities. But it is within its rights to require private prisons to do so, argued Assistant Attorney General Marsha Chien, since labor costs saved in state prisons accrue to the benefit of taxpayers, while savings at a for-profit prison directly benefit the company.
Less than a week after Ferguson’s lawsuit, another complaint was filed in federal court by former NWDC detainee Chao Chen. Chen also accuses GEO Group of violating the law by paying detainees $1 per day for their labor. His is one of several cases against GEO over its detainee payment program, which Chen seeks to consolidate by granting class-action status to his claim demanding back pay for all NWDC detainees who have worked for GEO since 2014. See: Chen v. The GEO Group, Inc., U.S.D.C. (W.D. Wash.), Case No. 3:17-cv-05769-RJB.
Similar litigation was filed last year by detainees at a GEO Group-operated detention facility in Aurora, Colorado. That suit claimed the work program amounted to forced labor; in response, GEO officials expressed concern over their potential liability.
But according to a Seattle Times op-ed, Attorney General Ferguson’s lawsuit is based on the “very agreement the federal government has with the GEO Group” – which requires the company to operate NWDC in a manner that complies with local and state laws.
In December 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan ruled against GEO’s motion to dismiss the case, which argued that paying NWDC detainees minimum wage would subject the firm to federal sanctions for employing undocumented immigrants. “Even if, as Defendant argues, the provisions of the Washington Minimum Wage Act are construed as ‘sanctions,’ they would not be imposed on account of [GEO] hiring unauthorized aliens, but rather because of the failure to pay the prevailing minimum wage,” Bryan wrote.
He also ruled against another GEO motion claiming that Washington officials lacked authority over the wages paid to immigrant detainees at NWDC.
Judge Bryan said he was unable to rule on two other motions to exempt GEO from the state’s minimum wage – one claiming that detainees were not forced to work, and another arguing that paying minimum wage would overburden the federal government. See: State of Washington v. The GEO Group, Inc., Superior Court for Pierce County (WA), Case No. 17-2-11422-2.
On February 9, 2018, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the certification of two classes of immigration detainees who were forced by GEO to labor without pay or to “volunteer” to work for $1 per day in the Aurora, Colorado case.
Nine immigrant detainees held at the GEO-operated Aurora Detention Facility filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging they were forced to clean common areas without pay in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1589, and were paid $1 per day for “voluntary” labor in other areas of the facility in violation of Colorado’s unjust enrichment law, a common law equitable theory of recovery. The two classes certified by the district court totaled about 67,000 people, and GEO filed an interlocutory appeal.
Under the sanitation policy, detainees were required to clean the common areas of their housing units on a rotating basis without compensation. Refusal to perform cleaning assignments could result in a range of disciplinary sanctions, including solitary confinement for up to 72 hours, loss of commissary, loss of job, restriction to the housing unit or a reprimand or warning.
Detainees who participated in the VWP performed such jobs as food services, painting, laundry services, cutting hair, and stripping and waxing floors. They worked from two to eight hours a day and were paid $1 per day.
“This ruling shifts the power from a huge corporation to vulnerable detainees,” stated Washington, D.C. attorney David Lopez, who represented the class members. “With that power, detainees will be able to challenge long-standing practices that have allowed GEO to exploit detainee labor while pocketing taxpayer dollars.” See: Menocal v. The GEO Group, Inc., 882 F.3d 905 (10th Cir. 2018).
In 2017, the City of Tacoma, Washington adopted new zoning regulations which would prohibit NWDC from operating as a private detention center. GEO Group filed suit to block the zoning ordinance from taking effect in March 2018, accusing the city of “animosity toward current federal immigration policy.”
GEO’s current contract with ICE to operate NWDC expires in September 2018, though it provides for as many as seven one-year extensions. Similar lawsuits over low wages paid to immigrant detainees also have been filed against private prison operator CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America).
Both GEO and CoreCivic are profiting handsomely from ICE contracts to house immigrant detainees, and have spent millions in lobbying and campaign contributions on the federal level to secure and retain those contracts. [See: PLN, June 2016, p.56].
If you don’t know that you can believe nothing said by prison officials, then you don’t know what goes on in our prisons! READ Culture of Cover Up
I have seen solitary destroy many adult men; it is especially harsh for children.
Excerpts from the Article:
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, responding to a civil rights lawsuit, defended his agency’s policy of placing some juveniles charged as adults in solitary confinement, saying they are hardened young criminals who are well-cared for and whose constitutional rights are respected. The statement released Wednesday by Bradshaw’s office said the juveniles are placed in “segregated housing cells” for the safety of themselves and others. It said there is no other location in the jail to separate these juveniles. The sheriff’s office also said these teenage inmates can maintain contact with friends and family — a position refuted by lawyers who filed the suit on behalf of the juveniles.
The department said it is in compliance with Florida Model Jail Standards and refuted allegations in the lawsuit that the teenagers in solitary confinement are not receiving medical care or an education.
The two-page statement came after the June 21 federal lawsuit claimed widespread constitutional violations for placing juveniles in a 6-by-12-foot cell for 22 to 23 hours a day. The lawsuit said one teenage inmate spent 16 consecutive weeks in solitary confinement.
The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County and Human Rights Defense Center in Lake Worth, which filed the lawsuit, said solitary confinement for juveniles constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
“Obviously, we dispute the veracity of the statement based upon the experiences detailed by many of the children who have come in and out of the jail and held in solitary confinement,” said attorney Sabarish Neelakanta, general counsel and litigation director for the Human Rights Defense Center.
For instance, it didn’t dispute the lawsuit’s claim that certain deputies taunted young inmates, refused at times to give them fresh water, and knocked the front teeth out of one teenage inmate.
Also, the statement did not address the lawsuit’s claim that the sheriff’s office would send juveniles in solitary confinement to the mental health ward if they complained about their conditions. Once in the mental health ward, they would be stripped naked, given a paper gown to wear and placed in a frigid cell, the suit contends.
Aside from Bradshaw, the lawsuit names key managers at the jail and the Palm Beach County School Board, which is involved in the inmates’ education.
Melissa Duncan, the supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society’s Educational Advocacy Project, took offense at the sheriff’s use of “segregated housing” as a euphemism for solitary confinement.
“The children in PBSO custody are subject to a systemic social isolation and deprivation of educational access,” Duncan said. “PBSO is using the charges against the children in an attempt to evade the drastic effects of solitary confinement.”
The Legal Aid Society and the Human Rights Defense Center are attempting to get class certification for the lawsuit and have filed for a preliminary injunction to halt all placement of juveniles charged as adults in solitary confinement until the lawsuit runs its course.
The sheriff office also noted it is in full compliance with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, among other accredited programs. Duncan, though, noted that the NCCHC’s 2016 position denounced solitary confinement policies involving juveniles.
The sheriff’s office said it doesn’t interfere with the schooling of the inmates in solitary confinement as alleged in the lawsuit. The school district issued a statement previously saying it was at the mercy of jail policies regarding juveniles.
I have had calls from too many Moms whose sons were killed by Tasers! My significant experience has taught me that Tasers seldom are used appropriately. Indeed, in many cases the target already is cuffed or otherwise restrained and there is no use for a Taser at all. Read “the whole story” for many specific examples of this abuse.
This is more needless violence by law enforcement which is costing YOU, the taxpayer, millions of dollars in litigation costs, verdicts, and settlements.
Excerpts from the Article:
Tasers have become a popular addition on the utility belts of U.S. law enforcement officers. The devices, which fire small darts connected by wires to a stun gun, deliver a jolt of electricity that causes a paralyzing neuromuscular response – basically, they hurt a lot and immobilize the target for a short period of time. According to a spokesman for Axon Enterprises, Inc., which produces and sells Tasers, they can “make correctional environments significantly safer for all parties.”
They can also kill. [See: PLN, Oct. 2006, p.1].
According to a December 2017 investigative report by Reuters news service, Tasers have been linked to over 1,000 deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers since 1993. About 10 percent of those deaths occurred behind bars, and most of the 104 prisoners who died in Taser-related incidents have been killed since 2000. In the majority of cases, the detainee was either already in handcuffs or otherwise restrained when subjected to the fatal Taser shocks.
In May 2016, for example, Cody Franklin was pinned face-down in an Ozark, Arkansas jail cell, his hands cuffed behind his back, when police sergeant Joseph Griffith shocked him three times with a Taser. When officers got off of Franklin, 20, he was unconscious and motionless. He died at a hospital a short time later. Sgt. Griffith had not been re-certified in Taser training for over four years at the time of the incident. The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, brought on by a “perfect storm” of non-lethal methamphetamine intoxication, stress from fighting with other prisoners and guards, and multiple Taser shocks. But local prosecutors refused to file charges, citing “insufficient evidence” that guards had caused Franklin’s death. Cody’s father disagreed.
“They say this is an in-custody death; this is an in-custody murder,” said Clayton Franklin, who has since filed a lawsuit over his son’s death. See: Franklin v. Franklin County, Arkansas, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Ark.), Case No. 2:17-cv-02016-PKH.
According to Sheriff’s Department policy, Tasers were not approved for use on prisoners in handcuffs, leg irons or a restraint chair, or on pregnant women. Smith was one of nine victims of improper Taser use at the jail who sued and won a total of $102,250 from Franklin County in 2011. Smith received $27,500 of that amount.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in the case because the county had “engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful use of Tasers against detainees and inmates in their custody.” But county prosecutor Ron O’Brien said he did not bring criminal charges because none were sought by the DOJ or by Disability Rights Ohio (DRO), which represented the prisoners in the civil suit.
However, the DOJ does not recommend cases for prosecution by state officials. And DRO advocacy director Kerstin Sioberg-Witt added her organization doesn’t either, because it “is not an enforcement agency.”
The incident involving Smith was highlighted in the Reuters investigation, which revealed 80 uses of Tasers on prisoners at the Franklin County jail – 60 percent of whom were intoxicated or mentally ill – between 2008 and 2010. A total of 22 sheriff’s deputies were involved, but over two-thirds of the Taser incidents recorded in jail “use-of-force” reports were for Sgt. Mychal Turner and Sgt. Andrew Fing.
Turner used a Taser to deliver a total of 28 shocks. Fing used the device 26 times, including 14 times in a single encounter with Jibril Abdul-Muwwakil, a 23-year-old prisoner with mental health problems. An internal investigation determined that the Taser use was “justified,” though experts in a lawsuit filed partly on behalf of Abdul-Muwwakil called it an “excessive” violation of Taser product-safety warnings. (For example, Taser issued a warning in March 2013 that said people should not be shot in the chest with its devices, as that could lead to cardiac arrest. [See: PLN, April 2014, p.34].)
Turner’s 2009 Taserings also included Ralston Distin, 47, a “mentally disabled” prisoner who was shocked while in leg restraints, and Kevin Carey, 25, who had been arrested for drunk driving and was Tasered in the chest for failing to remove a nipple ring. Patrick Amburgey, 21, an arrestee who had passed out from intoxication, received five shocks at the jail for failing to sit on a bench. He also was reportedly pistol-whipped with a Taser.
“It was absolutely abuse,” said his brother, Logan Amburgey.
Sgt. Fing has since been promoted to lieutenant in the Internal Affairs Department. Turner, now a major, heads one of the county’s detention centers. Calling for an investigation after the Reuters report included video of Distin’s Tasering, Ohio state Senator Charleta Tavares said: “Any time a stun gun is used inappropriately – particularly in the video, where it looks as though it is just used over and over and it’s more like a prod that people would use on animals – that is criminal in my opinion.”
The county paid $2.8 million in 2017 to settle a series of lawsuits over the sadistic use of Tasers by jail guards.
John Hanson, a plaintiff in one of those cases, said he was subjected to “surprise attacks” from guards up to five times a day while he was held at the jail. The guards regularly used Tasers to shock prisoners in their genitals and were “truly enjoying the control and affliction of pain,” Hanson stated. Seven deputies were fired and others were retrained.
Tasers are most commonly found in local jails, though they are also used in 27 state prison systems to varying degrees. The devices are not used in federal prisons nor in those contracted to the two largest private prison operators, CoreCivic (formerly CCA) and the GEO Group, Inc. That’s because Tasers have “high potential for abuse” behind bars, said DOJ consultant Martin.
Of the 104 prisoners whose deaths resulted from Taser use, as reported by Reuters, over 80 percent were already restrained or under the control of law enforcement officers at the time they were shocked. Lawsuits were filed in 68 percent of those cases, and of those, 93 percent resulted in a damages award or settlement.
Despite Axon’s claim that only 24 deaths can be attributed to Taser use, damages totaling $172 million have been paid as a result of Taser-related deaths nationwide – which include cases involving police officers and other law enforcement agencies.
Martin, who has inspected more than 500 correctional facilities in the United States, said that in his experience, Tasers are not being used properly in carceral settings. “Of the hundreds and hundreds of Taser incidents I’ve reviewed over the years in jails and prisons,” he stated, “I can count on one hand when it was used appropriately.”
That’s billion with a “B”! And the private prisons operated by ICE are the worst in America! What this story does not tell us is how much companies like Southwest Key, Baptist Child & Family Services, and International Educational Services (which folded amid a series of complaints about the conditions in its shelters) have spent lobbying for this money or donating to tRumpists’ campaigns. The private prisons spend tens of millions of $$$ with this “legal bribery”!
Excerpts from the Article:
Detaining immigrant children has morphed into a surging industry in the U.S. that now reaps $1 billion annually — a tenfold increase over the past decade, an Associated Press analysis finds.
Health and Human Services grants for shelters, foster care and other child welfare services for detained unaccompanied and separated children soared from $74.5 million in 2007 to $958 million in 2017. The agency is also reviewing a new round of proposals amid a growing effort by the White House to keep immigrant children in government custody.
Currently, more than 11,800 children, from a few months old to 17, are housed in nearly 90 facilities in 15 states — Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
They are being held while their parents await immigration proceedings or, if the children arrived unaccompanied, are reviewed for possible asylum themselves.
In May, the agency issued requests for bids for five projects that could total more than $500 million for beds, foster and therapeutic care, and “secure care,” which means employing guards. More contracts are expected to come up for bids in October.
HHS spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the agency will award bids “based on the number of beds needed to provide appropriate care for minors in the program.”
The agency’s current facilities include locations for what the Trump administration calls “tender age” children, typically under 5. Three shelters in Texas have been designated for toddlers and infants. Others — including in tents in Tornillo, Texas, and a tent-and-building temporary shelter in Homestead, Florida — are housing older teens.
Over the past decade, by far the largest recipients of taxpayer money have been Southwest Key and Baptist Child & Family Services, AP’s analysis shows. From 2008 to date, Southwest Key has received $1.39 billion in grant funding to operate shelters; Baptist Child & Family Services has received $942 million.
A Texas-based organization called International Educational Services also was a big recipient, landing more than $72 million in the last fiscal year before folding amid a series of complaints about the conditions in its shelters.
The recipients of the money run the gamut from nonprofits, religious organizations and for-profit entities. The organizations originally concentrated on housing and detaining at-risk youth, but shifted their focus to immigrants when tens of thousands of Central American children started arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years.
They are essentially government contractors for the Health and Human Services Department — the federal agency that administers the program keeping immigrant children in custody.
“You can’t put a child in a prison. You cannot. It’s immoral,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat who has been visiting shelters.
Gillibrand said the shelters will continue to expand because no system is in place to reunite families separated at the border. “These are real concerns that the administration has not thought through at all,” she said.
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance policy” directing authorities to arrest, jail and prosecute anyone illegally crossing the border, including people seeking asylum and without previous offenses. As a result, more than 2,300 children were turned over to HHS.
In a recently released report, the State Department decried the general principle of holding children in shelters, saying it makes them inherently vulnerable.
“Removal of a child from the family should only be considered as a temporary, last resort,” the report said. “Studies have found that both private and government-run residential institutions for children, or places such as orphanages and psychiatric wards that do not offer a family-based setting, cannot replicate the emotional companionship and attention found in family environments that are prerequisites to healthy cognitive development.”
“It was never intended to be a foster care system with more than 10,000 children in custody at an immediate cost to the federal taxpayer of over $1 billion dollars per year,” Wagner said in a statement.
The longer a child is in government custody, the potential for emotional and physical damage grows, said Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“The foundational relationship between a parent and child is what sets the stage for that child’s brain development, for their learning, for their child health, for their adult health,” Kraft said.
“And you could have the nicest facility with the nicest equipment and toys and games, but if you don’t have that parent, if you don’t have that caring adult that can buffer the stress that these kids feel, then you’re taking away the basic science of what we know helps pediatrics.”
A judge in California has ordered authorities to reunite separated families within 30 days — and the government has completed more than 50 of the reunions of children under 5 by Thursday.
This article was sent to me by my good friend attorney Steve Hampton, Esq., who is well aware that Delaware is not treating inmates with Hep C. The issue is an ongoing one in many states, and it represents a health threat to YOU, because it is contagious.
Prison Health Care companies will let inmates die before providing the care they legally are required to provide.
Excerpts from the Article:
State prisons across the U.S. are failing to treat at least 144,000 inmates who have hepatitis C, a curable but potentially fatal liver disease, according to a recent survey and subsequent interviews of state corrections departments.
Many of the 49 states that responded to questions about inmates with hepatitis C cited high drug prices as the reason for denying treatment. The drugs can cost up to $90,000 for a course of treatment.
Nationwide, roughly 97 percent of inmates with hepatitis C are not getting the cure, according to the survey conducted for a master’s project at the Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Advocates say this ignores a 1976 Supreme Court ruling that determined an inmate’s medical care is a constitutional right.
“It doesn’t make sense to wait now that we have the effective cure available,” said Dr. Raymond Chung, director of Hepatology and the Liver Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. Chung was a former co-chair of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Infectious Diseases of America’s HCV guidance panel, which recommends everyone with chronic hepatitis C have access to the cure.
Corrections departments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia were asked how many inmates have hepatitis C, how many are treated, what drugs are used for treatment, and what policies exist concerning inmates with the virus. Almost all of the states responded with some or all of the information requested. South Carolina and D.C. denied the requests.
With more than 1.3 million inmates, state prisons house the largest group of incarcerated people in the country — people with a higher risk of passing the bloodborne virus by sharing needles, razors or toothbrushes. The infection rate is much higher among the incarcerated than the general population, partly because nearly one-sixth of state prisoners are serving for drug offenses.
The vast undertreatment comes at a time when the infection rate for hepatitis C, or HCV, has been increasing in part due to the opioid epidemic.
Some prisons ignore their own guidelines for standards of care. In Florida, at least 181 inmates who met the criteria for treatment did not get the cure, according to records kept by the Florida Department of Corrections. The department has a 13-page policy that says prisoners are eligible for HCV therapy when the disease reaches Stage 2, which is when the liver shows mild to moderate fibrosis, or tissue scarring.
Since late 2013, new hepatitis C drugs with a success rate of more than 95 percent have become available. But they come with sticker prices of $40,000 to $90,000 for the daily tablet regimen of eight to 12 weeks. These drugs replaced previous therapies that cost around $70,000 for 48 weeks of treatment with a much lower cure rate.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections treated 58 inmates from 2014 to 2016. Dr. David Paulson, medical director of the Minnesota state prison system, said his department cannot afford to do more.
“We have to operate within our means and treat the [prisoners] that are the most advanced first,” he said in an interview. “When prices go down, we will treat more people.”
In California, state officials have allocated $106 million in next year’s budget to treat inmates with hepatitis C.
“This is a treatable condition. No one should die from HCV,” said Michael Ninburg, president of the World Hepatitis Alliance and executive director of Hepatitis Education Project, an advocacy group for people affected by the disease.
“We’rr sick, and they’re doing nothing about it,” Michaelson said.
The constitutional argument over treatment revolves around the Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Inmates have nowhere else to turn for health care. States restrict or prohibit any private or outside medical care.
The litigation over this issue is ongoing in Minnesota and Virginia and in at least seven other states, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Approximately 640,000 inmates are released nationwide each year, and that means there could potentially be more than 75,000 HCV-infected people entering the general population annually. Those who didn’t get tested, or treated, while incarcerated would increase the risk of new infections.
“I don’t have a life sentence. I got people that I care about and I want to fix things. I want to live. I wasn’t sentenced to death. Don’t let me die in here.”
The figures in this story came from a survey sent to the departments of corrections in 50 states and the District of Columbia, between October 2017 and March 2018. Some states responded to the survey without FOIA or Open Records requests, and others required a formal request.
The survey asked for: (1) the state prison policy on testing and treating HCV, (2) the HCV drugs in their formulary, (3) the number of inmates with HCV, or the prevalence rate of HCV in the state prisons, and (4) the number of inmates with HCV who were treated in the previous year, or the most recent data available. For states that required records requests, a question about the amount of budget spent on treating inmates with HCV was added to the survey.
All of the states and D.C. responded to the survey in some form. As of publication, 45 states had given complete answers for both the numbers of inmates diagnosed and treated. Arkansas, Hawaii and Missouri responded only to either the prevalence rate or the number of inmates treated. South Carolina and D.C. denied the FOIA requests.
The policies on testing and treating varies greatly by state; some are more restrictive than others in terms of treatment eligibility, giving access to those in advanced stages of disease. Alaska, Georgia, Maine and South Dakota did not have clear written rules for testing or treating HCV. Mississippi had a policy that dated to 2005, almost a decade before the current drugs were introduced.
At least this time the Doofus has nominated a judge who knows what a jury trial is. Yes, not long ago he nominated another Doofus who was incredibly unqualified, had never had a trial, and could not explain to the Senate what a Motion in Limine is!
But the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh does not bode well for criminal justice reform, nor for anyone holding accountable a president who may commit crimes.
Shiver me timbers! It is great to see so many of you Buccaneers sharing so much good information. However, we must board the Ship of State, and coerce them into meaningful criminal justice reform!
They have hornswoggled us long enough, with the useless “war on drugs”, mass incarceration, and “tough on crime” crap which does not work! We must give no quarter! Arrrrr! We must make injustice dance the hempen jig! For politicians who say “get tough on crime” … Blow the Man Down! Aye, Maties, sharpen your sabers, and dip thy pen in the ink. Write a Letter to the Editor! Show a Leg! Call for mandatory sentences to be sent to Davey Jones Locker! Demand that the “war on drugs” walk the plank! Aye, it is time to MUTINY, and let JUSTICE set sail! Arrr!
Yes, this is what one must do to try to get medical care in prison. Corizon Health is notoriously atrocious! If you don’t think it is “that bad”, you have NO idea what goes on in our prisons!
Excerpts from the Article:
Jason Monteleone, with the Boise law firm of Johnson and Monteleone, called the medical neglect that his client, Gary L. Merchant, 65, received from Idaho’s prison medical care provider, Corizon Health, “egregious” in a federal lawsuit filed on December 26, 2017. “The initial medical opinion that’s been obtained demonstrates not just reckless behavior but deliberate indifference,” Monteleone said. “I do a lot of correctional medical cases, and I’ve not seen one this bad.”
Merchant, who had made “at least five written requests and, in total, over a dozen requests” to get medical attention for a worsening infection in his left leg, resorted to desperate measures to force Corizon officials to transport him to a hospital for treatment. He swallowed a small pencil-sharpener razor blade.
Merchant was finally sent to St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with “severe sepsis and septic shock.” Doctors immediately attempted surgical intervention but were unable to save the leg and had to amputate it above the knee. Turning their attention to the swallowed razor blade, medical staff performed a colostomy to remove the blade and a damaged section of Merchant’s intestines.
See: Merchant v. Corizon, LLC, U.S.D.C. (D. Idaho), Case No. 1:17-cv-00524-BLW.
‘Where Jason lives’: Shocking conditions at NY prison show the prisons are the crime -“Ain’t it the Truth!” – kra
“the prisons are the crime” … Those words immediately reminded me of all the crime I saw committed by prison personnel, which is what propelled me on my journey of the past six years … and until I die. This is one story about one prison, but they all are shamelessly and shockingly similar. How do I know? I was in for 5 years (READ It’s not about What They Did to Me -Prison Abuse) and since my release I talk with inmates, their families and loved ones, and get letters and emails from them and from some whistle-blower prison staff … every day!
The location may vary, but across America the conditions and the brutality are the same.
Excerpts from the Article:
I organize formerly incarcerated people in New York State. I have heard many stories and talked to many people. From those wrongfully imprisoned for minor infractions to those who confessed to murder one, when Auburn prison comes up the conversation always shifts to the conditions at the facility. They are so deplorable, degrading and dangerous that incarcerated people have come to call Auburn “the place where Jason lives.” They equate being sent to Auburn with facing down one of America’s most frightening horror movie monsters, Jason of Friday the 13th.
Tamika, whose brother was recently transferred to Auburn, wants the world to know why the prisoners say that Auburn is like living in a horror movie, and to join the struggle to do something about it. Her brother, call him Q to protect his identity from repression, has communicated to her examples of systemic neglect and abuse.
There’s the crumbling infrastructure of the prison. Auburn is one the oldest operating prisons in the country, and it shows in wear and tear. The entire infrastructure of the prison is decrepit and the buildings riddled with cracks and drafts. There are so many gaps between parts of the windows, and cracks in walls, that the prison is filled with roaches and rats that easily go in and out at will.
This not only makes the prisoners vulnerable to all kinds of critters, it also means in the cold upstate New York winter months the entire prison is freezing. This threatens the actual survival of vulnerable inmates—the elderly and prisoners with chronic illnesses.
Auburn is a maximum-security facility, which means that 23 hours a day the 1,500 prisoners are locked in cold cells with the rats and roaches, with one hour of time in the prison yard. Q says he regularly loses feeling in both of his feet from the cold and doesn’t regain feeling for some time. The prison provides some clothing, but Q says it is entirely inadequate to protect people from the elements.
Three days a week, people are allowed to shower at units across the yard from the main cell blocks. Q informs us that prisoners put off showering as long as possible, since they risk get dirtier in the shower than before they went in. The prison showers are absolutely disgusting with muck and grime, Q says.
The food, Q tells us, is practically inedible. On one occasion, the prison served sausages that were so rubbery and solid that no one felt safe putting them down. Some inmates took the sausages into the yard for their regular recess and saw how high they could bounce them off the ground. In a macabre game, the people incarcerated at Auburn found that the food served to be better as a bouncing ball than nourishment.
Because the prison food is so awful, people rely more heavily on what is in the commissary vending machines to satisfy hunger. But this is almost exclusively candy, with the cost inflated to extortionate prices. Current inmates are going broke to survive on the candy, and simultaneously see their physical and dental health deteriorate rapidly.
Regardless of whether prisoners rely more on the commissary or the prison food trays, most prisoners become sickly. Families say they witness over time how their loved ones’ health and spirit are eroded: developing cists, rashes, oral health problems, migraines, and even becoming pre-diabetic.
Q’s most consistent complaint, however, is that the correctional officers that police the prison are vicious and brutal.
In February, the media reported that at Auburn a correctional officer was suspended and being investigated for allegations of using waterboarding and beating in the genitals of shackled prisoners as punitive measures and for alleged insubordination. Other guards were involved as well.
Because of so many reports of guard violence, the guards have taken to beating the men on their penises with the belief that there would be no apparent bruising that would get them caught. It is both regular and well known, according to Q, that guards will punish even minor infractions with baton blows to the groin.
Like most prisons in the U.S., , Auburn’s brutal conditions have spawned prison gangs who vie with each other to offer protection. The starving and freezing of prisoners, their systematic neglect, and the brutality of prison guards has pushed the inmates into the survival tactics of gang organizations. The systemic neglect has lead people to secure their survival in more and more brutal ways, with trauma pushing them to violent confrontation over petty possessions, and a tragic willingness to kill or be killed. Among upstate facilities, Auburn is known as the “slaughter house,” because of how frequent the stabbings are.
Auburn is one among more than 5,000 prisons in the country, not including immigrant detainment camps. While each prison, jail, or juvenile facility is slightly different, inmates all face correctional officer abuse, terrible food quality, systemic neglect, collapsing infrastructure, and extortionate labor practices.
Jason and the whole horror movie is manifestly a national phenomenon. Auburn is more of an exemplar than an exception.
The inmate population nationally is mostly young Black, Latinos/Latina and Native American. An overwhelming number are poor working-class people of all nationalities and ethnic groups convicted of property and “survival crimes.”
Across the country, the prison population is still steadily increasing while the crime rate steadily declines.
There is no excuse for subjecting anyone to the conditions that exist at Auburn. The fight to expose and end these conditions must not be left solely to individuals like Tamika who come to visit, are grieved, and enraged at what their loved ones describe.
Mass incarceration is everyone’s issue. The prisons are the crime!
For journalists covering prisons, the First Amendment is little help – Secrecy in Prison Conduct – kra
And just why is there so much secrecy about what goes on in our prisons? Easy: because prison officials ignore law, ignore their own policies, commit crimes … do whatever the hell they please … every day! I have SEEN it and get calls daily about it.*
I have been saying this for years: …”tens of billions of taxpayer dollars are spent annually to keep them there. Rape occurs behind bars. Murder and assault, too. Solitary confinement can cause mental and physical suffering. It’s not uncommon for facility conditions to incubate disease. And the vast majority of inmates will eventually re-enter their communities. What happens in penal institutions is a matter of public concern.” …
Typically, prisons claim “security concerns”, and the courts have been much too differential to this, because 95% (or more) of the time, that is total bullshit!
Excerpts from the Article:
“EACH PRISON IS A FIEFDOM, and the warden is at the top of the feudal system.” That’s how Gary Fields, who covered criminal justice for The Wall Street Journal, put it in 2012, discussing the government policies and practices that make it difficult for journalists to report on prisons, jails, and other detention centers.
Press access to such facilities has been in the news because of the searing coverage of detention centers for migrant children. Officials have generally forbidden the journalists touring them from using recording equipment or conducting interviews with the children there.
It is tempting to see the limited access as an especially Trumpian trouble, of a piece with an administration that has labored since day one to delegitimize and marginalize the press. But the problem of press access to prisons and the like, as Fields signals, is a chronic one.
More than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States, more than in any other country in the world, and tens of billions of taxpayer dollars are spent annually to keep them there. Rape occurs behind bars. Murder and assault, too. Solitary confinement can cause mental and physical suffering. It’s not uncommon for facility conditions to incubate disease. And the vast majority of inmates will eventually re-enter their communities. What happens in penal institutions is a matter of public concern.
But it’s difficult for journalists to cover them. The First Amendment does a generally fine job of guaranteeing rights to communicate, but it’s a fickle source for access rights, which come from a complex system of statutes, regulations, the common law, and a few problematic Supreme Court decisions.
In the 1972 case Branzburg v. Hayes, the Court held that the First Amendment did not entitle a reporter to refuse to testify before a grand jury about confidential sources, dealing a blow to the idea that the constitution provided newsgathering rights. However, the majority opinion reasoned that “without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press could be eviscerated.” Unfortunately, the opinion didn’t articulate what it meant by “some protection.”
Just two years later, the Court heard companion cases regarding prison access: Pell v. Procunier and Saxbe v. Washington Post Co., in which prisoners and the press challenged regulations that prohibited interviews with specific inmates. Pell involved state regulations, and Saxbe involved federal ones. The justices upheld them.