Thursday, February 5, 2015

Company's struggles highlight challenges of inmate care


Jovon Frazier













Months after he landed in Florida's Manatee County Jail, Jovon Frazier's pleas for treatment of the intense pain that radiated from his left shoulder to his elbow were met mostly with Tylenol.

"It really hurts! HELP!" Frazier, then 18, wrote the second time he asked for care, in August 2009.

"I need to see a doctor!" he wrote on his eighth request form, after an X-ray came back negative. "I done put a lot of sick calls in & ya'll keep sending me back and ain't tell me nothing."

Four months later, after Frazier's 13th request resulted in hospitalization and doctors quickly diagnosed bone cancer, his arm had to be amputated, according to a lawsuit filed by his family.

But the cancer spread and Frazier died in 2011, months after his release.

As an inmate, his medical care had been managed not by the county sheriff's office that runs the jail, but by a private company under contract.

That company, Corizon Health Inc., is under growing pressure around the country after losing five state prison contracts, downgrades by credit analysts and increased scrutiny of care of inmates held by some of its largest customers, including New York City. But Corizon, whose responsibility for 345,000 inmates at prisons and jails in 27 states makes it the country's biggest for-profit correctional health provider, is just one of many firms using a similar model to vie for the billions of dollars states and counties spend on prisoner care.

The growth of the for-profit prison care industry raises questions about how to divide expensive and complicated responsibilities between public agencies and private companies. It turns, though, on a thornier underlying issue: How do you ensure care of people that society mostly would prefer not to think about?


Isaiah 42:22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.

Deuteronomy 28:29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.