NEWS FOR May 19, 2015

Dear Friends,


I like to keep up with the news from my hometown of Toledo, Ohio, so I read The Blade app daily.  The May 18 article entitled "Family Questions Death of Inmate" caught my eye.


My suspicions were confirmed that a private health care company had been in charge of the care of Stephen Aaron Sargent at the Correction Center of Northwest Ohio (CCNO) near Stryker, Ohio, before he died December 23, 2014. "Health care at the jail is provided by Correct Care Solutions, a Nashville-based private company that provides health care in correction facilities nationwide," states The Blade.


Private = For-profit.


Think about it.  "The profit motive is inherently at odds with the stated purpose of 'corrections,' including community corrections, which is to reduce offenses that land people in prison thereby reducing the number of incarcerated individuals. Private prison corporations are financially dependent on the growth of supervised populations, providing a perverse incentive not to rehabilitate."  (TIC p. 4, bold and italics in original)


As the Winter 2014/2015 Grassroots Leadership publication states: "Grassroots Leadership believes that no one should profit off the incarceration of human beings."  At STHRC, we agree!


In Texas we deal with CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO (GEO Group) who run the South Texas Family Residential Center (aka family detention center) in Dilley, TX, and the Karnes County Residential Center (aka family detention center) in Karnes City, TX, respectively.  "While these companies have generated billions of dollars for their shareholders, there are also well-documented records of prisoner abuse, poor pay and benefits to employees, scandals, escapes, riots, lawsuits, and wrongful deaths." (TIC p. 7)


But running a for-profit correctional or immigration family detention center is no longer profitable enough.  Now for-profit companies are going to own and expand the services needed by such institutions, at least those not provided by those held inside of them.  [I visit a friend held at the T. Don Hutto facility for women in Taylor, TX.  She works 40 hours a week in the kitchen.  She earns enough to make a 5-minute phone call to her mother in Guatemala once a week.]


And the death of Stephen Aaron Sargent, reminds us that for-profit incarceration and services to inmates is not just a Texas problem.


CCA, GEO and Correct Care Solutions are among other for-profit private companies expanding their business in the correctional space.  This is known as the "Treatment Industrial Complex (TIC):  the movement of the for-profit prison industry into correctional medical care, mental health treatment, and 'community corrections'".  (Treatment Industrial Complex, TIC p. 9, Treatment Industrial Complex: How For-Profit Prison Corporations are Undermining Efforts to Treat and Rehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Gain, published by Grassroots Leadership, November 2014).


"The primary argument in favor of most privatization scenarios is cost savings. However, medical care, mental health treatment, and rehabilitation programs are inherently expensive.  The only way to save money on these services is to provide less care, or substandard care.  For-profit prison corporations not only need to promise cost savings to acquire contracts, those contracts also need to be profitable.  The result, more often than not, is a corporation cutting corners, running staff vacancies, providing inadequate or ineffective treatment programming, and denying needed procedures, hospitalizations, and medications."  (TIC, p. 15)


Do any of the above shortcuts apply to the death of Stephen Aaron Sargent?


According to the statistics, it is likely:

"For-profit prison health care company Corizon was sued 600 times in 5 years for neglect and malpractice issues.  The second largest such company, Wexford, was hit with 1,092 malpractice claims....from Jan. 1, 2008, through 2012."  (TIC, p. 15)


(600 times in 5 years....that's 120 times a year....that's 10 times a month, every month for 5 years...and I guess no one on the inside Corizon noticed...and Wexford could top that!)


"When a state contracts with an organization or company to provide medical or mental health care, treatment or rehabilitation services, it is handing over control of an essential public function to a company that may have different goals and priorities than the government and public.  Privatization contracts represent a long term investment (typically 20 years) in a business relationship with a corporation.  Once the state enters into a contract, it can be extremely difficult to nullify or amend the contract, even when the contractor is shown to be grossly negligent or abusive." (TIC,  p. 18) 


"Stakeholders (sentencing reform advocates, treatment providers, criminal justice professionals, elected officials) are largely unaware of this trend or its implications for their agencies, programs, or public policy options."  (TIC, p. 17)


It is time to take notice!


Thank you for your support and prayers!

Sr. Pam


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