Society's least favorite citizens are now becoming victims as for-profit prison healthcare providers reap hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds while cutting care to the prisoner population. The trend, known as privatization, essentially vests unchecked power in private healthcare providers who deliver little to no effective healthcare to inmates, many of whom suffer chronic illness, disease and sickness.
In Arizona, a recent class action in the matter of Parsons v. Ryan resulted in a multi-million dollar settlement (mostly attorneys' fees) stemming from prisoner health conditions under the Arizona Department of Corrections, Wexford Health Sources, Inc. and Corizon Health, Inc. During an inspection by Robert Cohen, M.D. Dr. Cohen remarked healthcare within the ADC was amongst the worst he had ever seen and that, "[T]here were multiple cases in which the lapses were so shocking and dangerous that I felt ethically obligated as a medical professional to bring them to the immediate attention of the ADC and Corizon staff."
Unfortunately, it does not appear that privatization will result in effective healthcare anytime soon. Private healthcare providers are routinely shuffled in and out of state department of corrections systems and are largely insulated from civil actions due in part to unfavorable Federal court rulings and the enactment of the Prison Litigation Reform Act which caps attorneys' fees dissuading many attorneys from becoming involved. The horrific conditions in prisons throughout the country are leading to growing awareness. Companies like Wexford Health Sources, Inc. and Corizon Health, Inc., though largely unknown to the vast majority of citizens, are slowly being exposed. Taxpayers can and should demand accountability for how their tax dollars are being spent
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