A giant company is supposed to be taking care of the physical and mental needs of Michigan inmates. We contend that it’s not happening properly.
Corizon Health is one of the largest for-profit medical providers for jails and prisons in the United States. In 2016, the Tennessee-based Corizon signed a 5-year contract worth $715.7 million to provide both physical and mental health services in Michigan prisons, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Here’s our story.
We are blessed to have a panel of excellent, dedicated physicians, representing a variety of specialties, on the HFP advisory team. We call on them regularly to help us answer a variety of questions from prisoners regarding symptoms, aches and pains, injuries, treatment or lack thereof, and just general medical care.
It seldom goes well, and invariably our doctors throw up their hands and say, “In the free world, you or I would demand and receive proper treatment. It’s anybody’s guess what he or she will get behind bars.”
Corizon, which has proven time and again that the bottom line is most important, is forever crowding the constitutional guarantees of the 8th Amendment. Perhaps that’s why Matt Clarke reported, in Prison Legal News last summer, Recent lawsuits against the company…call into question the quality, and even the availability, of the healthcare services it is supposed to provide. In addition to the lawsuits, Clarke reported a trend of non-renewal of Corizon contracts in Georgia, New Mexico, Indiana and New York.
I bring all of this to your attention after being contacted on a Sunday morning by our medical director. A 52-year-old client has a rare genetic disease. The diagnosis is unquestioned. Its treatment is not always terribly effective, but it is always very expensive. The inmate was promised treatment four months ago. Corizon admits it has the medicine. Yet, as of today, no treatment. Maddening!
I wouldn’t bother writing about it if this were the exception. But it’s the rule. It’s an uphill climb! It’s swimming upstream! It’s ridiculous!
To its credit, the Michigan Department of Corrections recently chose to break a contract with an outside provider for food service after an abysmal record of shortcomings. We think it’s time to take another look at Corizon. Based on our experience, we can honestly state that Michigan prisoners are not receiving adequate, appropriate medical care. The state doesn’t have the right to allow that. Incarceration is the punishment. We may not add to it!
In his Prison Legal News report Matt Clark concluded: Perhaps, if Corizon focused on providing competent and adequate care to prisoners, it would not be the subject of so many lawsuits and at risk of losing its lucrative contracts.