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Alabama Department of Corrections

Correctional Medical Services, Louisiana Correctional Services, MHM, Naphcare, Prison Health Services, Wexford
Dec 10, 2016 correctionsone.com
Officials said inmates are never denied medical care or medication because of the cost
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The chief psychiatrist for Alabama prisons testified that inmates are screened for mental illness, given a treatment plan if they are ill and provided needed medication regardless of cost. Dr. Robert Hunter, medical director for MHM Alabama, took the witness stand for the third day today in a federal non-jury trial over the quality of mental health care in Alabama prisons. Inmates and their advocates claim in the class-action lawsuit that a failure to provide adequate mental health care violates the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Department of Corrections disputes the allegations. Today was the fourth day of the trial in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson. The case, expected to last about eight weeks, is moving slower than expected, Thompson told the lawyers this morning. MHM Alabama, part of MHM Services, has provided mental health care in prisons under contract with the Department of Corrections since 2001. The inmates, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, called MHM's Hunter as a witness. Today, lawyers defending DOC officials cross-examined Hunter. Hunter described how inmates are evaluated for mental health problems when they enter the prison system. He said inmates who are identified as mentally ill receive a treatment plan that can include one-on-one counseling, group counseling and medication. Hunter said medication is generally prescribed to inmates when a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner determines their ability to function is impaired. Hunter said inmates are never denied medication because of the cost. Bill Lunsford, a lawyer with Maynard Cooper & Gale who is defending DOC officials, said Hunter's testimony countered the plaintiffs' claims that cost-cutting is a factor in care. "What Dr. Hunter has pointed out is that cost is really not a consideration when it comes to mental health care," Lunsford said. "That when they decide, for example, which patients receive which medications, that contrary to what's been publicized, it's just simply not true that cost is being taken into consideration." The lawsuit alleges that MHM's staff is too small and lacks the expertise to provide sufficient care, among other claims. SPLC attorney Maria Morris said some of the documented interactions between mental health staff and inmates might be more for the purpose of "checking boxes" than substantive treatment. Morris said a shortage of security staff, which DOC acknowledges, is a factor in what she said is substandard care. For example, she said group counseling opportunities are curtailed. "We'll be putting on evidence of places where group counseling, to the extent that it's scheduled at all, which is very limited, is cancelled because there's no custody officer available to provide security," Morris said. The plaintiffs had called two inmates as witnesses on Monday. After Hunter's testimony this afternoon, they called another inmate to testify. That inmate is expected to return to the stand on Friday morning.

August 20, 2016 splcenter.org/news
SPLC files motion to hold Alabama accountable for inadequate health care of all state prisoners
The SPLC, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and the law firm of Baker Donelson have asked a federal judge to certify its lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) as a class action, which would allow rulings in the case over the inadequate medical and mental health care of 43 prisoners named in the lawsuit to apply to the 25,000 people held in a prison system that has had one of the highest mortality rates in the country. The motion for class certification, which argues that the failure to provide adequate care is a systemic issue affecting all prisoners, was filed last night. It comes as the lawsuit is set to go to trial Nov. 7. The lawsuit describes how the medical and mental health needs of prisoners are routinely ignored in a prison system where dangerous – even life-threatening – conditions are the norm. Strokes, amputations and prisoner deaths that may have been prevented with proper care are detailed in the lawsuit, which was filed in 2014. “No one in Alabama’s prisons was sentenced to the pain and suffering caused by the state’s utter failure to provide basic medical care,” said Maria Morris, SPLC senior staff attorney. “Alabama is endangering the lives of the people it incarcerates and it must do more to end the inhumane and unconstitutional conditions within its prisons.” The motion for class certification comes after experts in corrections management as well as medical and mental health care filed reports in the case based on repeated tours of ADOC prisons. The reports, which were filed in July, found that the system, which has the most overcrowded prisons in the nation – and spends one of the lowest amounts, per inmate, on medical and mental health care – is still plagued by serious problems. “It is quite simply a system in a state of perpetual crisis—a fact known and yet unaddressed by Alabama officials for a considerable period of time,” Eldon Vail, a corrections expert and former secretary of the Washington State Department of Corrections, wrote in his report on ADOC prisons. Another expert found that the prison system “has high rates of mortality, but fails to adequately review mortality with an aim of reducing death.” The report by Dr. Michael A. Puisis, a physician with 30 years of experience in corrections, noted that Corizon Inc., the ADOC’s medical care provider, reviews prisoner deaths in a manner that is “ineffective; biased; fails to identify problems; and fails to recommend solutions to problems evident in patient deaths.” The expert report also describes the failure of the ADOC to control outbreaks of infectious diseases to the point that the Alabama Department of Public Health assumed control of outbreak investigations. It notes that Corizon does not have any positions dedicated to infection control or quality improvement – “two essential programs that need to be present in a correctional medical program.” These findings come after the lawsuit, which was filed more than two years ago, outlined dangerous and deadly failures by the prison system to provide adequate medical care: The department has a policy and practice of not treating hepatitis C. In April 2014, 2,280 prisoners in ADOC custody had been diagnosed with it, but only seven prisoners were receiving treatment. Many incarcerated people in Alabama have died of complications from hepatitis C. A prisoner who had survived prostate cancer had a blood test indicating his cancer had probably returned, but no follow-up test was given until a year and a half later. By that time, the cancer had spread to his bones and was terminal. He died. A prisoner at St. Clair Correctional Facility with a history of heart problems had a new stent placed in his heart in 2012. Afterward, he was not given the necessary blood thinners at the prison, though the doctor had prescribed them. The prisoner’s blood clogged the stent, requiring emergency open-heart surgery. Severely mentally ill prisoners are housed in solitary confinement where they receive little or no mental health treatment. Numerous prisoners have committed suicide in these dungeon-like cells. “The state’s failure to provide constitutionally adequate medical and mental health care to prisoners in its custody is part and parcel of the horrors inflicted by its use of mass incarceration to cage people rather than attend to their most basic needs,” said Lisa Borden, co-counsel and director of pro bono programs at Baker Donelson. “This is particularly true of the many people in Alabama’s prisons who needed mental health treatment but were incarcerated instead. We regret that a federal lawsuit is necessary to require the state to uphold its constitutional obligations.” Earlier this year, the plaintiffs settled a portion of the lawsuit regarding violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In that settlement, the ADOC committed to provide services and fair treatment to incarcerated people with disabilities. The remaining claims in the lawsuit describe how the prison system’s poor medical services violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The lawsuit, which is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, will go to trial just before the 2017 regular session of the legislature, which will likely consider a drastic expansion of state prisons, something the SPLC opposes. “Alabama’s prison system is in crisis,” said Lisa Graybill, SPLC deputy legal director. “The state is not going to solve these problems by going on a spending spree to build new prisons.”

Mar 19, 2016 montgomeryadvertiser.com
Alabama: Partial agreement on fed lawsuit over health care
A partial agreement has been reached in a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 25,000 Alabama inmates who attorneys say have been denied medical treatment. In 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed the 140-page complaint against the Alabama Department of Corrections, then-ADOC Commissioner Kim Thomas (current Commissioner Jefferson Dunn has since inherited the suit) and Ruth Naglich, ADOC associate commissioner of health services. Forty-two prisoners were named as plaintiffs in the suit, though the suit is still awaiting class action certification. MHM Correctional Services, Inc. and Corizon Health, Inc, which were contracted by ADOC, are also movants in the suit. The complaint contains a laundry list of allegations rooted in ADOC’s “routine and systematic failure” to provide adequate medical care, which the complaint says has led to the death and severe injury of multiple inmates. A significant portion of the suit was aimed at ADOC’s noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It states that prisoners with disabilities are often housed in facilities that do not accommodate them, and illustrates this by citing an instance when an inmate in a wheelchair had to maneuver deeper into Kilby Correctional Facility during a 2014 fire to access a ramp. Defendants have denied most of the allegations, stating in a court filing that the plaintiffs’ complaint, “reveals inflammatory, self-serving statements that inaccurately characterize inmates’ medical and mental health conditions, ... and demonstrate a basic misunderstanding of technical medical or mental health terminology.” The portion of the suit that addresses solely disabled inmates is that part that’s initially been settled. Mapped out in the settlement is an outline for reform with treatment of disabled inmates - including improved housing, more thorough screening and the implementation of a tracking system. Full copies of the settlement agreement will be made available to inmates in all ADOC prison libraries, a court document states. “This agreement is an important commitment by the Alabama Department of Corrections to address the discrimination and hardship these prisoners have faced for far too long,” said Maria Morris, SPLC senior supervising attorney in a press release. “Prisoners with disabilities must have an opportunity to serve the sentence they have received – not the sentence they must endure because the state fails to respect their legal rights.” The agreement is awaiting approval by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who will hear oral arguments today for motions filed regarding this suit. Three of those motions were filed by the plaintiffs. They ask Thompson to compel the defendants and movants to provide “ improperly withheld documents” from Corizon, documents relating to Corizon’s mortality review and documents about prisoners who were sent to the E.R. or hospital. The remaining elements of the lawsuit, which claim ADOC’s “indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners in their custody” and “failure to provide mental health care” to inmates, are expected to go to trial Oct. 17.

Jan 28, 2015 al.com
Alabama gave a series of failing marks to the medical provider now at the center of the lawsuit over inmate care. The Alabama Department of Corrections has not released those failed internal audits to the public. Instead, an executive for Corizon, which provides inmate health care to Alabama's 25,100 inmates, talked about the audits at length in a May 2013 deposition obtained by AL.com. Larry Linton, Corizon's vice-president for operations, acknowledged the failed audits, but cast doubt on their conclusions. He called them "contract compliance" documents that do not focus on patient outcomes. "It really looks bad to a layperson who doesn't understand all this," Linton said. "And it would seem odd to me that a company would come in here and never pass an audit and yet still be here. How is that possible? And I say it's possible because, in reality, the overall care that's provided is pretty good." The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama in June, alleging that prisoner health care is inadequate and unconstitutional. It is set to go to trial in 2016. As part of the lawsuit, the ADOC agreed earlier this month to stop giving inmates in mental health unit access to razor blades, as they had in the past. Corizon, which signed a three-year $224 million contract with the state in 2012 after submitting the only bid for the work, agreed to pay the legal costs for the suit. Twenty-nine health care audits have been performed at different prisons in the past four years. Timely and consistent access to services; continuity of care; infection control; documentation; and other criteria are measured in the audits. To pass an audit, Corizon must meet 85 percent of standards outlined in the contract. The ADOC declined to release the audits last month citing pending litigation after AL.com requested them in September. Legally, there may be no justification to withhold the records, according to Alabama Press Association general counsel Dennis Bailey. While state open meetings law does provide an exemption for pending litigation, state open records law does not. Since then, the ADOC has not responded to multiple requests from AL.com to cite a legal exemption that allows them to withhold the reports. An ADOC spokesman said on Thursday that their legal counsel may have an answer as early as next week. "A public record does not become protected because of litigation," Bailey wrote in an e-mail. "If these audits were done before litigation they are not transformed into secret documents after litigation is filed." Released in other states, audits have shown mismanagement and insufficient health on the part of Corizon. In Florida, audits of Corizon's medical care led the state's department of corrections secretary, Michael Crews, to assail the firm in a letter to Corizon chief executive officer Woodrow A. Myers, Jr. The firm had put together a "corrective action plan" to fix the problems outlined in the audit. "All too often, we are finding that these corrective action plans are not being carried out and that the level of care continues to fall below the contractually required standard," Crews wrote. According to the Associated Press, an audit last year in Minnesota found that inadequate communication between prison staff and Corizon doctors during overnight hours "may have been a contributing factor to inmate deaths." Maria Morris, Southern Poverty Law Center managing attorney, said her agency has asked for the audits as well. The ADOC has yet to turn them over. "I would not think there is any reason for it," Morris said. Morris deposed Linton as part of a separate federal lawsuit filed by inmate Larry Shepherd against Corizon and its predecessor firms in April 2012. Shepherd claimed that the medical care provided to him was cruel and unusual punishment. The case was dismissed is August 2013. In the deposition, Linton insisted that the care provided by the company was adequate. He says the prison system takes into account "health outcomes," rather than just the audit results. "On the other hand, I fully understand the Department of Corrections' position," Linton said. "They don't tell us how to practice medicine, just like we don't tell our doctors how to practice medicine. "They believe that if we do all of these things, that it leads to a better product for us, and they are right about that. But we believe looking at outcomes gives us a better handle on it." A Corizon spokeswoman issued a statement on Thursday that the ADOC audits "focus on administrative matters that are not designed to assess the quality of inmate care." "To assess the quality of care, Corizon Health continually monitors medical outcomes for its patients, based on objective standards used by the health care industry at large," the statement said. "We are proud of the results we have achieved. The statement also said they take the ADOC's compliance reviews seriously and that Corizon is "proud to have met the established criteria during the current audit cycle." Asked for a copy of the most current audit, the Corizon declined, saying that it is up to the ADOC to release. Here are some other highlights from the deposition: Linton also mentioned how the use of chain gangs at Limestone prison in the 1990s sabotaged an ADOC attempt to get the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to accredit the facility. Subsequently, the agency told the ADOC commissioner that they "wouldn't be back." "And I think old memories die hard sometimes," Linton said. Linton said that Alabama's prison system, with its aging facilities, could not pass an American Correctional Association accreditation. "They are just too old, and you can't make the corrections that need to be made without great expense," Linton said. One of Corizon's predecessor companies rednegotiated its contract with the ADOC in 2008 or 2009 for two more years. As part of the deal, Corizon received less money, Linton said. "... My belief is the quality of care was improving enough to where our costs were going down, and that was rebated essentially, through the renegotiation, back to the client," Linton said. In turn, the questioning attorney responded, "so ADOC said we'll pay you less because you're providing better care?" "It's more likely that Corizon said, 'we're willing to negotiate the price down because the care we're providing is good enough that our costs are reduced, if you'll give us those two years,'" Linton said.


Aug 17, 2014 al.com
Powerful firm lobbies for Alabama prison health contractor, then defends company in court Initially hired to politick for inmate health care provider Corizon, the powerful Alabama firm is now defending the quality of the company's medical care in federal court. AL.com is examining the ties between the state's $224 million prison health care contract with Corizon and it supporters in light of a lawsuit filed against the state. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the suit in federal court two months ago that claimed the medical care provided to the state's 25,000 inmates was unconstitutional. Corizon and MHM Health Services, the prison system's mental healthcare provider, tapped the law firm Maynard, Cooper & Gale to fight the case at no cost to the state. Maynard Cooper & Gale employees Linda Maynor and Clay Ryan lobbied for Corizon in 2012, and 2013 and 2014, respectively, Alabama Ethics Commissions reports show. Both lobbyists are veterans of Alabama politics. Ryan served as special counsel to Gov. Robert Bentley three years ago, a volunteer position. Maynor, a volunteer on Bentley's campaign finance committee, earned the designation of "super ranger" after raising more than $300,000 for President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, her Maynard Cooper & Gale profile states. In 2003, she was named Alabama Republican of the Year and she served as the Alabama Republican Party's finance chair. When Maynor worked as a lobbyist for Corizon in 2012, the firm won a 34-month $224 million contract to provide health care for the state's 25,000 inmates. It was the only firm to submit a bid for the work. Corizon and MHM Health Services, the state's inmate mental health care provider, hired Maynard Cooper & Gale to defend the state against a lawsuit the Southern Poverty Lawsuit filed against it in June that claimed the medical care provided to inmates was unconstitutional. A report the SPLC released in the wake of the lawsuit described gruesome prison stories about amputated feet and toes, gangrenous testicles treated only with ice, scabies outbreaks, and staph outbreaks. The Alabama Department of Corrections, ADOC Commissioner Kim Thomas, and the prison system's top health care official Ruth Naglich, a former executive at two of Corizon's predecessor companies, are all named as defendants in the SPLC lawsuit. AL.com previously reported that two firms that employed Naglich's husband were hired by Corizon to X-ray Alabama inmates since 2007. State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, vowed to question prison officials in the upcoming weeks about the quality of Corizon's healthcare and the X-ray work. The Lobbyists In addition to serving as Bentley's special counsel, Ryan served as Bentley's transition coordinator, where he oversaw cabinet hiring and inauguration planning, his Maynard Cooper & Gale website profile states. He was also counsel for the governor's emergency relief fund, which was established by Bentley to aid those harmed by the 2011 tornados, Maynard Cooper & Gale's website shows. Jennifer Ardis, Bentley's spokeswoman, said Ryan de-registered as a lobbyist when he volunteered as Bentley's special counsel. Maynor has been active in politics since 1986 and has managed political campaigns and fundraised for Republicans at the state and federal levels. Former Gov. Bob Riley selected her to serve on his Education Spending Commission and Riley also appointed her to serve on the Alabama Certificate of Needs Board. Maynor also works with members of the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Bentley's campaign spokeswoman, Rebekah Mason, said Maynor helps raise money for Bentley "like hundreds of other volunteers who believe in the Governor's successful record of job creation." Messages for Corizon, Ryan and Maynor were not returned.

 Aug 14, 2014 america.aljazeera.com

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are ticketed for minor offenses are sentenced to probation managed by private companies, according to Human Rights Watch. In Alabama, it’s become a vicious cycle of fines, mounting fees and even jail time. JCS collects fines for violations like drunk driving, speeding or driving without a license, all at no cost to taxpayers. The Atlanta-based company charged Mann an additional monthly fee of $35 and also dug up old fines that Mann owed from past offenses dating back to the 1990s, including disorderly conduct, public intoxication and resisting arrest. “I was a drinker, heavy drinker,” he said. “I was wild.” But Mann was a sober, married churchgoer when he started making regular payments to the city – paying down a debt that JCS claimed was almost $9,000. “That's all I was doing – digging holes, making it deeper and deeper,” he said. “At first, I felt hopeless that nothing could be done.” Danny Evans, Mann’s attorney, has filed a class-action lawsuit against JCS, accusing it of illegally preying on the poor. “They pretend that they're a probation service,” Evans said. “In fact, they're not certified as state or federal probation officers. They're not trained as probation officers. What it provides to the city is a collection service.” Mann said he was jailed for 30 days for non-payment. On another occasion, the Army veteran said JCS told him that if he didn’t pay $600 by the end of the day the town would lock him up again. “He looked like he was crying,” said Mann’s wife, Rita Mann. “It scared me, ‘cause we didn't have $600. We were barely getting along … making and trying to pay bills.” Rita Mann was able to borrow the money from her aunt. But she said the monthly JCS bills were unrelenting, even when her husband was in the hospital with an infection and she begged the company for a respite. “I was struggling. I had to go to the hospital every day for my husband,” she said, her voice quivering. “I almost lost my husband. He likely died. And I explained that to them and they still didn't care. It was all about their money.” An 'offender-funded' system Deaundra Bell, from Birmingham, Ala., said his probation started after police spotted him drinking a beer on a friend’s porch and ticketed him for public intoxication. “It put pressure on me and my family 'cause I can't provide for them right now,” Bell said. “And it's really hard to get a job and I have bills to pay.” In Prattville, Ala., Teresa Halston’s three sons have all struggled to make their JCS payments. “They mail you notices, saying, ‘You've gotta pay this amount of money by this date, or we're gonna put you in jail,’” she said. “They mail you little postcards. I mean, it's just a bombardment. They're bill collectors.” Hali Woods fell into debt with JCS when she was only 16. In August 2013, Woods was ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt. That $25 ticket coupled with court costs ballooned into $300. She paid that off, but is now back at town hall, saddled with another debt because her mother can’t afford a new tag for the family’s only car. In 2012, Judge Hub Harrington temporarily shut down JCS in an Alabama town, calling the “offender-funded” system a “debtor’s prison.” “I called it judicially sanctioned extortion racket,” said Harrington, now a retired circuit court judge. “What happens is it's kind of a shakedown, because the individuals are told, ‘If you don't bring a payment I will put you in jail.’” In the 1980s, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to lock someone up simply because they can’t pay a debt, especially if there hasn’t been a hearing to determine economic status. “There's nothing legal about it, which is the basis of my opinion. In fact, I think I even wrote something that violations were too egregious and too numerous to mention in the short space,” Harrington said. “They were following none of the procedures set out by the constitution, by the State of Alabama, by the Code of Criminal Procedure.” JCS CEO Robert McMichael declined America Tonight’s repeated requests for an interview. However, two years ago, he wrote an op-ed saying, “JCS does not levy fees or fines” against those who are “ordered by the court.” He added: “JCS does not have the authority to jail people. Only the judge may do so.” It’s true that JCS doesn’t directly send people to jail. But that isn’t always clear to the debtor, according to Harrington. “They use that apparent authority to the utmost to coerce and threaten and extort the people that they're serving,” he said. Easing the burden Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward believes private probation companies can serve a useful purpose. “There's a role for it, because there's a lot of municipalities [that] have no way in the world of collecting a lot of those fines and fees. And that's not fair to them,” Ward told America Tonight. “Privatizing part of it’s fine as long as there's good, proper government oversight to make sure it's being carried out properly.” Earlier this year, Ward introduced legislation to better regulate the industry, including more oversight and training, which failed to pass. “If I get a $100 fine or citation I should be required to pay it and there should be a method to collect it,” Ward said. But Evans, Mann’s attorney, doesn’t believe a for-profit company belongs in the probation business. “There's nothing that I can tell you that makes sense about it,” Evans said. “It's a system that's run amok, that is completely ignorant and has no concept or any consideration for these constitutional protections.” After eight years on probation – six years beyond Alabama’s legal limit – and thousands of dollars paid, Elvis Mann finally won his fight and his fines were dismissed. It’s a small victory Mann and his lawyer hope to build on through the class-action suit for the thousands of others caught in the cycle of debt and unable to dig themselves out. “When they said I'm dismissed that was the happiest day of my life,” Mann said. “The burden just lifted up off of me.”


Nov 22, 2013 therepublic.com

UNIONTOWN, Alabama — Large portions of the Perry County Correctional Center are sitting dark and empty as the state continues to grapple with overcrowding of its prison system, according to a report Friday by The Anniston Star. The private, for-profit prison outside Uniontown houses just 30 inmates with 26 people on staff, the newspaper said (http://bit.ly/1jqMpsm ). Alabama once leased hundreds of beds but today all the inmates are from the federal system. Prison owner LCS Correction Services is trying to persuade the state to buy the facility or at least bring back prisoners, but lawmakers say the state can't afford it. "We just don't have the money," said Rep. Allen Farley, R-McCalla, vice chairman of the Joint Legislative Prison Committee. More than 25,000 in the system are currently being housed at facilities built for 13,000, the newspaper said. State officials say a lack of money was the reason the state pulled its prisoners out of the C. Alabama housed 449 inmates there at one point in 2011, according to Department of Corrections statistics. The next year, there were only seven. This year, none. Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said moving inmates to the prison would not save money, because it doesn't reduce the operating cost of the prison they're leaving. The overall state prison budget is $389 million. "Our cost to run our prisons is pretty fixed, if you will," Corbett said. "If you took out 100 inmates and put them in Perry County, all you're doing is adding a new expense." Meanwhile, Warden Jim Mullins oversees an eerily quiet Perry County prison. Inmates eat at a pair of fold-up tables in the corner of a cafeteria built for 250 and most live in a single 64-man pod in one of the prison's wings. "If you were here on a day when this was at full capacity, it would be impressive, to say the least, how smoothly it operates," Mullins said.


10.12.13 annistonstar.com

Deunate Jews wasn't found guilty on the charge that brought him before Childersburg's municipal court, his lawyers say, but he wound up in jail anyway. Back in 2008, Jews, a Harpersville resident, was charged with harassment in Childersburg. According to court documents, the charge was dismissed – but he racked up $166 in court fees as a result of the trial. Unable to pay the fee, Jews was placed on probation – paying $45 per month to a private probation company. Since then, court documents say, he's been in jail at least four times for failure to pay. His lawyer says the city and the probation company, Judicial Correction Services, violated Jews' civil rights, and are running a "debtor's prison." And Jews may not be alone. "It's not just Childersburg," said attorney Daniel Evans, one of the lawyers representing Jews and three other plaintiffs in a suit against Childersburg and the probation company. "JCS has offices all over the state." The Childersburg lawsuit is part of a mounting backlash against the use of private probation companies in Alabama. Dozens of cash-strapped Alabama cities have hired private companies to make sure people pay fines imposed for small offenses – an arrangement that often costs the city nothing, while improving the rate of collection on city fines. Critics say the system blurs the line between guilt and innocence, turning small offenses into major financial obligations landing people in jail for traffic violations or other small offenses simply because they're too poor to pay. A matter of resources: Private probation isn't new in Alabama's municipal courts. As early as 1997, cities were petitioning the Alabama attorney general's office for permission to contract with private companies to monitor people found guilty of violating city ordinances. For cities, private probation can solve a long-standing problem. Municipal courts handle minor offenses such as misdemeanors or traffic violations, and punishment is typically through fines. But collection rates on fines are often low, and cities don't have the personnel to chase down everyone who hasn't paid. "It's primarily a matter of resources," said Lori Lein, attorney for the Alabama League of Municipalities. Companies such as Judicial Correction Services step in with a low-cost – or no-cost – solution. If an offender in a municipal court doesn't have cash on hand to pay a fine after being found guilty, that offender can be placed on supervised probation. The offender will pay a fee to a private probation company, typically $35 per month, and will report to the probation company regularly until the fine and court fees are paid down. On its website, JCS says it offers its services to cities for free, with probation paid for by the offenders themselves. "It's a more efficient way to collect fees," said Anniston Municipal Judge James Sims. Anniston and Jacksonville both use JCS as a private probation contractor. According to its website, JCS operates in more than 180 court systems throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. The site lists 38 cities in Alabama where the company currently operates. Officials from JCS wouldn't talk to The Star about the growth of the private probation industry, or the services it provides – largely because of the company's current legal battles. "We've got some litigation going on in the state, and I can't talk to you," said Brad Bickham, a vice president at Correctional Healthcare Companies, which owns JCS. Calls to local offices of JCS were directed through the company’s headquarters to Bickham. In court motions, both JCS and Childersburg say they deny Jews’ allegations, but without offering details. Both say they’re denying the claims because they’re “without sufficient information to admit or deny.” 'Disgraceful' Last year, a Shelby County judge effectively shut down the municipal court in the town of Harpersville, where four plaintiffs said they'd been jailed for not paying fines and probation fees, even though they were indigent. Circuit Judge Hub Harrington issued a scathing opinion against the city and JCS, calling the city's probation system "debtor's prison" and a "judicially sanctioned extortion racket." Among other things, Harrington took the city and JCS to task for saddling defendants – who were on probation because they were unable to pay fines – with probation fees that exceeded the original fine. Harrington cited the example of a defendant who pays off a $200 fine in $50-per-month payments. With $35 per month going to probation fees, the defendant would pay off the debt in 14 months, at a cost of $700. People who couldn't pay those increased costs, Harrington's opinion said, were incarcerated "with no valid court order or adjudication." "Most distressing is that these abuses have been perpetrated by what is supposed to be a court of law," he wrote. "Disgraceful." Keeping the lights on: Harrington intervened in Harpersville's municipal court, ordering city officials to send any jail sentences to him for review. Harpersville Mayor Theoangelo Perkins says the city has since closed its municipal court. "We send them to Shelby County now," he said. Birmingham lawyer Lisa Borden said Harpersville is just the tip of the iceberg. Borden provided The Star with a list of 66 cities in Alabama that she says use JCS for private probation, along with 21 Alabama cities that use other private probation services. All of them, she said, are ripe for abuse. "These are civil rights cases, in my opinion," said Borden, who directs pro bono efforts for Birmingham law firm Baker Donelson. Borden said one of her clients, a single mother, wound up homeless after fines and fees from a traffic violations put her in arrears with a probation company and landed her in jail. "She had to choose between making the payments and keeping the lights on," Borden said. "She chose to keep the lights on." Borden said she's troubled by the fact that private probation is even called probation. Probation is usually given in lieu of jail time, she noted, and most private probationers haven't been sentenced to jail – they just haven't been able to pay their fine. She also takes exception to probation companies' practice of calling their employees "probation officers." They aren't sworn law officers with arrest powers, she notes. The first casualty:P Daniel Evans, the lawyer who is suing Childersburg, says the switch to private probation was a tragic mistake. "It's a problem of poorly educated public officials who think you could farm out an essential government service to a private entity," he said. "It's very short-sighted, and the first casualty is the rights of the people." In addition to Deunate Jews, Evans is representing Vincent resident Gina Kay Ray and Sylacauga residents Timothy Fugatt and Kristy Fugatt. All were jailed after failing to pay fines and court costs on expired-tag or expired-license charges, according to documents they filed with the court. All say they're indigent, according to court documents. Childersburg Mayor B.J. Meeks declined comment on the matter, saying he couldn't talk while the case is still in litigation. The city's lawyer in the case, Daniel Pickett, also declined comment. While JCS is silent on the lawsuits now, the company has commented on its methods in the past. In extended comments to The Daily Home of Talladega last year, JCS spokesman Kevin Egan said the company gets defendants to comply with court orders 70 to 80 percent of the time, compared to about 30 percent for unsupervised probation systems. He said 18 to 19 percent of probationers get waivers on fees because they're indigent. “And we can, and frequently do, give waivers,” he told the Daily Home. “If they get paid up in a couple of weeks, or if the court finds them indigent or they are indigent for the purpose of our supervision fees, or even if they have cases in other jurisdictions where we’re already managing them, we don’t collect anything.” 'I'll be… patient' In Jacksonville, where JCS also does private probation, lawyer William J. Miller says there's no evidence of the kind of abuses alleged in Harpersville or Childersburg. "I haven't seen any of that," said Miller, the public defender for Jacksonville's municipal courts. Miller said he doesn't like to see clients, many of whom are poor, come away with fees on top of the fines they're charged. Still, he said, the city has to do something if people don't pay fines when they're assessed. "The only other option is for them to go to jail," he said. Jacksonville Municipal Judge Joseph Maloney said he takes precautions to make sure private probation doesn't violate defendants' rights. He said he drew up a four-page questionnaire to help the court determine if clients are too poor to pay. He said he tells offenders to make sure they make all their appointments with their probation officer. That way, if they later say they're unable to pay, he has evidence that they're willing to comply with court orders. "I tell them that I'll be extremely patient with you if you work with me," he said. Like Borden, Maloney said private probation isn't technically probation, since it's usually not preceded by a jail sentence. Sims, the Anniston municipal judge, said he doesn't jail people who can't afford to pay fines. He said he makes it clear, up front, to defendants that they can't be jailed if they can't pay. He said he also assigns community service to those who can't pay. "I'm not interested in being part of a front page story about the horrors of private probation," he said. "That's not happening here." Anniston mayor Vaughn Stewart, himself a former judge for the city, declined comment on the matter, saying he would defer to the current judges. 'Free-for-all' "The abuses in Harpersville are pretty well documented," said state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. "We need some sort of oversight to make sure these things don't happen." Ward proposed a bill earlier this year that would have set up a County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council to oversee the private probation industry. The council – which would be composed largely of judges, with one probation company representative on the board – would be able to set standards for who can be a private probation officer and would be able to impose rules on the industry, including regulation of fees. The bill would also require that private probation officers have no past felony convictions. "It's a free-for-all right now," Ward said of the industry. Ward's bill made it through the Senate, but failed in the House. And one of its most vocal opponents was Lisa Borden, the Birmingham lawyer and private-probation critic. "It was horrific," Borden said. "It contained nothing to help poor people." Borden said the bill didn't require probation companies to set up any mechanism to determine whether probationers are too poor to pay. It also contained wording that would have allowed private probation to expand into district courts. "She made some pretty good points," Ward said. He said he would likely bring the bill back in 2014, possibly with new wording to address the issue of indigent offenders. He defended wording that allowed private probation in district courts. "They could do that already if they wanted to," he said. "I'm just trying to provide some rules." Borden isn't waiting for the state to regulate. She said she's working with other lawyers to show them how to sue private probation companies and the cities that use them. She said her own work in the field has been done pro bono, but other lawyers could collect attorney fees in private-probation cases, if they win. "My goal is to create a cottage industry of lawyers who will bring these cases on behalf of indigent people," she said.

September 24, 2009 Huntsville Times
The mother of an inmate who died a few days after entering a state prison was awarded $750,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit against prison officials and a mental health provider. The money was awarded to Mary Barksdale, the mother of Farron Barksdale, 32, of Athens who died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his Kilby Prison cell. "We reached what we believed to be a fair settlement in light of what we knew of the troubling circumstances surrounding Mr. Barksdale's demise while in state custody," Sarah Geraghty, senior attorney for the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, said Wednesday. "Some facts surrounding the death, however, remain a mystery to this day due to the department's policy against releasing records on deaths in custody." Jake Watson, a Huntsville attorney who also represented Mary Barksdale, said Wednesday, "In light of all the circumstances, I think that was the best settlement." The state Department of Corrections was not a defendant in the case. According to the settlement agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, former Kilby Warden Arnold Holt was ordered to pay $300,000 to the settlement, Dr. Joseph McGinn of MHM Correctional Services in Vienna, Va., was to contribute $370,000, and Dr. Arnold Holt of Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., was to pay $80,000. MHM provides mental health services for the Department of Corrections. The suit alleged that Barksdale, who suffered from schizophrenia, died because of "the deliberate indifference, medical neglect and negligence" of the prison staff.

September 23, 2009 Huntsville Times
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of an inmate who died just 12 days after entering prison has been settled with the state Department of Corrections, her lawyers said Tuesday. Though the terms were not disclosed, the settlement was also confirmed by state prison Commissioner Richard Allen. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Montgomery on behalf of Mary Barksdale, the mother of Farron Barksdale, 32, of Athens, who died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his Kilby Prison cell. Barksdale, who pleaded guilty to capital murder in the shooting death of two Athens police officers, had been transferred to the prison just three days earlier to begin serving a sentence of life without parole. Mary Barksdale, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, was represented by Sarah Geraghty, an attorney for the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, and Huntsville attorney Jake Watson. Geraghty and Watson confirmed that Mary Barksdale was awarded a cash settlement, but they would not disclose the amount. The defendants in the suit were former Kilby Warden Arnold Hold, Drs. Michael Robbins and Joseph McGinn, two unnamed correctional officers, an unnamed medical worker and Vienna, Va., based MHM Correctional Services. MHM provides mental health services for the Department of Corrections. The suit alleged that Barksdale, who suffered from schizophrenia, died because of "the deliberate indifference, medical neglect and negligence" of the prison staff. "Mr. Barksdale was medicated with an unusually large dose of psychotropic medications that made his body unable to withstand high temperatures, confined to an isolation cell with a medically dangerous degree of heat and left there without adequate monitoring," the complaint said. "He fell into a coma and died." The complaint said Barksdale was not placed in Kilby's mental health unit, which is air-conditioned. On the day he was found unresponsive in his cell, the temperature in Montgomery was 106 degrees. Kilby is located just east of Montgomery. On that day, the complaint said, correctional officers found Barksdale in a coma, "snoring and moaning," with a temperature of 103.1 degrees. He was taken to the hospital but never regained consciousness after eight days. An autopsy said he died of pneumonia and complications from hypothermia and a blood-clotting problem, and that bruises on his upper body and hip did not contribute to his death. A state prison inmate later wrote in an Oct. 24, 2008, letter to Montgomery County Circuit Judge Eugene Reese that Barksdale was severely beaten by four prison guards. Allen asked the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Corrections' Department of Investigations and Intelligence to reopen the investigation into Barksdale's death, but the results of that probe have never been released. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Department of Corrections must comply with the state's Open Records law and make records available on crimes committed within prisons. The Southern Center for Human Rights had sued over that issue. Despite the high court's 5-0 ruling, Allen said Friday state attorneys may ask for a rehearing.

June 8, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Alabama's prison commissioner says the state will remove about 250 inmates from the private prison where two men recently escaped amid a string of security failures. However, Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen said Monday that money - not the threat of additional escapes - was behind the decision. In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Allen said his agency can't afford to continue housing 250 inmates at the Perry County Detention Center. An executive at LCS Corrections Inc., which runs the prison, said he knew of the state's plan. He said the company was told the state could place twice as many inmates at the private prison next year if lawmakers approve funding.

November 11, 2008 Huntsville Times
New allegations in a federal lawsuit accuse the state of punishing a retired Army colonel for being a whistleblower" because he reported mistreatment of inmates at Limestone Correctional Facility. Dr. Larry Camp, a dentist, and Sabrina Martindale, a dental technician, both from Huntsville, were fired in early 2004 after they complained about the "delivery of unnecessarily brutal and painful dentistry" on inmates by Dr. Michael West, their supervisor. The two are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Correctional Medical Services Inc.; state prison Commissioner Richard Allen; Ruth Naglich, the Corrections Department's associate commissioner of health services; and Laura Ferrell, the department's medical systems administrator. The updated complaint accused Naglich of slander and CMS of negligence. Allen, who was not commissioner when Camp and Martindale complained of the mistreatment of inmates, declined to comment on the case Monday. Corrections Department spokesman Brian Corbett said the agency would have no comment, but its legal department believes the accusations will be proven false. According to the complaint, the mistreatment included the reuse of unsterilized equipment between inmate-patients. David Long-Daniels, an Atlanta attorney representing Camp and Martindale, said West's practices were especially dangerous because many inmates at Limestone have HIV and/or hepatitis. West "liked one instrument in particular," Long-Daniels said Monday. "He would use it in extracting teeth. He would use it before the anesthesia had time to take effect, and if an inmate cried out he would tell him he had to get out of the chair." At the time, West was director of dental services for the state Department of Corrections under the agency's health services contracts with Prison Health Services Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn., and NaphCare Inc. of Birmingham. Camp reported West's conduct to Prison Health Services while Martindale reported it to the state Board of Dental Examiners. Ferrell, who was Prison Health Services' regional vice president and now works for the Corrections Department, fired Camp less than a month later. Ferrell, whose husband, Jerry Ferrell, is the longtime warden at the Foundation Correctional Facility in Atmore, also fired Martindale, according to the complaint. The state Dental Board sanctioned West on May 5, 2005, for his failure to comply with recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Recommended Infection-Control Practices for Dentistry. According to the complaint, Ferrell testified on West's behalf at that hearing. After a new $228 million prison health contract was awarded to St. Louis-based CMS last October, both Camp and Martindale reapplied for their old jobs at Limestone. According to the complaint, Camp interviewed with CMS for a staff dentist position at Limestone on Oct. 12, 2007. CMS' dental recruiter told the Corrections Department had to approve all contracts, but he "indicated that this was a mere formality and that he had approved his (Camp's) hire." Camp said he was later told that the Corrections Department had denied his application. Martindale was rehired for her job in October 2007 but told she would start once Camp began treating prisoners. A week after her hiring, she was informed by Limestone that neither she not Camp would be working at there and CMS employees "were told not to ask any questions." Ken Fields, a spokesman for CMS, called the lawsuit "frivolous and not based on the facts." "We look forward to addressing these assertions based on the facts in court," he said. "We can tell you that we recruit health care professionals based on their ability to deliver quality services in the corrections environment." The Corrections Department declined to comment on West's whereabouts, and Fields said CMS does not comment on personnel matters.

September 9, 2007 Huntsville Times
The Alabama Medicaid Agency will get a $3.8 million contract with a company with a checkered past, but a political cloud may linger over the transaction. And the state Department of Corrections will get a $233.73 million contract with a St. Louis company that bid $6 million more than the losing bidder for inmate health care services. Democrats insinuate that politics may have played a role in ACS Heritage Inc.'s winning the Medicaid contract even though its bid was $500,000 higher than the next company. And the firm that won the prison contract, Correctional Medical Services, Inc., was represented by former Republican Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, a lobbyist with close ties to Gov. Bob Riley.

September 7, 2007 Birmingham News
The Legislative Contract Review Committee on Thursday delayed implementation of a $223 million prison health-care contract after an official with a company that bid $9 million less questioned the process. The panel also delayed a $3.7 million Medicaid contract to computerize medical records after lawmakers questioned the company's performance in other states. The Contract Review Committee reviews state agency contracts. Committee members can delay the contracts for 45 days but do not have the power to cancel them. The Department of Corrections, after taking proposals, selected Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis to provide medical care to Alabama's more than 20,000 inmates. Another company, Wexford Health Sources, had submitted the low bid that was about $9 million cheaper than Correctional Medical Services'. Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, and other legislators asked Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen why the department had not selected the low bidder. Allen said Correctional Medical Services scored slightly higher on bid reviews, which take quality of care into account. "I don't know that Mr. Holmes would go to the cheapest doctor in town," Allen said after the meeting. Lawmakers also questioned that the prison staff who reviewed the bids included several former employees of CMS. Allen said none had worked for the company in at least six years. "I have full confidence in these people. There was no politics involved in this selection," Allen said. But Michael Davis, a lawyer representing Wexford, said company officials wanted to meet with the commissioner before the contract was finalized. Davis said company officials had questions about how bidders' scores were determined.

September 6, 2007 Huntsville Times
The state corrections commissioner was questioned by legislators Wednesday over a $233.73 million contract for health care for Alabama's nearly 26,000 inmates. Commissioner Richard Allen is seeking approval of a three-year contract with St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc. CMS would take over a contract now held by Prison Health Services Inc., of Brentwood, Tenn. Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, a retired physician, endorsed the CMS contract, which would have two potential one-year renewals. "I have a keen interest in (prisons), particularly the health care," Griffith told the committee. "We're rapidly moving into the baby boomers going through the prison system just like we're going through it outside the prison system." Griffith said health care for convicts is a "major, major cost factor" for the state, but he added that "we're capping it with this contract and I think it's well thought out." The committee has the power to delay the contract for 45 days but cannot stop it from being enacted. Some members of the Joint Legislative Contract Review Committee questioned Allen about members of his staff who formerly worked for the two private companies and were involved in the selection process for CMS. A third company that submitted a proposal, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, was represented by an attorney who said he will ask for an explanation of the grading process when the committee meets again today. Allen acknowledged that Wexford's bid was about $6 million lower than CMS. "We evaluated the contracts very carefully," said Allen. "All the bidders were told that price would be 40 percent of the score and other things - innovations, cost savings, those types of things - would be scored 60 percent." Allen said Wexford scored third. Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, said he was concerned that Department of Corrections employees who formerly worked for CMS and PHS were on the team that graded proposals submitted by the three companies. But Allen defended the process, calling prison health care "a very narrow specialty." "If you look at the resumes of these (DOC) people, they have worked for several companies, not just this company (CMS)," he said. "Nobody in our department has worked for this company in the last six or seven years. They've also worked for PHS. They've also worked for about a dozen other companies. They go back and forth between the companies and state service."

August 29, 2007 The Huntsville Times
The Alabama Department of Corrections said Tuesday that it will transfer 134 male inmates from a private Louisiana prison to the Limestone Correctional Facility as part of a cost-cutting measure. Prisons Commissioner Richard Allen said the transfer is the first of several required to return more than 1,100 Alabama convicts who are housed out of state. "In an attempt to save taxpayer dollars and eliminate our budget shortfall, we plan to return all out-of-state inmates to Alabama by year's end," Allen said in a prepared statement. "This move will allow us to save an estimated $10 million annually on rented bed space." Prior to Tuesday's transfer, 294 male inmates were housed at the West Carroll Detention Center in Epps, La., at a cost of $26.75 per inmate, per day. Alabama inmates are also kept at the J.B. Evans Correctional Facility, South Louisiana Correctional Center and Perry County Detention Center, all owned and operated by Lafayette, La.-based LCS Corrections Services.

August 17, 2007 Tennessean
America Service Group Inc. said Thursday that its Prison Health Services subsidiary would lose its contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections. The contract expires on Oct. 31. PHS provides medical services to inmates. Brentwood-based America Service Group said it would update its fourth-quarter earnings estimate later. It had projected revenues from a renewed contract of $12.3 million in the three months ending Dec. 31.

July 12, 2007 All American Patriots
The Alabama Department of Corrections will put 5,763 acres of unproductive and money-losing properties up for sale, bring state inmates back from Louisiana prisons and put more inmates to work. Governor Bob Riley and Corrections Commission Richard Allen said Wednesday that proceeds generated from the land sales during the coming year will go toward prison infrastructure improvements and not operating expenses. All property to be sold will be appraised, advertised and sold through a public process to the highest bidder. Such a process was used earlier this year when 540 acres of the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch near Greensboro was sold for more than $1.6 million, which is higher than its appraised value of $1.4 million. The properties being put up for sale are: 1,851 acres of the 2,215 acres at Red Eagle Honor Farm in Montgomery The remaining 3,869 acres of the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch An empty and unused 16,000-square foot building on South Union Street in Montgomery 32 acres in Wetumpka on Highway 231 North 10 acres at the old Kilby prison in Montgomery All the properties are either unneeded or losing money. The Farquhar State Cattle Ranch, for example, has lost approximately $377,000 during the past two fiscal years and has lost almost $60,000 in the first six months of the current fiscal year. "These properties are a financial drain on the taxpayers and aren't needed," said Governor Riley. "It makes no sense to hold on to them. We will sell them, relieve this burden on the taxpayers and use the money for some long-needed improvements to correctional facilities." The Department of Corrections expects the sale of the properties will bring in up to $22 million. This is not the first time land owned by the Department of Corrections has been sold. In addition to the sale earlier this year of 540 acres at the cattle ranch, more than 630 acres of Corrections property was sold through the bid process in 2003 and 2004 for $3.8 million. Governor Riley said the sale of idle land would not be limited to the Department of Corrections, noting that several agencies, including the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, own properties that may be sold. The Governor's office is working with state agencies to determine what property they own is unneeded and could be sold. In addition to selling unneeded property, the Department of Corrections will terminate its contracts with two Louisiana-based companies and return approximately 1,300 male and female inmates from private prisons in Louisiana. All inmates in Louisiana will be back in Alabama by the end of November. That move is expected to save the Corrections Department almost $10 million.

April 16, 2007 The Press-Register
Some members of a legislative oversight committee contend that Gov. Bob Riley's administration broke the law on three no-bid contracts by failing to submit them to the panel months ago. "If you have got a law, all departments in the Riley administration have to follow the law," said state Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, a committee member. "The same law applied to Don Siegelman that applies to the Riley administration." During Riley's 2002 campaign for a first term, the Republican blasted then-Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, for his administration's handling of no-bid contracts. Ken Wallis, legal advisor to Riley, said recently that the administration is "absolutely" following state law regarding all contracts, including the three questioned by some lawmakers. One of the three was an emergency contract -- for prison health services -- that was used for four months before the administration submitted the permanent deal to the committee. Panel members said they learned about the other two contracts through reporters. The prison contract totaled more than $56 million, while each of the others was for $60,000 or less.

July 27, 2006 AP
About 320 female Alabama prisoners being housed in Louisiana are being moved to another prison in that state but one closer to Alabama. The women inmates had been housed at a private prison at Basile in southwest Louisiana. They are being moved to J.B. Evans Correctional Center in Newellton, La., which is on the Louisiana-Mississippi line about 60 miles west of Jackson. The move brings the inmates about two and a-half hours closer to the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, prisons commissioner Richard Allen said Thursday. It also reduces travel time for corrections officers. The Alabama Department of Corrections has a contract with LCS Correctional Services to house the inmates to help reduce overcrowded conditions at Tutwiler. The J.B. Evans Correctional Center opened in 1994 and is a medium security facility with the capacity of holding 440 inmates. Allen said it will be used exclusively for the Alabama women prisoners. More than 600 male inmates are also housed in private facilities in Louisiana because of overcrowded conditions in Alabama prisons.

March 2, 2006 Birmingham News
In the recent letter "Partnerships can ease overcrowding," the executive director of the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations resorts to smoke and mirrors in promoting privatization as the answer to Alabama's overcrowded prisons. He relies on dubious studies, some of which were paid for by his boss - the for-profit private prison industry. The Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations advocates nothing more than a throwback to the convict lease system of the late 1800s, which was ended in the early 1900s. Privatization has resulted in a "race to the bottom." You get what you pay for, folks. For more information about this industry, visit our Web site: www.PrivateCI.org. We don't make this stuff up. Ken Kopczynski, Executive director, Private Corrections Institute

February 22, 2006 Pickens Herald
The Pickens County Commission in a press briefing last Tuesday after their regular meeting questioned the state’s motives in housing several hundred prisoners in Louisiana when they could easily house them at the Pickens County Jail at a cheaper rate. County Attorney Buddy Kirk addressed the Herald with four of the five commissioners present (Commissioners Earnest Summerville, William Latham, Willie Colvin and Ted Ezelle were present; Tony Junkin was absent) about the matter after the Commission became aware that the state had moved 140 male prisoners from the Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent, Ala. to a private prison over 300 miles away in Pine Prairie, La. The Commission has contacted the Alabama County Commission Association about the matter, said Kirk, to ask for their help in approaching state officials about this curious action. Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Alabama state prison system, told the Associated Press last Monday that the state plans to move 500 inmates from the Bibb County facility to the Pine Prairie Correctional Center in central Louisiana, a private prison operated by LCS Corrections Services Inc. The sticking point for the Pickens County Commission is that not only is the state having to carry the expense of transporting the prisoners to another state but are willing to pay $29.50 a day per inmate to house them there. The state only pays counties $1.75 per day to house state prisoners in county jails. “It doesn’t seem right to the Commission,” said Kirk, who noted that the state will virtually drive right by Pickens County from Bibb County to travel 300 miles to Louisiana. Furthermore, Kirk said if a prisoner has to meet with his attorney, it is a general rule that the state will have to pay that attorney’s expenses if the prisoner is housed far away.

February 23, 2006 Montgomery Advertiser
The fact that incoming prison commissioner Richard Allen, who takes over next week, has no previous experience in corrections has been widely noted. Given Allen's demonstrated abilities throughout a distinguished career, there is no reason Alabamians should be concerned about that. In fact, the fresh perspective he will bring to the Department of Corrections is likely to be an asset. Allen surely will be attuned to apparent conflicts of interest such as the one involving a prison health care monitor. In that case, the Birmingham News reported this week, a nurse hired by the department to monitor health care delivered under a contract with an outside provider came directly from that provider. One day he was working for the provider, and the next day he was being paid to monitor the work of that provider. That was a dubious arrangement in itself, but the situation was made even more questionable when the nurse resigned his monitor's job with DOC after working only a few weeks to return to his former employer. He has since rescinded the resignation and remains with DOC. This is an unacceptable situation that cannot engender any confidence in the proper delivery of health care to inmates or the proper oversight of health care delivery by the prison system. In order to have any credibility, a monitor cannot have such ties to the operator being monitored. Allen will have a stack of problems on his desk when he walks in for his first day as commissioner on Wednesday, foremost among them the chronic overcrowding of the prison system. As he wrestles with that daunting challenge, however, he also must take a newcomer's clear-eyed look at issues such as too-close connections between the department and outside contractors.

February 18, 2006 Birmingham News
A nurse hired by the state prison system last month to monitor its medical contract had until then worked for the company he was hired to keep tabs on. After a few weeks on the job, nurse Brandon Kinard resigned from the state to return to Prison Health Services, then rescinded his resignation Friday. Despite earlier plans to go back to the company, Kinard will remain a regional clinical manager with the Department of Corrections assigned to make sure PHS does an adequate job, prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said. The state pays Kinard a $59,000 annual salary. He is one of several regional managers who oversee quality control, protocols and contract compliance, specifically DOC's $143 million contract with PHS, a Tennessee-based company that has come under scrutiny in several states on allegations of placing economic interests above patient care. Kinard's boss at DOC, Associate Commissioner Ruth Naglich, ultimately is in charge of making sure the company lives up to its contract. She also has ties to PHS, where she was vice president for sales and marketing before taking the state job. Kinard's employment falls within a gray area of state ethics law, officials say. Attorneys who represent prisoners treated by PHS say it's a conflict of interest even though it may be legal. "I don't know if it violates any state laws. But effective monitoring of a private company by the state Department of Corrections needs to be done by people who are independent of the medical company and independent of the DOC, and this is ..... something that would seem to prevent effective monitoring," said Joshua Lipman, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights. Previous state monitoring efforts have resulted in DOC's withholding payments to PHS because the company failed to fulfill minimal contract staffing levels. The state withheld $1.2 million last year when monitors found the provider did not have enough doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff in the prisons, and later withheld $580,000 as a performance penalty. Kinard first worked for PHS at Hamilton Aged and Infirm. He worked both as a director of nursing and in an administrative position, making decisions about patient health care. He'd been with the company since November 2003, when PHS received the Alabama contract. He also had worked in prison medicine with companies that previously contracted with the state. Kinard began his job at DOC the first week in January. In early February, he submitted his resignation, effective Feb. 24, to return to PHS. A day after The News contacted PHS about the situation, Kinard rescinded his resignation, staying with the DOC job. Alabama ethics law prevents state employees from immediately accepting jobs at companies they audited, investigated or regulated for the state, said Hugh Evans, general counsel at the Alabama Ethics Commission. There has not been a ruling on whether that includes returning to jobs they came from. "Under the ethics law, if you are involved in auditing, investigating or regulating a private entity, that would include monitoring or awarding a contract to a private entity, you can't go to work for them for two years," Evans said. However, he said, "The issue is somewhat muddied, if that person is returning to the status quo. It could be a cause for concern."

February 16, 2006 Montgomery Advertiser
How willing would you be to do business with a company with a record of legal problems, even if it was the low bidder? Most Alabamians, we'd wager, would have some reservations about that -- and Alabamians certainly should have reservations about their state sending prison inmates to a private prison. For years, the Advertiser has expressed serious concerns about the use of private prisons. Nothing reported from the ones involved in state contracts has eased those concerns. The Birmingham News reported this week that the Department of Corrections has begun transferring male inmates to a private prison in Pine Prairie, La. The prison is operated by Louisiana Corrections Service, which also operates a facility in Basile, La., where Alabama has housed about 300 female inmates since 2003. The reason for using these facilities is the chronic overcrowding of Alabama's prison system, which is the subject of constant litigation. The transfer of male inmates -- eventually about 500 of them -- is an effort to ease the backlog in county jails of state inmates who haven't been sent to state prisons because there is no space for them. The overcrowding problem is at present intractable, given Alabama's sentencing structure and its decades of failing to address the shortcomings of a system now bulging with almost twice as many inmates as its facilities were designed to handle. LCS will house the male inmates for $29.50 per day per inmate, but how much of a bargain is that? There are important issues inherent in any private prison operation. This is not someone's hobby; this is a for-profit enterprise. That's fine in most pursuits; in fact, it is the core of the American economy. But incarceration is a solemn obligation of the state. Depriving individuals of liberty is serious business and the state, even though justified in doing so, has an undeniable responsibility to those individuals. A for-profit prison has financial considerations that a state facility does not. It has profit expectations from its investors, and these could all too easily lead to dangerous corner-cutting that compromises the safety of inmates and potentially the public as well. Unlike the state, a private prison operator has no stake in the rehabilitation of inmates vs. the mere warehousing of them. Add to those concerns -- inherent in any private prison operation -- the legal troubles at LSC facilities and it is easy to see why Alabamians should be uncomfortable with this arrangement. Last week, the News reported, a former supervisor at Pine Prairie was convicted of rights violations and witness tampering in the beating of an inmate. Earlier, four guards at the Basile facility were indicted on sexual abuse charges. Problems can occur at state prisons, of course, but there the state has direct authority to act, to set employment standards and to otherwise control the addressing of problems. That is largely lost when private prisons are used. The private prison issue is not going to fade away. LCS is working with officials in Perry County to open a private prison there. The facility, located outside Uniontown, will be ready in a few months. The Department of Corrections says there is no agreement for it to place prisoners there, but clearly there will be great political pressure to do so. This is a poor approach to prison issues. A far better one is broad reform of Alabama's sentencing structure, which now sends to prison far too many people who could serve their sentences in community-based corrections facilities with drug treatment programs and work opportunities -- without presenting a significant threat to the safety of the populace. Funneling non-violent offenders into prisons is always costly and seldom productive. Absent this kind of reform of the current system, inherently unsound practices such as the use of private prisons will continue -- not because they are better, but because they are cheaper.

February 16, 2006 Ledger-Enquirer
Tough on crime, or on taxpayers. Last week, Alabama's prison commissioner went over the wall. And who could blame Commissioner Donal Campbell for resigning? He had been given the literally impossible task of operating an Alabama prison system with too many inmates and not nearly enough money. Not only is he set up for failure, but he is also set up to go to jail himself for not obeying court orders to relieve crowding. Of course, he can't build prisons out of his own pocket, and the Alabama legislature isn't about to spend precious tax dollars on inmates, so what could the commissioner do but throw up his hands and walk away? "I wouldn't want that job," said Lynda Flynt, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission. She knows what she's talking about, having worked closely with Campbell to alleviate crowding. Knowing they're going to have a problem filling a position that includes perks such as being party to a lawsuit, state officials are finally scrambling to do something. On Monday, the state announced that it is going to send 500 state inmates to a private prison in Louisiana. The private prison company there already houses more than 300 Alabama inmates. At $29.50 a day per inmate, that's going to cost Alabama taxpayers about $24,000 a day. That's Alabama tax money that's flowing into the Louisiana economy. If Alabama would build the prisons it needs (or consider sentencing reforms that might ease the stress on the system) some of that cash might stay home. Or some of it might be sent to Alabama counties that are picking up a huge tab for housing state prisoners. As of last December, there were about 100 state inmates being housed in Russell, Lee and Chambers County jails. It costs counties about $30 a day to house a state prisoner, but the state pays the counties about $1.75 a day. So housing those prisoners costs East Alabama taxpayers more than a million dollars a year, while the state is sending more than $8 million a year to Louisiana private prisons. If the Alabama legislature is going to insist that this many people be in prison, then the lawmakers have the moral responsibility to see that there is space to house the inmates. If you're going to be tough on crime, then you're going to have to be tough enough to pay the piper. -- Michael Owen, for the editorial board

February 13, 2006 AP
A total of 140 medium-security male prisoners were transferred Sunday night from Alabama to a private correctional facility in Louisiana, the first of 500 to be moved in the latest attempt to ease overcrowded cellblocks. The prisoners were transferred from Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent to Pine Prairie Correctional Center in Pine Prairie, La., in an effort to make room for state inmates who are in county jails in violation of an Alabama court order. State prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said Monday the state entered into an emergency contract with LCS Corrections Services Inc. to send up to 500 inmates to the central Louisiana facility. The Department of Corrections currently houses 311 female prisoners at an LCS facility in Basile, La. Prisons Commissioner Donal Campbell announced Friday that he had resigned, effective Feb. 28. He had pushed for increased state funding for prisons and recently said there was no money in Gov. Bob Riley's budget proposal to pay for the use of private prisons, an alternative he supported.

July 16, 2005 AP
A court-appointed monitor warns that erratic treatment of HIV-positive inmates in an Alabama prison could develop into treatment-resistant AIDS.  A new report by Dr. Joseph Bick issued that warning. It came a year after the state Department of Corrections agreed to improve medical treatment for the HIV-positive prisoners.  Bick documented four types of "sub-optimal" HIV treatment at Limestone Correctional Facility, where more than 200 HIV-positive inmates are housed. A California expert in prison medicine, Bick was appointed by U.S. Magistrate Judge John Ott to visit Limestone four times a year and evaluate whether the state and its medical contractor provided dozens of improvements required in a lawsuit settlement.  Although state officials promised in the settlement last year to hire an HIV specialist for the men, there has not been one during much of the year, leading to erratic treatment.  Tennessee-based Prison Health Services, the private company that oversees care in Alabama prisons, says many of the problems Bick found were related to that position's being vacant.  "It's difficult to recruit a highly qualified HIV specialist, especially to a rural area," the company said in a statement Friday.  Two specialists PHS previously hired left the job within weeks or months.  Bick warned that the mistakes in previous care could have irreversibly harmed patients.  During his week-long visit in late May, Bick found: substitute doctors who mixed drugs that were not supposed to be used together; patients with rising viral loads who had not been seen for treatment changes or whose failing regimens were changed only one drug at a time; and doctors who made treatment changes without telling the patient.  Bick's reports have noted some improvements but he has continued to focus on the inability of keeping doctors and of keeping critical positions filled.  "Due to the fragile nature of this medical program, I recommend that every effort be made to retain physicians once they are hired," Bick wrote in the new report.  Besides the HIV population, Limestone houses 1,800 other prisoners and has one physician and one nurse practitioner to provide their care as well as care for 135 work-release prisoners in Decatur. Bick called this "by all measures ... inadequate" and recommended three full-time physicians.  PHS has hired several doctors over the last year, including HIV specialists, who have not stayed long. The company also said that negative press coverage has frustrated its efforts to hire a specialist.

June 3, 2005 Decatur Daily
With its magnifying glass focused on inmate health expenses, a legislative committee came up with as many questions as answers Thursday for the spiraling medical costs for state prisoners. High hospital costs for ill inmates, concerns about the company that provides on-site medical services at state prisons and a prison population that is close to double capacity all complicate the challenge for the Department of Corrections. The committee questioned, but approved, two contracts for medically related inmate care.
In a $60,000 part-time contract, Cullman internist Dr. George Lyrene will review all deaths at state prisons and give court testimony related to the deaths for $1,100 to $1,250 per day. In a second contract, the state will pay Rebecca Jones, a registered nurse from Wetumpka, up to $40,000 for inmate-specific diabetes education and meal monitoring at state prisons. Committee members also questioned the performance and expenses of Prison Health Services, the Tennessee company that currently has the contract to provide medical care for inmates. "The provider has major, major problems, and there are deep concerns among members of the committee about them," Morrison said after the meeting. Morrison said Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell and Naglich are working to solve the problems. Morrison said some of the health costs are the result of actions before the time the Tennessee company took over inmate care in Alabama. "We are still in lawsuits related to the previous provider," Morrison said. "With some things, we can only go as fast as the courts allow."

May 26, 2005 AP
Seeking to save money, the Department of Corrections has signed a contract to send inmates with chronic illnesses to a South Carolina hospital specializing in treating prisoners. Alabama prison system officials announced Thursday the inmates would be sent to Columbia Care Center , rather than to regular community hospitals in the state. The hospital in Columbia, S.C. , currently has space to treat up to 50 Alabama inmates who need long-term care, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or kidney dialysis, but the number to be sent initially has not been determined. There is no set cost for the contract - DOC pays Just Care as the hospital's services are needed. Department officials said the prisons are not equipped to treat inmates who need certain specialized treatments for highly advanced cancers, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Those limitations force the DOC's health care provider, Prison Health Services, to refer the inmates to outside hospitals for repeated treatments, said DOC spokesman Brian Corbett. In fiscal year 2004, the prison system had to pay $9.4 million for treatments that fell outside PHS's responsibility, officials said. The DOC has refused to pay $1.2 million to PHS, saying the company has not provided enough doctors and nurses at the prisons. That issue is under mediation, but is unrelated to the decision to team up with Just Care, Corbett said.

May 5, 2005 Birmingham News
Alabama's prison medical provider is losing $1.2 million from the state because it has not provided enough doctors and nurses to state prisons. Prison Health Services has not fulfilled minimal contract requirements that call for a certain number of doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff. The company is not being fined, Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said, but DOC will not have to pay $1.2 million of its contract. The department hired PHS in November 2003. The company's three-year, $143 million contract could see more reductions if the medical staff does not increase. Tennessee-based Prison Health Services also has come under fire in recent months by physicians who are monitoring two prisons under federal court settlements. A lawsuit alleging inadequate medical care is pending at a third prison, the Hamilton Aged and Infirm facility, where the oldest, sickest men are housed. Dr. Michael Puisis, court monitor at Tutwiler Prison for Women, said in a March report that prison medical staff provided poor or incomplete care to three inmates who died last year. He suggested that negligence might have led to two of those deaths. The third, a suicide, was likely the result of inadequate care by mental health workers, who are employed by a different company. Two deaths since then are still under investigation. Still, attorneys for the Limestone inmates have asked the federal courts to hold the state in contempt for failing to abide by the conditions of the settlement. Last year, the state agreed to dozens of improvements, centering on added medical staff and more humane housing conditions. Doctors keep leaving, some after claiming PHS did not allow them the flexibility and resources to practice medicine as they want to do. "There are just as many complaints raised after the settlement as before," said Gretchen Rohr, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, who represents Alabama prisons in both cases.

April 25, 2005 Anniston Star
Historically, Alabama has never placed a high priority on the care of its inmates. Like many states, Alabama is often in a locking-up mood when it comes to wrongdoers. We don’t mind building prisons and then filling them up. Once these men and women are behind bars, though, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Like a lot of states, Alabama also outsources the medical care of inmates in an effort to cut costs. The problems associated with the hiring out of health care for prisoners are becoming more obvious by the day. It’s beyond debate — or at least it should be — that prisoners should not be denied proper medical treatment. To do otherwise would be cruelly inhumane and a violation of the human rights of inmates. In 2003 following reports of deaths and various abuses, Alabama dropped its contract with Naphcare, a company specializing in treating prisoners. The state replaced the firm with Prison Health Services, a Nashville-based company. That decision is looking like a mistake. Last month, The New York Times reported that New York officials are blaming the deaths of more than 20 inmates on PHS’ lax policies. Closer to home, the Birmingham News recently reported on the deaths of two Alabama inmates under the care of Prison Health Services. Independent observers as well as the families of Tutwiler Prison for Women inmates Teresa Morris, who died March 6, and Edna Britt, who died March 23, point to Prison Health Services shortcomings. Morris, who was a diabetic, was allegedly taken off her insulin. And advocates are questioning the circumstances surrounding the death Britt, who had recently been treated for cancer. At Donaldson, Tutwiler and Limestone prisons, the complaints center on denial of medicines and a gross shortage of medical personnel. Previous challenges on behalf of prisoners have put these three facilities under heightened scrutiny. Dr. Joseph Bick is a physician assigned to observe conditions at Limestone, where inmates with HIV are housed. He has written, “Interviews with patients, chart reviews and feedback from physicians support the concern that patients are not consistently given the medications that have been ordered for them for serious life-threatening conditions.”
The Department of Corrections can outsource all it wants, but in the end, state inmates are the responsibility of the state. It’s time to start asking hard questions.

April 17, 2005 Birmingham News
By the time Teresa Morris died, her legs were so badly swollen that the prison shackles dug into them. A 53-year-old diabetic serving time for domestic violence at Tutwiler Prison for Women, Morris spent the hours before her March 6 death shackled in a hospital bed in Montgomery. Prison officials say she died of natural causes. Morris's family believes the prison medical staff, employees of private contractor Prison Health Services, provided inadequate care for her diabetes. They say she was taken off her insulin shots, for reasons the family does not understand. Her death is the latest in a series of red flags suggesting that Prison Health Services is not providing sufficient quality medical care to many Alabama prisoners, according to interviews with prisoners' attorneys, former PHS employees and reports from independent physicians who monitor care at some of Alabama's prisons. "I can't say whether or not she was given insulin," said Ben Purser, the company's vice president for ethics and chief compliance officer. "It was an expected death; that is about the best thing I can say to you."
Morris's death certificate says she died from diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and Hepatitis C. But she was not being treated for the last two, Freeman said. Last November, Dr. Michael Puisis, court monitor for the Tutwiler medical settlement, visited the prison and reviewed treatment records for several prisoners. Of Morris's care, he wrote: "She was seen every three months, but not by a doctor. ... Liver function tests were abnormal but not investigated. An incomplete physical examination was done." Even after the legal settlements mandating better care at Tutwiler and Limestone, there have been severe shortages of doctors and nurses at the prisons. Nearly a year later, critical reports by court monitors continue to come out of both places. "These records reflect thousands of doses of medications ordered by physicians that have either not been given, or have been given without being documented," Dr. Joseph Bick, monitor in the Limestone case, wrote after visiting the HIV Unit in February. "Interviews with patients, chart reviews and feedback from physicians support the concern that patients are not consistently given the medications that have been ordered for them for serious life-threatening conditions." What was even more disturbing, the doctor wrote, was that Prison Health Services provided documents showing that nurses had recently been trained on this issue. It was Bick's third visit to the prison. Each was followed by a report showing the state was out of compliance with several key medical provisions of the 2004 settlement. A constant failing at Limestone is doctor and nurse shortages. The prison, with 2,200 people, has become a revolving door for physicians. One physician left in late 2004. Another, Dr. Valda Chijide, an infectious disease specialist, was placed on administrative leave after writing her superiors about constrictions placed on her that made it impossible to do her job. She resigned in February. Prison Health Services then brought in a doctor from a temporary agency, but by early April she, too, decided not to return, PHS' Purser said. During vacancies, Dr. Will Mosier, Prison Health Services' Montgomery-based medical director, fills in at Limestone and other prisons when needed. There are provisions in the company's contract for the state to deduct payment to the company if its staff numbers are down, and the Corrections Department monitors staffing levels on a regular basis, Corbett said. How much money the state is owed for empty positions is under debate, he said.

February 9, 2004
A $500,000 tab for unused slots in a private out-of-state prison is a bitter pill for taxpayers of Alabama to swallow. Particularly with prisons here crammed with nearly twice as many inmates as they were built to house and with state government in a severe financial bind.  Prison officials must not only review how the state came to agree to pay for beds that are going unused as state inmates are returned from the Mississippi prison, but to make sure any future prison contracts don't come with hidden surprises.  (Al.com)

February 5, 2004
The Alabama Department of Corrections will pay a private prison company at least $500,000 for empty prison space in Mississippi. That's because the state's contract with the Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America requires Alabama to pay rent for 1,345 beds through March 11. The state has opted to bring most of the prisoners home early, but still must pay the $27.50 per diem cost.  Alabama prison officials say the unused beds are a necessity, and the result of the state's chronic underfunding and overcrowding of prisons.  Now that bed space has been freed up at state prisons, the department is sending inmates home a few at a time, but the contract requires the state to continue paying for 95 percent of the full occupancy rate.  Corrections employees began returning inmates Jan. 19. By the end of this week, they expect to return 379. Unused beds for that group alone will cost $340,000 for 35 days. More men will be returning every week until March 12, leaving empty beds that will push the total to at least $500,000.  "There's no way you could keep them over there until the last day of the contract and bring them back all at once," said Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections. "It's physically impossible to move 1,416 inmates in one day."  State officials signed the emergency contract with CCA last June. Alabama's prison population had hit an all-time high of 28,440, and the Department of Corrections was facing pressure from lawsuits related to prison conditions and the backlog of state inmates in county jails.  "We did what we had to do out of an emergency situation. And yes, unfortunately, it cost money," Corbett said.  "It would be wiser in the long run and cheaper in the long run if you would properly fund corrections up front, as opposed to trying to correct your emergency situations on the back end," Corbett said.  State got bargain:  A spokesman for CCA said Alabama got a bargain in its per diem rate. Elsewhere, private prison companies have charged states more than $50 per inmate per day.  CCA's Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., sat empty last summer. The company quickly staffed it for the Alabama contract, and federal law requires CCA to give those employees a 60-day notice before termination, said CCA spokesman Steve Owen.  "There had to be some guarantees for us to hire, ramp up and staff that institution for the duration of that contract," Owen said.  Increased parole and community corrections programs have freed up space in Alabama prisons. The prison population was down to 27,344 in December 2003.  The Department of Corrections is also shifting work release and minimum security inmates, primarily from Montgomery and from the Elmore Correctional Facility, to make room for the men returning from Mississippi. Many minimum security inmates will transfer to vacant work release beds.  980 backlogged:  Prior to sending the prisoners to Mississippi, 980 state inmates were backlogged in county jails for more than 30 days - the crux of a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections. A year later, in part because of the Mississippi contract, no state prisoners have been housed in counties more than 30 days, Corbett said.  The contract possibly saved money by halting additional costly litigation or federal intervention, he said.  "We averted a crisis situation last summer, but by no means are we out of the woods," Corbett said.   State prisons continue to operate at 185 percent of capacity.  (AL.com)

January 10, 2004
The state prison system plans to continue with its new health service contracts for inmates even though a legislative committee wouldn't approve the deals.  On Thursday, members of the Legislature's Contract Revenue Committee said the deals were too expensive and were reached without open bidding.  Prison system spokesman Brian Corbett said the contracts have already been implemented and will continue in effect.  "Nothing is going to change," he said. "We still have 100 percent coverage."  Committee members objected to a $143 million contract with Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., to provide medical care for Alabama's inmates for three years; a $29 million contract for MHM Correctional Services Inc. of Vienna, Va., to provide mental health care for three years; and a $90,000 contract with Correctional Medical Management of Nashville, Tenn., to monitor the work for three months.  Normally, state agencies submit contracts to the Legislature's Contract Review Committee before they take effect. If the committee objects to them, the committee can delay them for 45 days, but the state agency can implement them after that time pass.  (AP)

January 9, 2004
A legislative committee blocked three contracts with companies for medical care in Alabama prisons, saying the deals were too expensive and were reached without open bidding.  The move could leave more than 27,000 inmates temporarily without health care.  Prison system officials have defended the contracts, valued at a combined $172.3 million. Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell warned that delaying them could land the state in trouble with federal courts, which are already reviewing prison conditions.  (AP)

January 6, 2004
The 1,424 male Alabama inmates being housed in a private prison in Mississippi should be returned to Alabama within 90 days, state Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell said Tuesday.  Alabama transferred the inmates last summer to a prison run by Corrections Corporation of America, the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss., to ease the overcrowding in Alabama's prisons and county jails.  (AP)

October 14, 2003
With his $1.2 billion tax plan rejected, Gov. Bob Riley plans to release 5000-6000 non-violent, Alabama inmates this fiscal year due to budget cuts. After 54 of 67 Alabama counties rejected the governor’s tax plan on September 9, the state government was left on its own to find a way to alleviate the state’s over-crowded prisons without the additional funds and a state budget deficit of $675 million.  In his state of the state address on March 4, 2003, Gov. Riley predicted a state deficit of at least $500 million in 2004. His solution was to cut the General Fund Budget by 20 percent. He also predicted a need of $125 million more in 2004 for the Alabama State Corrections budget.  An estimated 27,000 inmates inhabit prisons that were designed to hold only 12,000. The release of non-violent inmates has not been the first step to alleviate the problem of over-crowded prisons in Alabama. In July of this year the Corrections Corporation of America, for the first time in its history, agreed to aid the Alabama Department of Corrections by relocating 1,400 male, medium-security prisoners to the Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Tutwiler, Miss. However, the relocation was always intended as a temporary solution to the problem.  Now, Gov. Riley has introduced the Pardons and Paroles Bill. This bill expands the Pardons and Parole Board from three members to seven members and will divide it into two separate boards. This will hopefully give the parole boards a chance to hear more cases and release 200 inmates per week as opposed to the 75 to 80 which are released a week now. The intention is that the release of non-violent inmates will leave room for more dangerous criminals that would be more of a danger to society.  The inmates released will be those convicted of possession and distribution of drugs, felony DUI and theft of property. Alabama is not the first state to enact of releasing non-violent inmates. In December of 2002, Gov. Paul Patton of Kentucky’s plan to avoid his state’s own $6 million budget deficit released hundreds of Kentucky inmates. They were non-violent prisoners as well. University of Alabama criminal justice professor Dr. Robert Sigler who is an expert on prison systems agrees with the idea to release non-violent inmates. “Right now we’re at a point where we’re putting a lot of people in prison who we really don’t need to; its not a good use of our money. It doesn’t increase our safety,” he said. Dr. Sigler also gave his opinion on the experience of released inmates in general, not just the proposed to be released inmates. “Almost all people, if they get a little bit of help at home, will make that adjustment back. Prison is a pretty bad place,” Dr. Sigler said.  (Dateline Alabama)

September 13, 2003
State prison officials, already contemplating the early release of 20 per cent of the inmate population to shave costs, now face a new problem: The price for providing adequate health care to the remaining prisoners may rise by tens of millions of dollars next year.  The increased costs became apparent as the state received bids on a new health care contract, a contract that prison officials say is better designed to comply with court orders and recent lawsuits.  The state, along with the current health care provider -- Birmingham-based NaphCare Inc. -- has been named in lawsuits for allegedly neglecting to provide adequate care for Alabama inmates during the last three years.  An Atlanta-based human rights group recently sued the state, alleging that the deaths of 38 HIV-infected inmates during a four-year period at Limestone Correctional Facility could have been prevented with proper care.  Gov. Bob Riley has proposed adding about $16 million to the Department of Corrections' $234 million annual budget.  "When you underfund something for decades, and this agency sees a population explosion of more than 1,000 inmates per year, you can't put a $16 million Band-Aid on it and think it's going to solve all of our problems," said Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Department of Corrections.  Prison officials say some of that money could help pay for the new health care contract. But much of the increase is expected to be eaten by the additional costs of housing prisoners out-of-state, a move made this year to comply with a court order to relieve severe overcrowding in state prisons.  State prison officials say they have no choice but to revise the requirements in the health care contract.  Corbett said Friday that even if the Department can pay nearly double what it did during the last three-year term, that amount won't be nearly enough to provide all the health care services the department would like.  Bids for the next three-year contract were submitted last week, the lowest nearly double that of the previous three-year term. The contract is scheduled to be awarded Oct. 6, Corbett said, after the Legislature approves the new state budget.  Seven different companies, including NaphCare, offered bids ranging from $150 million to more than $200 million for medical anor mental health services for the three-year period.  The previous three-year contract with NaphCare cost the state nearly $90 million. NaphCare's current bid is among the lowest, at nearly $155 million -- though NaphCare leaders said they could negotiate a less demanding contract for less money.  While NaphCare and the state do not openly criticize or blame the other for any negligence, each has a different perspective on how a new contract and an increase in funds would affect inmate care.  Corbett said the revised contract would give the state more control over care -- something lacking during the previous three years.  "The problem is not so much with NaphCare but with the contract itself," Corbett said. "The contract was not in the best interest of the state, because it was not specific enough. Staffing levels, administrative policy, standards of care, pool overages ... were not specific enough to give the department as much control as we desired."  In the old contract, Corbett said, NaphCare "determined all administrative policies regarding delivery of the health care. Therefore, they did not have to respond to requests as far as developing treatment protocols and procedures."  NaphCare spokesman David Davis said that an increase in spending on inmate care was not the answer to improving inmate health.  "It's not that more money means better health," Davis said. "It has to do with facilities, operations, health care, everything coming together.  "Any health care provider is limited by the facilities, the environment and the stipulations of the contract," Davis said. He would not elaborate on what specifically could be improved at Alabama prisons.  NaphCare maintains that it did not fail to do its duty as laid out in the contract during its three-year term.  (Al.com)

August 14, 2003
The quality and quantity of medical care for prison inmates is among state services hanging in the balance in the Sept. 9 referendum on Gov. Bob Riley's tax proposals.  Prison Commissioner Donal Campbell has notified more than 300 medical services vendors that they have until Sept. 10 - the day after the vote - to file written proposals for providing medical services for inmates during the next three years.  If the tax plan fails, "We're all going to have to go back and revisit our budgets and see where we cut and where we don't cut," said Deputy Commissioner Terrence Jones.  Jones, whose duties include overseeing inmate medical care, said the detailed 73-page request for proposals being sent to medical service vendors across the nation proposes more services and controls in some areas than the present contract with Birmingham-based NaphCare Inc. Unlike the present contract, the proposed new contract would allow the state to withhold money due to be paid to the company if required services are not provided, or to deduct the costs of bringing services up to standards, Jones said.  The proposed contract also would require more dental services for inmates and more inmate health education and training, and it would provide for termination of the contract for failure to secure or maintain personnel described in the contract, Jones said.  Campbell notified NaphCare on May 2 that its $29.5 million-per-year contract with the state would be canceled in 90 days, or about the first of August, but he has extended the contract on a month-by-month basis until a new contract is signed.  Campbell told members of the state Legislature's prison oversight committee several weeks ago that he can't sign a new medical services contract until he gets a budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, and that won't happen until after the referendum.  Jones wouldn't say Tuesday how many of the more than 300 vendors invited to submit proposals have done so or have expressed interest in doing so.  NaphCare, whose services have been criticized by Chicago consultants Jacqueline Moore and Associates and which has been named as a defendant in inmate lawsuits, is among those vying for the new contract.  "Our hope is to continue to provide Alabama inmates health care as we do across the country," said NaphCar spokesman David Davis. "NaphCare is committed in providing quality and affordable health care to the Alabama inmate population in accordance with the stipulations in the contract with the Alabama Department of Corrections."  NaphCare filed suit against Moore and Associates last month, contending that their audit reports contained "numerous inaccurate and unsubstantiated statements and conclusions" that have damaged the company's reputation.  (Al.com)

July 16, 2003
Alabama prison Commissioner Donal Campbell is quick to say that sending inmates to private, out-of-state prisons to ease overcrowding is only a temporary fix. Until, he says, more space is available in Alabama's prison system.  Campbell is correct in taking that stance. Indeed, paying to house up to 300 female and 1,400 male inmates in private lock-ups makes sense only in the short term. Long term, it's a loser, even at the bargain-basement rate of $27.50 per day per inmate (about $10,000 a year).  That's because the state can't afford to watch its prison population grow at the current rate.  The inmates kept in Mississippi and Louisiana are farther from their families (some of them mothers separated  from their children) making visitations more of a hardship. Plus, for the $27.50 per day, the inmates don't have access to the programs they need to help them reintegrate into society, such as drug treatment, job training and education.  And don't think for a moment that the price the state pays now when the private prisons are new with ample space will be the same years from now when space even in private lockups might be scarce.  Private prisons are no bargain for Alabama. 

June 23, 2003
Alabama might have to pay more to house 309 women inmates at a Louisiana private prison because of higher-than-expected medical costs, owners of the prison said.  "The medical issue is more than we anticipated," Patrick LeBlanc, owner of LCS Corrections Services, told The Birmingham News for a Saturday story.  Alabama pays LCS $22.85 per inmate per day to house women transferred from the crowded Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka to the private prison in Basile, La.  That rate was approved earlier this month by the Legislature's Contract Review Committee and is less than the initial $24 daily rate agreed upon in April when Alabama began sending women to the LCS lockup.  Since then, LCS officials have realized Alabama's inmates require more medical attention than Louisiana prisoners housed at Basile, LeBlanc said.  About 20 to 25 of every 150 Louisiana inmates require prescription medication, he said. The Alabama prisoners' prescription needs are more than double that.  Alabama prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said the state and LCS have not yet agreed upon a rate adjustment or any other compromise. He said the Corrections Department chose which prisoners were sent out of state based on low security risk, not medical problems.  Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell this week asked LCS for proposals on the cost of enhanced medical care.  "He did ask them to put together something from a cost-analysis standpoint to determine, if things weren't being met or handled correctly, what would it take to make sure they were," Corbett said.  Inmate Linda Faye Knight was sent to Basile on June 12. She's still waiting for blood-pressure medicine she's taken for the last 15 years, said her sister, Victoria White of Birmingham.  "She saw a nurse, but the nurse told her the medicine was not there," White said. Her 46-year-old sister is up for parole July 8 on a manslaughter conviction.  (AP)

June 11, 2003
The Legislature's Contract Review Committee gave formal approval Thursday to a plan to send women prisoners to a private prison in Louisiana.  The Alabama Department of Corrections transferred 140 women prisoners in April to the South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basile, La., to relieve overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka. The state is under a federal court order to reduce the population at the women's prison.  Prison Commissioner Donal Campbell has promised U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson that the number of inmates at Tutwiler would be reduced from 1,000 to 750 by June 30.  Campbell originally made the transfers under an emergency contract, which did not have to be approved by the Legislative committee. The committee approved a one-year contract Thursday without comment, allowing the prison system to house up to 300 inmates at the Louisiana prison for up to a year.  The contract with LCS Correctional Services Inc. calls for the state to pay $24 a day per inmate to house the prisoners in Louisiana.  (AP)

April 2, 2003
A Senate appropriation bill that will pay for efforts to reduce crowding in Alabama prisons won final passage in the House on Tuesday.  The bill will give the Department of Corrections $2.7 million in emergency funding to reduce overcrowding at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women to comply with a federal court order to reduce the prison population. That money would be used to move female inmates to out-of-state prisons, probably in Louisiana.  Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, sponsored similar legislation in the House. He wants women to be moved out of Alabama only as a last resort.  Lucia Penland, director of the Alabama Prison Project, a prison advocacy organization, said prisoners who maintain close relationships with their families return to prison less often than those who do not.  "If they are two states away, that will not be possible," she said.  (Montgomery Advertiser)

March 15, 2003
The Birmingham company that holds the $30-million-a-year contract for providing medical treatment in Alabama prisons faces tough questions about cost overruns and the quality of its care.  The pressure on NaphCare Inc. comes from Donal Campbell, Gov. Bob Riley's appointee as commissioner of the Department of Corrections.  Campbell has had to ask the Legislature for $6.9 million to cover extra prison health care costs, even as his legal staff scrambles to defend lawsuits alleging that medical treatment of Alabama inmates is so bad as to amount to cruel and unusual punishment, forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.  Campbell recently met with NaphCare officials, wanting explanations for both the overruns and an outside monitor's reports that tend to substantiate inmates' complaints about lax care.  In 2000, prison health care in Alabama was provided by Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis, for roughly $26 million a year. But CMS had been working on a series of contract extensions, and because of rising costs and a growing inmate population wanted a new contract for more money.  The Department of Corrections invited CMS and other companies to bid on the work, and offers ranged from $38 million to $46 million.  At that point, finance officials in the administration of Gov. Don Siegelman bypassed the DOC legal staff and hired the Mobile law firm Miller, Hamilton, Snider & Odom.  But critics immediately questioned whether any company could make a profit and provide adequate medical care to 27,000 inmates for such a sum. Indeed, while the $30 million contract may seem large, it solidified Alabama's position as the state that spends the least per inmate on health care. Florida -- whose prisons, unlike Alabama's, are accredited by a national correctional health care board -- spends three times as much per inmate.  "The average state spends about $2,500 to $3,000 per inmate, and Alabama's spending a little over $1,000," said Ron Shanksy of Chicago, co-founder of the Society of Correctional Physicians. "You're off the charts."  Even before the state contract was signed in early 2001, Jefferson County officials were complaining publicly about NaphCare's performance in county jails in Birmingham and Bessemer. Last year, Jefferson, Morgan and Madison counties all parted ways with NaphCare, finding new jail health care providers amid complaints by inmates, family members and jail officials.  Last year also saw a rush of litigation against NaphCare and the state Department of Corrections, alleging inadequate medical care for Alabama prisoners. The Southern Center for Human Rights, an Atlanta based nonprofit legal group, sued on behalf of inmates at Tutwiler Prison for Women.  A wrongful death suit was recently filed against NaphCare and DOC in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The charge there is negligence in the sudden death of a 29-year-old Tutwiler inmate, Pamela Brown, in 2001.  In all these suits, NaphCare and DOC are co-defendants. One of the lawyers representing NaphCare is Giles Perkins. That has raised eyebrows in the legal community because Perkins, a former state Democratic Party official, is employed by the firm Miller, Hamilton, Snider & Odom and helped run the state prison health care contract negotiations won by NaphCare.  But reports by Jacqueline Moore & Associates, a Chicago consulting firm hired by the DOC to monitor NaphCare's performance, tend to back up some complaints voiced by Alabama inmates.  Perhaps most alarming was her assertion that the death rate among HIV inmates at Limestone was twice that of the national rate for such inmates.  At several institutions, she found high turnover and staff vacancies among medical personnel.  In her August 2000 review of Staton Correctional Facility, which provides medical care for nearly 4,000 inmates at four central Alabama prisons, she found that the sole physician had recently quit and six nursing slots were unfilled.  In an interview, Harrison described Moore's reports as "inaccurate," and went on to suggest she tried to steer Jefferson County's jail medical care contract from NaphCare to Prison Health Services, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based company she co-founded and for which her ex-husband still works.  She dismissed Harrison's charge that she was trying to help PHS. "I left that company in 1990," Moore said. "My ex-husband and I don't speak."  A former NaphCare dentist, Elcid Burkett, said medicine was hard to come by for health care professionals working in Alabama prisons. "I was buying my own peroxide," he said.  NaphCare is no worse or better than its predecessor CMS, according to Sam Eichold, a Mobile physician who serves on a prison medical oversight committee. He thinks the companies have done about as well as anyone can expect, given what Alabama pays per inmate.  "They cut corners," said Eichold, whose committee has expressed its own concerns to DOC. "That's how they make their profit."  (Mobile Register)

February 7, 2003
MONTGOMERY Medical consultants hired to review health-care services in Alabama prisons have reported what a lawyer for inmates calls "serious deficiencies."  The audit reports released Thursday were ordered last year by the Siegelman administration to monitor health care services provided to prison inmates by NaphCare, a Birmingham-based health management contractor.  Former Prison Commissioner Mike Haley and former Gov. Don Siegelman refused repeated requests last year to release the reports, conducted at eight Alabama prisons between May and August.  "This is totally consistent with what the prisoners have been telling us, that they have to wait for weeks for dental services, for things such as abscesses which are so painful that some of the women are pulling their own teeth," said Tamara Serwer of the Southern Center for Human Rights, which is representing inmates in a pending federal lawsuit. "These are serious deficiencies in health care services for Alabama prison inmates." (Al.com)

January 27, 2003
Gov. Bob Riley on Wednesday selected the former head of the Tennessee prison system to lead Alabama's troubled Department of Corrections.  Donal Campbell, 51, takes over a prison system under court orders to reduce overcrowding in its women's prison and to find more space for its male inmates.  Campbell said Alabama's problems are nothing new to him because Tennessee's prisons dealt with the same issues in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Tennessee uses private prisons to house about 4,500 of its 18,000 inmates - something Campbell and Riley said they plan to consider in Alabama, which has never used private prisons.  Campbell said he's not in favor of privatizing existing prisons but would consider privately run prisons to provide new space for inmates.  (Huntsville Times)

Alabama Legislature
Apr 27, 2016 al.com
As Alabama debates $700 million prison plan CEO of private prison company shows up. Coincidence?
On the eve of a $700 million debate in the Alabama Legislature about whether to build four new prisons, the president and CEO of the nation's largest private corrections company was the speaker at Tuesday's Kiwanis Club of Birmingham meeting. Was it a coincidence that Damon T. Hininger, president and CEO of Corrections Corporation of America was at Tuesday's lunch this week? One member of the audience who asked Hininger a question didn't seem to believe in coincidence. "I assume it's not a complete coincidence that you are here during a week when there is a $700 million bond issue on the table to build prisons in Alabama?" asked the questioner of Hininger. Hininger chucked and only partially sidestepped the question. "Well there is a lot of conversation, there is no denying it,  a lot of conversation going on involving the governor, the prison commissioner and the Legislature," said Hininger. "One clear thing that we want to say over the years is that we think we can be a part of the solution. There is a lot of debate going on across the states and in this state about prisons, whether they should be all public or all private or a combination.  But one thing we say is that we are not a silver bullet. We're not going to say 'we can come in and take over the whole system and be the cure-all.' "Hininger said governors and legislators in all the states who wrestle with prison issues have to look at the challenges they face and what solutions might be best and Hininger said CCA believes it can bring part of the solution to the table. "At the end of the day if the state of Alabama finds out that you want to move forward on consolidating facilities...we think we can be a part of those conversations and be helpful. But again we are not the silver bullet and we are not the cure-all." Corrections Corporation of America or CCA is the largest private corrections company in America. It manages 65 prisons and detention centers that combined hold up to 90,000 inmates. The company has passed the $1.7 billion mark in revenues. While there are no CCA managed prisons in Alabama, the company operates a number of prisons that virtually ring Alabama including facilities in Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. Hininger told the group that his company, which is based in Nashville, has over 30 years of experience operating and managing prisons for governments. Hininger said CCA gives governments greater flexibility in how to spend corrections dollars and that is a big plus for governments which are usually struggling to meet a variety of needs with not enough dollars to meet them. Privatization of prisons has been seen by some as a way for states to save dollars in operating prisons. But critics have charged that prison privatization leads to a dangerous decrease in inmate supervision. Critics charge that lack of supervision has led to increases in violence and inmate deaths from violence as well as sometimes inadequate medical emergencies inadequately handled by staff.

April 22, 2010 AP
The Alabama Legislature has given final passage to a bill that clears the way for the state to buy a private prison in Perry County. The House voted 82-16 to approve the bill that would permit the state to issue $60 million in bonds to buy the Perry County Correctional Center and to renovate it. The Senate voted 19-0 to go along with changes made to the bill in the House. The private prison is located near Uniontown in Perry County in an economically depressed area. The prison is designed for 750 inmates, but can be expanded to handle 1,500. The sponsor, Democratic Rep. John Knight of Montgomery, said the prison is needed because of overcrowding in the state prison system.

April 17, 2010 Gadsden Times
The state is negotiating to buy the privately owned Perry County prison and is one step away from getting the money to buy it. A bill authorizing a $60 million bond issue on the House calendar and is in position to pass in the final two days of the 2010 legislative session next week. Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, is sponsoring the bill for the Department of Corrections. “Corrections is interested because we are so overcrowded,” Barron said. “They’re interested in buying it as well as expanding it.” Barron’s sponsorship of the bill for Gov. Bob Riley is not that controversial even though they have butted heads politically. But an aspect of the bill puts Barron at odds with previous statements about Riley. He has vociferously and publicly lambasted Riley for a so-called no-bid $13 million computer system upgrade contract. He even sponsored bills this session to limit non-competitive bidding. Barron’s prison bond issue bill strikes out the original requirement that the prison bond issue be competitively bid. Barron said he talked to an independent financial expert he trusts who has no ties to the administration about bidding versus negotiating. “I talked with an investment bank house and they said it’s not always the best, especially when it’s not the most favorable conditions,” he said. “It doesn’t square with my political stand, but on this one time a competitive bid may not be the best.” Riley spokesman Jeff Emerson didn’t directly respond to Barron’s apparent about-face. “The bill doesn’t mandate a bid, but Gov. Riley will make sure it goes through a competitive process if the bill becomes law,” he said in a Friday e-mail. Richard Harbison is executive vice president of LCS Corrections Services Inc., which owns the prison near Uniontown. “Let’s just say we’re talking to the state of Alabama,” Harbison said. The Perry County prison houses about 500 inmates but is designed to house 750, Harbison said. He said the facility can be expanded to house up to 1,500 inmates. The state has about 400 inmates there now, a spokesman said.

September 9, 2007 Huntsville Times
The Alabama Medicaid Agency will get a $3.8 million contract with a company with a checkered past, but a political cloud may linger over the transaction. And the state Department of Corrections will get a $233.73 million contract with a St. Louis company that bid $6 million more than the losing bidder for inmate health care services. Democrats insinuate that politics may have played a role in ACS Heritage Inc.'s winning the Medicaid contract even though its bid was $500,000 higher than the next company. And the firm that won the prison contract, Correctional Medical Services, Inc., was represented by former Republican Lt. Gov. Steve Windom, a lobbyist with close ties to Gov. Bob Riley.

September 7, 2007 Birmingham News
The Legislative Contract Review Committee on Thursday delayed implementation of a $223 million prison health-care contract after an official with a company that bid $9 million less questioned the process. The panel also delayed a $3.7 million Medicaid contract to computerize medical records after lawmakers questioned the company's performance in other states. The Contract Review Committee reviews state agency contracts. Committee members can delay the contracts for 45 days but do not have the power to cancel them. The Department of Corrections, after taking proposals, selected Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis to provide medical care to Alabama's more than 20,000 inmates. Another company, Wexford Health Sources, had submitted the low bid that was about $9 million cheaper than Correctional Medical Services'. Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, and other legislators asked Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen why the department had not selected the low bidder. Allen said Correctional Medical Services scored slightly higher on bid reviews, which take quality of care into account. "I don't know that Mr. Holmes would go to the cheapest doctor in town," Allen said after the meeting. Lawmakers also questioned that the prison staff who reviewed the bids included several former employees of CMS. Allen said none had worked for the company in at least six years. "I have full confidence in these people. There was no politics involved in this selection," Allen said. But Michael Davis, a lawyer representing Wexford, said company officials wanted to meet with the commissioner before the contract was finalized. Davis said company officials had questions about how bidders' scores were determined.

September 5, 2007 Huntsville Times
The state corrections commissioner was questioned by legislators Wednesday over a $233.73 million contract for health care for Alabama's nearly 26,000 inmates. Commissioner Richard Allen is seeking approval of a three-year contract with St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services Inc. CMS would take over a contract now held by Prison Health Services Inc., of Brentwood, Tenn. Sen. Parker Griffith, D-Huntsville, a retired physician, endorsed the CMS contract, which would have two potential one-year renewals. "I have a keen interest in (prisons), particularly the health care," Griffith told the committee. "We're rapidly moving into the baby boomers going through the prison system just like we're going through it outside the prison system." Griffith said health care for convicts is a "major, major cost factor" for the state, but he added that "we're capping it with this contract and I think it's well thought out." The committee has the power to delay the contract for 45 days but cannot stop it from being enacted. Some members of the Joint Legislative Contract Review Committee questioned Allen about members of his staff who formerly worked for the two private companies and were involved in the selection process for CMS. A third company that submitted a proposal, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, was represented by an attorney who said he will ask for an explanation of the grading process when the committee meets again today. Allen acknowledged that Wexford's bid was about $6 million lower than CMS. "We evaluated the contracts very carefully," said Allen. "All the bidders were told that price would be 40 percent of the score and other things - innovations, cost savings, those types of things - would be scored 60 percent." Allen said Wexford scored third. Rep. Blaine Galliher, R-Gadsden, said he was concerned that Department of Corrections employees who formerly worked for CMS and PHS were on the team that graded proposals submitted by the three companies. But Allen defended the process, calling prison health care "a very narrow specialty." "If you look at the resumes of these (DOC) people, they have worked for several companies, not just this company (CMS)," he said. "Nobody in our department has worked for this company in the last six or seven years. They've also worked for PHS. They've also worked for about a dozen other companies. They go back and forth between the companies and state service."

July 12, 2007 All American Patriots
The Alabama Department of Corrections will put 5,763 acres of unproductive and money-losing properties up for sale, bring state inmates back from Louisiana prisons and put more inmates to work. Governor Bob Riley and Corrections Commission Richard Allen said Wednesday that proceeds generated from the land sales during the coming year will go toward prison infrastructure improvements and not operating expenses. All property to be sold will be appraised, advertised and sold through a public process to the highest bidder. Such a process was used earlier this year when 540 acres of the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch near Greensboro was sold for more than $1.6 million, which is higher than its appraised value of $1.4 million. The properties being put up for sale are: 1,851 acres of the 2,215 acres at Red Eagle Honor Farm in Montgomery The remaining 3,869 acres of the Farquhar State Cattle Ranch An empty and unused 16,000-square foot building on South Union Street in Montgomery 32 acres in Wetumpka on Highway 231 North 10 acres at the old Kilby prison in Montgomery All the properties are either unneeded or losing money. The Farquhar State Cattle Ranch, for example, has lost approximately $377,000 during the past two fiscal years and has lost almost $60,000 in the first six months of the current fiscal year. "These properties are a financial drain on the taxpayers and aren't needed," said Governor Riley. "It makes no sense to hold on to them. We will sell them, relieve this burden on the taxpayers and use the money for some long-needed improvements to correctional facilities." The Department of Corrections expects the sale of the properties will bring in up to $22 million. This is not the first time land owned by the Department of Corrections has been sold. In addition to the sale earlier this year of 540 acres at the cattle ranch, more than 630 acres of Corrections property was sold through the bid process in 2003 and 2004 for $3.8 million. Governor Riley said the sale of idle land would not be limited to the Department of Corrections, noting that several agencies, including the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, own properties that may be sold. The Governor's office is working with state agencies to determine what property they own is unneeded and could be sold. In addition to selling unneeded property, the Department of Corrections will terminate its contracts with two Louisiana-based companies and return approximately 1,300 male and female inmates from private prisons in Louisiana. All inmates in Louisiana will be back in Alabama by the end of November. That move is expected to save the Corrections Department almost $10 million.

April 16, 2007 The Press-Register
Some members of a legislative oversight committee contend that Gov. Bob Riley's administration broke the law on three no-bid contracts by failing to submit them to the panel months ago. "If you have got a law, all departments in the Riley administration have to follow the law," said state Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, a committee member. "The same law applied to Don Siegelman that applies to the Riley administration." During Riley's 2002 campaign for a first term, the Republican blasted then-Gov. Don Siegelman, a Democrat, for his administration's handling of no-bid contracts. Ken Wallis, legal advisor to Riley, said recently that the administration is "absolutely" following state law regarding all contracts, including the three questioned by some lawmakers. One of the three was an emergency contract -- for prison health services -- that was used for four months before the administration submitted the permanent deal to the committee. Panel members said they learned about the other two contracts through reporters. The prison contract totaled more than $56 million, while each of the others was for $60,000 or less.

December 8, 2006 Ledger-Enquirer
Gov. Bob Riley's chief of staff, Toby Roth, is leaving to become a lobbyist and will be replaced by Riley's senior adviser, Dave Stewart. Roth directed Riley's campaign for governor in 2002 and then became his chief of staff. His last day will be Dec. 15, Riley said Friday. Roth will open a Montgomery office for Capitol Resources, a Jackson, Miss.-based lobbying company whose principals include two nephews of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. The firm lists many clients, including Beau Rivage Resorts, eBay, Corrections Corporation of America, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Rolls-Royce North America, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

January 23, 2006 AP
Proponents of legislation to extend state contracts up to five years say it could save the state money, but critics, including Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley, say it would allow an outgoing governor to lock in the next administration. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, said Monday he hopes to get the House to pass it Tuesday. The bill would still have to be passed by the Senate and signed by the governor to become law. Black and Means proposed the legislation at the request of the Fine Geddie lobbying firm, which represents many corporations at the Legislature. Ben Patterson, a member of the firm, said it has several clients interested in doing business with the state, including  Northrop Grumman. The firm's long list of clients also includes BellSouth, Corrections Corp. of America, General Electric and Motorola, according to the company's reports to the State Ethics Commission. They were major fundraisers for Riley in the 2002 race for governor, with their political action committees contributing more than $660,000.

March 12, 2003
With Alabama facing court orders to reduce prison overcrowding and a $500 million funding crunch, Gov. Bob Riley is turning to the private sector for relief.  As part of the plan to decrease the population at Tutwiler Prison for women, the Department of Corrections has proposed transferring prisoners out-of-state.  Privatization -- or contracting state government services to private businesses is not new -- as state and local officials nationwide struggle to find ways to make government more efficient and cost effective in tough financial times.  The governor and prison commissioner Donal Campbell proposed in February to move approximately 300 state inmates to private out-of-state facilities as part of a plan to ease overcrowding at Tulwiler.  E.J. "Mac" McArthur, executive director of the Alabama State Employees Association, doesn't want private industry involved in government functions.  Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, chairman of the House Government Finance and Appropriations Committee, said he doesn't sense tremendous interest among legislators in moving in the direction of privatization of prisons.  "I think the coin flips both ways.  Some can point to cost-savings, but there are horror stories in other states on prison privatization," Knight said.  "Alabama prisoners should be Alabama's responsibility, and we should live up to that responsibility.  McArthur says state employees worked hard to pass a 1999 law that provides for direct and effective control over corrections institutions in the state in an attempt to head off privatization.  The law also forbids control of corrections institutions by a "nongovernmental entity" without approval of both the Alabama House and Senate.  McArthur thinks that law would bar private prison construction or operation in Alabama.  It might, but that law did not stop the transfer to out-of-state facilities after Campbell got an attorney general's opinion that said it did not apply to such a move.  James Barber, deputy director of the Mississippi Legislative Peer Committee, said privatization may have peaked and plateaued, based on what colleagues in other states have said.  (Montgomery Advertiser)

March 11, 2003
Legislation to ease the overcrowding crisis at Alabama's prison for women appears to be on the fast track as lawmakers return today, the first day of the 2003 regular session in which either house of the Legislature can pass bills.  Finance Director Drayton Nabers last week told the Senate's General Fund budget writing committee that the $3.6 million would partly be used to transfer the women prisoners to the private facility.  (Montgomery Advertiser)

Baldwin County Jail
Baldwin County, Alabama
Correctional Medical Services
April 26, 2005 Mobile Register
Scott Allen Winingear spent less than two months in the Baldwin County jail last year before administrators concluded they were not equipped to control the diabetic inmate's blood sugar, according to federal court testimony. So concerned was the nursing staff about Winingear's condition, that officials had him transferred to Mobile County Metro Jail, which has 24-hour medical services on staff, Baldwin jail personnel testified. But in about three months at Metro Jail, the 31-year-old Indiana man's blood sugar readings actually got worse, according to the federal court testimony earlier this year. The case marks another criticism of the Metro Jail system that has come under attack in recent years and echoes findings of a nutritional consultant who reported last week that the jail does not appear to be preparing different meals for diabetics and other inmates with special needs. According to testimony at the sentencing hearing, Winingear's problems at Mobile County Metro Jail stemmed from a switch to a cheaper form of insulin and a diet that was not conducive to controlling his diabetes. Testimony at the hearing indicated that the jails in Baldwin and Mobile treated Winingear differently. At Metro Jail, Winingear testified, he received the same meals everyone else did. He said the diet consisted of high-carbohydrate foods like spaghetti and white bread, along with sugar-laden items like fruit cocktail and Kool-Aid. Unsweetened alternatives were not available, he said. Winingear testified that his parents put money in his jail account but that administrators deducted those funds to pay for his medical care. As a result, he testified, he was unable to supplement his meals by purchasing snacks from the jail store. Winingear contended in his testimony that the jail gave him Novolin 70/30, a cheaper mix of Humulin-R and Humulin-L that he said was not as effective. A former nurse at Metro Jail, who asked not to be identified out of fear she might face professional reprisals, said the jail switched insulins in the fall. She also said nurses often did not test diabetic inmates' blood sugar levels frequently enough. "The nurses were pushed so hard that there hardly was a time in the day when we were not so far behind," she said. The nurse said administrators also showed little flexibility in making sure diabetics were regularly monitored. "If they were at a religious service or something else when blood sugars were tested, the unwritten policy was they would do without," she said. Correctional Medical Services, a St. Louis company that has provided health services to Metro Jail inmates since July could not immediately offer a response. In testimony at Winingear's sentencing hearing, an administrator with the firm acknowledged that a nurse at one time was late making rounds to check blood sugar levels and administer insulin. Carla Wasden, the jail's health services administrator, testified that it was possible the nurse was late more than once.

Correctional Medical Services
December 17, 2004 Corrections Professional
Private prison employees' terror claim survived dismissal. Case name: Bullin et al.,v. Correctional Medical Services Inc., No. 2030573 (Ala. Civ. App. 11/19/04). Ruling: Because private prison employees claimed they suffered mental anguish as a result of their employer's failure to properly implement policies to protect them from the prison population, their claim was not covered under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act. Accordingly, their claim survived dismissal and will proceed. Summary: In August 2002, Jamie Bullin, Lisa Johnson and Tabitha Manuel brought a civil action against Correctional Medical Services Inc., three individuals employed by the Alabama Department of Corrections, and several fictitiously named defendants in the Baldwin Circuit Court. The employees collectively alleged that CMS had negligently failed to formulate policies for the protection of the employees from the wrongful conduct of the prison population. The employees said they had been terrorized and caused to suffer severe and continuing mental anguish and emotional distress as a proximate result of CMS' omissions. The Baldwin Circuit Court transferred the cause to the Montgomery Circuit Court, and CMS filed a motion for summary judgment. CMS alleged that the employees' exclusive remedy was a claim under the Alabama Workers' Compensation Act. The employees contended that their claim alleged purely psychological injuries, therefore the claim was outside the scope of the act's exclusivity provisions. The trial court granted CMS' summary-judgment motion, and the employees appealed. The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that the employees' claim against CMS was not barred by exclusivity provisions of Workers' Compensation Act because the employees' injuries were purely psychological in nature. The "injury" the employees complained of expressly included mental injuries that had neither been produced nor proximately caused by physical injury to body. The decision of the lower court was reversed and remanded.

Donaldson Prison
Jefferson County
Prison Health Services

March 18, 2005 Birmingham News
The administrator over health care at Donaldson Correctional Facility was fired for failing to improve medical care at the beleaguered lockup, but not before issuing repeated warnings about inadequate staff. Stephanie Lawson, a registered nurse employed by the private contractor Prison Health Services, said she was especially frustrated that no full-time physician was assigned to the western Jefferson County prison, which houses about 1,625 men. "I was terminated for lack of progress at the site, and it's an impossible site to manage with the staff that PHS has allocated for health care," Lawson said. "It's just wrong." "It really did kind of all tie in," she said. "How can I be expected in 10 months to turn this place around when there is not even adequate security?" She spoke highly of the officers but said they often were tired. A few men sought care in the health unit for chest pains or headaches. "A body can only take so much," Lawson said. Lawson's staffing complaints are similar to those raised by Dr. Valda Chijide, the former HIV doctor at Limestone Prison. Chijide resigned earlier this year after sending PHS several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the north Alabama prison. Lawson's firing leaves Donaldson minus experienced staff in the two top posts, overseeing the prison and the health care unit.

March 18, 2005 WHNT19
A fired medical administrator said Donaldson Prison in Jefferson County needs a full-time doctor before medical care improves at the overcrowded facility. Stephanie Lawson was fired in early March, the same week Warden Stephen Bullard was placed on administrative leave after writing a memo about inadequate staffing and poor conditions. Corrections officials said Bullard was placed on leave because of health problems associated with his job. Lawson was employed by the private contractor Prison Health Services. She said she was fired for lack of improvements in medical care at the prison. Lawson made the comments in an interview with the Birmingham News. P-H-S has declined to comment on Lawson's termination or replacement. Her staffing complaints are similar to those raised by another physician at Limestone Prison. Doctor Valda Chijide resigned earlier this year after sending P-H-S several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the prison.

Limestone Correctional Facility
Limestone County, Alabama
Prison Health Services (formerly run by MHM, NaphCare)

December 1, 2009 Huntsville Times
State prison officials today released a 795-page report showing Farron Barksdale, who killed two police officers, died from hypothermia after being heavily medicated with anti-psychotic drugs. Barksdale, 32, of Athens, sentenced to life without parole after pleading guilty to capital murder in the shooting deaths of two Athens police officers, died Aug. 20, 2007, after he was found unconscious in his prison cell. After he was rushed to a Montgomery hospital, it was discovered he had several large, fresh-looking, bruises around his waist, arms, legs, elbows and knees. But Sarah Geraghty, senior attorney for the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said questions still remain about how Barksdale received such extensive bruising. The report said Barksdale was given several different drugs that could cause bruising. And they noted the special seat belts used to transport Barksdale from the Limestone County Jail to the Kilby Correctional Facility could also have been responsible for some of the bruises. When a private ambulance company was summoned to take Barkdale to the hospital after he collapsed, according to the report, paramedic Angela Anderson said she "found patient lying on treatment table by himself with distressed respirations, unresponsive; no medical personnel in room; saw bruises on his body on abdominal and pelvic area; noted they were unusual for size and location . . . "Patient had no oxygen therapy being (administered and) there was no medical personnel in the room (with) the patient the entire time while on scene only DOC personnel. Patient had several bruises throughout body major-sized bruises noted anterior on lower abdomen/pelvic area measuring in comparison to a salad plate covering most of the area from hip joint area to umbilicus. "Color of bruises indicate newly sustained. Patient also had bruising to both forearms posterior area in same color as ones noted to abdomen/pelvic area." In addition, Heath Bruner, an EMT, was quoted in the report as noting "massive" bruising on both sides of pelvis. He also noted there were no nurses present in the room with Barksdale at Kilby. Barksdale's mother, Mary, earlier this year won $750,000 in a wrongful death lawsuit against former Kilby Warden Arnold Holt, Dr. Joseph McGinn of MHM Correctional Services in Vienna, Va., and Dr. Arnold Holt of Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn. Ken Williams, general counsel for the Corrections Department, said Tuesday that McGinn was responsible for prescribing the drugs to Barksdale and leaving him in an unairconditioned cell rather than transferring him to an air-conditioned mental health unit.

August 1, 2005 New York Times
If there was ever a prison that needed help, it was Limestone Correctional Facility. Even within the troubled Alabama penal system, this state compound near Huntsville was notorious for cruel punishment and medical neglect. In one drafty, rat-infested warehouse once reserved for chain gangs, the state quarantined its male prisoners with H.I.V. and AIDS, until the extraordinary death toll - 36 inmates from 1999 to 2002 - moved inmates to sue and the government to promise change. Alabama's solution was to fire the local company in charge of medical care and hire Prison Health Services, the nation's largest commercial provider of health care behind bars. Prison Health's solution was to recruit Dr. Valda M. Chijide, an infectious-disease specialist who arrived last November with a lofty title: statewide coordinator of inmate H.I.V. care. She was an unlikely candidate for the job in one sense, having never stepped inside a prison. But it did not take her long to conclude that the chaos was continuing, and that much of the problem was Prison Health itself. Though the company had promised the help of other doctors, she said, she was left alone to care for not only the 230 men in the H.I.V. unit, but the 1,800 other prisoners, too. Nurses were so poorly trained, Dr. Chijide said, that they neglected to hand out life-sustaining drugs or gave the wrong ones. Medical charts were a mess, she said, and often it was impossible to find such basic items as a thermometer, or even soap. Dr. Chijide lasted barely three months. After she complained in writing, Prison Health suspended her for reasons it would not disclose, and she quit. Her short, frantic stint - battling for drugs, hospitalizations and extra food for skeletal inmates, she said - was not unusual in the world of Prison Health Services, which has had a turbulent record in many of the 33 states where it has provided jail or prison medicine. But her story, a rare firsthand account of a doctor in charge of a prison's health care, offers an intimate glimpse of the company's work at a moment when the need for change could not have been more pressing, and the spotlight on Prison Health could hardly have been more intense. Limestone is not the only hitch in Prison Health's effort to transform a penal backwater. Two hundred miles south, at the state's Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women, another federal monitor reported that Prison Health lacked any "organized and structured medical program," and deplored the care given two inmates who died last year. There is, of course, a higher authority that Prison Health must answer to: the state official charged with making sure it lives up to its contract. That person is Ruth Naglich, who as associate commissioner of the Alabama Corrections Department is supposed to review the company's work. Three years ago, Ms. Naglich was a Prison Health executive, vice president for sales and marketing, at the company's headquarters outside Nashville.

May 6, 2005 Birmingham News
Prison Health Services has been under the gun, and rightly so, for the way it's provided medical care to Alabama inmates. The Tennessee-based company was hired to improve health care in Alabama prisons, which had been sued over services provided by a previous contractor. But the care in prisons remains unacceptable. A recurring theme is a shortage of doctors, nurses and other staff to tend to the inmates, with predictable consequences. At best, the care has been inadequate. At worst, it may have been downright deadly. The state of Alabama, which has the ultimate responsibility (and liability) for what happens to prisoners in its custody, has every reason to demand better from Prison Health Services. And withholding part of the company's payment is an appropriate place to start. The state is reducing the company's $143 million contract by $1.2 million for staffing shortages, and may cut more if staffing levels aren't increased. Why not? The state is paying Prison Health Services to provide a certain number of professionals and support staff to administer inmates' health care. If the company is not meeting the requirements of the contract, it should not expect to be paid as if it were. Besides, what's really at stake here is bigger than money. Too many inmates are not receiving proper care for chronic conditions, and some are dying unnecessarily as a result, according to doctors who monitor prison health care for the courts. At the Tutwiler women's prison, the monitor found that three inmates who died last year received poor or incomplete care, and two of them may have died as a result. At Limestone Correctional Facility, which houses HIV-positive inmates, the monitor found prisoners weren't getting crucial medication and that a required HIV specialist was not on staff. It's true that turnover has been a big problem. Prison Health Services has had problems retaining doctors and other health care workers; some have left complaining they didn't have the resources to do their jobs. But the bottom line is that the company agreed to provide a certain level of services, and it has been failing to do so. At the very least, the state should adjust the payments to Prison Health Services accordingly. So the company is losing dollars. Inmates are losing their lives.

May 5, 2005 Birmingham News
Alabama's prison medical provider is losing $1.2 million from the state because it has not provided enough doctors and nurses to state prisons. Prison Health Services has not fulfilled minimal contract requirements that call for a certain number of doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff. The company is not being fined, Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said, but DOC will not have to pay $1.2 million of its contract. The department hired PHS in November 2003. The company's three-year, $143 million contract could see more reductions if the medical staff does not increase. Tennessee-based Prison Health Services also has come under fire in recent months by physicians who are monitoring two prisons under federal court settlements. A lawsuit alleging inadequate medical care is pending at a third prison, the Hamilton Aged and Infirm facility, where the oldest, sickest men are housed. Dr. Michael Puisis, court monitor at Tutwiler Prison for Women, said in a March report that prison medical staff provided poor or incomplete care to three inmates who died last year. He suggested that negligence might have led to two of those deaths. The third, a suicide, was likely the result of inadequate care by mental health workers, who are employed by a different company. Two deaths since then are still under investigation. Still, attorneys for the Limestone inmates have asked the federal courts to hold the state in contempt for failing to abide by the conditions of the settlement. Last year, the state agreed to dozens of improvements, centering on added medical staff and more humane housing conditions. Doctors keep leaving, some after claiming PHS did not allow them the flexibility and resources to practice medicine as they want to do. "There are just as many complaints raised after the settlement as before," said Gretchen Rohr, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, who represents Alabama prisons in both cases.

April 29, 2005 Tuscaloosa News
Recent complaints by HIV inmates over medical attention at Limestone prison are "misleading and inaccurate," attorneys for the prison system and its health provider said in asking a federal judge to dismiss a contempt motion. The attorneys' filing says the state Department of Corrections and Prison Healthcare Services have taken adequate steps to comply with a settlement over housing and medical care for some 240 HIV inmates at the state prison in Limestone County. The document was in response to a complaint filed last week by inmate attorneys at the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights. The complaint said the prison system and health provider have yet to show they are carrying out any plan to correct "extensive noncompliant acts." Southern Center attorney Gretchen Rohr said the plaintiffs have asked U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham to hold the state in contempt of court for failing to follow the April 2004 settlement. Though DOC and PHS concede that they don't have a permanent HIV specialist as required by the settlement, they "have worked tirelessly to retain" one, according to the court filing. They said several candidates have lost interest in the position after learning about the highly publicized complaints of the plaintiffs.
The post opened after Dr. Valda Chijidi resigned earlier this year. He had sent PHS several memos detailing inadequate support and staffing at the north Alabama prison. The plaintiffs allege that inmates still have to provide emergency care to other inmates because an adequate nursing staff is not available - a claim denied by the prison and PHS. Rohr said she appreciates the efforts to improve conditions at Limestone, but remains skeptical about the plan actually being implemented. "For a long time we've been hearing that they have a plan and voluntarily are taking action. Not to rain on your parade, but we've heard it before," she said.

February 19, 2005 WPMI
Attorneys for 240 HIV-positive prisoners at Limestone Correctional Facility have accused prison officials of violating an agreement to improve their medical care. The north Alabama prison has no specialist for them and has constant gaps in medication, the attorneys claim in a contempt motion filed Thursday in U.S. District Court. The attorneys have asked U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre in Birmingham to hold the state in contempt of court for failing to follow the April 2004 settlement in a lawsuit over inmate housing and medical care. Department of Corrections attorney Kim Thomas said Friday she couldn't comment on the motion until she has read it. According to the motion, two physicians, hired in the last eight months as part of the settlement, recently resigned. One of the doctor's memos detailed dozens of medical shortcomings, including a rat in the exam room and chaotic record-keeping. Dr. Valda Chijide wrote of being unable to care for patients because of disorganization in the medical unit and because prison staff has overruled her medical decisions. Once she walked in on a heart patient with chest pains who was trying to give himself nitroglycerin because no nurse was in sight, she wrote. "The law of diminishing returns sets in after riding on a skeletal staff and scanty resources for so long," Chijide wrote in a Jan. 25 letter to supervisors at Prison Health Services, the private prison medical company that Alabama contracts with to provide medical care at all state prisons. Now, one physician handles care for more than 2,200 prisoners, including the HIV Unit. A PHS supervisor in Montgomery also has been filling in, Keldie said. "The state is ultimately the one who is responsible for the medical care and the state should be forcing PHS to implement the settlement agreement that we've reached," said Joshua Lipman, a Southern Center for Human Rights attorney. "What they've done so far is pretty appalling."

May 25, 2004
A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections and its former medical provider, claiming HIV-positive inmates at Limestone Correctional Facility were not given adequate health care.  The settlement, reached after several months of negotiations mediated by Magistrate Judge John Ott, was filed in the federal district court in Birmingham on Friday. The terms of the settlement, set to be signed at a hearing Wednesday, were not disclosed.  David Lipman, attorney for the four HIV-positive inmates named as plaintiffs in the suit, has argued that prison medical provider NaphCare Inc. did not adequately treat the inmates and ultimately hastened some inmate deaths in 2002.  The Department of Corrections has since changed medical providers.  (Gainesville Sun)

March 19, 2004
Some of the sickest men in Alabama prisons live in drafty cells in a building with broken windows. They must stand in line in the middle of the night for their pills. And several have died prematurely because of gaps in medical care, according to a report released Thursday as part of a lawsuit against the prison system. Dr. Stephen Tabet, an infectious disease specialist from Seattle, first documented the harsh conditions at Limestone prison's HIV unit last year. When he returned for a follow-up visit, he found few improvements.  "More strongly than ever, I feel the Limestone Correctional Facility is in dire need of outside intervention and oversight," Tabet wrote after his Feb. 23 visit to the prison, where all of Alabama's male HIV-positive inmates, about 250 men, are housed. "Patients continue to die because of the failure of the medical system," he wrote.  The Department of Corrections strongly disagrees with the report's conclusions, a spokesman said.  "It is important to note that this report is written by a trial witness, hired by plaintiff lawyers," said DOC spokesman Brian Corbett.  Tabet has been reviewing HIV Unit medical care for the Southern Center for Human Rights, an Atlanta-based law firm representing HIV-infected prisoners in a class-action lawsuit against the state.  His August 2003 report documented conditions leading to 39 deaths since 1999. Thursday's follow-up looks at five new deaths in five months.  One patient dropped a third of his weight in five months, to 110 pounds, before dying in February. A doctor prescribed a high protein supplement for 35-year-old Gerald Lewis, but the kitchen wouldn't provide it.  Another man arrived at Limestone with active tuberculosis, but his medical records from another prison did not follow. Alfred Thomas, 42, was placed with all the other HIV patients, potentially exposing them to the disease. No one at Limestone knew about his TB until an autopsy following his October death.  Prisoner Nathan Sullivan began suffering with low oxygen levels a week before he died. "I am so sick, I can't even walk," he told a nurse who made notes in his files. "Inmate crying, praying to God to deliver him from his illness. Achy head to toe, nausea, headache, diarrhea after taking meds," she wrote.  Sullivan was suffocating, and died at a Huntsville hospital. Ambulance personnel initially refused to take him from the prison because of his oxygen level, according to the specialist's report.  One of Tabet's gravest concerns is lack of critical medication and middle-of-the-night pill call. "The pill line is a disaster," he wrote. Many medications were not on hand, and patients were sent away without them, Tabet wrote.  Not all bad news:  There have been some improvements since Tabet's first report.  Before, the HIV inmates lived in a crowded, converted warehouse. Currently, they live in cells in another building. But some of the windows are broken and covered with plastic or blankets. The doctor called the situation "unbearable for these immune-compromised patients."  The prison added a part-time physician to its previous staffing of one physician, but staffing remains below the National Commission on Correctional Health Care guideline of 110-physician hours per week for a prison with 2,200 inmates.  Since Tabet's first visit, DOC has switched medical contractors and spends more money on prisoners' care systemwide.  The department hired Tennessee-based Prison Health Services for medical care and Mental Health Management Services for mental health care in November. The 3-year contracts are worth $172 million. Previously, Birmingham-based Naphcare held the contract which costs the state $135 million over three years.  Prison Health Services officials issued a written response to the report, but declined to answer questions.  Company Vice President Larry Pomeroy described the medical care as appropriate and high quality.  "All clinical and operation policies implemented by PHS within the ADOC system, including the Limestone facility, are in compliance with national standards of health care delivery as established by the National Commission of Correctional Health Care," Pomeroy wrote.  Corbett at DOC said, "... we are in the process of addressing the complaints and resolving the issues in compliance with national health care standards as established by the National Commission of Correctional Health Care."  Alabama's prisoner health care costs remain the lowest in the country. The state spends about $5.50 per prisoner per day. The national average is $7.38.  Despite the new contract, much of the Limestone medical staff has not changed since before the lawsuit was filed, said Gretchen Rohr, an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights. "It's key they somehow show us that the new contract has been properly implemented," Rohr said. "We have not seen any evidence of this implementation."  The trial in the Limestone case has been scheduled to begin May 17 before U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre.  (Al.com)

August 29, 2003
A health care contractor blasted for allegedly inadequate care of HIV-infected patients at Limestone Correctional Facility plans to bid for another statewide contract with the Department of Corrections on Sept. 10.  A 125-page report released Wednesday by Dr. Stephen Tabet, hired by plaintiffs in a lawsuit, said poor medical care and inadequate facilities caused or accelerated many HIV-related deaths at the Capshaw prison.  A spokesman for the contractor providing the Capshaw prison's health care, Birmingham-based NaphCare Inc., said his company is complying with all department requirements, but NaphCare's $29.5 million contract with the state, covering all state prisons, dictates staffing levels.  The Limestone prison houses 2,260 prisoners, about 200 with HIV.  NaphCare spokesman David Davis said his company has handled the DOC's health care only since March 2001. He said there have been only 14 HIV-related deaths at Capshaw since . Tabet discussed 38 deaths in his report, but many occurred before 2001.  "Dr. Tabet's engaged by, employed by, and I suspect wants to be employed again by, the plaintiff," Davis said.  "Obviously the plaintiff does not understand the contract that NaphCare operates under with the DOC, Davis said.  DOC Commissioner Donal Campbell notified NaphCare of his intent to terminate its contract shortly after Gov. Bob Riley appointed him to the post.  Davis said NaphCare will submit a bid higher than its current charges because of more stringent DOC requirements.  (Decatur Daily)

Mobile County Metro Jail
Mobile, Alabama
Correctional Medical Services

January 28, 2006 Mobile Register
A woman who was jailed in Mobile last year went into a diabetic shock and nearly died because officers and medical staff denied her proper medication and ignored her problems, a federal lawsuit claims. The suit, filed last month in U.S. District Court, seeks unspecified damages from Mobile County Sheriff Jack Tillman, Warden Mike Haley, the private company that provides medical services and several employees of the firm and the jail. Lawyers for the Mobile County Sheriff's Office and Correctional Medical Services denied the allegations in written responses filed in court this month. Lofton, 33, was booked into the jail Feb. 23 on a charge of driving on a revoked license. The insulin-dependent diabetic was not evaluated until 10 hours later, according to the complaint. The lawsuit states that Lofton told medical personnel that she takes two shots of insulin every day, but staffers did not provide her with any insulin until 4 p.m. the following day. At that time, according to the suit, medical staffers at the jail gave her insulin from a bottle given to all diabetic detainees.

March 5, 2005 Mobile Register
A federal prisoner who was being held at Mobile County Metro Jail tried to commit suicide shortly after officials took away his anti-depression medication, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court. Sean Gaston Atwood's lawyer asked a federal judge in December to transfer the man to a federal medical facility. The motion, which Chief U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade granted Dec. 9, states that Atwood tried to hang himself less than a month after his arrest Oct. 27 for escaping from the custody of U.S. marshals. Atwood had been prescribed a drug called seroquel by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, but Metro Jail staff took it away amid concerns that other inmates had abused the medication, according to the motion. Assistant Federal Defender Lyn Hillman said jail staff indicated that they had banned the medicine because some inmates had been using it to get high. She said a doctor should have examined her client and replaced the drug with another medication. Jail Warden Mike Haley declined to discuss Atwood's case in detail, citing federal privacy laws regarding medical treatment. He said medical personnel working for Correctional Medical Services, a St. Louis firm hired by the jail to provide health care, determine which drugs inmates receive. Haley referred other inquiries to Dr. Charles Smith, a Mobile psychiatrist who works for Correctional Medical Services. "Within that one question that you have asked, there are a half-dozen thorny questions, difficult questions," said Smith, who declined to comment further.

Perry County Correctional and Rehabilitation Center
Uniontown, Alabama
Louisiana Correctional Services
June 3, 2010 The Dickinson Press
Four Alabama fugitives who were involved in a standoff near Gladstone that ended a year ago today cost Stark County nearly $80,000, officials say. North Dakota taxpayers will continue paying for them as they serve their prison sentences — which vary from 7.5 years to 20 years. Stark County officials wonder if an Alabama prison is to blame for the incident and whether they can make the prison cover some of the costs. Ashton Mink and Joshua Southwick allegedly escaped from Perry County Correctional Center in Alabama with the help of Mink’s wife, Jacquelin, and his sister, Angela in May 2009. “Frankly, the escape was well-planned and very well-executed,” said Richard Harbison, executive vice president of LCS Correction Service Inc., which owns Perry County Correction Center. “They knew exactly what they were doing and they were able to find the weaknesses, so to speak.” He added they’re the only ones to ever escape from the prison. The four then robbed Movie Gallery in Dickinson at gunpoint, shot at a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper and holed up in a garage at a farmstead near Gladstone. After a standoff with police that lasted several hours, Southwick and Angela Mink — who were reportedly dating — surrendered. Ashton and Jacquelin Mink ran out the back of the garage they were hiding in handcuffed together and fired at officers. Authorities believe they were trying to end their own lives by getting officers to fire at them. Ashton Mink was shot by officers and Jacquelin Mink then shot herself. Tom Henning, Stark County state’s attorney, said the county is refusing to pay an additional $65,000 for Jacquelin Mink’s hospital bill. He said that bill was from her stay at a Bismarck hospital after the standoff, but before she was taken to jail. “These people were not arrested and had not been in the custody of Stark County, and therefore we aren’t responsible,” Henning said. Stark County has to pay for their medical costs after they were arrested. Ashton Mink was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson, which did not bill the county for his treatment. “After they inquired about the nature of the matter and were informed that we did not consider them to be prisoners at the time of their injuries, nor were they in custody at the time of their injuries, they did not inquire any further about payment,” Henning said. Though he hasn’t begun researching whether or not it is possible, Henning said he plans to pursue a lawsuit against LCS Correction Service. “The question kind of looms about whether or not they could be found to have been negligent and therefore responsible for foreseeable costs of their escape,” Henning said. Harbison declined comment regarding the matter. However, he said security has been enhanced at the prison since the escape, though he wouldn’t say how. “We’ve changed a number of policies and of course a number of people were fired over the incident,” Harbison said. Angela and Jacquelin Mink cut the power lines to an electric fence around the prison during a storm so the men could escape, according to a previous Press article. After the fugitives’ serve their time, they will be taken back to Alabama to face prison escape charges, Harbison said. Costs: Housing: $53,400 ($60 a day while going through court procedures) Medical: $20,704 Hospital security: $3,945 Total: $78,049

April 22, 2010 AP
The Alabama Legislature has given final passage to a bill that clears the way for the state to buy a private prison in Perry County. The House voted 82-16 to approve the bill that would permit the state to issue $60 million in bonds to buy the Perry County Correctional Center and to renovate it. The Senate voted 19-0 to go along with changes made to the bill in the House. The private prison is located near Uniontown in Perry County in an economically depressed area. The prison is designed for 750 inmates, but can be expanded to handle 1,500. The sponsor, Democratic Rep. John Knight of Montgomery, said the prison is needed because of overcrowding in the state prison system.

April 17, 2010 Gadsden Times
The state is negotiating to buy the privately owned Perry County prison and is one step away from getting the money to buy it. A bill authorizing a $60 million bond issue on the House calendar and is in position to pass in the final two days of the 2010 legislative session next week. Sen. Lowell Barron, D-Fyffe, is sponsoring the bill for the Department of Corrections. “Corrections is interested because we are so overcrowded,” Barron said. “They’re interested in buying it as well as expanding it.” Barron’s sponsorship of the bill for Gov. Bob Riley is not that controversial even though they have butted heads politically. But an aspect of the bill puts Barron at odds with previous statements about Riley. He has vociferously and publicly lambasted Riley for a so-called no-bid $13 million computer system upgrade contract. He even sponsored bills this session to limit non-competitive bidding. Barron’s prison bond issue bill strikes out the original requirement that the prison bond issue be competitively bid. Barron said he talked to an independent financial expert he trusts who has no ties to the administration about bidding versus negotiating. “I talked with an investment bank house and they said it’s not always the best, especially when it’s not the most favorable conditions,” he said. “It doesn’t square with my political stand, but on this one time a competitive bid may not be the best.” Riley spokesman Jeff Emerson didn’t directly respond to Barron’s apparent about-face. “The bill doesn’t mandate a bid, but Gov. Riley will make sure it goes through a competitive process if the bill becomes law,” he said in a Friday e-mail. Richard Harbison is executive vice president of LCS Corrections Services Inc., which owns the prison near Uniontown. “Let’s just say we’re talking to the state of Alabama,” Harbison said. The Perry County prison houses about 500 inmates but is designed to house 750, Harbison said. He said the facility can be expanded to house up to 1,500 inmates. The state has about 400 inmates there now, a spokesman said.

June 24, 2009 Park Rapids Enterprise
Ashton Mink was arrested after a nearly 14-hour standoff June 6, on a ranch south of Gladstone. Authorities say Mink and his wife, Jacquelin, were wounded in an exchange of gunfire. Authorities say one of four Alabama fugitives has been transferred from a Dickinson hospital to jail. Ashton Mink was arrested after a nearly 14-hour standoff June 6, on a ranch south of Gladstone. Authorities say Mink and his wife, Jacquelin, were wounded in an exchange of gunfire. Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said Ashton Mink was released Tuesday from a Dickinson hospital and taken to jail. He is awaiting a bail hearing. Jacquelin Mink is hospitalized in Bismarck. The couple along with Ashton Mink's sister Angela and Joshua Southwick, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. They are accused of robbing a movie store in Dickinson and shooting at a Highway Patrol trooper. Authorities say Southwick and Ashton Mink escaped from an Alabama prison in May and that Angela and Jacquelin Mink helped them.

June 10, 2009 Athens News-Courier
Tom Henning, state’s attorney in Stark County, N.D., said it’s possible the four people accused in an escape from an Alabama prison facility will remain imprisoned in North Dakota for some time. If convicted, the group could serve sentences there before being returned to Alabama to face charges of escape. “Yes, they could end up spending jail time in North Dakota, presuming convictions and at such time as we’re satisfied, then they’ll go back to the demanding state,” he said. Joshua Southwick, who was convicted in the 2003 slaying of a Limestone County man, and Ashton Mink, convicted of attempted murder in a stabbing during a home invasion in Madison, escaped from the Perry County Correctional Facility in Uniontown, Ala., on May 25. U.S. Marshals say Angela Mink, Ashton’s sister, and Jacquelin Mink, his wife, cut the fence from the outside of the private prison facility to help the two get free. The four were captured in Gladstone, N.D., Saturday during a video store robbery. Southwick and Angela gave themselves up but Ashton and Jacquelin held officers at bay for 14 hours. They were shot in the process. Ashton is under armed guard at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson, N.D. His wife is under armed guard at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, N.D., Henning said. “I have no idea when they will be able to go to court,” he said. “I’d say at least a month.” In the meantime, Southwick and Angela Mink are being held at Southwest Multi-County Correctional Facility, each charged with criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence. “It’s entirely likely there will be more charges” stemming from the standoff and shootout, Henning said.

June 9, 2009 Bennington Banner
Vermont officials said Monday they made the right decision in March when the state removed about 80 Vermont inmates from a private, for-profit prison in Alabama where two inmates recently escaped. Needed improvement -- Vermont Department of Corrections Commissioner Andrew Pallito said Vermont pulled the inmates out of the Perry County Correctional Center in Uniontown, Ala., prison, which is run by LCS Corrections Services in March. The first Vermont inmate was transferred to the facility in late December he said. The prison, which has more than 700 beds, had security equipment that did not work and an inadequately trained staff "for what we were asking them to do," Pallito said. "It wasn't what we were after. It wasn't what I would have expected," he said. Pallito said the Department of Corrections leveled several demands on LCS to improve, but did not see action fast enough, and pulled inmates out about two weeks later. State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Sears, D-Bennington, said he had doubts about the facility before the Vermont inmates were transferred. Once the inmates were moved, Sears said the facility failed to "keep up with things that were in the contract." And there were issues with the "treatment of offenders." "We sent some people down there and there were continued problems. I was very skeptical myself," Sears said. "Turned out there were a lot of problems and they moved them all out." "It was a real loose outfit," Sears added. "There have been some real problems there." The Associated Press reported Monday that two men who escaped from the Perry County Correctional Center on May 25 were recaptured Saturday following a shoot-out with police. According to the Associated Press, Alabama Prison Commissioner Richard Allen said all 250 of Alabama's inmates will be removed from the facility. Allen cited cost, however, not security concerns, as the reason for removing inmates. Pallito said Vermont has an ongoing contract with LCS Corrections Services, but it allows for a "zero minimum," meaning the state can have no inmates at the facility and pay nothing. The contract term is for two years, he said. Inmates housed briefly at the Alabama facility have been moved to facilities in Kentucky or Tennessee run by Corrections Corporation of America. Vermont had a contract with CCA when it looked to diversify as a cost-savings measure. Pallito said CCA agreed to take back the inmates at the $50 per day rate the Alabama facility was charging. It costs the state about $140 per day to house inmates in-state. Vermont currently has about 2,200 inmates and only 1,500 instate beds. The contract with CCA will expire next year, according to Pallito, so the state will need to renegotiate a contract. Pallito said LCS officials have recently tried to persuade the state to send inmates back to the Alabama facility, but that is not likely to happen. "Not at this time, particularly given the recent development of events," he said. "We're interested in talking with other facilities, but I don't think we'll be back with them."

June 8, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Alabama's prison commissioner says the state will remove about 250 inmates from the private prison where two men recently escaped amid a string of security failures. However, Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen said Monday that money - not the threat of additional escapes - was behind the decision. In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Allen said his agency can't afford to continue housing 250 inmates at the Perry County Detention Center. An executive at LCS Corrections Inc., which runs the prison, said he knew of the state's plan. He said the company was told the state could place twice as many inmates at the private prison next year if lawmakers approve funding.

June 6, 2009 KFYR TV
Four of America's Most Wanted fugitives were arrested Saturday in western North Dakota. The group started out in Alabama earlier in the week and came to North Dakota where police say they went on a crime spree. By Saturday night, two of the suspects were recovering in a Dickinson-area hospital after being shot by police after a standoff in Gladstone. That was the culmination of a series of crimes that started with a robbery Friday night in Dickinson and included shots being fired at a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper during a chase. Let's take you back a week and set the stage that led to these events. Police had been looking for 26-year-old Joshua Southwick, and 22-year-old Ashton Mink since they escaped from an Alabama prison on Memorial Day. Mink was serving a 20-year sentence for 1st degree assault. Southwick was serving a life sentence for murder and 1st degree burglary. Authorities say they escaped prison in Alabama by wearing kitchen workers` uniforms The pair allegedly fled through holes that were cut out of the prison fence by Ashton Mink's wife, Jacquelin, and sister Angela Mink. Somewhere along the way, all four made it to North Dakota. The trouble in North Dakota started in Dickinson Friday night around 11:00, when the suspects, two men and two women, robbed a movie rental store. The foursome fled, and a Highway Patrol trooper noticed a suspicious car speeding away. The trooper followed the car onto I-94, and that's when passenger in the suspects` car fired at the trooper. At least one bullet went into the trooper's car. The fleeing car continued east to Gladstone prompting the Highway Patrol to lock down the small town. Authorities blocked off a two-mile section of road leading into town. Police kept an eye on things during as residents were notified of the threat through a reverse 911 system. Gladstone resident Kim Hetzel says, "After we got the automated phone call early this morning, get up, and lock the doors, and kinda just watch out." Authorities found the suspects after the owner of a farmstead noticed the four were staking out in his detached garage. Stark County sheriff Clarence Tuhy says, "They're from the Alabama area; the two males are escapees from a private prison in the Alabama area which were aided in escape by the two females." The perps took refuge in the farmstead's garage as more than a half dozen agencies flocked to the area. About 12 hours later Tuhy says, "A male and a female came out giving up peacefully at which time a male and female came out a side door firing at officers." Officers then fired back, striking both Ashton Mink and his wife, Jacquelin. The couple is being treated at an area hospital. So far, there's no word on the conditions of the two suspects who were shot. No officers were injured, and Joshua Southwick and Angela Mink were taken into custody. "Any time no officers get injured is a good thing," notes Tuhy. But while no officers or residents were hurt physically, it will take a long time for the emotional scars of this almost surreal crime to heal.

June 5, 2009 WAFF
It's been more than week since Joshua Southwick, 26 and Ashton Mink, 22, escaped from a private prison in Perry County. Now there's new information on the two women who helped them escape and what the prison is doing to keep this from happening again. New pictures are surfacing of Angela Diana Mink. A tattoo artist by trade, the pictures show specific tattoos which may assist the public in recognizing her. Tattoos are on both upper and lower arms, and both wrists, plus one at the base of her neck. Perry County prison officials said they believe she and Jacquelin Rae Kennamer Mink cut through an electrical stun fence to help Mink and Southwick escape. It was a single cut that did in fact trip an alarm to alert the control room operator on the prison. "That stun fence, if it's touched, cut or grounded, sets off an alarm in our central control unit," said Richard Harbison, the executive dirctor of the corporation that owns the private prison. "Evidently because of the weather, the alarm after it was sounded, no one went to the fence to check and see if it was cut." And because of that, Harbison said there's been an overhaul at the unit. "We dismissed seven people, two of which were shift captains for failure to carry out correct policies and procedures at the unit," he said. Others included correctional officers and the control room officer that failed to follow proper procedures. "We have proper procedures in place to ensure that something like this doesn't happen. If you fail to follow those proper procedures, then you more likely to have an escape such as this one," he said. Also overhauled is the system that alerts officials when security has been breached. Now, the warden, deputy warden and chief security officer will all be notified automatically. Officials have also raised the level of security at the prison to just below the level of a maximum security prison. That's a move that won't happen overnight, but one much anticipated.

June 5, 2009 AP
A U.S. Marshals Service inspector said two women cut holes through three fences at a private prison in Perry County, enabling a convicted murderer and another prisoner to escape. The fugitives -- 22-year-old Ashton Kenny Chase Mink and 26-year-old Joshua Loyd Southwick -- were being sought Thursday after their escape from the Perry County Corrections Center about 5:30 a.m. on May 25. Rewards totaling $15,000 were being offered. Dick Harbison, the vice president of operations for Lafayette, La.-based LCS Corrections Services, said two shift captains and five guards were fired for not adequately supervising the prisoners. Inspector Ross Herbert with the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force said 25-year-old Angela Diana Mink, Ashton Mink's sister, and 25-year-old Jacquelin Rae Kennamer Mink, his wife, are accused of cutting the holes in three perimeter fences.

June 3, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Two women cut holes in the prison fences at Perry County Corrections Center in Uniontown last week, allowing a convicted murder and another prisoner to escape, a U.S. Marshals Service inspector said. Ashton Mink, 22, and Joshua Loyd Southwick, 26, escaped from the private prison about 5:30 a.m. on May 25. Angela Diana Mink, Mink’s sister, and Jacquelin Rae Kennamer Mink, his wife, allegedly cut holes in the perimeter fence, said Inspector Ross Hebert with the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force. The Alabama Department of Corrections has obtained warrants to charge the women, both 25, with aiding the escape of state prisoners. They also have warrants to charge all four with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, he said. Authorities believe that the four are armed and dangerous. Records indicate that in early May, Jacquelin Mink purchased a .380-caliber gun that was found near the escape scene. She is known to carry a semi-automatic pistol and owns several other handguns and longarms, Hebert said.

June 2, 2009 WAFF
Officers have confirmed a description of the vehicle that two escapees convicted in North Alabama may be driving, and agencies across the state are on the lookout for it. It has been more than a week since 26-year-old Joshua Southwick and 22-year-old Ashton Mink escaped from a private prison in Perry County. "The inmates are still at large and the search continues," said Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections. State troopers confirm the two men are believed to be traveling in a pewter 2000 GMC Jimmy, with Madison County tag 47A1F2. Corbett told WAFF 48 News a division of the U.S. Marshals is leading the search. "The U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force, they are the entity that are spearheading the search and investigation into their recapture," he said. Southwick was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to murder and burglary for the 2003 shooting death of Michael Bryant on Hays Mill Road in Elkmont in Limestone County. Mink was serving time for attempted murder in connection with a 2005 Huntsville home invasion. Investigators said he stabbed Jarold Lee several times in his apartment. "You absolutely have to consider them armed and dangerous," Corbett said. Investigators said someone helped them cut through three fences to make their escape.

May 29, 2009  WAAY TV
New information on two inmates who escaped from an Alabama prison. Joshua Southwick and Ashton Mink broke out of a private prison in Perry County on Monday. Southwick was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to a 2003 murder-for-hire case in Limestone County. Mink was serving time for an attempted murder in Huntsville four years ago. Police now believe both men are travelling with Mink's sister and another woman. The four may be on their way to Mexico. Police say they are armed and dangerous, and say the prisoners claim that they will not be taken alive.

May 28, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Authorities believe that two men who escaped from a private prison in Perry County early Monday morning had outside help. Joshua Southwick, 26, and Ashton Mink, 22, escaped the Perry County Detention Center in Uniontown after someone helped them cut through three fences. Southwick is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in a 2003 murder-for-hire case in Limestone County. Mink, 22, was serving time for an attempted murder conviction in Madison County in 2005. The U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Task Force, which includes members of several law enforcement agencies and five members of the Department of Corrections, are still looking for the men. Prison Warden Tommy Buford did not answer phone calls from a Tuscaloosa News reporter Tuesday or Wednesday. A prison employee referred calls to Dick Harbison, the vice-president of Lafayette, La.-based LCS Corrections Services, which owns and operates the prison. Harbison did not return a call placed to his cell phone Wednesday afternoon. The 734-bed facility houses prisoners from Alabama and other states in addition to federal prisoners. The state’s Department of Corrections does not have oversight of the company’s management or security practices at the prison because it is a private corporation. The Department of Corrections pays the company $32 a day to house 249 state inmates, less than the $41.71 it costs to house them in a state facility, spokesman Brian Corbett said. He said that the department has not had problems with the Uniontown facility or the company, which housed Alabama inmates in Louisiana because of prison overcrowding between 2003 and 2006. Until last month, the prison also housed around 80 prisoners from Vermont, but the Vermont Department of Corrections removed those inmates after an investigation into prisoner complaints that they had been injured in fights with other inmates, said Seth Lipshutz, the supervising attorney in Vermont’s Prisoners’ Rights Office. The prisoners complained to the Prisoners’ Rights Office, a branch of the state’s Office of the Defender General. Lipshutz said that an investigator with his office conducted an investigation followed by an independent investigation from the state’s Department of Corrections. “They were letting the inmates run the asylum,” he said. The staff and management did not pay adequate attention to security, he said, which resulted in inmate-on-inmate violence and the smuggling of items such as drugs and cell phones into the facility. “Drugs get into a lot of prisons, but cell phones don’t get into many,” Lipshutz said. “It doesn’t take long to figure out why this would be a problem.” He said that inmates complained that an assistant warden boasted that he was drunk while driving the bus from Vermont to Uniontown and behaved unprofessionally when he threatened to shoot them if they tried to escape during a dinner stop at a fast-food restaurant. Lipshutz said that Vermont, one of the country’s smallest and least-populated states, sends around 700 of its 2,200 prisoners to out-of-state facilities because it costs roughly $140 per day to house them in in-state prisons. Prices in Vermont are high for several reasons, he said, including union wages, small prisons and snowy weather that makes transportation between facilities difficult. Many of the state’s prisoners are housed in detention centers owned by Corrections Corp. of America, the first company to open private prisons more than 25 years ago. “I’m not too keen on the privatization of prisons. This is an example of how things go wrong,” Lipshutz said. Ken Kopczynski is the executive director of Private Corrections Institute, a private prison watchdog group based in Tallahassee, Fla. The organization’s mission is to provide information and assistance to citizens, policy makers and journalists about what they consider the dangers of privatizing correctional institutions and service. Kopczynski said no records are kept on the number of escapes from private prisons. The last records kept, he said, were in 2002 and indicated that escape rates are higher at private institutions. The institute compiles media reports of incidents at private facilities on its Web site. According to their information, an inmate who had been on suicide watch died at a LCS facility in Texas in January. At least 15 escapes were reported at some of the company’s prisons in Texas and Louisiana since 2002, according to the institute. The Texas Prison Board conducted a review of the Eastern Hidalgo Detention Center in 2006 after six inmates escaped. The review found that the prison employed too few guards, added an unauthorized number of bunks and kept unlicensed guards and guards without adequate training on payroll, according to a news story from The Monitor, a newspaper in the area. The company president said at the time that those problems were later corrected. The six inmates escaped, company officials said, after someone tampered with a control box for the electrical fence surrounding the prison. Perry County prison guards noticed that Southwick and Mink were not in bed during a 5:20 a.m. bed check. After inspecting the perimeter, they noticed that the fences had been cut.

May 27, 2009 Seven Days
The Vermont Department of Corrections [1] has pulled all of its inmates out of a privately run prison in Alabama after a state investigation confirmed that some of the men had been injured by their fellow inmates. The investigation was launched after the Vermont Prisoners’ Rights Office [2] began receiving reports from clients who claimed inadequate security at Perry County Detention Center led to the inmate-on-inmate violence. The April withdrawal of some 80 Vermont offenders from the 734-bed facility in Uniontown, Alabama, occurred just five months after the state signed its first-ever contract with a new private prison vendor: LCS Corrections Services. Based in Lafayette, Louisiana, the for-profit prison company houses some 6000 inmates in eight facilities throughout the South. Deputy Commissioner of Corrections Lisa Menard said last week that the state had been looking for an alternative prison vendor in an effort to “expand our options” and “ultimately save the taxpayers money.” Vermont was paying LCS $49.50 per day per inmate. Its other out-of-state vendor, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), charges $67 per day to house Vermont inmates. In-state prisoners cost $140 per day. Vermont currently has about 680 inmates in out-of-state prisons, mostly in two facilities in Kentucky and Tennessee. Both are owned by CCA, the nation’s largest for-profit prison vendor. According to Menard, all the Vermont inmates from the Alabama detention center have since been moved to CCA prisons or returned to Vermont. Asked why the Vermont inmates were withdrawn, Menard initially said, “Vermont has high standards as far as conditions of confinement. Basically, this facility didn’t feel like the best fit for us, without getting into a great deal of detail.” Probed further about the alleged reports of abuse, Menard later confirmed the stories were true. “We did get reports from offenders that there was some assaultive behavior happening,” she confirmed. “When we checked into that, we found that it … was accurate. Unfortunately, this was Vermont inmates committing assaults on other Vermont inmates.” Menard downplayed the severity of the injuries, noting that none was life-threatening and they were “basically bruises, that type of thing.” But that’s not how a lawyer in the prisoners’ rights office in Montpelier characterized the situation in Alabama. Managing Attorney Seth Lipschutz called it “a total disaster.” According to Lipschutz, his office received reports of alleged lax security, contraband being smuggled into the facility, and inadequate bureaucratic procedures being followed for addressing inmates’ grievances. There was even one allegation of a corrections officer being intoxicated while transporting Vermont inmates to the prison. “They were letting the inmates run the asylum,” Lipschutz added. “It was a system where the strong were taking advantage of the weak.” Concerned about their clients’ safety, the prisoners’ rights office notified the Vermont Department of Corrections, which, according to Lipschutz, “acted on it right away and got the inmates out of there as soon as possible.” Lipschutz also characterized the inmates’ injuries as more serious than DOC let on. “There were some people who got beat up,” he claimed. “There were more than cuts and bruises. I think some people had to go to the hospital.” He put the number of inmates involved in such incidents at “maybe two dozen.” But Deputy Commissioner Menard denied that the problems in Perry were the result of poor security. Instead, she blamed the problem on the physical design of the prison itself, which featured a “more open floor plan … that didn’t work well.” Richard Harbison, executive vice president of LCS Corrections Services, echoed that sentiment. “The physical plant in Perry, frankly, was not very conducive to the type of inmates they sent us,” he said. “That prison was designed for low-custody levels and the inmates [Vermont] sent us were of a higher-custody level.” Harbison said he wasn’t aware of any Vermont inmates being hospitalized. “It’s the prison business and these guys are going to get into fights,” he admitted. “But as far as someone being seriously injured, I’m sorry, not to my knowledge.” Whether the injuries at the Alabama prison were due to lax security or a “more open floor plan,” the choice of this particular prison appeared problematic from the get-go. Back in November, when the DOC signed its contract with LCS, then-Corrections Commissioner Robert Hofmann pointed out that the new facility would only be taking Vermont offenders who were “unacceptable to be placed with a majority of other prisoners.” In other words, the more dangerous inmates with behavioral problems. According to Lipschutz, the Perry County Detention Center is used mostly as a holding facility for people arrested on federal immigration violations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Many of those detainees don’t even have a criminal record. Members of the Vermont House of Representatives’ Committee of Corrections were notified of the move only after the inmates had been withdrawn from Alabama, but weren’t told the reason why. “I felt, from our discussions with the commissioner, that it was not a comfortable situation,” said Rep. Linda Myers, vice chair of that committee. Asked if she knew that Vermonters had been beaten up and injured in Alabama, she said she’d heard word of it, “but I can’t say I heard it from the Department of Corrections.” Though Lipschutz credits corrections officials for their prompt response, he sees this episode as symptomatic of the larger systemic problems associated with the for-profit prison industry, which he described as “always a race to the bottom. LCS “came in with a low, low price to take these Vermont inmates,” he added, “which is very attractive to state governments in these tough economic times.”

May 27, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Law enforcement officials were still searching Tuesday for two prisoners, one of them a convicted murderer, who escaped from a private prison in Perry County early Monday morning. Joshua Southwick, 26, was serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in a 2003 murder-for-hire case in Limestone County. Ashton Mink, 22, was serving time for an attempted murder conviction in Madison County in 2005. He was accused of stabbing Huntsville television and radio reporter Jarold Lee during a personal dispute in 2004, according to media reports at the time. He is not scheduled to be released until 2028. The Alabama Department of Corrections leases bed space from the private Perry County Detention Facility in Uniontown, department spokesman Brian Corbett said. The inmates disappeared some time early Monday. The prison warden did not answer several phone calls Tuesday because he was in meetings related to the inmates' escape. An official at the prison who did not give her name said that guards conducting a bed check at 5:20 a.m. noticed that the inmates were missing. A check of the perimeter revealed that a fence had been cut from the outside, she said.

May 26, 2009 Tuscaloosa News
Authorities are searching for two state prisoners who escaped from a private prison in Perry County Monday. Joshua Southwick, 26, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to a 2003 murder-for-hire case in Limestone County. Ashton Mink, 22, was serving time for an attempted murder conviction in Madison County in 2005. He is not scheduled for release until 2028. The Alabama Department of Corrections leases bed space from the private facility in Uniontown. The inmates disappeared some time Monday. Authorities were unavailable Tuesday morning because they were in a meeting to discuss the escapes. More details will be available today.

May 3, 2006 Selma Times Journal
The city of Uniontown welcomed a new business Wednesday, one which is likely to employee more than 100 Perry County residents, but it wasn't the sort of commercial site where officials and dignitaries usually hold ribbon-cutting ceremonies. This ribbon-cutting took place in the shadow of walls, watchtowers and razor-wire, as Black Belt officials celebrated the completion of the Perry County Correctional and Rehabilitation Center. Louisiana-based LCS Corrections, a private prison operator that houses a number of female Alabama inmates at the South Louisiana Correctional Center in Basil, La., will administer the facility. State Sen. Bobby Singleton, who helped attract LCS to Perry County three years ago as a state representative, said the city, county and surrounding area should be proud of the facility. "We're never proud to be incarcerating someone, " Singleton said, "however, I feel we've partnered with good corporate citizen, on that's looking toward rehabilitation and other positive programs in their facility."

Pine Prairie Correctional Center
Pine Prairie, Louisiana
Louisiana Correctional Services
February 22, 2006 Pickens Herald
The Pickens County Commission in a press briefing last Tuesday after their regular meeting questioned the state’s motives in housing several hundred prisoners in Louisiana when they could easily house them at the Pickens County Jail at a cheaper rate. County Attorney Buddy Kirk addressed the Herald with four of the five commissioners present (Commissioners Earnest Summerville, William Latham, Willie Colvin and Ted Ezelle were present; Tony Junkin was absent) about the matter after the Commission became aware that the state had moved 140 male prisoners from the Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent, Ala. to a private prison over 300 miles away in Pine Prairie, La. The Commission has contacted the Alabama County Commission Association about the matter, said Kirk, to ask for their help in approaching state officials about this curious action. Brian Corbett, a spokesman for the Alabama state prison system, told the Associated Press last Monday that the state plans to move 500 inmates from the Bibb County facility to the Pine Prairie Correctional Center in central Louisiana, a private prison operated by LCS Corrections Services Inc. The sticking point for the Pickens County Commission is that not only is the state having to carry the expense of transporting the prisoners to another state but are willing to pay $29.50 a day per inmate to house them there. The state only pays counties $1.75 per day to house state prisoners in county jails. “It doesn’t seem right to the Commission,” said Kirk, who noted that the state will virtually drive right by Pickens County from Bibb County to travel 300 miles to Louisiana. Furthermore, Kirk said if a prisoner has to meet with his attorney, it is a general rule that the state will have to pay that attorney’s expenses if the prisoner is housed far away.

February 16, 2006 Montgomery Advertiser
How willing would you be to do business with a company with a record of legal problems, even if it was the low bidder? Most Alabamians, we'd wager, would have some reservations about that -- and Alabamians certainly should have reservations about their state sending prison inmates to a private prison. For years, the Advertiser has expressed serious concerns about the use of private prisons. Nothing reported from the ones involved in state contracts has eased those concerns. The Birmingham News reported this week that the Department of Corrections has begun transferring male inmates to a private prison in Pine Prairie, La. The prison is operated by Louisiana Corrections Service, which also operates a facility in Basile, La., where Alabama has housed about 300 female inmates since 2003. The reason for using these facilities is the chronic overcrowding of Alabama's prison system, which is the subject of constant litigation. The transfer of male inmates -- eventually about 500 of them -- is an effort to ease the backlog in county jails of state inmates who haven't been sent to state prisons because there is no space for them. The overcrowding problem is at present intractable, given Alabama's sentencing structure and its decades of failing to address the shortcomings of a system now bulging with almost twice as many inmates as its facilities were designed to handle. LCS will house the male inmates for $29.50 per day per inmate, but how much of a bargain is that? There are important issues inherent in any private prison operation. This is not someone's hobby; this is a for-profit enterprise. That's fine in most pursuits; in fact, it is the core of the American economy. But incarceration is a solemn obligation of the state. Depriving individuals of liberty is serious business and the state, even though justified in doing so, has an undeniable responsibility to those individuals. A for-profit prison has financial considerations that a state facility does not. It has profit expectations from its investors, and these could all too easily lead to dangerous corner-cutting that compromises the safety of inmates and potentially the public as well. Unlike the state, a private prison operator has no stake in the rehabilitation of inmates vs. the mere warehousing of them. Add to those concerns -- inherent in any private prison operation -- the legal troubles at LSC facilities and it is easy to see why Alabamians should be uncomfortable with this arrangement. Last week, the News reported, a former supervisor at Pine Prairie was convicted of rights violations and witness tampering in the beating of an inmate. Earlier, four guards at the Basile facility were indicted on sexual abuse charges. Problems can occur at state prisons, of course, but there the state has direct authority to act, to set employment standards and to otherwise control the addressing of problems. That is largely lost when private prisons are used. The private prison issue is not going to fade away. LCS is working with officials in Perry County to open a private prison there. The facility, located outside Uniontown, will be ready in a few months. The Department of Corrections says there is no agreement for it to place prisoners there, but clearly there will be great political pressure to do so. This is a poor approach to prison issues. A far better one is broad reform of Alabama's sentencing structure, which now sends to prison far too many people who could serve their sentences in community-based corrections facilities with drug treatment programs and work opportunities -- without presenting a significant threat to the safety of the populace. Funneling non-violent offenders into prisons is always costly and seldom productive. Absent this kind of reform of the current system, inherently unsound practices such as the use of private prisons will continue -- not because they are better, but because they are cheaper.

February 16, 2006 Ledger-Enquirer
Tough on crime, or on taxpayers. Last week, Alabama's prison commissioner went over the wall. And who could blame Commissioner Donal Campbell for resigning? He had been given the literally impossible task of operating an Alabama prison system with too many inmates and not nearly enough money. Not only is he set up for failure, but he is also set up to go to jail himself for not obeying court orders to relieve crowding. Of course, he can't build prisons out of his own pocket, and the Alabama legislature isn't about to spend precious tax dollars on inmates, so what could the commissioner do but throw up his hands and walk away? "I wouldn't want that job," said Lynda Flynt, executive director of the Alabama Sentencing Commission. She knows what she's talking about, having worked closely with Campbell to alleviate crowding. Knowing they're going to have a problem filling a position that includes perks such as being party to a lawsuit, state officials are finally scrambling to do something. On Monday, the state announced that it is going to send 500 state inmates to a private prison in Louisiana. The private prison company there already houses more than 300 Alabama inmates. At $29.50 a day per inmate, that's going to cost Alabama taxpayers about $24,000 a day. That's Alabama tax money that's flowing into the Louisiana economy. If Alabama would build the prisons it needs (or consider sentencing reforms that might ease the stress on the system) some of that cash might stay home. Or some of it might be sent to Alabama counties that are picking up a huge tab for housing state prisoners. As of last December, there were about 100 state inmates being housed in Russell, Lee and Chambers County jails. It costs counties about $30 a day to house a state prisoner, but the state pays the counties about $1.75 a day. So housing those prisoners costs East Alabama taxpayers more than a million dollars a year, while the state is sending more than $8 million a year to Louisiana private prisons. If the Alabama legislature is going to insist that this many people be in prison, then the lawmakers have the moral responsibility to see that there is space to house the inmates. If you're going to be tough on crime, then you're going to have to be tough enough to pay the piper. -- Michael Owen, for the editorial board

February 13, 2006 AP
A total of 140 medium-security male prisoners were transferred Sunday night from Alabama to a private correctional facility in Louisiana, the first of 500 to be moved in the latest attempt to ease overcrowded cellblocks. The prisoners were transferred from Bibb Correctional Facility in Brent to Pine Prairie Correctional Center in Pine Prairie, La., in an effort to make room for state inmates who are in county jails in violation of an Alabama court order. State prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said Monday the state entered into an emergency contract with LCS Corrections Services Inc. to send up to 500 inmates to the central Louisiana facility. The Department of Corrections currently houses 311 female prisoners at an LCS facility in Basile, La. Prisons Commissioner Donal Campbell announced Friday that he had resigned, effective Feb. 28. He had pushed for increased state funding for prisons and recently said there was no money in Gov. Bob Riley's budget proposal to pay for the use of private prisons, an alternative he supported.

February 10, 2006 The Advocate
A former guard at a private prison in Evangeline Parish has been convicted on federal charges of beating an inmate and then asking other guards to cover up the incident. The jury deliberated about 45 minutes before returning a guilty verdict late Wednesday against Gilbert Self, 51, after a three-day trial. Self was a captain at the Pine Prairie Correctional Center, owned by LCS Corrections Services. He faces up to 10 years in prison on criminal civil rights violations and charges of witness tampering. “The Department of Justice will not tolerate civil rights violations committed by those sworn to uphold the law,” U.S. Attorney Donald Washington said in a statement. “… It was Mr. Self’s responsibility to control such violent outbreaks in the facility, not to initiate the violence.” Self was accused of beating a Cuban national who was being detained for immigration violations. Prosecutors said the July 2003 incident began when the detainee allegedly made crude remarks to a female guard. She reported the remarks to Self, who went into the detainee’s cell, punched him repeatedly, slammed his head into the floor and kicked the man inthe ribs, according to guards who witnesses the incident. The guards, who said they attempted to stop Self, told investigators that he later asked them to file false reports to cover up the beating. The guards prepared false reports on the incident, but the next day, one of the men told Self’s supervisor what had actually happened. The detainee, who lost consciousness during the attack, suffered bruising and swelling to both eyes, cuts, and rib injuries, prosecutors said. The injuries were not properly documented at the time because Self asked a nurse to alter her medical report, according to prosecutors, and LCS later fired the nurse for not following proper procedures and sending the detainee to the hospital for treatment.

A federal grand jury has joined local prosecutors and civil rights attorneys in bringing charges against employees at private, for-profit prisons in Evangeline Parish. In the most recent charges, Gilbert Self, 49, of Florien, a former captain at the Pine Prairie Detention Center, has been indicted on one count of felony criminal civil rights violation and three counts of obstruction of justice for allegedly beating a prisoner. U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington said Self was arraigned Wednesday morning in Lafayette and released on a $75,000 bond. A tentative trial date is set for July 12 on the four charges, which each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Washington said sentencing in federal court is governed by the U.S. sentencing guidelines, which do not allow for parole. He said the federal charges stem from a government contract with LCS Corrections Services Inc., a Lafayette-based company, which owns the private prison near Pine Prairie and another near Basile. The current indictment alleges that in July 2003, Self assaulted and caused bodily harm to a Cuban national, who was being detained at the facility under the authority of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service. The indictment also alleges that Self obstructed the investigation by trying to persuade three fellow guards to lie to federal law enforcement officials.  LCS owns two private prisons in Evangeline Parish. Both are currently facing ongoing lawsuits. Last month, Evangeline Parish District Attorney Brent Coreil opened an investigation of the South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile in regard to repeated charges of sexual assaults on female prisoners.  (Louisiana Gannett, May 6, 2004)

A guard at a private prison in Evangeline Parish has been booked on charges of having sex with an inmate. Todd Daniel Arnold, 22, of Oberlin faces one count of malfeasance in office for allegedly having sex with a female inmate at Pine Prairie Correctional Center, a prison run by Lafayette-based Louisiana Corrections Services. Arnold was booked into the Evangeline Parish Jail on Monday and released on $7,500 bond, according to jail records. The incident comes about two years after the former warden of the Evangeline Parish Jail was convicted on two counts of malfeasance in office for extorting sexual favors from the family members of inmates. Michael J. Savant, 48, was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation on the charges. (Daily Advertiser, July 7, 2003)

South Louisiana Correctional Center
Basile, Louisiana
Louisiana Correctional Services
July 27, 2006 AP
About 320 female Alabama prisoners being housed in Louisiana are being moved to another prison in that state but one closer to Alabama. The women inmates had been housed at a private prison at Basile in southwest Louisiana. They are being moved to J.B. Evans Correctional Center in Newellton, La., which is on the Louisiana-Mississippi line about 60 miles west of Jackson. The move brings the inmates about two and a-half hours closer to the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, prisons commissioner Richard Allen said Thursday. It also reduces travel time for corrections officers. The Alabama Department of Corrections has a contract with LCS Correctional Services to house the inmates to help reduce overcrowded conditions at Tutwiler. The J.B. Evans Correctional Center opened in 1994 and is a medium security facility with the capacity of holding 440 inmates. Allen said it will be used exclusively for the Alabama women prisoners. More than 600 male inmates are also housed in private facilities in Louisiana because of overcrowded conditions in Alabama prisons.

January 25, 2006 Birmingham News
When the Alabama Department of Corrections decided to put prisoners in a private out-of-state prison, women went first. The state opened a transition center for people on parole, and it was for women. A close look at these experiments, however, shows that, for the overall prison population to drop by much, the state may need to turn to alternatives such as expanded drug courts and community-based treatment and sentencing reform. A bill endorsed by Gov. Bob Riley takes a step in that direction by stressing changes in Alabama's sentencing structure. In reaction to a federal court settlement that forced the state to cut the population at Tutwiler Prison for Women to 950, the state Parole Board released several hundred low-level offenders and the state began housing pockets of women in other facilities - the Louisiana private prison, the LifeTech parole transition center and county jails. But Alabama now incarcerates 1,920 women, only a 4 percent drop in three years. And instead of steering female drug offenders into community programs - as numerous government task forces have recommended - the state is locking up more women for drug crimes than ever before. "The path that Alabama has taken over the last four years of renting more bed space for women has proven to be the wrong path," said Lisa Kung, director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, a nonprofit law firm that has won settlements over conditions at prisons. In Birmingham, only 40 of 100 spaces are filled in "Second Chance" a federally funded program that allows newly released women to live in apartments and work regular jobs while receiving drug treatment, medical and mental health services. Not enough women are being paroled to fill the slots. Kung agreed that LifeTech is a better option than prison. But she wants the state to use the center for incarcerated women, not probationers. Nearly 40 percent of the women at the private prison in Louisiana will be eligible for parole over the next three years, according to DOC records. Many have served terms of 15 years or more for crimes Kung said often involved abusive partners. She's hoping parole officials will consider letting some of these women into LifeTech, and she has been working with lawmakers on gender-specific parole guidelines that might help cut the numbers of low-risk women locked in private prisons. LCS Corrections houses 320 Alabama women at its Louisiana prison, with a price tag climbing toward $10 million since the contract began in 2003. A prison run by the same company is set to open in Perry County and may end up housing Alabama men. Kung's problem with shipping so many women to Louisiana is that they are housed 900 miles from their children and families and have no opportunities to take the classes that the parole board looks to as signs prisoners are trying to improve themselves. "The inmates housed here have too much idle time on their hands and that defeats the purpose of rehabilitation," inmate Sharron Kay Jones, 47, serving 15 years for solicitation to commit murder, wrote in a letter from Louisiana "There is no rehabilitation here at all." Inmate Paula Settle, 34, of Tuscaloosa, serving 15 years for drug trafficking, signed up for anger management, substance abuse, parenting and trade school classes at Tutwiler. But she was immediately transferred to Louisiana. "There are no classes, programs, meetings, jobs or counselors here. No trades, no furthering education, no chaplain or religious assemblies or functions," she said.

April 6, 2005 Montgomery Advertiser
From the day the Department of Corrections began talking about sending some inmates to private, out-of-state prisons, the Advertiser expressed serious reservations about the idea, and for several reasons. Nothing that has happened since has changed our view of the practice. Questions raised by female inmates sent to a privately operated prison in Louisiana have prompted a new concern -- whether incarceration there hurts their chances for parole. The private prison in Basile, La., nearly 500 miles from DOC headquarters in Montgomery, now houses about 270 Alabama inmates. Severe overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka, Alabama's only penitentiary for women, led the department to send some inmates there to bring the Tutwiler population down to a more manageable level. The state's short-term options were limited, so using the private prison as a stopgap measure was understandable. But private prisons have a lot of inherent qualities that should concern Alabamians. They are for-profit enterprises, of course, so there are financial pressures that could lead to potentially dangerous cutting of corners. In many cases, they are little more than warehouses for inmates, with few opportunities for work or training. That could be a detrimental factor in parole considerations. As a group of inmates notes in a call for reform, this prison that sits surrounded by Louisiana rice fields offers no classes, no training programs, no rehabilitation groups or any of the things that inmates can point to when they come up for parole consideration. "Down here, the time is not constructive," said Phyllis Richey, an inmate from Muscle Shoals. "We have nothing to do. We're basically housed. That's it." For inmates who are well behaved and are trying to serve their time responsibly and get out of prison, this is clearly frustrating. Rather than having an incentive to improve themselves in preparation for life outside prison, inmates are stuck in a prison far away from their homes and families in Alabama, simply marking time. That's bad enough. The prospect that their parole consideration is affected only makes matters worse. Private prisons are a bad concept. The sooner Alabama can get its inmates out of them, the better.

April 1, 2005 Birmingham News
Alabama female prisoners locked in a rural Louisiana prison are demanding changes they say could give them a fairer shot at parole and curb the state's reliance on private, forprofit lockups. Women at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, some of whom have been housed 500 miles from their families for two years, wrote a Platform for Fair Reform. The two-page document includes reasons for their
concerns and five demands they think would improve their chances for getting parole and leading productive lives. The women have asked for: Objective parole criteria, workrelease opportunities, an end to the parole board's backlog, an end to the ''heinous crime'' designation that prevents some of them from working outside the prison and a chance to face their victims as well as the parole board. The move to the Louisiana prison, 475 miles from Montgomery, makes it difficult or impossible for families to visit, the inmates said. Surrounded by rice fields, the prison has no classes, programs or rehabilitation groups, the opportunities prisoners rely on to show the parole board they have worked to better themselves.

January 21, 2005 The Advocate
The family of an inmate who died in prison held a news conference Thursday to release the details of his death. The family members of Gregory Lee, 35, of Kenner, convicted in 2003 of distribution of cocaine near a church, say he died because he didn't receive proper medical care at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, a private prison in Basile. The family has filed suit in federal court against LCS Corrections Services Inc. and Patrick LeBlanc of Lafayette, Gary Copes, former Lafayette police chief and warden of the facility, and several facility employees. The suit was filed in 2003 and is pending before U.S. District Judge Tucker L. Melançon. Willie Nunnery, the family's attorney, provided the media with a report from an expert his clients have hired. "This case has taken on a new twist," Nunnery said. "It is the intent of his family that the public know what happened to Gregory Lee." According to his death certificate, Lee died June 22, 2003. The medical transfer document from the SLCC indicates he left there June 17, 2003. The autopsy report, prepared by the Orleans Parish Coroner's Office, indicates that Lee died of complications from AIDS. However, a forensic pathologist hired by Lee's family has examined microscope slides -- which the Orleans officials did not do -- and determined that Lee probably died from sepsis, a severe infection. Dr. Robert Huntington III, an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, participated in the news conference via speakerphone. Huntington said sepsis can be the result of infected wounds that aren't treated, and it also can start with pneumonia, bladder infections or heart infections, he said. Nunnery said he also has taken the deposition of two inmates who were being held in Basile at the time Lee was there. Those depositions indicate that the inmates testified Lee was being beaten and sprayed with tear gas. Nunnery said Lee was "hogtied" and beaten, shackled and left in chains for hours. "There can be no justice until the courts deal with the privatization of prisons in this state," Nunnery said. "There should be a massive inquiry into what happened to Gregory Lee. This individual was beaten, and the system sought to hide and cover this up."

October 21, 2004 Montgomery Advertiser
Although it is important to acknowledge that the filing of a lawsuit proves nothing in and of itself, the suit filed by an Alabama inmate housed in an out-of-state private prison raises anew some valid concerns about such facilities. The Advertiser has long had reservations about private prisons and nothing in Alabama's recent experience has alleviated them in the slightest.
In April of last year, Alabama began sending female inmates to a private prison in Basile, La., to relieve overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama's only prison for females. Private prisons are, of course, intended to be money-making ventures, and that creates the potential for some serious problems. Even the most fervent believers in free enterprise -- count the Advertiser among them -- surely can see that the profit motive and the function of prisons are ripe for conflict.  When a state deprives a citizen of liberty for having violated its laws, it also assumes the custody of that individual. That is a solemn responsibility. When an individual is incarcerated for the protection of society, the state is not absolved of the obligation to carry out that incarceration in a constitutional manner.  With a private prison, the pursuit of profit invariably creates the temptation to cut corners, to skimp on safety, personnel, medical attention, nutrition and other facets of the operation. It's simply a bad mix of private-sector motives and public-sector responsibilities. The merits of this particular suit will be determined in court, but the inherent problems with private prisons are something Alabama has to face. They are not an acceptable solution to Alabama's prison problems in the long term, and even their short-term use is questionable.

October 19, 2004 Daily Comet
An Alabama inmate is suing the state Department of Corrections and a private prison company in Louisiana, claiming she was raped after being shipped out of state due to a lack of space.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 1 in Louisiana federal court, claims that guards at the South Louisiana Correctional Center sexually assaulted at least two prisoners, including raping the woman who filed the suit, and that the guards had sex with one another and played cards and drank beer during the night shift. The four guards named in the lawsuit have been fired. Also, an Evangeline Parish grand jury indicted them on charges of malfeasance in office for sexual conduct prohibited for people confined in a correctional institution. All four pleaded not guilty, The Birmingham News reported Tuesday. The lawsuit claims that Alabama prison Commissioner Donal Campbell failed to properly investigate LCS before shipping Alabama women there and failed to implement proper policies and procedures for the oversight of the contract. The inmate who filed the suit claims she got no medical treatment after the assault.

August 15, 2004
Soon after arriving at the South Louisiana Correctional Center near Basile in 2003 inmate Gregory Lee died. Attorney Willie J. Nunnery, who is representing Lee's mother, Mae Thompson Lee, is charging that the private, for-profit prison abused and tortured him.
Nunnery is seeking access to prisoners who allegedly witnessed what happened to Lee and a reexamination of the forensic evidence. When the charges where first filed, prison guards said Lee jumped off the top bunk of his cell, hitting his head on the toilet. Nunnery, a civil rights attorney, has a darker theory. He claims that following an altercation after the evening meal, prison guards attempted to punish Lee by beating him. Following the incident, Lee, badly injured from whatever cause, was transferred to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center , a state facility, where he died several days later. Nunnery said he is in possession of photographs taken when Lee arrived at Elayn Hunt. "They were very barbaric pictures," Nunnery said. "If you saw those pictures it would make your stomach turn." The Basile facility and another LCS private prison at Pine Prairie have repeatedly made headlines recently with both female employees and inmates bringing charges of sexual harassment against the company. "I don't understand why there isn't any public outcry to have that place shut down," Nunnery said. (Daily World)

June 11, 2004
Four guards who worked at the Basile Detention Center in Evangeline Parish were indicted Friday for allegedly having sexual contact with female inmates.  An Evangeline Parish grand jury indicted the four guards on charges of malfeasance in office for sexual conduct prohibited for persons confined in a correctional institution. Kenneth Stenson Sr., Horace Edwards, Frank Lenoir and Jeffery Collins will be arraigned July 1 and will face up to 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. The indictments follow four days of testimony from investigators, prison guards and 22 inmates at the south Louisiana correctional center.  (AP)

June 7, 2004
Allegations of sexual contact between security officers and female inmates from Alabama at a private prison in Basile are scheduled to be studied this week by a grand jury.  Two prison employees were fired after an internal investigation into the allegations made by female inmates who were being held at the South Louisiana Correctional Center.  (AP)

April 7, 2004
A Louisiana district attorney says he will pursue criminal charges against guards at a private prison over sexual contact with inmates from Alabama, The Birmingham News reported.  About 200 female prisoners from Alabama are being housed at the South Louisiana Correctional Center, where they were transferred last year to help relieve overcrowding at Tutwiler Prison for Women.  The criminal case, involving an incident late last year, is the result of an investigation begun by the Alabama Department of Corrections.  "There is definite misconduct that did occur, and we will follow through with it," Evangeline Parish District Attorney Brent Coreil said Tuesday. He said he has not decided whether to file direct charges or present a case to a grand jury.  The Basile, La., lockup is owned and operated by LCS Corrections, based in Lafayette, La. Alabama pays the company about $23 per inmate per day to house the women.  "ADOC's investigation produced a confession from an employee at South Louisiana Correctional Center, along with subsequent termination of that employee. We then turned our investigative report over to the local district attorney for prosecution," Alabama prisons spokesman Brian Corbett said.  (AP)

February 13, 2004
Investigators are looking into allegations of illegal sexual contact between a female prisoner and a guard at the Louisiana private prison housing prisoners from Alabama. This is the second such investigation involving an Alabama inmate and an employee or employees of Southeastern Louisiana Correctional Center, said Richard Harbison, general manager of LCS Corrections Services. The Lafayette, La., company runs the prison housing about 275 Alabama women. "We do have the district attorney involved in it," Harbison said Thursday. "Which means we're taking it very seriously."   Harbison said the current investigation stems from an alleged incident that occurred about two months ago, but was reported only recently. He said it was not considered an assault. Under Louisiana and Alabama law, sex between prisoners and guards is illegal. The laws are aimed at keeping guards from using their power to coerce or abuse prisoners.  The Alabama Department of Corrections pays LCS about $24 per prisoner to per day. DOC signed the contract with the for-profit company last April because of pressure to relieve crowding at Tutwiler Prison for Women.  Tutwiler Warden Gladys Deese and a DOC investigator visited the Basile, La., prison this week to look into the recent claim, Harbison said.  Deese's visit was already scheduled and part of her duties as warden, said Steve Hayes, an Alabama prison spokesman.  Hayes confirmed that Alabama authorities are investigating reports of an inappropriate incident at the Louisiana prison.  LCS has placed three guards on leave during the investigation. Harbison said not all of them are suspects, that some are suspected of observing improper activity and not reporting it.  Last year, officials at the Louisiana prison investigated another alleged sexual incident between an Alabama inmate and a prison employee or employees. "The first one we were unable to prove or disprove," Harbison said.  LCS had arranged for the inmate who made the first allegation to take a polygraph test. Before the test could be administered, the Alabama DOC transferred to the woman back to Tutwiler, one of a group of 30 inmates who returned last November, Harbison said.  (Advocate)

Tutwiler Prison for Women
Wetumpka, Mississippi
Prison Health Services

December 12, 2005 Birmingham News
It's been a year since Tutwiler Prison's health care became subject to quarterly visits from a court monitor, Illinois Dr. Michael Puisis. His reports have blamed prison doctors for several deaths and generally have been scathing. But the latest is different. "Much improvement has been recognized," Puisis begins. He commends the Alabama Department of Corrections for refurbishing clinics, examining rooms and the pharmacy. However, medical care remains sketchy for many prisoners, with missed medications, delayed treatment or no treatment at all. "There is a system in place to administer medications, but it remains broken," Puisis wrote. Puisis, an expert in correctional health care, was appointed in 2004 to monitor the medical agreement from a class action lawsuit settled on behalf of Tutwiler inmates. The DOC switched medical providers shortly before the agreement was signed, replacing Birmingham-based Naphcare with PHS. The lawsuit, filed in 2002 by the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, also produced a settlement that governs overall conditions at the prison. In the June 2004 federal court settlement, the Alabama Department of Corrections agreed to dozens of improvements in medication, dental care and mental health care for almost 1,000 women housed at the state's only prison for women. Sweeping changes called for everything from better sanitation to cut down on insects to quicker responses to inmates' complaints of painful medical problems left untreated for months. A year later, Puisis is lukewarm in his evaluation. He says the prison is in "partial compliance," but repeats concerns he's voiced all year. Among them, women housed in the segregation unit filed repeated sick call requests that were ignored. One woman, who filed four complaints about abdominal pain since February, was found to have a hemorrhaging cyst in March. The potentially malignant cyst has not been removed, and she has not been seen since August. "This is an excessive wait to evaluate this potentially life-threatening condition," Puisis wrote. Earlier this year, the Alabama DOC withheld $1.2 million in payments to PHS as a result of understaffing at some of the prisons. A March report from Puisis cited poor, incomplete or substandard medical care as contributors to three women's deaths at Tutwiler.

May 7, 2005 AP
The third death of an inmate in two months at Tutwiler Prison for Women has raised more questions about the quality of care provided for prisoners. Officials said Mattie Bouie, 42, died last week at Baptist Hospital South in Montgomery - six months after a federal court monitor cited her case as an example of "no effective physician monitoring of patients" at the Wetumpka prison. Bouie's death was the sixth at the women's prison since Tennessee-based Prison Health Services took over the medical contract. Court monitor Dr. Michael Puisis has suggested that negligent care was responsible for at least two deaths. He has not released mortality reports on the other cases. Puisis was appointed by a federal court last year after the state settled a lawsuit over poor conditions and medical care at the prison. The Department of Corrections agreed to improvements and increased staff at the facility, and Puisis is responsible for monitoring the agency's progress toward achieving those goals.

May 6, 2005 Birmingham News
Prison Health Services has been under the gun, and rightly so, for the way it's provided medical care to Alabama inmates. The Tennessee-based company was hired to improve health care in Alabama prisons, which had been sued over services provided by a previous contractor. But the care in prisons remains unacceptable. A recurring theme is a shortage of doctors, nurses and other staff to tend to the inmates, with predictable consequences. At best, the care has been inadequate. At worst, it may have been downright deadly. The state of Alabama, which has the ultimate responsibility (and liability) for what happens to prisoners in its custody, has every reason to demand better from Prison Health Services. And withholding part of the company's payment is an appropriate place to start. The state is reducing the company's $143 million contract by $1.2 million for staffing shortages, and may cut more if staffing levels aren't increased. Why not? The state is paying Prison Health Services to provide a certain number of professionals and support staff to administer inmates' health care. If the company is not meeting the requirements of the contract, it should not expect to be paid as if it were. Besides, what's really at stake here is bigger than money. Too many inmates are not receiving proper care for chronic conditions, and some are dying unnecessarily as a result, according to doctors who monitor prison health care for the courts. At the Tutwiler women's prison, the monitor found that three inmates who died last year received poor or incomplete care, and two of them may have died as a result. At Limestone Correctional Facility, which houses HIV-positive inmates, the monitor found prisoners weren't getting crucial medication and that a required HIV specialist was not on staff. It's true that turnover has been a big problem. Prison Health Services has had problems retaining doctors and other health care workers; some have left complaining they didn't have the resources to do their jobs. But the bottom line is that the company agreed to provide a certain level of services, and it has been failing to do so. At the very least, the state should adjust the payments to Prison Health Services accordingly. So the company is losing dollars. Inmates are losing their lives.

May 5, 2005 Birmingham News
Alabama's prison medical provider is losing $1.2 million from the state because it has not provided enough doctors and nurses to state prisons. Prison Health Services has not fulfilled minimal contract requirements that call for a certain number of doctors, nurses, administrators and support staff. The company is not being fined, Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Corbett said, but DOC will not have to pay $1.2 million of its contract. The department hired PHS in November 2003. The company's three-year, $143 million contract could see more reductions if the medical staff does not increase. Tennessee-based Prison Health Services also has come under fire in recent months by physicians who are monitoring two prisons under federal court settlements. A lawsuit alleging inadequate medical care is pending at a third prison, the Hamilton Aged and Infirm facility, where the oldest, sickest men are housed. Dr. Michael Puisis, court monitor at Tutwiler Prison for Women, said in a March report that prison medical staff provided poor or incomplete care to three inmates who died last year. He suggested that negligence might have led to two of those deaths. The third, a suicide, was likely the result of inadequate care by mental health workers, who are employed by a different company. Two deaths since then are still under investigation. Still, attorneys for the Limestone inmates have asked the federal courts to hold the state in contempt for failing to abide by the conditions of the settlement. Last year, the state agreed to dozens of improvements, centering on added medical staff and more humane housing conditions. Doctors keep leaving, some after claiming PHS did not allow them the flexibility and resources to practice medicine as they want to do. "There are just as many complaints raised after the settlement as before," said Gretchen Rohr, an attorney with the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, who represents Alabama prisons in both cases.

April 26, 2005 Mobile Register
Poor, incomplete, substandard -- and perhaps error-ridden -- medical care led to the deaths of at least three women incarcerated at Tutwiler Prison for Women last year, emphasizing the need for improved health care in Alabama's prisons. It also suggests the physician who treated the women should be suspended while officials determine if he was at fault; and if he was, he should be fired. Moreover, the poor health care the women apparently received indicates the state should consider finding a different health services company. The staggering conclusions by a physician who monitors the prison's medical system for a federal court settlement were revealed by the Birmingham News last week, and implicate Dr. Samuel Englehardt, a retired obstetrician and primary care doctor at Tutwiler at the time of the three deaths. Two other deaths have occurred this year, and officials should speedily investigate those, too. Outrageously, Dr. Englehardt, who provided the health care for one of the three prisoners who died last year, also performed her death review and concluded that there were no problems with the health care she had received. A policy of independent reviews would prevent such conflicts of interest. Dr. Michael Puisis of Illinois, an expert in correctional health care, studied the three women's deaths for a federal court. He discovered one patient suffered a brain hemorrhage and died a few months after Dr. Englehardt canceled tests recommended by an outside cardiologist. Another woman's extremely high cholesterol wasn't treated and "unquestionably contributed to her death." A third -- an obviously distraught woman who was denied adequate psychiatric care -- committed suicide. Dr. Puisis also found that other Tutwiler inmates received substandard care at the prison, including a lack of follow-up on treatments and mistakes in prescribing drugs. The inmates deserved better health care. When the state confines a person in a prison, preventing her from taking care of herself, then the state assumes the responsibility for the inmate's medical care. That's part of the cost of incarcerating people, and the moral duty it entails cannot be avoided. State officials must hold both the Department of Corrections and its private contractor, Prison Health Services of Tennessee, accountable for these and other lapses; and the public must hold the Legislature accountable for failing to provide funding for an adequate corrections system. The poor health care alone has subjected the state to three lawsuits so far from prisoners at Tutwiler, Limestone and Donaldson prisons. Moreover, it has exposed the state to possible suits by families of deceased prisoners. Department of Corrections managers apparently did not monitor the care provided by PHS or, if they did, they ignored or missed problems that should have been evident. The state, its taxpayers and its prisoners deserve better.

April 24, 2005 Birmingham News
Three women who died at Tutwiler prison last year received bad medical care - perhaps even bad enough in two of the cases to be blamed in the deaths. That's the conclusion of Dr. Michael Puisis of Illinois, an expert in correctional health care who was hired by a federal court to monitor Tutwiler's health care services for inmates. Specifically, Puisis found: The primary prison doctor at the time had "grossly mismanaged" the underlying medical problems of an inmate who suffered from lupus and died of a brain hemorrhage in March 2004. Her death came a few months after the doctor, for no clinical reason, canceled tests that had been recommended by an outside cardiologist. Another inmate received substandard care for three chronic conditions, including high cholesterol that went untreated and "unquestionably contributed to her death." After she died in August, the doctor responsible for her "substandard care" performed the death review and noted no problems with her treatment. An inmate hanged herself after being on suicide watch for five days in January 2004. The day before she died, she was crying, saying "Daddy, don't hurt me anymore," and banging her head against the wall. Yet she was not evaluated by a mental health professional except for a phone call to a psychiatrist who prescribed medicine. These kinds of stories hardly inspire confidence in the Department of Corrections or its medical contractor, Prison Health Services. And unfortunately, the cases aren't just extreme examples. In 19 of 22 cases Puisis reviewed at Tutwiler, he found problems with followup, drug errors and substandard care. Women with HIV, staph infections, diabetes and other conditions were consistently denied treatment, he said. His findings are simply alarming - especially if, as the Department of Corrections and Prison Health Services contend, inmate health care services are better now than they used to be. But scariest of all is that the department and PHS are now trying to keep Puisis' reports away from public view. The reports have typically been filed with the court and made public by the Southern Center for Human Rights, the Atlanta-based law firm representing prisoners in a lawsuit over health care. Now, the state and its medical contractor want to keep the reports confidential. That's absurd. The need for scrutiny is obvious: Inmates aren't getting proper health care, and some may be dying as a result. The problems need to be brought to light so they can be fixed. But keeping the monitor reports secret would be a bad idea even if they were glowing tributes to the health care services provided to inmates at Tutwiler. Alabama taxpayers are footing the bill for the prison system and for PHS' $143 million contract, and they have every right to know whether their money is being well-spent.
If Gov. Bob Riley is serious about accountability, he shouldn't stand for his prison commissioner working to keep such information out of the hands of citizens.

April 21, 2005 Tuscaloosa News
Negligence and medical errors may have led to two of three inmate deaths last year at Tutwiler Prison for Women, according to a report by a physician and court monitor of the prison's medical system. Dr. Michael Puisis of Illinois, an expert in correctional health care, based his report on visits to the Wetumpka prison March 7-10. He reviewed records, interviewed staff and toured parts of the Wetumpka prison. His report, obtained by The Birmingham News and disclosed Thursday, was required by a 2004 federal court settlement of a lawsuit over crowded conditions and medical care at Alabama's only prison for women. With current patients, Puisis reported that private contractor Prison Health Services lacked follow-up, made mistakes in prescribing drugs and gave substandard care to 19 of 22 prisoners whose charts he reviewed. Women with HIV, staph infections, diabetes and other conditions were consistently denied treatment, he wrote.  Two more women have died at Tutwiler this year, and their deaths are under investigation. Puisis has yet to review those cases. Dr. Samuel Englehardt, a retired obstetrician and the primary doctor at Tutwiler at the time of the review, worked there before PHS took over and was retained by the company. "Based on chart reviews, Dr. Englehardt should not be providing general internal medical care to the patients," the report states. Among the mistakes the report cited in the three deaths: -"This patient's underlying medical conditions were grossly mismanaged," Puisis wrote about one woman, a lupus patient who suffered a brain hemorrhage and died in March 2004, a few months after Englehardt canceled tests recommended by an outside cardiologist. "There is no clinical basis for this decision," Puisis wrote. -"Care (of three chronic conditions) was substandard and may have contributed to her death," Puisis wrote about a prisoner who died in August. Her hyperlipidemia, a form of high cholesterol, was untreated and "unquestionably contributed to her death," he wrote. This woman needed to go to a hospital, he wrote, but instead was kept in the prison infirmary and was not seen regularly by a doctor. -The third inmate hanged herself while on suicide watch. She was on suicide watch for five days, but was not evaluated by a mental health professional except for a phone call to a psychiatrist who prescribed medication. On Jan. 24, 2004, the woman was crying, saying, "Daddy, don't hurt me anymore," and was banging her head against a wall, a nurse reported. The next day she hanged herself. "It appears that the record is either incomplete or she was not seen for the duration of her suicide watch until she died," Puisis wrote. "This type of death review is inadequate and leaves many unanswered questions." In the report, Puisis discusses the publicity issue. While fear of liability keeps doctors from reporting errors and is counterproductive to improving care, "on the other hand some errors are due to negligence and gross incompetence," Puisis wrote.

University of South Alabama
ARAMARK

February 4, 2004
A number of concerns have been fielded regarding the price of school-sponsored catering services on campus and administrators are working to find acceptable mediums to settle the contention. The University of South Alabama's dining service provider, ARAMARK, has come under fire from two separate student organizations for charging inflated fees for simple catering events.  Inquiries began after USA's Student Government Association received a bill for an ice cream social that it hosted last semester. The SGA followed contractual bylaws requiring on-campus, school-sponsored catering to be managed by ARAMARK. While SGA President Clay Hammac insisted the event was a success, he lamented the cost.  "We wanted students randomly passing by to just grab a bowl of ice cream and sit around with other students and socialize," Hammac said. "We ended up with a great turnout. We must have had about 100 traditional and non-traditional students and I think some friendships were made and some ice was broken. But to put on that social, we had six gallons of ice cream, some sprinkles and two ARAMARK attendants on hand. The whole thing lasted about an hour and it ended up costing us a little over $600."  A similar complaint arose Jan. 21, when the African-American Student Association and the Office of Minority Student Affairs co-sponsored a speech by celebrated Tuskegee Airman Maj. Carrol S. Woods, as part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration. The SGA, at the request of AASA, agreed to pay for the cost of catering. Hammac contacted MSA Office Manager Celia Rochelle and permitted her to place the order and have the bill sent to the SGA.  "The bill was $210. I went to see the Tuskegee Airman speak and when I got there, man, I was just blown away," Hammac said. "For $210, we had three trays of cookies and two pitchers of punch."  After that episode, Hammac immediately relayed his dissatisfaction to Dr. Dale Adams, USA's vice president for student affairs, who said he would address the issue on an administrative level.  Sally Cobb, USA's manager of campus involvement, was equally surprised by a bill she received from ARAMARK for Papa John's Pizza. Cobb placed the pizza order last year for a meeting of the Freshman Leadership Council. ARAMARK's role was to arrange for a delivery, which Cobb was able to receive directly. While Cobb couldn't recall an exact dollar figure, she said the arrangement cost "almost twice as much as if I had placed the order myself."  (USA Vanguard)