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Albany County Jail
Albany, New York
Oct 29, 2017
$1 million settlement in Albany County jail death case
ALBANY — A private medical company and Albany County have agreed to pay nearly $1.1 million to the estate of a Troy man who died when nurses waited more than 12 hours to call an ambulance after he suffered a stroke while being held at the county jail in August 2014. Last year, an investigation ordered by the state Commission of Correction determined the care given to 24-year-old Mark Cannon was "so grossly inadequate ... it shocks the conscience." Mark Cannon, died in August 2014 after suffering a stroke at Albany County jail. Nurses for a private medical company waited more than 12 hours to call an ambulance and were harshly criticized by state investigators for "egregious" errors in care. The settlement was filed recently in U.S. District Court in Albany, where Cannon's mother had filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Cannon's infant daughter. Cannon's symptoms steadily worsened after employees of a medical company that had a contract with the county brushed off his severe neurological symptoms as heat exhaustion, instructing guards to give him water and let him rest. Later that night, Cannon's condition had deteriorated to the point where he lay nearly motionless on the floor of an infirmary cell with foam oozing from his mouth. A nurse patted his arm and wiped away the saliva, wrongly believing Cannon was recovering from a seizure even though he had no history of medical problems. A nurse finally contacted a doctor for advice, and he instructed her to immediately call an ambulance. But it was too late: Cannon lingered for several days at Albany Medical Center Hospital  before he was removed from life support. Doctors determined Cannon had suffered a stroke — a loss of blood flow to his brain stem — that may have been caused by working out in the jail's recreation area on the day he fell ill. Emergency surgery might have saved his life, but too many hours had passed after the injury. The state's investigation cited multiple missteps by nurses, including their repeated failure to acknowledge the severity of Cannon's symptoms or consult a physician until it was too late. "Mark Cannon had a progressively deteriorating neurological situation that was completely disregarded by nursing staff despite dramatic signs and symptoms of an active neurological emergency and Cannon's repeated requests for medical care," the investigative report states. The sharp criticism of Correctional Medical Care, a Pennsylvania-based private company, came as the state was probing the company's conduct related to multiple inmate deaths across the state. The settlement filed in U.S. District Court calls for the company to pay $999,999, and Albany County to pay $95,000. Neither the company nor the county acknowledged any wrongdoing. Within weeks of Cannon's death, the office of New York's attorney general reached an agreement with the company that allowed it to remain in business in New York with monitoring through May 2018. The company paid a $200,000 penalty and agreed to improve staffing levels and training practices. At that time, Correctional Medical Care had contracts worth more than $32 million a year with 13 county jails in New York, including Albany and Schenectady counties' facilities Albany County earlier this year terminated the $3.7 million annual contract it had with CMC since 2012. In a deposition taken as part of a federal wrongful-death lawsuit, Sheriff Craig Apple testified the company's "performance" played a role in his decision, though he said the change was also based on a better offer from another company. State investigation reports and court records also reveal that CMC's nurses, two of whom were later disciplined by the State Education Department, violated multiple protocols. The failures began the moment a guard called the jail's medical office at 4:12 p.m. on Aug. 26, 2014, to report that Cannon was having problems and needed assistance. Instead of going to Cannon's tier to check him out as required, a nurse told the officer to give Cannon some water and ask him to lie down. In the hours that followed, Cannon was shuffled back and forth between his tier and the medical infirmary. At times, cameras showed him staggering into walls and vomiting. Just after 3 a.m., with new officers and nursing staff on duty, Cannon was found lying on the floor of his cell unable to talk. His eyes were open and he was foaming at the mouth; his legs were stiff and his arms limp. Officers scooped Cannon into a wheelchair and pushed him toward the infirmary. Videos of the transport show Cannon's head tilted to the left and his feet dragging beneath him. Despite his severe symptoms, no one called an ambulance. The state's investigation determined nurses "failed to conduct a basic nursing and neurological assessment on a patient with obvious signs and symptoms of a neurological crisis." Emre Umar of Blue Bell, Pa., is president of CMC, a for-profit company owned by his wife, Maria Carpio. Neither are licensed medical professionals. Umar has acknowledged that for more than 10 years, the company operated in New York in violation of state law requiring a medical care company to be owned by a physician. The firm has since restructured to adhere to the law, although Umar remains in charge of its operations. Elmer Robert Keach III, the attorney for Cannon's mother, characterized the settlement as "fair" and said the money would benefit Cannon's daughter.

Jul 29, 2017
Albany County inmate's death 'shocks the conscience
It took five agonizing days for Mark Cannon to die. His death spiral began at the Albany County jail when nurses for a private medical company brushed off the 24-year-old's severe neurological symptoms as heat exhaustion, instructing guards to give him some water and let him rest. Twelve hours later, Cannon's condition had deteriorated to the point where he lay nearly motionless on the floor of an infirmary cell with foam oozing from his mouth. A nurse patted his arm and wiped away the saliva, wrongly believing Cannon was recovering from a seizure even though he had no history of medical problems. When the nurse finally contacted a doctor for advice, he instructed her to immediately call an ambulance. But it was too late. At Albany Medical Center, doctors determined Cannon had suffered a stroke — a loss of blood flow — to his brain stem that his attorney believes may have been caused when he was exercising in the recreation yard on the day he fell ill. Emergency surgery might have saved his life, but too many hours passed after the injury. He lingered for several days before being declared brain dead. At his family's request, Cannon was removed from life support. Last year, an investigation ordered by the state Commission of Correction determined the care given to Cannon at the jail in August 2014 was "so grossly inadequate ... it shocks the conscience." The investigation cited multiple missteps by nurses, including their repeated failure to acknowledge the severity of Cannon's symptoms or consult a physician until it was too late. "Mark Cannon had a progressively deteriorating neurological situation that was completely disregarded by nursing staff despite dramatic signs and symptoms of an active neurological emergency and Cannon's repeated requests for medical care," the investigative report states. The criticism wasn't an anomaly for Correctional Medical Care, a Pennsylvania-based private company. A month after Cannon's death in August 2014 — but long before his case was investigated — the office of New York's attorney general reached an agreement with the company that allowed it to remain in business in New York with monitoring through May 2018. The company paid a $200,000 penalty and agreed to improve staffing levels and training practices. At the time of that agreement, Correctional Medical Care -— or CMC — had contracts worth more than $32 million a year with 13 county jails in New York, including Albany and Schenectady counties' facilities. It has maintained many of those jail contracts despite a checkered history. The state's Medical Review Board, which evaluated the company's performance at the 13 upstate jails several years ago, documented "egregious lapses in medical care" involving six inmate deaths at five county jails between 2009 and 2012. Despite the oversight, the company tasked with handling the monitoring for the state has issued two reports that found serious lapses in CMC's operations at jails, including employing unlicensed and inexperienced staff, inadequate staffing and a "failure to adhere to medical and administrative protocols." Albany County recently terminated the $3.7 million annual contract it had with CMC since 2012. In a deposition taken last month as part of a federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Cannon's mother, Sheriff Craig Apple testified the company's "performance" played a role in his decision, though he said the change was also based on a better offer from another company. In the deposition, Apple was asked what he thought of the jailhouse videos that showed Cannon's 12-hour ordeal. "As a layperson and as the sheriff, I saw what would be considered a complete lack of compassion," he said in response to questions from Elmer Robert Keach III, the attorney for Cannon's mother. Jail video footage, state investigative reports and depositions filed in court records reveal the multiple missteps and negligent medical care that state investigators said contributed to Cannon's death. The videos show Cannon at times staggering through the facility as he was shuffled back and forth to the medical unit, at times begging guards and nurses for help before eventually becoming unable to stand or talk. State investigation reports and court records also reveal that CMC's nurses, two of whom were later disciplined by the State Education Department, violated multiple protocols, failures that began the moment a guard called the jail's medical office at 4:12 p.m. on Aug. 26, 2014, and informed them Cannon was having problems and needed assistance. Instead of going to Cannon's tier to check him out, as required, nurse Curtis Goyer told the officer to give Cannon some water and ask him lie down. Goyer also failed to notify the facility's health administrator there was a problem, as required, according to state investigators. "At the time I didn't feel as though he was experiencing a medical emergency," Goyer testified in April during a deposition in the wrongful death case, which is pending in federal court in Albany. "I made a medical determination, not a medical diagnosis." Less than an hour later, a sergeant was notified that Cannon was incapable of walking or standing. Medical staff were told to come to the tier. Goyer, during his deposition, acknowledged it can take about 30 minutes for nurses to get to an inmate's cell because of delays in obtaining an escort. When pressed on whether an inmate suffering a heart attack or other serious medical condition could die during the time it takes to get to their cell, Goyer responded, "I really have no feeling about it — that's the way it is there." He also said that to his knowledge, no nurse or anyone else employed by CMC had ever complained about the delays in responding to medical emergencies. Keach, the attorney for Cannon's mother, asked Goyer if similar delays in responding to a patient emergency would be acceptable at St. Peter's Hospital, where Goyer is also employed. "This is not St. Peter's, this is a jail," he answered. "I felt as though he was exhibiting signs of heat exhaustion, which is not uncommon for that time of year," Goyer explained. In the 10 hours that followed the initial visit by Goyer and a second CMC nurse to Cannon's cell, there were shift changes of nurses and correctional staff, and Cannon was shuffled back and forth between his tier and the medical infirmary. At times, cameras showed him staggering into walls and vomiting. Goyer admitted in his deposition that he did not conduct a neurological assessment of Cannon. "He did not present with any neurological facial deficit." By 10 p.m. that first night — roughly six hours after Cannon asked for help — officers continued pressing CMC staff to assist the inmate. "Each time, they were told that the inmate would be seen the next day for sick call and that he should continue to drink water," the state's investigation found. Just after 3 a.m., with new officers and nursing staff on duty, Cannon was found lying on the floor of his cell unable to talk. His eyes were open and he was foaming at the mouth; his legs were stiff and his arms limp. Officers scooped Cannon into a wheelchair and pushed him toward the infirmary. Videos of the transport show Cannon's head tilted to the left and his feet dragging beneath him. Despite his severe symptoms, no one called an ambulance. Kathleen Coogan, a CMC nurse, took Cannon's vital signs and waved an ammonia inhalant under his nose to see if he reacted. He pulled his head away. When Cannon was wheeled into an infirmary holding cell, cameras captured the scene as an officer pulled him out of the wheelchair and placed his limp body halfway onto a mattress on the floor. His feet were twitching, and Coogan said she continued to observe him on a live-camera feed and by peering through a window in the cell. Even at this point, no ambulance was called. The state's investigation determined Coogan "failed to conduct a basic nursing and neurological assessment on a patient with obvious signs and symptoms of a neurological crisis ... that she thought Cannon had a seizure and that she would just watch him for a while." Cannon remained motionless on the mattress for another hour. The cameras showed Coogan going in to see him at 4:30 a.m., and wiping his face and patting his arm. It was more than 12 hours after Cannon pleaded with guards that something was wrong and he needed medical help. Finally, Coogan called a doctor on call for CMC, who instructed her to call an ambulance. It would take nearly another hour for Cannon to be removed from the jail and taken to a hospital. Emre Umar of Blue Bell, Pa., is president of CMC, a for-profit company owned by his wife, Maria Carpio. Neither are licensed medical professionals. Umar has acknowledged that for more than 10 years the company operated in New York in violation of state law requiring medical-care companies to be owned by a physician. The firm has since restructured to adhere to the law, although Umar remains in charge of its operations. A year ago, in a pre-trial deposition taken as part of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of an inmate who died at the Ulster County jail, where CMC was the medical provider, Umar acknowledged multiple and repeated lapses by his employees through the years. Still, he defended CMC's work. "If you care so much about the people that you're trying to provide care for, why have so many of them died under difficult circumstances such as detailed in all the various Commission of Correction reports?" an attorney asked Umar. "I think you would have to look at the physical state that the individual is in when they come into the facility, and then you will find out that we do not kill people. We do not let people die," Umar said. "These are people that have had no medical care throughout their entire lives, never seen a physician. They are drug abusers, they are alcoholics. So, you know, what you're saying is a total inaccurate statement." He also acknowledged that since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — many inmates are being enrolled in government-funded health care. Prior to that, Umar admitted, sending an inmate to a hospital would lower CMC's profit margin because some of the costs would come out of their contract revenues. But he denied that there was a systemic problem, or that any staff members were prohibited or discouraged from sending inmates to a hospital in an emergency. ''We pride ourselves on doing a good job and we do not deny medical care even if it affects our bottom line," Umar said. Keach, the attorney for Cannon's mother, said New York should ban CMC from doing business in the state of New York. "It's time for the regulators to act," Keach said. "Mr. Umar's business model directly correlates profits with the denial of medical care, and he and his wife ... have made millions from that correlation."

Prison Health Services (formerly run by Correctional Medical Services)
Apr 23, 2016
Albany County makes $1.1M deal to end jail death lawsuit
The husband of a French citizen who died after Albany County jail medical staff denied her proper doses of medications to treat her chronic heart failure has settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the private firm that ran the jail medical unit. A settlement notice filed in federal court does not reveal the amount of the settlement with the estate of Irene Bamenga or otherwise detail the terms. But a person familiar with the agreement told the Times Union that the portion associated with Albany County's role in the case is about $1.1 million. Danielle Garten, a New York City attorney who represented the county, declined to comment. Mary Rozak, a spokeswoman for the county, said no taxpayer money would be used to pay the settlement. Michael Lurie, the Boston attorney who represented Bamenga's husband, Yodi Zikianda, also declined to comment citing confidentiality agreements. Bamenga, 29, died in the Colonie jail July 27, 2011, after having been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to await deportation for an expired visa. Bamenga, who had been living outside Boston with her husband on an expired visa, was taken into custody July 15 while trying to cross into Canada on the Peace Bridge in Buffalo so she could fly home to Paris from Toronto that evening, the lawsuit alleged. Bamenga was refused entry to Canada because she lacked a current visa stamp and then detained while trying to re-enter the U.S. side of the bridge, Lurie said. Eventually, she was transferred to the Albany County jail on July 21. Court filings in the case revealed she never saw a doctor between then and when she was found unconscious in her dormitory area just after midnight on July 27. Court filings also revealed Bamenga had pleaded with medical staff in writing less than 48 hours before her death because she was missing doses of the six medicines that she took to treat her cardiomyopathy and chronic congestive heart failure, and was experiencing dizziness, shortness of breath and heart palpitations. At the time, the jail's medical unit was run by the private company Correctional Medical Services, now known as Corizon Inc. The firm's lone doctor at the jail, who was on vacation for much of Bamenga's incarceration, testified in a deposition that the staff was "overwhelmed." Corizon was also a named defendant in the suit; its attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday. A separate settlement was struck last month with Allegany County, where Bamenga was held between July 15 and July 21 and where she was also allegedly denied medication. The terms of that settlement also have not been disclosed. "It was an absolutely avoidable outcome," Lurie said. If the case had gone to trial in May, he said, several experts were "prepared to testify that if she had received the care that she was seeking and that she knew she needed, she would not have died." Bamenga's death, Lurie said, should prompt municipal officials to question the wisdom of hiring for-profit companies that receive fixed rates to provide medical care to people like jail inmates who have no other choice "because the incentives are to withhold care." The State Commission of Correction ruled that Bamenga died of natural causes, but an investigation commissioned by ICE identified the missed medications and incorrect doses as "significant factors that contributed to the decompensation of her congestive heart failure" and her death was preventable. ICE was not named in the lawsuit, but Lurie said the case also documented that the agency's leadership had urged field staff to use discretion about detaining people before deportation — especially those, like Bamenga, with serious medical conditions and without criminal records. "They didn't have to take her into custody," Lurie said. "At least on two scores, they had a reason to just let her go."

Dec 6, 2015
Negligence claimed in jail inmate death
The family of a man who died after suffering a stroke at the Albany County jail last year has filed a federal lawsuit against the county, including top jail officials and its medical providers, alleging negligence in his death. The complaint filed in U.S. District Court alleges Mark Cannon Jr., 24, was given Gatorade, left to wallow in his own vomit despite showing severe symptoms and was not immediately taken to a hospital after jail medical officials determined he was in trouble. Cannon, who was convicted of felony robbery charges, began to experience "extreme medical symptoms" that included vomiting, dizziness and an inability to walk or stand, according to court documents. The jail's medical staff "provided no meaningful medical treatment," the complaint states, adding that Cannon's condition deteriorated over a period of several hours but that the jail's physician was not contacted. At one point, Cannon was placed in a wheelchair and taken to the jail's infirmary but later was returned to his cell even though he appeared to be suffering extreme medical symptoms, the complaint states. The lawsuit claims other inmates heard Cannon crying and vomiting but that he was not immediately returned to the infirmary. Finally, when jail officers found Cannon unresponsive and unable to stand, the jail's medical staff had Cannon brought back to the infirmary, where the jail's physician, Silver Masaba, was contacted. He ordered the inmate taken to Albany Memorial Hospital, where it was determined his condition was "too critical," so he was transferred to Albany Medical Center Hospital. At Albany Med, according to the complaint, medical staff determined it was "too late to provide (Cannon) with the ordinary course of medical treatment for a stroke," and he was placed on life support. Cannon was determined to be brain-dead and finally removed from life support. He died in late August 2014. Cannon's death "was caused by the negligence and/or deliberate indifference of corrections staff at the jail," the complaint alleges. The lawsuit targets the jail's medical provider, Correctional Medical Care Inc., which employed the jail's medical staff, and Albany County, including Sheriff Craig Apple and Jail Administrator Christian Clark. Correctional Medical Care, Inc., a Pennsylvania company that provides medical services to inmates at the Albany jail, provides medical services to at least 12 county jails across New York, according to its website, including in Schenectady and Rensselaer counties. It's the second lawsuit filed in the past four months against a Capital Region county jail by the estate of inmates who died in custody. In August, the estate of Lucky Lee Wilkins Jr., an inmate who committed suicide in the Schenectady County Jail, filed a similar lawsuit against Schenectady jail officials and CMC citing negligence in care. Elmer Robert Keach III, an Albany attorney representing the estates of Connor and Wilkins said the company is "irresponsibly run and its actions have led to the death of detainees in upstate New York." Correctional Medical Care, Apple, the county sheriff and Clark, the jail superintendent, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has investigated complaints against Correctional Medical Care, and in a 2014 investigation found that it provided poor medical care, had "understaffed facilities" and "shifted work hours... to less qualified and lower-wage staff, including, in one case, a nurse with a felony conviction," according to a 2014 news release. Under an agreement with Schneiderman's office, the company was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to Tioga County and $100,000 in civil penalties to New York state. The company also agreed to pay for an independent monitor for a period of three years to ensure compliance with its contracts. Keach cited those prior cases in his complaint, calling those cases a "parade of horribles."

October 15, 2013

THE ISSUE: Still no sanctions or fines in an Albany County jail inmate's death that a federal probe found was preventable. THE STAKES: Contract medical services providers with shoddy records need to be held to account. Put yourself in Irene Bamenga's shoes: It's summer 2011. Although you are only 29, you suffer from cardiomyopathy, so you have filled your day-of-the-week pill reminder boxes with enough medication to keep you alive. You and your spouse are heading to Canada, then to France to await the green card offering legal residence in America, where you hope to start a family. But you've carelessly let your visa expire. So you're taken into custody by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents to be deported to France — the very place you were trying to go. Except now you've lost your freedom. You cling to your pill boxes and hope. But bureaucracy says you can't take those pills because you don't have your original prescriptions and bottles. The first jail where you are held to await deportation finally gives you some of your medication. Then you're transferred to Albany County Correctional Facility. Here, according to a story by the Times Union's Alysia Santo last week, the facility's main doctor is away. You write, "I am not being given the full doses of my medication." Then: "Shortness of breath ... palpitations when laying down."  Irene Bamenga died in the jail, a death that could have been prevented, according to a physician hired by ICE who determined that missed and incorrect medication dosing contributed to her heart failure. Yet, aside from the evening medication nurse, who is "no longer employed at the Albany County jail," according to a report a year ago from the state Commission of Correction, no person or agency has faced sanctions or fines for this travesty. The commission disagreed with ICE and labeled it a "natural death," citing autopsy and toxicology reports that Albany County withheld from ICE. This denial of responsibility smacks of a whitewash and cries out for further investigation. Albany County must reexamine how it provides medical care. When Ms. Bamenga was being held, health care was provided by Correctional Medical Services Inc., a for-profit business that has merged with Prison Health Services to form Corizon, the country's largest private prison health care business. Albany County has since changed to Correctional Medical Care — but one might rightly question whether its record is any better. CMC has been cited in recent years by state investigators for inadequate care that contributed to inmate deaths across New York. Albany County is not alone in this region in using private medical providers in jails. Ms. Bamenga's case offers no reason for the public to believe that these companies are being held to account. Nor is there any reason not to conclude that a desire among our county executives, legislators and sheriffs to save a few dollars is putting people's lives at risk. A stay in county jail --should not be a death sentence.

December 15, 2009 Times-Union
When Kelly Mayo was arrested for drug possession on a Saturday afternoon in May 2006, she was only supposed to spend a weekend in the Albany county jail. Instead, two days later, a guard found her hanging by a sheet twisted into a makeshift rope. "I didn't want to be in jail, so I tried to hang myself to get out of jail," Mayo said, according to transcripts of a deposition later gave. Her father, Joseph Mayo, 89, is suing the Albany County Correctional Facility and Correctional Medical Services, a private company that runs the jail's health unit, for unspecified damages on her behalf for damages. He claims they should have done more to prevent Kelly Mayo, 46, from attempting suicide and should pay for the 24/7 care she now requires. Both the sheriff's department and the medical company declined to comment on the case for this story. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in Albany dismissed the case in April, saying the jail took all reasonable precautions. An appeal was heard Friday at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan. According to depositions of staff on the ward on May 15, 2006, at 4:30 p.m., a guard walked by and saw Mayo peering through the window in her door. One nurse took a cigarette break, while the other had just finished treating diabetic inmates. At 4:41, the guard found Mayo unconscious. The staff called an ambulance and tried to revive her. They saved her life, but oxygen deprivation destroyed her short-term memory and left her with limited brain function. "They ruined my daughter's life," Joseph Mayo said in a phone interview from his home in Manhattan. "She used to flash around, jolly, helping people. She was always out of breath whenever she came into a room. She would hang around for a while, then she was back in her car, going somewhere else." Kelly Mayo grew up in New Jersey and New York City, but was living with her boyfriend in Albany when she was arrested. She was a part-time stagehand by profession, and a free spirit by temperament, her father said, treading gently around his daughter's years of drug abuse. Now every time he visits his daughter at the Belvedere long-term care home in Albany, he finds her sitting in the corner of her room. "I tell her the same joke every time I call her," her father said. "She laughs every single time. She still has a sense of humor, but her memory is gone." The district court said the Mayo family cannot sue because the jail met standards for suicide risk screening approved by the state Commission of Correction, which oversees local jails. The commission provides a 16-question test about suicide risks for guards to give newly admitted inmates. A prisoner who answers "yes" to eight questions is considered a suicide risk. Mayo answered yes to three of the questions. When she was admitted, Mayo told nurses that she injected heroin and drank a pint of alcohol daily. Staff gave her medication to ease withdrawal symptoms, placed her in a cell next to the nurse's station with only a mattress on the floor, and checked on her every 30 minutes, according to her medical file. But the Mayo family's lawyer, James Monroe of Albany, said the jail should have monitored Mayo constantly or sent her to an outside facility after she began suffering from tremors and hallucinating that she saw gnats around 6:30 a.m. the day she tried to kill herself. The staff knew these symptoms constituted a risk for suicide, Monroe said. "It says so in their own training manual. "They took a chance and Kelly paid the price," he added.

June 23, 2009 Courthouse News
Five workers at a New York prison health clinic were unfairly fired for peacefully picketing in their bid to unionize, the 2nd Circuit ruled, overturning a decision by the National Labor Relations Board. Workers at the Albany County Correctional Facility sought to organize in 2002. The Civil Service Employees Association asked Correctional Medical Services, which operated the facility, to recognize it as the collective-bargaining representative of all clinic employees except doctors, supervisors and one clerical worker. CMS rejected the request. Workers responded by organizing a peaceful demonstration outside the facility. Twenty individuals - including five clinic employees - walked in a circle in front of the facility's main entrance for 40 minutes. The five clinic employees were fired for engaging in an "illegal picket," because the union failed to give the facility proper notice of the picket. The union fired back in October 2002, claiming the firings were illegal. The National Labor Relations Board ruled in May 2007 that the terminations were lawful, and that a health-care employer can fire workers who picket on behalf of a union that failed to give the mandatory 10-day advance notice of picketing. In overturning the decision, the New York-based federal appeals court found that picketing for recognition is an employees' right, and the distinction Congress made between striking and picketing indicates its intent to protect workers from retaliation. "While labor organizations are subject to sanction for either striking or picketing without observing the notice requirement," the three-judge panel wrote, "the statute specifies sanctions for employees who participate in the violation only in the case of strikes and not in the case of picketing." The circuit concluded that Congress showed "no intention to punish individual employees who do not strike but peacefully picket," adding, "it would not be appropriate for us to attribute one."

September 4, 2004
A Bronx woman who delivered a live baby in a jail toilet in 2001 after her premature labor allegedly was ignored for days has filed a federal civil rights claim blaming Albany County officials and a former jail nurse for her son's death.  Ajadyan Venny was at least 5 months pregnant when she was jailed on a drug charge on Aug. 30, 2001, according to the suit filed in U.S. District Court Thursday.  The 30-page lawsuit alleges the following chain of events:  The 22-year-old was given a cursory exam and pregnancy test and then left on her own as pain in her abdomen and back spiked over the next 10 days.  A female jail nurse who is employed by Prison Health Services, Inc., told Venny repeatedly that the pain was a normal result of being pregnant in jail, which is a stressful environment.  Venny was supposed to see an obstetrics consultant on Sept. 4, 2001, but her appointment was canceled. Five days later, on Sept. 9, her screams woke the dorm at 5 a.m.  At 6:30 a.m., correction officers told Venny she couldn't get help until the 7 a.m. shift change. By then, she could no longer walk on her own. The nurse told guards she couldn't leave her post.  A concerned correction officer finally radioed his sergeant, who ordered the nurse to see to Venny, who now was sitting on the toilet in her cell and bleeding profusely. But the nurse was ineffective, court papers said: "At approximately 7:15 a.m. nurse Hunt responded to the dorm, bringing with her only a blood pressure cuff to attend the plaintiff, who was in the end stage of labor."  The nurse attempted to console Venny rather than render medical assistance. She told officers at 7:18 a.m. that Venny had miscarried in-utero and ordered an ambulance. It was only after a Colonie EMS workers asked if there was a baby that a guard went back to check the toilet "and found a sac containing a child who had been unattended for a substantial period of time."  Correction officers freed the baby and cut his umbilical cord.  After two days in Albany Medical Center Hospital's neonatal unit, the struggling newborn, Scott Mayo Jr., died at 3 a.m. on Sept. 11.  "This was a full-grown, viable baby," attorney Kevin Luibrand said. "It was not a fetus. She was probably much further along than she thought."  State correction officials later faulted Prison Health Services Inc. for their handling of the situation.  The county did not renew its contract with the company in Feb. 2002, saying it would go with a less expensive provider.  Officials at the jail declined to comment on the lawsuit. Richard Wright, president and CEO of Prison Health Services, also declined to comment.  The Brentwood, Tenn.-based company recently was dismissed from an eight-year contract with the Schenectady County Jail after the death of an inmate.  (Times Union)

Correctional Services Corporation
October 19, 2004 1010 WINS He's been convicted of theft, reviled by the press and pushed from office in a scandal that came to symbolize lax ethics in Albany . Roger Green is still feeling pretty good. Running all but unopposed for the state Assembly, he's poised to retake the Brooklyn seat he resigned in June after pleading guilty to stealing public money by submitting fake travel vouchers to the state. Green's legal troubles emerged from a probe of free transportation given to lawmakers by Sarasota, Fla.-based Correctional Services Corp. Albany County prosecutors charged Green with stealing from the state by submitting fake travel claims for expenses he never incurred when he was riding the CSC vans. Green filed bogus claims for about 30 trips between Albany and New York , prosecutors said. Green also was among a host of current and former state lawmakers who wrote to state officials supporting extensions of CSC's state contracts for halfway house services. CSC received $25.4 million from the state to provide such services between 1992 and 2000. Green was sentenced to three years' probation and ordered to pay $5,000 in fines and restitution after admitting to two counts of petty larceny and one count of offering a false instrument. He acknowledges using the CSC vans but said he paid CSC for gas and asked for state reimbursement because he did not understand the state's vague guidelines. But good-government advocates say Green's ethical troubles and impending return to office show a pressing need for reform. "The system is broken," said Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director for the League of Women Voters of New York State. "The system has not overseen itself at all."

November 17, 2003
ALBANY District Attorney Paul Clyne said yesterday he needs "a few more weeks" to decide if he's going to indict state lawmakers for stealing official travel reimbursements funds.  Clyne told The Post he's still waiting to receive potentially critical documents from Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., the prison-services firm that provided free, roundtrip limo trips to and from the Capitol for lawmakers able to help the company win state contracts.  Investigators believe several of those lawmakers, including Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Roger Green, then billed the state for thousands of dollars in travel reimbursements, even though they incurred no actual costs.  The probe was triggered by former Bronx Democratic Assemblywoman Gloria Davis' guilty plea in January to taking bribes. She also admitted accepting free CSC-provided transportation in exchange for helping the company obtain contracts.  "I would say we'll have the decision within weeks. There are certain records that we're waiting for from the company," Clyne told The Post.  He said he would be able to reach a decision on indictments within 30 days.  Clyne and the state Board of Elections, meanwhile, are also seeking to determine if several lawmakers, including Green, received illegal "in-kind" campaign contributions from CSC. CSC Vice President Jack Brown told the State Lobbying Commission earlier this year that his company regularly provided undisclosed campaign workers and transportation to Green and Brooklyn Assemblyman Daryl Towns during the 2000 campaign season.  (New York Post)

September 15, 2003
THE potentially explosive criminal probe of phony travel vouchers filed by state lawmakers will wrap up in 30 days with a go-ahead for indictments - or the dismissal of the case, The Post has learned.  "I anticipate we will make a decision within the next 30 days to either close the case or go forward with an expanded investigation," Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne told The Post.  "It's hardly a dead issue," continued Clyne, whose probe began after the corruption conviction earlier this year of former Bronx Democratic Assemblywoman Gloria Davis.  Clyne convened a new grand jury on Wednesday that is expected to begin hearing testimony in the probe.  Legislative sources predicted Clyne would bring several indictments.  Clyne's probe focuses on expenditures by Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., a private prison-services provider, to allegedly influence several state lawmakers from New York City, including the repeated provision of free, chauffeur-driven travel to and from the state capital.  Davis, who pleaded guilty to taking a bribe, said the free travel was part of CSC's effort to win her help in obtaining state contracts.   Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Roger Green has also admitted receiving free travel.  Investigators suspect several lawmakers - including Green - billed the state for thousands of dollars in travel mileage costs that were actually provided by CSC, an action Clyne has said would be criminal fraud.  "We've been accumulating records, primarily from CSC, and we've been reviewing reimbursement records provided by the Legislature," said Clyne.  Ominously for lawmakers, Clyne said he's obtained new information "that has not been made public."  Clyne, meanwhile, is also seeking to determine if several lawmakers, including Green, received illegal "in-kind" campaign contributions from CSC in violation of state election law.  CSC Vice President Jack Brown told the state Lobbying Commission earlier this year that his company regularly provided campaign workers and transportation to the 2000 re-election campaigns of Green and another Brooklyn assemblyman, Daryl Towns.  Stay tuned.  (New York Post)

May 21, 2003
One of the major behind-the-scenes players in the city's lucrative homeless-housing business is a director at a scandal-tainted prison-services firm under investigation for allegedly bribing state lawmakers to win contracts, The Post has learned.  Shimmie Horn, a director of Correctional Services Corp., is a major investor in homeless hotels, interests that he inherited from his father, the late Morris Horn, who once ran one of the city's most notorious "welfare hotels" of the 1980s, the Brooklyn Arms.  Horn's lawyer, Ron Torossian, said it's unfair to single out his client because of his role as a member of the board of directors at CSC. CSC is under investigation by the Albany County district attorney and three state agencies that are trying to determine if the private prison firm bribed elected officials to win their help in securing contracts.  ( New York Post)

February 27, 2003
The state's Lobbying Commission fined a private prison company a record $300,000 today for failing to  report free transportation, meals and other gifts it had given to legislators in an effort to keep millions of dollars in state  contracts.  Reams of documents and depositions released by the commission as it announced the fine today painted a picture of a company,  Correctional Services Corporation, that did everything it could to curry favor with more than a dozen elected officials in Brooklyn and the Bronx as it won contracts to provide services to recently released prisoners. The $300,000 fine is the largest that the state has ever imposed on a single company for breaking its lobbying laws.  David M. Grandeau, the executive director of the lobbying commission, said the size of the fine was intended to send a strong  message. "This isn't a game," he said. "If you are going to lobby in this state, you have an obligation to follow the law."  The company, Correction Services Corporation, based in Sarasota ,
Fla. , gained more than $22 million worth of state contracts in the  1990's, but no longer does any business with the state. The company's president, James F. Slattery, a former New Yorker, denied  any wrongdoing, however. In a prepared statement, he said he took issue with the commission's conclusions but had agreed to the  fine only to "avoid further expense and distraction."  In depositions before the commission, Mr. Slattery and another company official, Jack A. Brown III, tried to cast blame for the  unreported lobbying activities on a former company vice president, Franklin Chris Jackson, who left the company in 2000.  Company expense reports made public today suggest that Mr. Jackson not only provided free transportation to some lawmakers but also wined and dined many others, especially in early 2000. None of these gifts were reported to the lobbying commission as  required by law. At least six of the unreported gifts were worth more than the $75 limit that state law sets on perquisites lobbyists  may give lawmakers, the commission found.   For instance, Roberto Ramirez, a former Bronx assemblyman and county Democratic chairman, received a $113 fruit basket from  the company in March 2000. In the same month, Larry B. Seabrook, a former Bronx assemblyman now in the City Council, got a $202 plane ticket from Washington to New York. Two other lawmakers, who were not named in the documents, received boxes of  chocolates on Valentine's Day that year from the company worth more than $75.  The lobbying activities of the company are under investigation by the district attorneys in Albany and Manhattan , who are looking at  the possibility of bringing criminal charges against company officials and legislators. The lobbying commission has turned over the  records it has collected to those investigators. The State Legislative Ethics Committee and the Board of Elections have also opened inquiries.  In depositions, Mr. Slattery and Mr. Brown said the company rented minivans during the 2000 election and gave them to  Assemblyman Roger Green of Brooklyn and other candidates for use in campaigns.  The company's undisclosed influence peddling came to light after Assemblywoman Gloria Davis, a Bronx Democrat, pleaded guilty  to bribery charges in connection with helping a construction company win a lucrative contract in her district.  As part of a plea bargain, Ms. Davis admitted that she had accepted free rides to and from Albany in vans provided by Correction  Services Corporation. She said she had in return helped the company continue to get state contracts.  Former employees of the company say Mr. Green, an influential legislator who heads the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus in the  Assembly, was also given free transportation in a minivan with tinted windows, as well as workers for his political campaigns, free meals and a cellular telephone. The depositions and documents released today, however, establish only that the company provided a rented van for Mr. Green  sometime in December 2000. The two company officials maintained that the van was only provided on one day for election  purposes. One of the company's records, however, refers to one of the rented vans as "Roger minivan" in Mr. Slattery's  handwriting. Another expense report, from August 2000, lists a $30 expense that says: "Roger Green needed van."  Gerald L. Shargel, a lawyer for Mr. Green, said the assemblyman denied the documents released today proved any wrongdoing.  The man at the center of the case, Mr. Jackson, was not deposed because he is gravely ill, according to his lawyer, Gail E. Laser.  Mr. Jackson's expense reports, however, suggest he spent a good deal of time dining with politicians. On Jan. 18, for instance, he  reported having a $170 dinner with State Senator Ada Smith at a Queens restaurant. On Jan. 27, he spent $223 on dinner at a Bronx restaurant with Mr. Ramirez, the county Democratic leader. Mr. Jackson's tab also included a lunch at Sylvia's in Harlem   with H. Carl McCall, the former state comptroller, for $50.  Many of these meals were not necessarily illegal gifts under the state's $75 rule, but failure to report them violated the law.  (New York Times)

February 27, 2003
The state's Lobbying Commission fined a private prison company a record $300,000 today for failing to report free transportation, meals and other gifts it had given to legislators in an effort to keep millions of dollars in state contracts.  Reams of documents and depositions released by the commission as it announced the fine today painted a picture of a company, Correctional Services Corporation, that did everything it could to curry favor with more than a dozen elected officials in Brooklyn and the Bronx as it won contracts to provide services to recently released prisoners. The $300,000 fine is the largest that the state has ever imposed on a single company for breaking its lobbying laws.  David M. Grandeau, the executive director of the lobbying commission, said the size of the fine was intended to send a strong message. "This isn't a game," he said. "If you are going to lobby in this state, you have an obligation to follow the law."  The lobbying activities of the company are under investigation by the district attorneys in Albany and Manhattan, who are looking at the possibility of bringing criminal charges against company officials and legislators. The lobbying commission has turned over the records it has collected to those investigators. The State Legislative Ethics Committee and the Board of Elections have also opened inquiries.  The company's undisclosed influence peddling came to light after Assemblywoman Gloria Davis, a Bronx Democrat, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in connection with helping a construction company win a lucrative contract in her district.  As part of a plea bargain, Ms. Davis admitted that she had accepted free rides to and from Albany in vans provided by Correction Services Corporation. She said she had in return helped the company continue to get state contracts.  ( New York Times)

February 26, 2003
Correctional Services Corporation (Nasdaq:CSCQ - News; the "Company") announced today that it has entered into a final agreement with the New York State Temporary Commission on Lobbying (the "Commission") that concludes the Commission's review of the Company's semi-annual lobbying expenditure reports for the period January 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001. As part of the agreement, the Company has agreed to amend its semi-annual lobbying reports for the period of January 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001 in accordance with the Commission's views and to pay to the Commission a civil penalty for the 3 periods in question of $300,000.The Commission's investigation focused primarily upon alleged lobbying activities of certain former employees of the Company in New York. The Company cooperated fully with the Commission in the course of its investigation and voluntarily provided to the Commission numerous documents, records and testimony to assist the Commission in its investigation.  (Yahoo Finance)

February 21, 2003
Correctional Services Corp. could face a criminal charge for exceeding campaign contribution limits in the 2002 elections, the second time the Florida-based prison services company violated New York 's
election law, a state official said Thursday.  Campaign filings for 2002 show CSC gave at least $8,150 to various campaigns, exceeding the $5,000 limit for corporations.  The company may have also provided campaign help that could qualify as in-kind donations, which must also be reported. Documents and testimony provided by CSC to the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying show the company provided staff and vans to various campaigns.  Daghlian said the board is investigating whether it should refer the company's excess contributions to a district attorney. CSC in 1997 also violated the campaign contribution limit, Daghlian said, handing out $6,000 to various candidates including $2,500 to Republican Gov. George Pataki and lesser amounts to several current and former New York City Democratic assemblymen.  A second violation could qualify for a misdemeanor charge, Daghlian said.  The company is also a subject of investigations by the lobbying commission and the Albany County and Manhattan district attorneys, which are looking into free rides and other perks the company provided to legislators.  (Times Union)

February 21, 2003
The state Lobbying Commission has evidence that a private prison firm gave illegal gifts to state lawmakers, a top commission official said yesterday.  After lengthy interviews with executives of Correctional Services Corp., Lobbying Commission Executive Director David Grandeau said the Florida-based firm also improperly filed lobbying reports with the state.  "We feel there's sufficient evidence to bring an action against them for failing to properly report their lobbying expenditures, along with the fact that they made illegal gifts beyond the $75 limit to legislators," Grandeau said.  CSC, which has been under investigation for giving free transportation to lawmakers, can settle the matter by amending its reports and paying a fine or going to a hearing, he said. The maximum fines are $50,000 per inaccurate report and $25,000 for each illegal lobbying expense. (New York Daily News)

February 18, 2003
A vehicle provided to Assemblyman Roger L. Green for his personal use was a gray Plymouth Voyager minivan with tinted windows, but the perks from a private prison company called Correctional Services Corporation did not end there, according to interviews and records from a federal investigation into the company's operations.  Mr. Green, an influential state legislator in New York ,
received a driver, a young man named Jorge Avila-Parks, who on many mornings showed up at Mr. Green's home in Brooklyn . There was also the public relations aide for Mr. Green's office, workers for his political campaigns, free meals and a cellphone. All told, the federal investigative records indicate, the package was worth as much as $2,000 a month.  When it came to courting the powerful as it won millions of dollars in state contracts, Correctional Services did not hold back.  And now its political activities have provoked an array of inquiries.  Company records have been turned over to state prosecutors in Albany and Manhattan , executives have been subpoenaed, and the state lobbying commission is determining whether favors for lawmakers were properly disclosed.  Campaign Duty Company employees said that at election time, Correctional Services required many workers at its state and federally financed halfway houses in New York City to become foot soldiers in the campaigns of many politicians, from former Mayor David N. Dinkins to the Rev. Al Sharpton to lawmakers in Washington , Albany and the city. At one Correctional Services halfway house, 17 of the 22 workers were out on the trail early one November, according to federal records.  It might have been familiar duty for some of them: Correctional Services had hired them because they were relatives or friends of United States Representative Edolphus Towns of Brooklyn , State Assemblywoman Carmen E. Arroyo of the Bronx and numerous other officials.  Sometimes, Correctional Services, its executives and its workers just donated directly to campaigns. They gave tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions to Democratic lawmakers from the city, and then, when it seemed that Gov. George E. Pataki might scale back the company's contracts because of a shrinking prison population, they turned their attention to him.  "The higher-ups made it very known that if it wasn't for the political leaders and these political favors that we were doing for them — and if we don't keep them in office — then the company would cease to exist," recalled Richard Ruiz, who worked for the company as a case manager and facility manager from 1992 through 1995, just as it began winning state contracts. "They would say that all the time: that we had to look out for those people, for the politicians."  The federal report includes testimony from workers that the company's president, Mr. Slattery, knew about the favors that Mr. Jackson was providing to politicians, but an Albany lawyer retained by the company, James Featherstonhaugh, said last week that those accounts were inaccurate.  State lobbying commission officials said they have discussed seeking a record fine of more than $250,000 against the company for Mr. Jackson's activities.   Mr. Ramos is quoted as saying that the use of company workers for political favors was covered up by creating what was called a "Community Assistance Project."  "Ramos stated that these payments and benefits were provided to Green so that Esmor would retain the state contracts for halfway housing in New York ," the report says.  State investigators say that among the issues they are exploring is whether Mr. Green and other lawmakers were reimbursed by the state for travel expenses while they were accepting free travel from Correctional Services.  Mr. Jackson's success in building ties to Albany can be measured in letters that more than 25 Democratic state lawmakers sent to the Pataki administration in late 1997 and 1998, praising Correctional Services and requesting that the contracts be continued. Many of the letters, which were similarly worded, indicate that copies were sent to Mr. Jackson.  Around the time that state lawmakers were writing the letters, the company, Mr. Slattery and its workers suddenly began donating heavily in support of Mr. Pataki, sending $12,500 to the Republican State Committee, $10,000 to the Conservative Party and more than $5,000 to the Pataki campaign. Among the contributions were a spate of small donations, ranging from $150 to $300, given in November 1998 in the names of company workers, several of whom said they had not given the money.  "I'm not even politically affiliated," recalled Jose Moreno, a former worker who is listed as having donated $150.  With Mr. Jackson largely out of politics and Correctional Services no longer in business with the state, the story of the company's ties to lawmakers might have faded away had it not been for an unrelated incident.  A Bronx assemblywoman, Gloria Davis, who was so close to Mr. Jackson that he referred to her as "Mom," was charged last year in an unrelated bribery case. In the course of the inquiry, the Manhattan district attorney's office learned that she had repeatedly accepted free transportation from Correctional Services.  Among her drivers was a midlevel Correctional Services personnel manager named Gilbert Jimenez, who said in a recent interview that he drove her between her district and Albany at least 30 times in 1999 alone.  He described how he would be called on the telephone or beeped at all hours to pick up Ms. Davis in a Ford cargo van or a Dodge Caravan minivan used to shuttle prisoners. All the while, Ms. Davis was seeking reimbursement from the state for her travel costs, records show.  Mr. Jimenez, who left the company over a dispute, later became a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company. That suit was settled out of court.  "Jackson and them — their common phrase was, `We're untouchable,' because of their political connections, because of who they knew," Mr. Jimenez said.  (New York Times)

February 6, 2003
New York 's lobbying commission has determined from an initial review of a private prison company's records that company officials failed to disclose meals and other items used to cultivate ties to state lawmakers, officials said yesterday. As a result, the company is expected to face a sizable fine.  The company, the Correctional Services Corporation, based in Sarasota ,
Fla. , turned over documents detailing the expenses of a former vice president to the lobbying commission yesterday afternoon. The commission's executive director, David M. Grandeau, said he had just begun examining the records, but it was apparent that there were numerous expenses, especially meals for lawmakers, that had not been reported to the commission.  "There is lots of information, and it is going to take us quite a bit of time to go through it," Mr. Grandeau said. "But it's clear from a brief perusal that their filings in 2000 and 2001 were not accurate and need to be amended."  Correctional Services sought the aid of state lawmakers in the late 1990's when Gov. George E. Pataki tried to cut its contracts to run halfway houses for recently released prison inmates, and the lawmakers were able to help restore the money.  Under the law, companies are required to disclose their lobbying expenses regularly, but Correctional Services never told the commission about the lobbying practices of the former vice president, Franklin Chris Jackson. The company records show that Mr. Jackson treated several lawmakers to more than 100 meals, while also supplying them with transportation between New York City and Albany , according to people who have seen the records.  Among those who received the favors were Assemblyman Roger L. Green of Brooklyn ; former State Senator Larry B. Seabrook of the Bronx , who is now a City Councilman; and former Assemblywoman Gloria Davis of the Bronx , who recently pleaded guilty to bribery in an unrelated case. In addition to transportation to Albany , Mr. Seabrook also received a $200 plane ticket to Washington, the records show.  The lawmakers have declined to comment on Correctional Services.  James D. Featherstonhaugh, a lawyer for Correctional Services, said it was cooperating with the commission, and believed that the documents were responsive to the commission's requests. Asked whether the documents were evidence that the company had violated lobbying laws, Mr. Featherstonhaugh would not comment.  Mr. Jackson has declined to be interviewed by the commission, and it has threatened to subpoena him. His lawyer has told the commission that Mr. Jackson is terminally ill with cancer, and is not able to provide testimony.      (New York Times)

January 31, 2003
A vice president of a private prison company that received millions of dollars in New York State contracts treated a group of legislators to more than 50 meals in recent years, according to people involved in inquiries into the company's activities in Albany.  The company, Correctional Services Corporation, has been gathering documents related to the work of the vice president, Franklin Chris Jackson, who is no longer with the company, and has agreed to turn them over to the state lobbying commission. The commission is examining whether Mr. Jackson was essentially an unregulated lobbyist who wooed state lawmakers without disclosing his lobbying as the law requires law. Manhattan and Albany prosecutors are also conducting their own investigations.  People involved in the inquiry said company records show that Mr. Jackson routinely took a handful of state lawmakers to meals in New York City. The expenses were never detailed in the company's lobbying reports. The names of the lawmakers could not be determined.  Correctional Services sought the aid of Democratic lawmakers from the city in the late 1990's when Gov. George E. Pataki tried to cut its contracts, and the lawmakers successfully urged the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, to restore the money. One focus of the inquiries is the link between lawmakers' efforts on behalf of the company and any favors that the company bestowed.  One lawmaker, Assemblywoman Gloria Davis of the Bronx, admitted in a Manhattan court that she accepted transportation from the company in the late 1990's in return for helping it retain state contracts.  (New York Times)

January 28, 2003
The Albany County district attorney has begun a formal criminal inquiry into the dealings of a private prison company that gained millions in dollars in state work while extending favors to several state lawmakers.  The district attorney Paul A. Clyne, said that his investigation of Correctional Services Corporation had just begun, and that it was impossible to predict its ultimate scope.  "We are going to be looking primarily at C.S.C.; they are at the center of the wheel," Mr. Clyne said.  The company provided a variety of services at halfway houses in the state for prisoners set to be released.  "As far as I am concerned, my investigation could involve 100 legislators or it could involve none," Mr. Clyne said.  (New York Times)

January 26, 2003
A private prison company at the center of state inquiries into influence peddling in Albany has a checkered history in metropolitan New York, having been the subject of two federal investigations.  Prosecutors in Manhattan and the lobbying commission in Albany are looking into whether the company, Correctional Services Corporation, violated any laws in its effort to continue receiving state contracts to run halfway houses for people recently released from prison. The corporation, a national company started by welfare hotel operators in New York City more than a decade ago, garnered more than $22 million in state contracts from 1992 to 2001, but has seen its business with the state fall to nothing in the last two years.  One lawmaker, Assemblywoman Gloria Davis of the Bronx, has admitted in a Manhattan court to accepting free transportation from the company in the late 1990's in return for helping it keep getting state contracts. After Ms.  Davis's admission on Jan. 7, Assemblyman Roger L. Green of Brooklyn told reporters that he, too, had accepted rides to and from Albany in one of the company's vans.  Another area of inquiry is whether the company also provided free cellphones to lawmakers, officials said. In addition, federal authorities say they have an open investigation into allegations the company's employees were forced to work on political campaigns of New York State and City lawmakers during the 1990's.  Whatever the results of the inquiries, the company, formerly called Esmor Correctional Services, has had its share of problems during its decade of work in the state.  In 1995, federal officials canceled its contract for the management of a detainment center in Elizabeth, N.J., after a melee broke out and it came to light that undocumented immigrants had been abused by poorly trained guards.  Throughout the 1990's, federal Justice Department officials compiled evidence that the company's employees were forced to work on Democratic political campaigns in the city, including those of former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, former Mayor David N. Dinkins, Representative Gregory W. Meeks of Brooklyn and Mr. Green, who heads the black and Puerto Rican caucus in the Assembly.  And in 2000, Mr. Jackson was arrested while on vacation in the Dominican Republic on pornography charges. He was later dismissed.  Mr. Jackson, whose associates said he had not been seen in weeks, did not return calls for comment left at his last registered number.  Throughout almost all their dealings, though, the company continued to gain work with the state, and it is clear it operated in Albany as many aggressive contractors do: its officials contributed to legislators, and when the money from the Pataki administration dried up, they enlisted the Assembly's Democratic majority to regain the funds.  Esmor was formed in 1989 by Mr. Slattery and Morris Horn, who had previously been partners in one of the city's most notorious welfare hotels, the Brooklyn Arms. Though they had no experience in operating jails, Mr. Slattery and Mr. Horn won a federal contract to open a halfway house in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and helped win over angry residents and local politicians by hiring William Banks, a close associate of Representative Edolphus Towns, to lobby for them.  Shortly after the fiasco at the Elizabeth detention center, however, Mr. Slattery and his partners changed the name of the corporation and moved its headquarters to Sarasota, Fla. Mr. Jackson remained in New York, overseeing the company's operations here.  The company's lobbying efforts were successful throughout the 1990's. Pataki administration officials say the company received a total of $20.4 million in contracts from the Department of Correctional Services going back to 1992, when Mr. Cuomo was governor. Beginning in 1998, Gov. George E. Pataki began to cut funds for the halfway houses and then phased the money out entirely.  That is when the Assembly's Democratic majority, led by Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, came to the company's aid, providing $600,000 out of accounts the Assembly controls, known as member items, in 1998, 1999 and 2001.  (The New York Times)

January 24, 2003
A bribery-linked Florida company has been offered a potentially explosive deal by state investigators that requires it to name the names of all lawmakers who received special favors, The Post has learned.  Correctional Services Corp., which gave chauffeur-driven rides, donations and election assistance to numerous public officials, was told by the state Lobbying Commission this week that it could settle an ongoing probe of the allegedly illegal activities by naming the names, and paying a $150,000 fine, said a source familiar with the offer.  The fine would cover three reporting periods when the prison company allegedly violated state law by failing to reveal it was providing chauffeur-driven rides to former Assemblywoman Gloria Davis of the Bronx. Davis Earlier this month pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe from CSC.  It's also possible the commission will subpoena company officials and demand they name, under penalty of perjury, all state officials who received company gifts, the source said.  "CSC has been told they could end the investigation if they completely and truthfully disclose the names of all those who received the gifts, what gifts were involved, how much they were worth, and when were they provided," said the source.  The company did not return calls seeking comment.  The Silver-sponsored  money was earmarked for CSC' prison halfway houses in New York City, where the company also runs facilities for the federal Bureau of Prisons.  (NY Post)

January 23, 2003
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver helped bribery-linked correctional-services company win nearly $2 million in special state funds, The Post learned yesterday.  State budget officials said Silver's budget negotiators insisted on the last-minute addition of the funds - for Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. – to Gov. Pataki's budgets during the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Fiscal years.  The funds were provided to CSC at the same time former Bronx Democratic Assemblywoman Gloria Davis, once a powerful member of Silver's leadership, said she was being bribed by CSC with free, chauffeur-driven transportation.  Brooklyn Assemblyman Roger Green, another Influential Democrat, has also admitted receiving free chauffeur-driven transportation from CSC but insisted it wasn't a bribe.  The Silver-sponsored money was earmarked for CSC's prison halfway houses in New York City, where the company also runs facilities for the federal Bureau of Prisons.  A secret federal report turned over to the Legislature's Ethics Committee last week alleges that CSC, which Has aggressively pursued state and federal contracts, regularly provided campaign workers and other assistance to New York politicians during the 1990s.  The Post reported yesterday that a prominent New York City politician's brother has been on the CSC payroll.  Bronx Democratic City Councilman Larry Seabrook said his brother Oliver has been working CSC but wouldn't say for how long.  (NY Post)

January 22, 2003
Correctional Services Corp., which is ate the center of a mushrooming state probe into its aggressive lobbying tactics, is being sued by four inmates who claim one of its workers sexually assaulted them at a halfway house on Manhattan's East Side.  In a lawsuit brought in Manhattan Federal Court, the women claim that a counselor at Le Marquis Community Correctional Center on E. 31st St. "Lured" them into his office on different occasions in late 1998 and assaulted them.  (New York Daily News)

January 19, 2003
A secret federal report says a close ally of Brooklyn Assemblyman Roger Green steered a scandal-linked company's campaign help to prominent politicians, The Post has learned.  The feds' explosive, 50-page report - some details of which were disclosed in yesterday's Post – quotes several company employees as saying Frank Chris Jackson, until 2000 a senior vice president with Florida-based Correctional Services Corp., ordered them to work on the campaigns of some of New York's best known politicians.  Former Bronx Assemblywoman Gloria Davis pleaded guilty to bribery earlier this month and said free transportation she received from CSC - a national operator of private prisons and halfway houses which regularly seeks state and federal contracts - was given as a bribe.  "Jackson was the key player and was always going to Albany, to political dinners, to events that were taking place," said a source familiar with the report.  State lawmakers say Jaackson was a well known figure in Democratic political circles in the late 1990s and was active in events sponsored by the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus, which was once chaired by Davis and is now headed by Green.  The report cites a memo from Jackson to James Slattery, CSC's president, saying that then-Assemblyman and now U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) wanted the company to provide "security" at a meeting of the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus.  Jackson's political activities, and his involvement with CSC, came to an abrupt end in 2000 when he was arrested and imprisoned in the Dominican Republic on charges of sexually abusing children, according to investigators and published accounts.  A law enforcement source said Jackson's current whereabouts are unknown.  The federal report describes the widespread provision of assistance - workers, vans, cars, and petition carriers by CSC and its predecessor company, Esmor Correctional Services, during the 1990s for the campaigns of such well known Democrats as then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, then-Mayor David Dinkins, the Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks of Queens and Green.  The report quotes several company employees as saying they were told they would be fired if they didn't work in political campaigns.  (NY Post)

January 18, 2003
A secret federal report alleges that a half-dozen prominent New York Democrats – including Mario Cuomo, David Dinkins and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- received campaign help from a prison-services company at the center of a growing scandal, The Post has learned.  The feds' bombshell 50-page probe has been turned over to the Legislature's Ethics Committee for further investigation, sources said.  Prepared by investigators for the U.S. Justice Department with the help of the FBI, the report was handed over to the committee on Wednesday, two government sources said.  That's the same day The Post disclosed that Brooklyn Assemblyman Roger Green admitted receiving gifts from a correctional-services company that former Bronx Assemblywoman Gloria Davis admitted had given her bribes.  Davis resigned from the state Legislature earlier this month after pleading guilty to bribery.  The still-secret federal report, completed in the late 1990s, focuses on the role of Florida-based Correctional Services Corp. (CSC) and its Long Island-based predecessor, Esmor Correctional Services, in allegedly providing campaign services to prominent politicians.  Those cited in the report as benefiting from the company's help include Cuomo, Dinkins, Sharpton, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Brooklyn) and Green, sources familiar with the report said.  The report says CSC and Esmor routinely provided politicians and their political organizations with dozens of campaign workers, petition carriers, vans, cars and other assistance over a period of years.  The federal probe began after company employees complained that they were forced to work for the campaigns under threat of being fired, according to the sources.  The report - which was described to The Post by two sources who said they had first-hand knowledge of its contents - contains the accounts of many company employees who charged they were forced to engage in conduct officials believe could be illegal under New York law.  Employees told probers they were ordered to work on campaigns because the company wanted to retain state and federal contracts, the sources said.  Repeated attempts to reach a CSC spokesman have been unsuccessful.  (NY Post)

January 16, 2003
The state Board of Elections has joined the state Lobbying Commission in looking into the activities of a Florida-based company that has been courting New York state lawmakers, an official said yesterday.  Spokesman Lee Daghlian said the board was looking into the apparent over-contribution last year by the Correctional Services Corp. to state legislative candidates.  The company operates two halfway-house-type facilities in New York City, one in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn, for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  The Sarasota, Fla.-based company had already been under investigation by the state Lobbying Commission for allegedly giving free, round-trip van rides between the Bronx and Albany to Assemb. Gloria Davis. She resigned her Assembly seat and pleaded guilty last week in a bribery case.  News of the election board action came as Assemb. Roger Green (D-Brooklyn) admitted that he also received free transportation from Correctional Services Corp. over several years.  Board of Elections records show the company contributed $4,500 to Green's campaign committee as part of the $10,650 it gave to New York politicians last year. Legally, corporations can give only $5,000 annually to all candidates in New York.  Daghlian said the company would be notified about the apparent violation, asked to get the excess contributions back and explain why it happened. The board spokesman said the company had been caught over-contributing in 1997.  A telephone message to the company seeking comment was not returned yesterday. The company had contracts with New York's state prison system that between 1992 and 2000 brought it $25.4 million, according to the state comptroller's office.  (News Day)

January 15, 2003
The State Lobbying Commission has launched a probe of a major national firm linked to the illegal conduct of just-resigned Bronx Assemblywoman Gloria Davis, The Post has learned.  The still-secret probe focuses on two types of possible lawbreaking by Correctional Services Corp. (CSC) of Sarasota, Fla. - one of the nation's biggest providers of privately run prisons and correctional services - which provided free, chauffeur-driven transportation to Davis from her home in The Bronx to the state Capitol and back, a source familiar with the investigation said.  The commission is also expected to seek to determine if other state lawmakers received similar favors from CSC, which could constitute illegal gifts.  The commission is also investigating a powerful lobbying firm, Bolton St. John, which once represented CSC, to find out if it was aware of the free transportation given Davis, an official of the firm told The Post.  Davis, long a powerful member of the Assembly's Democratic majority, resigned last week, a day before pleading guilty to taking $24,000 in bribes from a contractor seeking a state contract and to receiving free transportation from CSC over a four-year period, from mid-1998 to March 2002.  Prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said CSC gave Davis the free transportation - which a source said could have been worth tens of thousands of dollars - in exchange for her help in attempting to win state contracts.  Three sets of lobbying reports detailing CSC's efforts to influence state government during 2000 and 2001 failed to disclose the transportation services provided Davis, a source said.  "The company filed three lobbying statements in 2000 and 2001, and they did not include the expenses incurred for providing transportation to Davis," the source noted.  "The company could be fined $50,000 for each of those omissions, as well as $25,000 for the illegal gifts, so the fines could total $225,000.   "In addition, there could be a criminal charge against the company relating to the illegal gifts," the source continued.  Repeated attempts to reach CSC for comment were unsuccessful.  (New York Post)

January 15, 2003
A Brooklyn lawmaker has admitted to receiving free transportation fro the same company that allegedly provided similar services to former Assemblywoman Gloria Davis. Democratic Assemblyman Roger Green told the New York Post in Wednesday's editions that Correctional Services Corp., gave him rides to and from Albany over a period of several years. Prosecutors had accused Davis, a Bronx Democrat, of accepting free round-trip van rides from CSC in exchange for helping it unravel government red tape. Last week, Davis pleaded guilty to accepting bribes to steer deals to favored contractors, while prosecutors also accused her of taking additional bribes in exchange for favors. According to the Post, the company, in filings with the Lobbying Commission, said it lobbied both Green and Davis. CSC of Sarasota, Fla., contributed $4,500 to Green's campaign last year, the newspaper said. The Lobbying Commission is investigating CSC for possible illegal activities. (AP)

Broome County Jail
Broome, New York
Correctional Medical Services
Apr 27, 2018
Former Broome County Jail Nurses claim they were forced to falsify medical records
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- Caring for an inmate is of course the top priority for medical professionals at any correctional facility. But according to three, now former nurses at the Broome County Jail, that care was restricted. Now, they've filed a lawsuit with Correctional Medical Care, which is the company hired by the county to care for inmates. In it, they claim the company forced them to falsify the medical records of inmates, in an attempt to pass accreditation, but refused. "I have a responsibly to these individuals, whether they're inmates or whatever their case may be, I have a responsibility to provide them with the appropriate care," said Maggie McDonnell, Nurse. According to the claim, nurses were directed to backdate sick call sheets, resulting in some inmates being denied medication. In one circumstance, they were alerted by the jail that an inmate was suffering from serious abdominal pain. He was brought to the hospital, but ordered to return back to the jail. "Your intestinal track could have ruptured and you could be dumping those contents into your abdomen. There's a multitude of conditions that can cause that that can be fatal," said McDonnell. Attorney Ron Benjamin claims these medical issues could drive up cost, leading the company to try to cut back. "Inmates are not being given services, simply because the organization is trying to cut its own cost to make the contract profitable," said Benjamin. In a statement, the company says they've donated more than $2 million to jails they support. They also claim one nurse was terminated for inappropriate conduct, and a second was actually terminated after admitting to falsifying records. The third allegedly resigned after her job performance was assessed. "They had already pulled my clearance so I was not able to work in the jail anyway," said Jennifer Rivers, Health Services Administrator. The nurses are seeking to win back the wages lost from their salaries. Correctional Medical Care Inc. released the following statement: The suit filed by three former employees of CBH Medical is baseless and built upon a number of lies and exaggerations. Allegations that CMC was engaging in practices aimed at keeping its costs as low as possible are patently false. CMC and CBH Medical have donated in excess of $2,105,599 in staffing since their inception to address the rising acuity and severe health concerns in jails. The correctional facilities house a population with the highest levels of chronic disease, mental health, and substance-abuse problems. No employee of CBH Medical or CMC has ever been instructed to falsify a medical record. One nurse was terminated by her co-litigant before the end of her probationary period for inappropriate conduct. That co-litigant was responsible for the medical unit in the Broome County Correctional Facility and voluntarily resigned after having her job performance addressed. One nurse was terminated and reported to the Office of Professions after admitting to falsifying medical records during an investigation, which was immediately reported to the Office of the Attorney General. It has become a cottage industry for some plaintiffs’ attorneys to abuse public perception and distort and exaggerate facts for their own personal gain. This attorney reached out to us and made a six-figure monetary demand to settle and avoid public scrutiny. We chose to proceed to litigation. This complaint, like any other, will go through the litigation process to separate facts from unfounded allegations. Correctional healthcare companies employ thousands of qualified and caring medical professionals – our neighbors and colleagues – who, alongside correctional staff, saves thousands of lives every day.

Nov 23, 2012
BINGHAMTON — A medical services contractor under contract with Broome County is now the target of a lawsuit over the 2011 death of a county jail inmate. Pennsylvania-based Correctional Medical Care, Inc., was served on Monday with a legal summons and complaint alleging that its employees failed to prevent the July 20, 2011 death of 40-year-old inmate Alvin Rios Jr. at the Broome County jail. After Rios’ family filed the lawsuit in state Supreme Court last month against Broome County, the Press & Sun-Bulletin obtained and released a state medical review board’s report on Rios’ death. The five-page report said CMC failed to follow its own intoxication and withdrawal policies and procedures, and that Rios was left “in an emergent life-threatening status without appropriate medical attention.” An amended legal complaint was filed Nov. 2, adding CMC and unnamed nurses as defendants and alleging that CMC, through its employees, “failed to follow policies and procedures with respect to treatment to be afforded to inmates exhibiting symptoms of withdrawal from narcotics and/or alcohol or other hallucinogenic substances.” The amended complaint also accuses CMC personnel of “leaving (Rios) unassisted on circumstances where timely medical intervention could have prevented his untimely demise." Binghamton-based attorney Ron Benjamin, who is representing Rios’ family, said the private company is positioned to absorb any legal ramifications the county faces. “The county has a contract with CMC that requires CMC to indemnify them,” he said, “which means they have to pay them whatever the county gets hit for.” County officials have declined to comment on Rios death due to the litigation. CMC has since 2006 provided medical services at the jail under a contract with Broome County worth more than $2 million per year. CMC executives did not respond to phone and email messages requesting comment for this report. The company has contracts to provide medical care at 12 facilities in New York state, according to its website, including county jails in Broome, Tioga, Albany, Dutchess, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Shenectady and Ulster counties.

Oct 23, 2012
DICKINSON — A 40-year-old inmate was left “in an emergent, life-threatening status without appropriate medical attention” before his death at the Broome County Correctional Facility last year, a state oversight agency has determined. While a lawsuit filed last week seeks to hold Broome County accountable for the July 20, 2011, death of Alvin Rios Jr., a report by the New York State Commission of Correction accuses a medical services company under contract with the county of failing to follow its own procedures in the hours before the inmate’s death. Pennsylvania-based Correctional Medical Care Inc. did not respond to phone messages or a written list of questions about the incident. County officials also declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit. According to the commission’s five-page report, obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin this week, Rios was arrested at a local motel on July 19, 2011, on a warrant for criminal possession of a controlled substance. Rios died the next day of “cardiac arrhythmia produced by cardiomyopathy” — an abnormal heart rhythm stemming from a deterioration of the heart muscle — “from illicit drug use.” According to the report, CMC failed to implement its own intoxication and withdrawal policy and procedure after Rios was booked into the jail at 4:48 p.m. on the day he was arrested. Medical workers and jail personnel are identified only by their initials in the report, which is heavily redacted. Among the commission’s findings is that the doctor who was at the jail for more than eight hours on July 20, 2011, was never made aware of Rios’ condition. In a statement later to the Commission of Correction, the doctor said he “never touched the chart.” When questioned by the Commission of Correction, a nurse employed by CMC said the nursing staff “typically utilized sick call protocols and over-the-counter medications,” rather than notifying a physician, when withdrawal symptoms are assessed. CMC’s policy, however, requires the notification of a physician as soon as the potential withdrawal is assessed. At 4:21 p.m. on July 20, 2011, a corrections officer heard a “thud” from Rios’ cell, according to the report. “Officer D.T. checked on Rios and saw him laying face down and shaking,” the report states. The officer then notified a registered nurse on staff, but Rios was pronounced dead less than an hour later. “The RN clearly left his patient in an emergent, life-threatening status without appropriate medical attention,” the report states. The report adds the nurse is no longer employed by CMC. The Commission of Correction produces mortality investigations as part of its oversight responsibilities for jails and prisons in New York state. Unanswered questions' The release of the investigation report, through the state’s Freedom of Information Law, comes in the wake of a wrongful-death lawsuit filed last week by Alvin Rios Sr., the father of the inmate. The complaint, filed in Broome County Supreme Court, alleges that negligence on the part of personnel at the jail led to the wrongful death of Alvin Rios Jr. Broome County and Sheriff David Harder, in his official capacity, are named as the defendants. “... Despite calling for medical assistance, and despite (Rios) exhibiting signs and symptoms that could have indicated a heart attack, stroke or catastrophic consequence, no one came to his assistance for a substantial period of time after he first cried out for assistance,” the legal document states. Rios, who immigrated from Puerto Rico in 1971 and was employed as a painter, was married and had children, according to the commission’s report. Binghamton-based attorney Ron Benjamin said Rios’ family is “devastated” by his death, and also unsettled by the lack of clarity about the circumstances leading up to it. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions,” Benjamin said. According to Press & Sun-Bulletin archives, the Broome County Sheriff's Correction Division on July 21, 2011, said an autopsy that day had determined Rios died of an opiate overdose as the consequence of long-term drug abuse. “It was not caused by an overdose,” Benjamin said. “What may have been going on, at least in part, is that Mr. Rios was experiencing some of the symptoms of withdrawal. And had he been given adequate assistance when he began making complaints, we believe that his life could have been saved.” Although the lawsuit seeks to hold Broome County liable, the Commission of Correction report focuses on failures on the part of employees of CMC, which has provided medical care at the Broome County jail since 2006 under contracts worth more than $2 million per year. In addition to a series of recommendations directed at CMC, the Commission of Correction’s report recommends that Broome County Executive Debbie Preston “conduct an inquiry into the fitness of Correctional Medical Care Inc. as a correctional medical care provider.” Preston spokesman Jim Worhach referred questions about the county’s response to the report to Harder, who declined to comment because of the pending lawsuit. In a letter sent to the Commission of Correction in July of this year, Harder said the Sheriff’s Office “took steps to insure that Correctional Medical Care Inc. complied with the commission’s recommendations” and has “monitored the development and implementation of the actions taken by the medical service providers.”

October 27, 2003
A state report issued this month on two inmate suicides at the Broome County Jail last year found fault with medical procedures but said staff security and supervision were performed properly.  The state Commission of Correction, the agency that oversees all of New York's jails, issued its report nearly a year after a 20-year-old asphyxiated himself Oct. 18, 2002, with a shoelace by wrapping it around a window frame in his cell and tying it around his neck.  A murder suspect died in a similar manner on Christmas Eve by asphyxiating himself using a sheet. The two were the first suicides at the jail since it opened in 1996.  Both men had medical issues when they were booked in, the report indicated. Scott Sickles suffered symptoms of heroin withdrawal, but did not receive standard treatment for drug withdrawal from medical staff, the report states.  John Leonard, 37, accused in the mid-December death of his fiancée, took antidepressants to treat his depression. But in the six days between booking and his suicide, Leonard did not receive medication for his mental illness.  Both men shared information about their problems with medical staff, the report indicates. Broome County contracts with Correctional Medical Services Inc. for inmate health care.  Larry S. Fischer, the jail's administrator, declined to discuss specifics of the deaths. Both families have put the county on notice that they plan to sue the county and its officials.  However, jail officials instituted changes recommended by the commission six months before the report was issued.  Changes include the availability of temporary prescriptions for inmates with verified medication needs. CMS now has a contractual obligation to provide that service, Fischer said. In the past, inmates waited 24 hours while CMS obtained medication from a facility in Minnesota.  (Press & Bulletin Sun)

Business Week

November 24, 2005 New York Times
Federal prosecutors have charged a former securities broker, David Pajcin, with insider trading related to information the authorities said he gleaned by illegally obtaining advance copies of Business Week and buying stocks that the magazine was covering favorably. Pajcin apparently persuaded an unidentified worker at a printing plant near Milwaukee to steal a copy of Business Week before it was released to the public. The complaint said that Mr. Pajcin bought shares in at least 10 companies from November 2004 to early March; Business Week wrote positively about all of them. Mr. Pajcin bought shares or stock options in companies like, Cornell Corrections, the SIPEX Corporation, the IMAX Corporation and Arbitron early on the same day that the companies appeared in the magazine's ''Inside Wall Street'' column.

Columbia University
New York, New York
Jun 23, 2015
Columbia University says it will stop investing in private prison companies Decisions follows student activist campaign

(CNN)Columbia University has become the first college in the United States to divest from private prison companies, following a student activist campaign. The decision means the Ivy League school -- with boasts a roughly $9 billion endowment -- will sell its roughly 220,000 shares in G4S, the world's largest private security firm, as well its shares in the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company in the United states. The campaign began in early 2014 when a small group of Columbia students discovered tuition money was being invested in the two firms, which run prisons and detention centers and militarized borders. The group, called Columbia Prison Divest, launched protests and meetings with administrators where they argued it was wrong for the elite school to invest in a "racist, violent system." "The private prison model is hinged on maximizing incarceration to generate profit -- they're incentivized by convicting, sentencing, and keeping people in prison for longer and longer times," Dunni Oduyemi, a 20-year-old organizer, told CNN. "We don't think about how the privileges and resources students get access to are premised upon violence done to people by virtue of their race, class, or citizenship status." In an emailed statement, a Columbia spokesperson said the university's trustees had decided to divest from private prison companies and would refrain from investing in such companies again. "This action occurs within the larger, ongoing discussion of the issue of mass incarceration that concerns citizens from across the ideological spectrum," the statement said. "The decision follows ... thoughtful analysis and deliberation by our faculty, students, and alumni." The spokesperson would not confirm how much Columbia had invested in the two companies. In 2007, Farallon, a company managing part of Yale University's endowment, also divested from CCA after a student campaign, though it did not rule out future investment in prison stock.

History of controversy

Oduyemi said activists targeted CCA for its "horrific" human rights record. A 2014 ACLU investigation found abuse and neglect in CCA-run prisons where guards used "extreme isolation arbitrarily and abusively," exposed prisoners to contaminated water, and delayed medical care of inmates, causing "needless suffering." Student activists also targeted G4S, a British firm, which has supplied a prison in the West Bank and checkpoints in Palestinian territories. Until last year, the firm also had a contract to provide services at U.S. detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay, according to the Financial Times. The firm still maintains patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border. South African prisoners have sued the company over claims they were tortured, according to the Guardian. Nigel Fairbrass, a G4S spokesman, defended the company's conduct. "We actively followed up with the South African government and have been presented with no evidence to substantiate the allegations," Fairbrass wrote in an email to CNN. "The prison was also returned to our operational control last year." He added that a 17-month investigation by the OECD's United Kingdom contact point had not found any human rights violations in G4S's operations in Israel -- and said the company would also not renew its contracts in Israel once contracts there expired over the next two years. CCA did not immediately respond to CNN's calls and emailed requests for comment. CCA's website includes a statement committing to "respecting human rights."

Will divestment have an impact?

Oduyemi said G4S had been responsive to past divestment campaigns, and "that has been the only effective way of getting them to change the contracts they write." But Fairbrass said Columbia's holdings of G4S stock, around 220,000 shares, comprised just 0.015% of G4S' market cap, valued today at $4.35 billion. Similarly, CCA has a market cap of $4.01 billion. Both firms are highly profitable and continue to grow. Alex Friedmann, the managing editor of Prison Legal News, a project of the nonprofit Human Rights Defense Center, predicted the divestment would have little to no effect on companies' stock price or operations. "I don't see divestment campaigns making a big dent," he told CNN. "They serve more as public education on private prisons, organizing tools, or as social commentary on what people believe is acceptable to be investing in." "As long as prison companies have the bed space the government needs and wants, they will most likely stay in business." Although Columbia is the first U.S. university to announce divestment from private prisons, similar campaigns are ongoing at other institutions, including Cornell, Brown, U.C. Berkeley, and UCLA. "It seems to be a moment where people are making the connection between all the kinds of uprisings we're seeing right now — #BlackLivesMatter, mass incarceration, and university movements," said Oduyemi. "We all recognize how much work has to be done in the future."

Jun 22, 2015
Columbia will divest from the private prison industry following a Board of Trustees vote to support divestment. This decision—which comes after the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing recommended prison divestment in April—means that the University will divest its stocks from private prison companies like G4S and refrain from investing in private prison companies in the future. Since early 2014, Columbia Prison Divest has campaigned for the University to divest its endowment from G4S and the Corrections Corporations of America, hosting two awareness weeks as well as several other rallies—including one outside of a class taught by University President Lee Bollinger. At a University Senate plenary on April 2, ACSRI Chair Jeff Gordon said that Columbia no longer owns stocks in CCA. In late April, CPD—a subcommittee of Students Against Mass Incarceration—staged a sit-in and teach-in for nearly five hours in Low Library on Friday to pressure Bollinger to bring prison divestment to the Board of Trustees and release a statement on the issue. In May, Bollinger sent an email to the Columbia community in support of divestment from private prisons. “This action occurs within the larger, ongoing discussion of the issue of mass incarceration that concerns citizens from across the ideological spectrum,” a University spokesperson said in a statement to Spectator.

Dutchess County Jail
New York, New York
Prison Health Services

July 19, 2004
New York state investigators have accused Prison Health Services, the company seeking to renew its contact at the Palm Beach County Jail, of causing the death of a Schenectady, N.Y., inmate suffering from Parkinson's disease.  A scathing report issued last month by the New York Commission on Correction echoed criticism in Palm Beach County that Prison Health Services has withheld care to inmates for added profit. The company is one of five bidding on the county contract.  The New York report details what led to inmate Brian Tetrault's brain basically shutting down after he was denied his prescribed medication for advanced Parkinson's disease by a Prison Health Services medical director at the Schenectady County Jail.  In October 2002, the commission -- a three-member body that evaluates, investigates and oversees correctional facilities in New York -- issued a report on the death of Victoria Smith, who died of cardiac arrest at the Dutchess County Jail in southeast New York after complaining multiple times of chest pains.  In the cases of both Tetrault and Smith, Prison Health Services' main reaction to the commission's inquiries was to get its lawyers involved, Lamy wrote to the company: "You and your colleagues are exclusively focused on protecting the business interests of PHS." The New York deaths evoke similar issues in Palm Beach County. Both inmates were denied medication. Prison Health Services staff concluded Tetrault was faking illness and labeled Smith a drug abuser. Company officials and doctors have cited malingering inmates and drug abuse as reasons for denying medication.  (Palm Beach Post)

September 12, 2003
Some county lawmakers are urging jail officials to reconsider the county's affiliation with Prison Health Services after calling into question the objectivity of an auditing firm that supported the actions of the health care provider in a case that resulted in the death of an inmate at the jail.  Jail officials commissioned the audit, which was conducted by Jacqueline Moore & Associates, after Dutchess County Legislator Mario Johnson questioned jail administrators about their decision to extend the contract with Prison Health Services despite a damning report issued by the state Commission of Correction following the Feb. 16, 2002, death of inmate Victoria Smith.  The state Commission of Correction found the 35-year-old woman's death to be the result of gross negligence by the medical staff employed by the jail under a contract with the private health care provider. Smith died of heart failure while an inmate. She had complained to medical providers several times in the week prior to her death of chest pain and numbness in her left arm. On the day Smith died, a nurse dismissed Smith's complaints as "drug seeking."  County officials were urged by the state to replace that firm, because, state officials said, the company was "holding itself out as a medical care provider while seeming bereft of any quality control."  But auditors with Jacqueline Moore & Associates took strong exception to the state's findings and said the report was "filled with editorial comments and numerous findings that are irrelevant to the inmate's death" and disputed a finding by the state that Smith's death was the result of a systemic failure of the health care provider.  "While it may be reasonable to question some aspects of the medical evaluation and treatment of Ms. Smith, the records reveal that Ms. Smith had timely access to care, that her medical complaints were objectively evaluated and that medical orders were performed as ordered.  That the head of the auditing firm is a founder of Prison Health Services and the ex-wife of the director of the health care company made some lawmakers look at auditing firm's findings with trepidation.  Legislator James Hammond, R-Poughkeepsie/Wappinger, said the relationship between the two companies "reduces my confidence in the objectivity of the report."  He, along with Kristen Jemiolo, D-Poughkeepsie, suggested the county ask local hospitals to provide inmate medical care at the jail.  "We did in the past ask St. Francis and Vassar (hospitals)," said Jail Administrator David Rugar. "None of them were interested. He said that Prison Health Services was the only company to respond to the county's most recent request for proposals to provide health care services at the jail.  Rugar also said Jacqueline Moore & Associates was the only firm to respond to the county's request for proposals to conduct the audit. The company was paid $15,000 for the study.  (Daily Freeman)

Erie County Holding Center
Erie, New York
Community Based Corrections, LLC
March 5, 2005 WGRZ
Campaign finance reports for Legislature Chairman George Holt are prompting more questions about a $3 Million dollar contract proposal for a Louisiana based firm. The issue was first raised last week when Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples brought up the budget amendment resolution which was part of the December 8th budget. The Legislature was not able to come up with necessary votes to fund that budget. Naples says the measure called for a contract with Community Based Corrections, LLC of New Orleans which would provide an alternative incarceration program. The amendment and the company claims they can save millions of dollars for local government. It specifically said the money to fund the program would come from the budgets of the County Holding Center, Correctional Facility and Probation Department. But Naples says no one really knew much about the firm. Sheriff Patrick Gallivan, who has oversight for the holding center and correctional facility, says he was asked to evaluate the firm by Chairman George Holt but also knew little about it. Channel Two's Claudine Ewing asked Holt last week about the program. Ewing: "Do you have any ties ? Holt: No. Ewing: Do you know the people? Holt: Oh, of course." Ewing also asked: "So they never kicked in any money to pay for your campaign? Holt: My brother was instrumental in helping me at a fundraiser in the area but this involvement at all." Channel Two obtained Holt's campaign disclosure forms from last year. There is a $500 contribution listed from Jimmie Woods at 2500 Joseph Street in Harvey, Louisiana which is a suburb of New Orleans. Channel 2 called the Woods' home in Louisiana. A woman told reporter Ron Plants that she was Jimmie Woods' wife. She also identified her husband as manager of Community Based Corrections and said her husband used 2500 Joseph Street as a business address. The woman said Woods was out for the evening and not available. The Louisiana Secretary of State's website also lists Jimmie M. Woods as the manager of Community Based Corrections LLC. Channel 2 repeatedly tried to reach Chairman Holts but he was not available to speak to us. Channel 2 did speak with campaign treasurer Tyrone Hargrove who said he knew nothing about the contribution and would try to contact Holt. Hargrove said Holt would be available on Thursday.

Kingston High School
Kingston, New York

June 10, 2010 Daily Freeman
The Kingston High School cafeteria’s snack area was closed voluntarily by food service operator Aramark on Monday after a county health inspector found a cockroach infestation while investigating an anonymous complaint, according to county health officials and an inspection report. Cory Kassler, a senior public health sanitarian for the Ulster County Health Department, observed roaches “in various locations” when he visited the cafeteria Monday morning, but most of them were dead, the inspection report said. Kassler cited the cafeteria for a cockroach violation, and a “cleanout” was conducted later that day. The problem was solved by Tuesday, according to the report, and the snack bar was reopened. Kevin DuMond, the county’s director of environmental health, described Kassler as “meticulous” and noted that the inspector did not find any cockroaches in food or coolers. Kassler “told our cafeteria personnel and director of buildings and grounds to have the snack area cleaned and re-sprayed by our exterminator to ensure that we were in compliance with the Health Department,” school district Superintendent Gerard Gretzinger said via e-mail on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Gretzinger referred to rumors of a cockroach problem in the high school cafeteria as “much misinformation.” “When (the inspector) visited on Tuesday morning, I am told that we were given a clean bill of health,” Gretzinger said on Wednesday. Insect infestation “related to any food work” is considered a public health issue because bugs find their way into food and pieces of them can cause respiratory problems, said Dr. La Mar Hasbrouck, Ulster County’s public health director. On the spectrum of major to minor threats to public health, Hasbrouck said cockroaches are closer to the minor side. Hasbrouck said food-preparation operations always have the potential to attract pests, and he described the school district as being proactive in expunging the nuisances. “If they continue doing their due diligence in terms of cleanup and inspections, it should be just fine,” he said. He also noted school districts are limited in what types of pesticides they can use to deter cockroaches. Kelly Dachenhausen, a parent of a Kingston High School student, said she heard rumors about a cockroach problem but that but when she called for information on Tuesday, she was transferred to the kitchen at J. Watson Bailey Middle School and her questions were not answered. “I just wanted to make sure what I was giving my son was healthy,” she said. Gretzinger, commenting on his remark Tuesday about “misinformation,” said on Wednesday that he was sharing what he knew at the time. “Never was it reported to me that there was an ‘infestation’ of roaches, and definitely no roaches were found in food,” he said.

Lehman Brothers
Park Avenue, NY
April 9, 2002
Shareholders arriving Tuesday morning for Lehman Brothers' annual meeting at its new Park Avenue headquarters were greeted by a gaggle of angry protesters, who planted themselves in front of the building to voice opposition to Lehman's involvement in the financing of private prison companies. Protesters who claimed to represent Prison Moratorium, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and New York University, among other organizations, urged city officials to block Lehman from underwriting bond issues for any New York City agency--unless the firm abandons its role as an underwriter of financings for private prison companies.  Shares of CCA and Cornell rose slightly following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as the market speculated that there might be an increase in government contracts for housing illegal immigrants, but have since declined to the trading levels of last summer. (Investment Dealers Digest)

Manhattan FBI Headquarters
Manhattan, New York
Wackenhut (Group 4)

January 21, 2010 New York Daily News
A Muslim security guard at the Manhattan FBI headquarters claims he's being forced to carry around proof of his religion because he has a beard. Daoud Ibraheem, 72, was granted a religious exception for facial hair when he was hired in 2007 by Wackenhut Services, but says the special treatment has triggered harassment by supervisors. In a $3 million discrimination suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, Ibraheem says he is subjected to daily spot-checks by officers from the Federal Protective Service. They repeatedly insist he must produce a letter written by the imam of his Brooklyn mosque vouching for his faith, the suit says. They also falsely accused Ibraheem of sleeping on the job and ordered him to stay outside a heated guard booth while non-Muslim guards have unlimited access to the shelter in freezing weather, said his lawyer, Tamara Harris. She said Ibraheem fears upcoming terror trials of 9/11 plotters could ramp up the hostility even further. "The anger people harbor against Muslims might be heightened by the proximity of his workplace to Ground Zero, where 9/11 happened," Harris said. The Federal Protective Service, a government agency, and private contractor Wackenhut are jointly responsible for security at 26 Federal Plaza. A lawyer representing both Wackenhut and the Federal Protective Service did not return calls for comment.

Monroe County Jail
Monroe County, NY
Correctional Medical Service (formerly run by Prison Health Services)
August 9, 2011 Democrat and Chronicle
Monroe County and its former jail health care provider have agreed to pay $275,000 to the family of a man who died of a heart attack in the jail in 2007. Attorneys for the family of Orlando Samuels had argued in a lawsuit that medical officials at the jail ignored Samuels' heart condition, causing his death in May 2007. In court papers, attorney Mark Valerio contends that Samuels — who was jailed on a parole violation — "was a known cardiac patient and was on four medications to control his heart condition." Samuels "was not provided with any of his heart medications for the nine days that he was at the jail before he suffered a fatal heart attack," Valerio writes. Jail health care provider Correctional Medical Services Inc. had experts who argued that Samuels' "history of cocaine and alcohol abuse" was central to the death, and not any neglect by jail officials, records show. The company admits no fault in the settlement. Insurance for Correctional Medical Services, or CMS, will cover the settlement, papers state. Attorney fees will be deducted from the settlement, which was approved last month by a federal judge. The county no longer contracts with CMS and last year sued the company, seeking $2 million in contractual restitution for alleged staffing shortages while CMS ran jail medical care. Court records show that the county and CMS agreed to dismiss that lawsuit last month. CMS handled medical care at the two county correctional facilities from Jan. 1, 2004, through March 31, 2008. Attorney Christopher Thomas, who represented CMS, declined to discuss the county's lawsuit against the company. Court records in that case show that in 2007 Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn and then-Undersheriff Dan Greene complained to CMS about staffing shortages and questions of whether inmate prescriptions were being properly filled. The medical staffing at the jail had been "alarmingly short," the county alleged, and Sheriff's Office and CMS officials met to discuss the problems "on or about May 5, 2007." May 5, 2007, was the day Samuels died.

January 17, 2011 Democrat and Chronicle
In mid-December, Monroe County Sheriff's Office investigators arrested a Greece woman on a charge that she possessed a stolen computer. Investigators brought the misdemeanor charge against the woman, April D'Amico, 51, almost two years after the alleged incident and — not coincidentally, her attorney claims — 11 months after D'Amico sued the company that provides medical care at the jail facilities run by the Sheriff's Office. "It appears to be a blatant abuse of process acquiesced to by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office," said D'Amico's attorney, Christopher Enos. Authorities allege that D'Amico illegally kept a workplace computer after she was fired from her job in January 2009 as Health Service Administrator at the Monroe County Jail. However, court records indicate that she returned the computer, though investigators allege that she only did so after told she could keep a Blackberry telephone issued to her by the health care provider, Correctional Medical Care, or CMC. Last January, D'Amico sued CMC and its president, Emre Umar, alleging that she was fired after trying to end a relationship with Umar, whose wife, Maria Carpio, is CMC's chief executive officer. Lawyers for CMC tried to have the case heard in federal court, but a judge determined in September that the case instead should be resolved in a state-level courtroom. The case is pending. Enos contends that the timing of the investigation and the arrest point to retaliatory policing — payback for D'Amico's lawsuit. He said there were no questions from investigators about D'Amico's possession of the computer until after the lawsuit — or more than a year after she was discharged from her job.

December 16, 2009 Democrat and Chronicle
Monroe County and the Sheriff's Office have sued the former medical service provider at its jails, alleging that the company did not provide staffing as promised under a contractual agreement. The county is seeking $2 million, according to a lawsuit filed Dec. 9. The St. Louis, Mo.-based Correctional Medical Services, or CMS, provided medical and mental health services at the county's two correctional facilities from Jan. 1, 2004, through March 31, 2008. The original contract with CMS lasted three years and was then extended by the county. The lawsuit alleges that "CMS failed to provide staffing at the (jail) facilities pursuant to the terms of the contract" and that the staffing shortages existed "throughout its term." The allegations, which CMS officials are challenging, come just more than a month after Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn was re-elected. Sheriff's spokesman John Helfer said the suit's timing was dictated by the county's need to preserve a legal remedy against CMS. The statute of limitations on contractual suits can be six years from the time of an agreement. Helfer said the sheriff and other officials would not comment further because the litigation is pending. For the same reason, officials said, they could not comment on why the contract was extended if there had been problems. CMS officials challenged the allegations. "CMS fully complied with the terms of our contract with Monroe County, and we dispute the assertions made in the lawsuit that has been filed," said CMS spokesman Ken Fields. "CMS provided quality services to the inmate patients at the Monroe County Jail. In fact, during our tenure, the facility achieved re-accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care for the quality of its health care program. "CMS is hopeful that this matter can be resolved amicably," he said. Correctional Medical Services has twice been sued by the families of inmates who died in the Monroe County Jail. In 2004, 16-year-old Javon Leggett hanged himself at the County Jail. The family alleged that the jail gave inadequate mental health treatment to the teenager. The state Commission of Correction, which investigates jail deaths, arrived at a similar conclusion. The commission determined that CMS failed to provide adequately trained mental health providers and recommended that the county review whether the company should be retained. In 2008, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, deciding there was not proof that CMS was responsible for the death. In the second incident, Orlando Samuels, 42, died of apparent cardiac failure at the jail in 2007. His family alleges in a lawsuit filed this year that medical officials ignored Samuels' heart condition. Again, the Commission of Correction also faulted CMS, maintaining that Samuels' wait to see a physician after he was first jailed was excessive. O'Flynn answered in a response that the jail had complied with the "applicable standards of care" with Samuels first meeting with a physician. Mark Valerio, the attorney for the Samuels family, declined to comment. Federal court records show a settlement conference is scheduled for later this month, though the conferences are not uncommon in federal court and not necessarily a sign that a resolution to the litigation is near.

July 6, 2009 Democrat and Chronicle
The family of a Monroe County jail inmate who died in 2007 is suing the Sheriff's Office and the former jail medical services, alleging that jail officials didn't provide him medications he needed for a heart condition. The lawsuit from the family of Orlando Samuels contends that he was denied prescribed medications even when he asked for them; that one physician suggested he be given aspirin after Samuels complained of heart pains (he never was given the aspirin, the suit alleges); and that a defibrillator malfunctioned because of a defective battery after Samuels collapsed with apparent cardiac failure at the jail. A 2008 state Commission of Correction report, obtained through the Freedom of Information Law, also faulted jail officials and Correctional Medical Services Inc. in the death of Samuels, who was 42 when he died on May 5, 2007. The commission provides oversight of conditions in jail and prison facilities. The commission recommended a disciplinary investigation into the actions of a nurse for several lapses, including "failure to complete an initial medical assessment of a known cardiac patient." A letter from Correctional Medical Services officials to the commission says the company did fire the nurse after Samuels' death. A spokesman for Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn said the sheriff would not comment on pending litigation. However, in a response to the commission report, O'Flynn defended the actions of jail employees. For instance, the commission criticized jail officials for the fact that Samuels did not see a facility physician from the time he was admitted to the jail until his death nine days later. O'Flynn noted in his response that state regulations say each inmate should be seen by a physician within 14 days of admission, meaning the jail did comply "with the applicable standards of care." Attorney Mark Valerio, who filed the lawsuit for the Samuels' family and fielded questions on their behalf, said jail medical officials clearly erred by not dealing with Samuels' known heart issues. "The main concern is that this was a known heart patient," Valerio said. "He was on heart medication. He was not given those medications the nine days prior to his death. "That should not have happened," he said. According to commission records, Samuels did submit a sick call request and was scheduled for a May 8 visit to the jail physician. The commission said Samuels told a deputy that the date should be fine because he did have possession of "my nitro pills." The lawsuit contends that Samuels was denied other medication he needed to control his heart condition. When Samuels collapsed at the jail the morning of May 5 he could not be revived with a defibrillator "due to the fact that the battery in the device was defective," the lawsuit states. The county no longer contracts with Correctional Medical Service, or CMS, for jail medical care. The letter from CMS officials to the Commission of Correction outlines improvements the company made after Samuels' death while stating that these "subsequent remedial measures" should not be construed as "an admission of negligence or intentional fault."

August 23, 2007 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
A state commission has concluded that a private company gave inadequate mental health treatment to a teenager who hanged himself in Monroe County Jail. A report by the state Commission of Correction stopped short of saying that Correctional Medical Services Inc. of St. Louis, which contracts with the county to provide medical care to jail inmates, was responsible for the death of 16-year-old Javon Leggett on Aug. 29, 2004. But the report charged that: A Correctional Medical Services employee who wasn't trained to deal with high-risk inmates or depressed adolescents was assigned to Leggett after what might have been a previous suicide attempt six weeks before Leggett's death. Leggett wasn't referred for follow-up mental health care or medication even though he was interested in both, and was removed from suicide watch three days after the apparent suicide attempt. The company was at fault for failing to provide properly trained mental health providers and recommended that Monroe County review whether it should continue to retain the company. Despite the report, however, the county renewed its contract with Correctional Medical Services on Jan. 1. The one-year extension was for $7.5 million. The report marks the second time that a state investigation into an inmate death at the jail has sharply criticized private companies for inadequate medical or mental health care. In May 2002, the Commission of Correction said inmate Candace Brown died in September 2000 when she received "grossly and flagrantly inadequate care" from Prison Health Services Inc. after her opiate withdrawal was untreated. Prison Health Services of Brentwood, Tenn., provided care in the jail from 2000 to 2004, when Correctional Medical Services replaced it with a three-year, $17.7 million contract approved by the County Legislature. Prison Health Services agreed to pay $450,000 to Brown's family to settle a lawsuit. The report on Leggett's death, issued in March 2005, was kept private until it was filed earlier this year as part of a lawsuit against the county and Correctional Medical Services by Leggett's mother, Loretta Leggett. Rochester lawyer Van Henri White, who represents Loretta Leggett, said the critical report has prompted him to seek a settlement with the county and the company. "They've refused to talk about settlement," he said. "I've tried everything to convince these people that this is a case that should be settled." A spokesman for the county declined to comment about the case because it involves pending litigation. A spokesman for Correctional Medical Services said he couldn't comment about the case because it involves confidential mental health records. Both the county and the company have filed legal papers seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that they acted properly. In its papers, Correctional Medical Services said its care to Leggett met or exceeded the standard of care and maintained that it's uncertain whether Leggett committed suicide or accidentally hanged himself while attempting to get transferred from the jail to Rochester Psychiatric Center. Leggett was charged in May 2004 with assault and robbery. He pleaded guilty on Aug. 20, 2004, and was expected to receive five years' probation and six months in jail. But a deputy found him dead in his cell, hanging from a sheet tied around his neck, on Aug. 29, 2004. Six weeks earlier — on July 16, 2004 — Leggett was found under his bunk in what was documented in medical records as an attempted hanging. Leggett, who had a sheet around his neck, said he was stressed out but denied a suicide attempt. Correctional Medical Services assigned an employee who had a master's degree in social work — but was unlicensed — to perform a "lethality assessment" of Leggett to determine whether Leggett was in danger of committing suicide. Leggett was watched constantly as a suicide risk until July 22, when the social worker decided Leggett was feeling better. After seeing the social worker again on July 26, Leggett had no more mental health follow-ups, the Commission of Correction said in its report. "Overall, the evolution and treatment afforded Leggett was inadequate," the report said. "There was no referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist and nurse practitioner to evaluate Leggett for medication. There was no treatment plan, no follow-up for release after constant supervision, no monitoring, no medication."

December 3, 2003
A proposed contract to hire Correctional Medical Services Inc. to provide health care at Monroe County jails was approved by a 6-to-1 vote Monday by the County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee.  County Executive Jack Doyle asked legislators to approve a three-year contract for $17.7 million with Correctional Medical Services, which is based in St. Louis and operates in 28 states.  Democratic legislators began Monday’s hearing by raising questions about the company’s record and the wisdom of continuing to put medical care for the jail in the hands of a private company.  “I have some extremely grave concerns about this particular service,” said Legislator Carla Palumbo, D-Rochester.  But after a 1½-hour presentation by county officials and representatives of Correctional Medical Services, Palumbo cast the only dissenting vote.  The proposed contract is also scheduled to be reviewed by the legislature’s Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday and could be voted on by the full legislature next Tuesday.  Maj. John Caceci of the Sheriff’s Office said that the level of care would be much higher than now provided. And Ann V. Mack, regional vice president for Correctional Medical Services, said that there would be an outside monitor to oversee the care provided.  “The bottom line is that we’re going to get more mental health and health care,” said Legislator H. Todd Bullard, D-Rochester.  Questions about Correctional Medical Services were recently raised by the state Commission of Correction, the state’s watchdog for jails and prisons.  Frederick C. Lamy, chairman of the medical review board of the commission, faulted Correctional Medical Services for violations of nursing practice rules, severe understaffing, extraordinary high turnover rates and resistance to oversight scrutiny.  Lamy also said that Correctional Medical Services and other for-profit companies doing similar work could be engaged in the unlawful corporate practice of medicine, nursing and pharmacy in the state. That’s because state law does not authorize such activities.  The state Education Department, which licenses medical professionals, is looking into this matter.  Karen Butler, a lawyer representing Correctional Medical Services, said at Monday’s hearing that the doctors hired by the company are similar to “independent contractors.”  Correctional Medical Services would take the place of Prison Health Services, another private company that was criticized by the Commission of Correction for its care of an inmate who died in the Monroe County Correctional Facility in 2000 after her opiate withdrawal went untreated.  Meanwhile, lawmakers continued to meet in their caucuses Monday as Republican legislators try to come up with a budget proposal for 2004.  Legislators will resume meeting at 6:30 p.m. today.  (Rochester)

November 22, 2003
The company that Monroe County government wants to hire to provide medical services in its jails has come under fire for inadequate care in connection with two inmate suicides in Broome County, says the state commission that oversees jails.  County Executive Jack Doyle has recently asked the County Legislature to approve a three-year, $17.7 million contract with Correctional Medical Services Inc. Lawmakers could vote as early as next month.  The concerns of the New York State Commission of Correction were spelled out in a Sept. 23 letter from Frederick C. Lamy, chairman of the commission’s seven-member Medical Review Board, to the state Education Department, which licenses nurses and doctors. The letter and the Commission of Correction’s two reports of inmate deaths were obtained by the Democrat and Chronicle under the state Freedom of Information Law.  Lamy writes that the commission’s inquiry into “this corporation have revealed numerous and significant quality of care issues, including violations of nursing practice rules, severe understaffing … a resistance to oversight scrutiny and some severely problematic outcomes.”  Lamy also said that Correctional Medical Services could be engaged in the unlawful corporate practice of medicine, nursing and pharmacy in New York.  The commission questions whether Correctional Medical Services, and other for-profit companies doing similar work in jails and prisons, can hire licensed medical professionals to provide services to jail inmates because state law does not authorize such activities.  Correctional Medical Services would be responsible for providing the care that another private company, Prison Health Services of Tennessee, has provided in Monroe County jails. However, Correctional Medical Services would be expected to provide the mental health care at the jails now done by the county.  The care provided by Prison Health Services was sharply criticized by the Commission of Correction in 2001 in its review of the circumstances surrounding the death of inmate Candace Brown. Brown died in September 2000 at the county Correctional Facility after her opiate withdrawal went untreated.  The commission blamed Brown’s death on “grossly and flagrantly inadequate” medical care. This past May, according to court records, a settlement was reached after Brown’s daughter sued Prison Health Services and Monroe County officials. Prison Health Services agreed to pay $450,000 to Brown’s family.  (Democrat and Chronicle)

March 30, 2001
Inmate Candace Brown's death has raised questions about the private company Monroe County lawmakers hired two years ago to run the jail's medical operation.  In 1999, county lawmakers approved a three-year, $9 million contract that turned over the jail's medical services to Prison Health Services of  Tennessee.  Until then, county employees had provided most of the services.  Sheriff Andrew Meloni had urged the contract even as jail medical personnel and union leaders warned that the company had a checkered past and would likely rely on less-experienced staff as a way to save money.  A report released yesterday by the state Commission of Correction about Brown's death indicated that the county ought to reconsider whether the private company should continue running the jail's medical operation.  One of the major concerns raised by the prison watchdog commission was that licensed practical nurses were on duty without oversight by registered nurses, who have more training and expertise in emergency situations.  The commission cited the lack of expertise as a reason no one aided Brown who was suffering from heroin withdrawal.  Those who spoke out against privatizing jail medical services two years ago, now say they warned of this possibility.  " We said they would reduce the quality of care.  We were concerned in a cost-cutting effort they would use only  (licensed practical nurses)," said Florence Tripi, regional director of the Civil Service Employees Association, who was Monroe County's CSEA chief in 1999.  Dr. William Morehouse, who had worked part time as a physician at the jail before the private company took over, had also cautioned the county to go slowly on the approval of the contract.  " I thought that (the private company) had cut too much money out of the medical budget, " Morehouse recalled about his 1999 testimony to the County Legislature.  County Legislator Stephanie Aldersley, D- Irondequoit, had called for tabling the contract to investigate the history of the company.  But the Republican-controlled legislature approved the contract by a largely party line vote.  " We thought it was a bad decision at the time and this, sadly, bears that out," Aldersley said yesterday.  Still, the Commission of Correction said it was troubled by the company's inability to detect the questionable disciplinary record of a licensed practical nurse who was on duty.  (Democrat and Chronicle)

Le Marquis Community Correctional Center
New York
Correctional Services Corporation
January 20, 2003
Dismissal denied private prison company in sexual abuse case Four former inmates of a halfway house operated by a private company under contract to the Federal Bureau of Prisons brought this action to recover for injuries after being sexually abused by a company employee. Background: In 1998, Susan Scainetti, Yvette Adorno, Stephanie Womble and Rosemarie Johnson were federal inmates at a community corrections facility In New York City, Le Marquis Community Correctional Center. The facility is owned, operated and maintained by Correctional Services Corporation, under contract with the BOP. Between Nov. 6 and Dec. 28, 1998, Miguel Carriera, an inmate counselor And CSC employee, allegedly lured the individual inmates individually into his office and sexually assaulted them. The assaults were facilitated by the fact that Carriera's office was at the end of a hallway and was isolated by double doors though which no sound could be heard. Within two years after the alleged sexual assaults, the inmates filed claims with the BOP for damages. When no settlement was offered, Scainetti filed suit, and CSC moved to dismiss. Company representatives said the claim was time-barred. Ruling: On its face, the three-year statue of limitations barred Scainetti's claims, since her complaint was filed three years and three days after the date of the alleged assault. However, after filing her complaint, Scainetti received BOP records under a Freedom of Information request that showed she originally complained about The incidents on Dec. 30, 1998. Scainetti had told investigators that Carriera had made numerous sexual advances toward her and others over a period several months. She said the sexual assaults occurred on at least four occasions, "from sometime in October through December 1998." Since the alleged assaults continued through December 1998, at least some - if not all - of the assaults were within the statute of limitations, the court said. The CSC's motion to dismiss was denied. Scainetti, et al., v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, et al., No. Civ. 9970(SHS) (S.D.N.Y. 12/18/02). (Corrections Professional)

December 26, 2002
FORMER INMATES of a community confinement center operated by a private company under contract with the federal Bureau of Prisons brought this action to recover his injuries they suffered when allegedly sexually abused by an employee of that company. The court rejected defendant Correctional Services Corp.'s motion to dismiss, holding that a corporation that runs a correctional center for the federal government cannot invoke the government contractor defense. The court noted that the Second Circuit found that the defense "only shields a government contractor from claims arising out of its actions where the government has exercised its discretion and judgment in approving precise specifications to which the contractor must adhere." The instant court added that a contractor can still be found liable where it exceeded authority given it by the federal government, or "where the federal government's authority was not validly conferred." (New York Law Journal)

Nassau County Correctional Center
Mar 29, 2017
Nassau jail medical provider Armor sues to end health care May 31
A private company that has provided medical care to Nassau County inmates since 2011 on Monday sued the county to cease services at the end of May when its contract ends. In the lawsuit, Armor Correctional Health Services of New York Inc., based in Florida, said it notified Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration many months ago of its intention to pack up its operation on May 31 when its contract with the county expires. The company said it reiterated its position again last month and urged county officials to expedite selecting a new provider because it could take up to 60 days to train new workers. “Any request by the County that Armor continue providing services for an indefinite period of time beyond the expiration of the Contract and without the renegotiation of key Contract terms including those affecting Armor’s compensation, is not reasonable,” the company said in the lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court in Mineola. Armor — a for-profit company that provided health care services to Nassau inmates since June 2011 — has come under fire after several inmate deaths at the facility in East Meadow. While Armor wants to end its relationship with Nassau no later than May 31, Carnell Foskey, the Nassau County attorney, said a clause in its contract requires Armor to stay on until the county hires a new vendor to take over, and help with the transition. “The County disagrees with Armor’s interpretation of the contract and will vigorously defend the lawsuit,” he said in an email. Armor said if the court requires it to continue providing health care services to the more than 1,000 inmates at the Nassau jail, the company asked that it be contingent on Nassau County having a new operator take over on June 1. The Mangano administration was negotiating with another for-profit company, Correct Care Solutions, based in Tennessee, to take over for Armor. But talks broke down with Correct Care Solutions broke town last month, forcing the administration to start the search over. Bidders interested in the multimillion-dollar contract have until April 6 to submit their applications. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said two months is not enough time for the county to select a new vendor, negotiate a new contract, and present it to the Nassau County Legislature for approval. “I don’t see this happening until the middle of the summer,” Abrahams said Monday. “I would love to be wrong because that means we’ll get Armor out quicker. But realistically, I don’t see it.” To complicate matters, Armor, which provides health care services to more than 40,000 inmates in eight states, settled a lawsuit brought by the New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, alleging inadequate care. As part of the settlement, Armor agreed not to “enter into any contract” with any local government in New York for three years starting in October 2016. The attorney general “has expressed the view that Armor should not provide healthcare services to inmates at NCC beyond May 31,” according to the lawsuit. Armor asked the court to declare that the company would be in breach of its agreement with the attorney general’s office if it remains on after May 31. Extending its services, even on a month-to-month basis, would require Armor to sign a new contract with Nassau. A spokesman for Schneiderman on Monday declined to comment.

Sep 10, 2016
Another Inmate Has Died at the Nassau County Jail
Another inmate has died at the Nassau County Correctional Center, the sixth such instance this year. According to Newsday, the 62-year-old inmate died after suffering heart failure while hospitalized on Monday. A representative from the Nassau County Sheriff's Office, which oversees the jail, was not available for comment. The state Commission of Correction, which oversees state prisons, confirmed the death. The commission will investigate the death. The death raises even more concern about the jail’s health services provider, Armor Health, which has faced criticism from many different people about inadequate healthcare for inmates. The families of four inmates that died this year are suing the health provider and the county. Conditions with Armor were so bad that, in July, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the Florida-based company, which receives $11 million annually from the county for health services. “Failing to provide proper health services as required is completely unacceptable,” Schneiderman said when he announced the lawsuit. “Neglecting the duty to provide adequate care not only defrauds taxpayers, it compromises the health and safety of inmates, with sometimes fatal consequences.” According to Schneiderman, Armor has failed to uphold many parts of its contract, including: Not timely responding to inmates’ requests for medical assistance, and at times failing to respond entirely; Not providing required reports regarding assessment of care and improvement plans where audits show failures; Failing to provide timely and continuous access to prescription medications; Failing to provide timely and effective diagnostic services, such as laboratory tests; Failing to reliably provide important mental health services, such as treatment plans; Failing to provide adequate access to off-site medical specialists; and Understaffing key clinical and managerial positions, including leaving some positions vacant for months at a time. Nassau County has not renewed its contract with Armor, but many are still calling on the county government to terminate the contract now and find a new health provider. Armor's contract is up in May. "It's both sad and infuriating that Nassau County officials continue to employ Armor Correctional Health Services despite the fact that they have been found by New York State to have provided inadequate care in connection with five inmate deaths since 2011," said Dr. Dean Hart, president of the watchdog group Long Island Citizens for Good Government. "Every time an inmate fatality occurs, everyone suffers, including the taxpaying citizens who will eventually have to pay for the alleged negligence of Armor. Dump Armor already."

New York Department of Corrections

Jul 17, 2016
Nassau County jail health provider sued by state attorney general for improper care
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged today that Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services has failed to provide proper medical services at Nassau County Correctional Facility, where 12 inmates have died while in custody since the company was first contracted in 2011. In a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court, Schneiderman slammed the for-profit health provider for being slow to respond to inmates’ medical needs, not providing reliable treatment and being chronically understaffed. “Prison inmates rely on companies providing health services for a wide range of medical issues, many of which have gone untreated,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Those struggling with chronic diseases, mental health and substance-abuse problems deserve comprehensive, reliable and high-quality medical care.” While New York City recently ditched for-profit provider Corizon Health, Nassau County has continued to renew its $11 million annual contract with Armor. But the county issued a request for proposals for correctional health services at the end of March and may consider a new provider. "Since the issue was first raised, the County has been working with the Attorney General’s office to review Armor health care operations at the correctional facility,” said Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey in an email. “While awaiting findings of the Attorney General, the County formed a team of health and mental health professionals to review the delivery of health care.” In the meantime, Nassau County is working to retain a correctional health monitor to oversee Armor, Foskey said. Armor said in a statement that Schneiderman refused the company’s invitation to visit the facility in the course of his investigation. But Schneiderman’s probe piggybacks on investigations of inmate deaths conducted by the state Commission of Correction, which found that five of the inmates who died at the Nassau County jail since 2011 received inadequate medical care. According to Armor’s website, the company is contracted to provide health care to more than 40,000 inmates in jails and prisons in Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin. The company has been sued numerous times in the past and boasts on its website that it has settled 99% of medical malpractice suits out of court. “Armor is proud of its work caring for the inmates at the Nassau County facility, and will continue to do so as long as Nassau County wants it to do so,” the company said in a statement, adding, “Armor also intends to vigorously defend against claims filed by the attorney general.” Correctional health “remains an ongoing concern” for the attorney general’s office, according to one of his staffers. In 2014, Schneiderman settled a suit with Pennsylvania-based for-profit Correctional Medical Care for less egregious allegations related to staffing. The company, which had $32 million in contracts in 13 New York counties at the time, essentially got a slap on the wrist: It had to pay $200,000 in civil penalties and restitution and submit to an annual audit.

August 31, 2010 The Post-Standard
The state inspector general referred for possible prosecution today evidence of ethics and procurement violations involving Locke resident Howard Dean, the former director of the state prison system's food production center in Oneida County. The inspector general and state comptroller's office found apparent ethical violations regarding purchases from favored vendors by Dean and his staff. Favored vendors paid for dinners for Dean and his staff and were also solicited for donations for annual picnics and Christmas parties, Inspector General Joseph Fisch alleged. As a result, correctional services employees were invited to attend the parties without cost. Any extra money was used to buy bagels, gifts and other items for the correctional services staff. In return, these favored vendors were provided millions of dollars in state business annually, most of which was obtained in violation of the state law, Fisch alleged. The current assistant director of the Food Production Center, Kevin Bowen, informed auditors and investigators that one favored vendor was provided the potential missing ingredient essential in the production of cheese sauce that the Food Production Center wanted to utilize. None of the other vendors were provided the potential missing ingredient. As a result, the favored vendor received the state’s business. Dean, who controlled a $55 million budget at the Food Production Center, had no effective supervision over his activities by Department of Corrections managers, Fisch alleged. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Fisch forwarded evidence to the Oneida County District Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. They also provided their findings to the state Commission on Public Integrity.

New York Department of Education
May 11, 2005 New York Times
State officials have opened an investigation into whether the corporation that provides health care for more than 100,000 inmates each year in New York City jails is violating state law governing medical services. The State Department of Education, which regulates the practice of medicine, is examining the terms of the three-year, $300 million contract renewal the city signed in December with the corporation, Prison Health Services. The inquiry will determine whether the contract complies with a state requirement that for-profit corporations providing medical services be owned and controlled by doctors - a law intended to prevent business considerations, like maximizing profits, from influencing medical decisions. Prison Health executives and the city officials who oversee the company's work say they believe that the contract is in compliance. But state education officials say the matter of who is in charge is a serious one, with grave repercussions for the well-being and survival of inmates, as well as the public health. The investigation, in fact, marks a renewed effort by the Education Department, which first began to look into the Tennessee-based corporation in 2001, after several inmate deaths in upstate jails staffed by Prison Health began to draw stinging criticism from the State Commission of Correction, which monitors jail conditions. The department's investigators concluded then that Prison Health was violating the state law, saying that company executives were ultimately responsible for medical decisions and profiting from medical services. The two agencies asked the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, to halt the company's operations in New York, but Mr. Spitzer's office has declined to investigate. Now, however, education officials have decided to look into the company's largest contract of scores across the country, providing medical and mental health care at nine city jails on Rikers Island and a 10th in Lower Manhattan. On April 20, Education Department investigators met with three state assemblymen, city health officials and Richard Rifkin, a deputy to Mr. Spitzer, to discuss Prison Health's legal status. The Assembly members at the session were Richard N. Gottfried, chairman of the Assembly's Health Committee; Jeffrion L. Aubry, chairman of the Correction Committee; and Ron Canestrari, chairman of the Higher Education Committee. Assemblyman Canestrari said Prison Health appeared to be in violation of the state law governing for-profit medical services. "My understanding is their structure doesn't comply with the law," he said in an interview last week. "There have been attempts to meet the legal standard, but they have fallen short." But company officials insist doctors are in charge of medical decisions. In New York City, Prison Health says it provides only administrative services to a doctor-run corporation, P. H. S. Medical Services P. C., that directs all medical care at Rikers. But that corporation is run by Dr. Trevor Parks, who is a regional medical director for Prison Health. State education investigators have called Dr. Parks's corporation a sham, and said that when they questioned him, he had only a vague idea of his role in it. Several Prison Health employees at Rikers said in interviews that Dr. Parks recently gathered a group of supervising doctors there and informed them that they were employees of his corporation. Dr. Parks declined to comment yesterday.

New York Legislature
Jul 14, 2018
NY ends investments in private prisons, detention companies
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York state is selling nearly $10 million in pension investments in two companies that operate private prisons and detention facilities.
Democratic state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli approved the divestments Thursday for Florida-based GEO Group and Tennessee-based CoreCivic. Critics say private prisons aren't as accountable as government-run facilities, and privately run detention centers have come under fire for their treatment of immigrants. While the investments are only a small fraction of the state's $207 billion pension system, advocates for immigrants and corrections reform praised DiNapoli's decision to divest, which they said is a national first. DiNapoli's spokeswoman said the divestment won't negatively impact the health of the pension fund. Messages left with CoreCivic and the GEO Group were not immediately returned Friday.

Dec 26, 2017
Harlem senator pushes bill barring pension fund from investing in private prison companies
ALBANY — A state senator from Harlem has introduced a bill that would require the pension fund to disinvest from companies with ties to privately run prisons, the Daily News has learned. “There is no reason a progressive state like New York should be benefiting from mass incarceration,” said bill sponsor Sen. Brian Benjamin, a Democrat. “Passing this bill would not only be the right thing to do morally, it would benefit society economically.” Under the bill, the state controller, the sole trustee of the state pension fund, would be prohibited from investing in any stocks, securities or other obligation of any company or subsidiary that owns or invests in a for-profit company that contracts with a government to run a prison. Benjamin, the ranking member on the Senate Civil Service and Pensions Committee, argued that “by their very nature, private, for-profit prisons drive the inhumane practice of incarcerating low-income people of color.” A Benjamin spokesman said the roughly $200 billion state pension fund has about $11.5 million invested in at least two companies with ties to private prisons. Jennifer Freeman, a spokeswoman for state Controller Thomas DiNapoli, couldn't confirm the exact amount, but said the holdings are “minimal.” Freeman said the controller's office has spoken with Benjamin about the legislation, but hasn't taken a position. DiNapoli in late 2015 announced his office was taking steps to reduce and restrict the fund's investment in private prisons. State law does not allow privately run prisons in New York. But there is no formal prohibition keeping the state pension fund from investing in such companies. E.J. McMahon, of the Empire Center, a state fiscal watchdog group, came out against the Benjamin bill, saying the controller's responsibility is to get the best returns on investments for the state's pensioners, not to politicize the process. “This is basically a recipe for endless meddling and would actually undermine the integrity of the pension investments,” McMahon said. " Gov. Cuomo this past week called for the pension fund to stop investing in fossil fuel companies and also to find ways to disinvest current holdings from such companies. DiNapoli stopped short of committing to Cuomo's goal. Unlike private prisons, energy companies are passively or actively part of many of the index funds in which the controller's office invests, his spokeswoman said. “We have billions in energy companies,” Freeman said. “It's not easy to unravel those investments. Plus, those investments are typically large payers. They generally deliver solid returns.” Cuomo argued last week that “you have to put your money where your mouth is and that’s what this proposal is about.” Freeman argued that under DiNapoli, the pension fund has been finding ways to reduce “our carbon footprint.” She said the fund has $5 billion dedicated to sustainable energy investments and $2 billion in an index that invests in companies that reduce carbon emissions. The fund has also taken steps to address climate change through shareholder engagement, she said.

Wackenhut (Group 4)
July 24, 2007 The Chief-Leader
Governor Spitzer has signed into law a bill prohibiting the privatization of security posts in state jails. The measure, which was vetoed four times by former Governor Pataki, bars the state Department of Correctional Services from replacing Correctional Officers with private guards.

December 7, 2005 WWTI
Delays in issuing contracts for guard services continues to raise the security risks for state employees and people visiting state buildings while wasting taxpayer funds. That's according to state Comptroller Alan Hevesi's office. A state comptroller's audit conducted in 2001 and 2002 found that private security companies hired by the State's Office of General Services provided hundreds of unlicensed and unqualified guards to protect state buildings, universities and other facilities. In response, OGS awarded "emergency" contracts for guard services to Burns International Security Services and the Wackenhut Corporation in June 2002. OGS later agreed to rebid security contracts to find permanent security providers. So far, they have not, even as security remains a high-priority issue.

November 30, 2003
For the third straight year, Gov. George Pataki has vetoed a bill that would prohibit privatized prisons in New York state.  While the governor said in a veto message issued Wednesday that "I strongly support" state and local government employees staffing prisons and jails, he argued that the bill has technical flaws and omissions that necessitated his veto.  Among them was uncertainty whether the authors intended the measure to apply to the prison-like facilities for juveniles operated by the state Division for Youth, investigators employed by district attorney's offices or to cell block attendants employed by the city of Buffalo.  Pataki said while the 2003 bill is an improvement over the measures he rejected in 2001 and 2002, "I am constrained to disapprove this bill because it fails to fully address the concerns raised in my prior veto messages."  The bill might also "undermine" legislation Pataki recently signed to prevent privatization of New York City lockups, the governor said.  The union representing most state prison guards, the state Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association, criticized Pataki for again basing a veto on "legal glitches" he found in the bill. The measure had wide support in the Legislature again this year, the union noted.  "Prison privatization is fraught with threats to public safety," the union said in a statement.  (AP)

Niagara County Jail, Lockport, NY
Sep 26, 2015
Niagara County Legislature chooses new medical firm for care of jail inmates

Pennsylvania company starts 3-year pact Nov. 1

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature voted Tuesday to hire a new company to provide medical services to County Jail inmates, two months after the former firm paid $100,000 to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit over the death of an inmate. Correctional Medical Care of Blue Bell, Pa., will start a three-year contract Nov. 1, replacing Armor Correctional Health Services of Miami, which took over Dec. 15, 2012. Within two weeks of that takeover, two County Jail inmates died in their cells. An investigative report by the state Commission of Corrections blamed poor medical care for the deaths of Tommie Lee Jones, 51, and Daniel Pantera, 46. The report singled out Armor’s local medical director, Dr. Steven C. Gasiewicz, for allegedly failing to properly treat the pre-existing conditions of both men. Gasiewicz has denied any wrongdoing. The report also instructed the county to consider sacking Armor, but the company served out its three-year contract. “There is no firing. They don’t want it anymore,” County Attorney Claude A. Joerg said. “It’s not a response to the report from the state.” Armor had sought a $2.49 million payment to stay on, which would have been a 17 percent increase, and the county reacted by seeking bids, Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti said. In July, Armor agreed to pay $100,000 to Jones’ 23-year-old daughter, Maria Escalera, to settle a suit she brought against Armor and the county. Because of an indemnification clause agreed to by Armor, the county paid nothing to Escalera, who ended up with $68,413 after legal fees were collected by the Lipsitz Green law firm of Buffalo. A suit by Pantera’s widow against Armor, the county and Gasiewicz, is pending in State Supreme Court. Jones died Dec. 29, 2012, of heart failure and emphysema. He was in jail for violating parole on a robbery conviction, and the state report said he was denied necessary medications. Pantera, who was mentally ill, died Dec. 25, 2012. The Commission of Corrections asserted that he died of hypothermia because his cell in the solitary confinement unit was so cold, and Pantera repeatedly stripped naked. The report said Pantera at one point ran full speed into the wall, knocking himself out, and when revived said he had been trying to escape. He was in jail for failing to pay for a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven convenience store in North Tonawanda. Correctional Medical provides inmate medical services in 11 other county jails in New York. They will be paid $2.18 million a year, which is $32,000 more than the lowest bid, from Correct Care Solutions of Nashville, Tenn. However, Filicetti said, the county wanted more health staff, and Correctional Medical offered to assign the equivalent of 16.5 full-time positions. Correct Care offered 14.7 jobs, less than Armor’s 15.3. The difference is in mental health staff, Filicetti said.

Jan 10, 2014

LOCKPORT – The daughter of Tommie Lee Jones Jr., an inmate who died in the Niagara County Jail last year, filed suit against the county and the jail’s medical services provider Friday, claiming negligence led to her father’s death. It was the second wrongful-death lawsuit filed in State Supreme Court against the Sheriff’s Office in the past 10 days. On Dec. 10, the ex-wife of Daniel Pantera, who died in custody four days before Jones, also sued the county and Armor Correctional Health Services of New York, the company that replaced the county jail’s medical staff last year. Pantera, 46, of North Tonawanda, died on Christmas Day 2012. Jones, 51, of Niagara Falls, died Dec. 29. The suit over Jones’ death was filed on behalf of his 21-year-old daughter, Maria Escatera, of Buffalo. Her attorney, Gregory P. Krull of the Lipsitz Green law firm, said Jones, who was being held as a parole violator, had a long history of medical woes. Krull said Jones had undergone heart bypass surgery and had a pacemaker, and had been taken from the jail to Eastern Niagara Hospital in Lockport earlier in the month to be treated for shortness of breath and congestive heart failure. Inmates who wrote to The Buffalo News after the death asserted in a six-page letter that Jones “literally begged the staff, both correctional and medical, to take him to the hospital. On Friday, Dec. 28, his condition had visibly worsened, but jail staff acted as if they did not see the dying man.” The letter said Jones laid down in his cell after breakfast the next morning and didn’t wake up. Staff tried to revive him, and he was taken by ambulance to Eastern Niagara, where he was pronounced dead. There was less information about the Pantera death. The plaintiff is his ex-wife, Dawn Pantera, of Amherst, who is raising the couple’s two teenage children. Her attorney, James A. Vandette, declined to say what Pantera’s medical problems were. Sheriff James R. Voutour said earlier this week, “He was sick when he came in.” Vandette said, “The jail and the medical unit really failed this guy. He had a medical condition, and the jail knew or should have known about it. That’s the main issue of the case.” Records showed that Pantera was being held in lieu of $250 bail on a charge of obstructing governmental administration, and he also had a bench warrant for failing to appear in court on an unlicensed-driving charge. Voutour declined to comment on the Jones litigation. A spokeswoman for the commission said the Pantera and Jones cases are still being probed. She said no report is expected until spring. Krull said that he filed a Freedom of Information request with the county but that it was denied. “They said, ‘It’s under investigation. We’re not giving you anything,’Krull said. Armor was hired by the County Legislature in October 2012 to provide nursing and medical services at the jail, with an estimated annual savings of about $800,000 over the cost of the county’s own medical staff and supplies.

Queens Detention Facility
Jamaica NY
Geo Group
Aug 17, 2017
Queens jail officers hit with federal bribery charges in drug smuggling scheme
Three correction officers at a private jail in Queens smuggled contraband to inmates — including marijuana, synthetic pot and tobacco, federal prosecutors say. Saquan Williams, 34, Jabar Allen, 26, and Shawn Pettigrew, 31, were each hit with conspiracy and bribery charges connected to the smuggling, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday. The guards worked for Queens Detention Facility in Jamaica, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office confirmed. Authorities collared Pettigrew Tuesday night. Both Williams and Allen were nabbed Wednesday morning, officials said. An investigator for the feds said the correction officers "have abused the power entrusted to them as COs by taking bribes in exchange for smuggling contraband to inmates housed at the jail." "These corrupt COs smuggled K2, marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, and cellular phones, among other things into the jail," the investigator wrote. "In return, the COs received bribes from the inmates of hundreds and sometimes a thousand dollars at a time." Contact information for the COs' lawyers was not immediately available. The jail, located at 182-22 150th Ave., is run by The GEO Group. It opened in March 1997 and can hold 222 inmates, according to the company’s website. The private lockup originally housed detainees for the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement until the contract was transferred to the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee in 2005. It now houses pre-sentenced detainees for the U.S. Marshals Service. Asked about the arrests, GEO and Queens Detention Facility issued a statement saying they "have been cooperating with federal authorities and have been aware of the ongoing investigation that resulted in the arrests and charges announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office."

Rikers Island

New York, NY
Prison Health Services
Security Clearances Revoked for 25 Rikers Workers

City Hall has said that ex-convicts deserve a second chance, but in a NY1 exclusive, some Rikers Island workers with criminal records found that their chances have been taken away. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report. For years, Gregory Moore and Gary Graves have showed up to Rikers Island for work. "I do psychotherapy with the inmates," Graves said. "I am a substance abuse counselor," Moore said. But on Tuesday, they were told they shouldn't, and if they did, they could be arrested. Because they are two of 25 employees of the health care company on Rikers Island who recieved a letter that explains that they had their security clearance revoked, meaning they can't get to the sprawling jail complex to do their jobs. When we asked the Department of Correction why, they said, "Safety of staff and inmates is our top priority and DOC seeks to ensure that all staff on our facilities pass required background checks.” They say Moore and Graves and 23 of their Corizon colleagues did not, because of criminal records, in some cases, that are decades old. "I was convicted of attempted burglary in 1980," Moore said. "Possession of drugs, and I have a full pardon from that crime that happened back in the early '80s," Graves said. NY1 spoke to 16 of the 25 employees, who told us that their convictions were somewhere between 10 to 30 years ago. They also told us that their crimes were nonviolent. Of the 16 Corizon employees NY1 spoke to, many told us they had been working on Rikers Island for years, decades even. One man told us he had been working on Rikers Island for 26 years. "You do this to people who are making a positive contribution to society for 20, 30, 40 years," Graves said. "It's a punishment again," Moore said. "I felt like I was standing in front of a judge and a jury that I never saw." It's unclear if they ever even had a background check when they started years ago. A report from the city's Department of Investigation earlier this year found that the Correction Department had not done background checks on any Corizon employees. Corizon has since lost its city contract. Come January 1, the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation is taking over. Officials at the Health and Hospitals Corporation told us that they are in the process of evaluating every Corizon employee to determine whether they are staying on. As for getting back on the island now, the city says these employees have 10 days to appeal.

Sep 12, 2015
Seeking medical care, female Rikers inmates say they faced sexual abuse.

Last April, at a prison in upstate New York, Kim Ayala met with her therapist about the nightmares that had been disrupting her sleep. A tiny 46-year-old with a gravelly voice and an expansive demeanor, Ayala had been transferred from Rikers Island a few months earlier to serve out a sentence for grand larceny. But memories of the New York City jail — of her treatment at the hands of a medical staffer there — continued to trouble her. Ayala was incarcerated in October 2013 at the Rose M. Singer Center, known as Rosie, the island's only women's facility. Not long after she arrived, she says, she had a medical evaluation with a physician assistant named Sidney Wilson. Ayala asked Wilson to prescribe her some Fluocinonide, a steroid cream used to treat skin conditions like eczema that Rikers inmates used as a substitute for lipstick. "It keeps your lips pink," Ayala says. "Even though you smoke you want your lips to remain pink." Wilson was friendly and chatty. "Do you have a rash?" he asked. Ayala said no, that she needed the cream for her mouth. Then, Ayala says the conversation took a turn. "What are you willing to do for it?" she says Wilson responded. "Show me something and tell me what you want me to do." On multiple occasions, Ayala says, Wilson would bring her gifts — candy, cigarettes, chicken wings — as long as she would agree to expose her vagina or allow him to touch her sexually. He prescribed her medications she says she didn't need, including Baclofen, a muscle relaxant, and Gabapentin, a seizure medication, which Ayala says she sold to other inmates. (Her medical records confirm Wilson prescribed her these medications.) He shared details about his personal life with her, told her she was smart and beautiful, and promised to meet her on the outside after she was released. "When you're incarcerated, you're almost at a loss," Ayala says. "The physical attention, the fact that he's a doctor, the fact that you can get things from the outside. …He could take advantage of women in that situation." It wasn't until after she left Rikers that Ayala understood the full implications of Wilson's conduct. Referred by her therapist, Ayala says she reported Wilson's behavior to an investigator with the state's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) in April. "The lady said that it's a crime, that he shouldn't have did it," Ayala says. "He had us while we were silent." Rikers IslandInmate waiting to enter the common area at the Rose M. Singer Center, Rikers Island. New York City, November 21, 2011.Photo: Clara Vannucci. Ayala is not the only inmate Wilson has allegedly preyed upon. Latricia Revell, Theresa Bradberry, and Audry Slayton, all former Rosie inmates, say that Wilson — one of about a dozen PAs serving at the facility — touched them sexually, often in exchange for items like prescriptions, cigarettes, candy or food. Jamie Turner, a current Rosie inmate, and a sixth former inmate who wants to remain anonymous, say that Wilson asked them to show him their breasts in exchange for prescriptions. (Turner says she declined to do so.) Under New York State law, people under correctional control are legally incapable of consent, so a jail employee who makes sexual contact with an inmate could be guilty of sexual abuse. New York City Department of Correction rules prohibit staff members from "indulging in any undue familiarity with inmates." Professionally, Wilson's alleged behavior would constitute sexual misconduct, according to the state Department of Health. Reached by phone in May, Wilson categorically denied the allegations. (When I contacted him again in August with additional details, he said he had no response.) "Am I a sex maniac or something?" Wilson said when I first spoke with him. "I do not do any kind of exam — especially pelvic exam where I have to touch them in the private part — without a female chaperone there." Wilson argued that female inmates can fabricate accusations against a male provider and authorities will believe them because they are women. He further charged that the accusations against him were likely retaliation for his refusal to prescribe inmates medications they wanted to use to get high. "I'm telling you, these ladies — they come to you for some type of drugs, and if you don't give it to them, that's it," he said. "You're on the black list." All six women say this version of events is untrue. Like Ayala, Latricia Revell reported her experience with Wilson to DOCCS in April after she was transferred from Rikers to state prison. The agency has referred the matter back to New York City's Department of Investigation, which is looking into the allegations. Wilson is employed by Corizon Health, the nation's largest for-profit correctional health care provider. The company — along with its corporate predecessor, Prison Health Services — has been under contract with New York City to provide health care at Rikers since 2001. Wilson has been removed from patient contact, though he continues to work for Corizon in an administrative capacity, according the company. A spokesperson for the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), which oversaw Corizon while Wilson was seeing Rosie patients, said that while privacy laws prohibit the agency from commenting on individual cases, "We take all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously." A Corizon spokesperson told The Intercept that the company investigates "any reported impropriety or abuse." He added, "It goes without saying that substantiated cases of sexual assault and abuse of inmates are inexcusable and punishable by termination and reporting to law enforcement." But correctional health care operations, whether private or government run, often struggle to recruit high-quality medical professionals as working conditions can be taxing and sometimes dangerous. In recent years, several Corizon employees around the country have been accused of sexual misconduct. In Alabama, Corizon hired two doctors whose medical licenses had previously been suspended over allegations they had sexual contact with patients. A nurse employed by Corizon in Daytona Beach, Florida, was firedin 2012 after a prisoner claimed the nurse had sex with him and gave him money. (She denied the allegations.) The Justice Department has opened acriminal investigation into a former Corizon physician, Mark Walden, for the alleged sexual abuse of male inmates at two New Mexico prisons. Walden, who has faced multiple lawsuits filed by former inmates accusing him of molestation, has denied the claims. And Wilson is not the only Rikers health care provider to be accused of sexual abuse. Dr. Franck Leveille, who had been employed on the island for over a decade, was arrested on charges of sexual abuse and criminal sexual conduct in 2010 after complaints by two inmates. According to court documents, he was released on bail and subsequently fled to Haiti. In June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will not renew Corizon's contract when it expires at the end of this year, and will instead turn correctional health care over to the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs the city's public hospitals. (HHC is overseeing Corizon employees and health care delivery until then.) But the change will not mean a new medical staff at Rikers. Doctors, nurses, and physician assistants who worked for the company will keep their jobs as long as they pass background checks and performance reviews.

Jul 12, 2015
New York City lawyers suggest health care provider committed a crime in death of Rikers Island inmate

Recently released documents filed by attorneys for the City of New York in a civil suit over the death of Rikers Island inmate Bradley Ballard in 2013 indicate that the city will withdraw its support from Corizon, the prison’s heath care provider. The city’s multimillion-dollar contract with the private company allows it to take such an action only when there is “intentional misconduct or a criminal act” on the part of Corizon. Ballard, a 39-year-old schizophrenic, died in 2013 after he spent seven days locked alone in a cell. According to the lawsuit, Ballard was not given food for at least two days. Corizon mental health workers were tasked with visiting him two times a day to give him his medication. He received none for most of the week. He was found dead on September 11, naked, covered in his own feces with a rubber band wrapped tightly around his genitals. According to the New York Daily News, coroners found that Ballard, who was also a diabetic, had an extremely high blood sugar level at the time of his death. Sidney Schwartzbaum, the Deputy Wardens’ union president, stated in relation to Ballard’s death, “Why medical staff didn’t alert uniformed staff of the fact that he didn’t receive his medication is still unanswered.” A report released in June by New York City’s Department of Investigation (DOI) further exposes criminally negligent actions by Corizon, the nation’s largest corporate prison health care provider. The report shows that Corizon workers frequently neglected their responsibility to monitor inmates on suicide watch—including Ballard. In a different case, a Corizon worker took an unnamed 17-year-old off court-ordered suicide watch without consulting a psychiatrist. The minor hanged himself in his cell and died of his injuries 10 days later. On June 10, 18-year-old Kennan Davis hanged himself in Rikers after asking for psychiatric care. The report also detailed the negligent hiring practices of Corizon, which allowed an estimated 12 workers with criminal records—including a convicted murderer and a kidnapper—to work at Rikers Island. Corizon sent fingerprints of potential employees to the Corrections Department, which, in turn, did not check the prints for criminal records. The administration of Bill de Blasio announced last June that the city would not renew its contract with Corizon. Since 2008, the city has paid $367 million to Corizon to operate the health system at Rikers Island. The horrific conditions at Rikers Island extend well beyond the practices of Corizon. A 2014 report by the office of the US Attorney for Southern District of New York cited “a culture of violence” at the institution. An investigative report by the New York Times revealed the routine beatings of inmates by groups of guards. One hundred and twenty-nine inmates, most of whom were mentally ill, suffered “serious injuries” from beatings by prison guards in 2013. Between last August and January of this year there have been 62 cases of inmates being seriously injured by correction officers, according to the New York Times. The administration of Michael Bloomberg, with bipartisan backing throughout his 12 years in office, continued and escalated the longstanding abuses at Rikers Island. Now, the de Blasio administration, posing as “progressive,” is trying to distance itself from these brutal practices with window-dressing reforms. The administration moved last year to install a new corrections commissioner, Joseph Ponte, at Rikers Island. The city administration has also invested $130 million over the next four years to supposedly retrain New York police officers to assess the mental health of those arrested, and to create Crisis Intervention Teams at Rikers, “composed of corrections and health workers to deescalate incidents,” according a press release put out last December. Rikers guards, nevertheless, used physical force against inmates 4,074 times in 2014—the highest use of force in over a decade—according to the Corrections Department. This increase in violence occurred even as the prison’s daily population declined by 4,000 inmates compared to a decade ago. The barbaric conditions at Rikers Island are a reflection of a national trend of escalating violence and neglect in the prison system. This included the torture of inmates by guards at the Clinton Correction Facility in upstate New York—after the escape of two prisoners—which occurred only hours after New York governor Andrew Cuomo visited the institution.

EXCLUSIVE: Rikers counselors resign amid allegations they had romantic relationships with inmates under their care

Kristina Rodriguez's Instagram is filled with cozy pictures with the former inmate. Two civilian mental health workers suspected of starting romantic relationships with Rikers inmates under their care no longer have their jobs, the Daily News has learned. The two counselors — identified by sources as Kristina Rodriguez and Nicole Menna — both left their positions with Corizon, an independent company hired by the city to provide services to Rikers’ inmates. A spokesman for the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene confirmed the resignations. “Concerns about the behavior of two employees were substantiated and they are no longer employed by Corizon,” the spokesman said. Rodriguez, 30, allegedly fell in love with an inmate who was subsequently released. Her Instagram and Facebook accounts are littered with happy pictures of the couple. Rodriguez is reportedly expecting  a child with the ex-inmate. Rodriguez resigned from her job in November, sources said. She’s currently expecting a baby with the former inmate, according to two former colleagues. “I have no comment,” Rodriguez told The News Friday. Menna, 32, worked as a mental health clinician at the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers Island. She got involved with inmate Afthab Chouddery according to two former Corizon employees. Nicole Menna was described as a 'cute, petite Italian girl who read the Bible at work' by a former coworker. Afthab Chouddery, who was sentenced to 7 years in prison, was called a 'sociopath' by a source. Chouddery, 24, pleaded guilty to manslaughter last November, according to the Queens district attorney’s office. He and three others attacked a man with a pipe and then beat their victim to death. Pegged as part of the Latin Kings gang, Chouddery was sentenced to seven years in January — after Menna sent a pleading letter to the judge on his behalf. “I see on a consistent basis where Mr. Chouddery demonstrates compassion and kindness that are very rare,” Menna wrote in a letter dated Nov. 16 to Queens County Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasik. “In our sessions he has expressed true regret for (his) bad well as his desire to be a productive member of society,” said Menna, noting that Chouddery held a birthday party for a developmentally-challenged inmate and read him bedtime stories. She said that she and her supervisor “intentionally placed” sicker or vulnerable patients near Chouddery because they knew he would care for them — but a source who knew him described him as a “sociopath.” Chouddery, now doing his time in Mohawk Correctional Facility upstate, turned Menna’s head, colleagues said. “She just got mixed up. She's as sweet as can be and very religious,” a former colleague said. “She was this cute, petite Italian girl who read the Bible at work.” Reached by phone, Menna declined to comment. Her lawyer denied a romance blossomed between her and the inmate she counseled. Sources said she resigned from her job in January. Corizon said it couldn’t comment on specific personnel, but in an email stressed that employees were held to the “highest professional and ethical standards.” Last month the city’s Department of Investigation issued a scathing report that found “significant breakdowns” in Corizon’s employee screening and its mental health treatment of inmates in city jails. During its probe, DOI found evidence that Corizon “failed to engage in rudimentary screening processes and supervision of staff ... resulting in the hiring of unqualified and unfit candidates.”

Jun 2, 2015

New York: Corizon to lose Rikers’ contract

A private health care company that has been criticized for doing such a poor job at the Rikers Island jail complex that its medical performance contributed to several inmate deaths is expected to lose its contract with New York City, according to two high-ranking city officials. Corizon, a for-profit company based in Brentwood, Tenn., with a three-year, $126 million contract to run the jails, has been accused by state investigators of repeatedly neglecting and improperly treating inmates, playing a role in at least a dozen deaths at Rikers. In one case that the State Commission of Correction found to “shock the conscience,” an inmate was left dying untreated for six days while uniformed officers, doctors, mental health clinicians and nurses made 57 visits to his cell without assisting him. Corey Johnson, a city councilman who held hearings on health care at Rikers in March, said that Corizon had been a “failure” and the city’s decision to indemnify the company from lawsuits was “unconscionable.” “They made mistakes and the city had to pay for their mistakes,” Mr. Johnson said. Care at the jail will be taken over by the Health and Hospitals Corporation, which runs New York’s public hospitals, according to the two city officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the decision. The Corizon contract with the city ends on Dec. 31, 2015, though it is possible that it may be extended a few months until the new medical operation is in place. A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said that no final decision had been made. “As the mayor has said, this administration is taking a hard look at the Corizon contract,” said Monica Klein. She said the Department of Correction was “always looking to provide the best health care in the jail.” Corizon provides health care at jails and prisons in 27 states, serving 340,000 men and women. Company officials said that as far as they knew, no decision had been made. “Our focus remains on providing health care services to our patients,” the spokesman wrote in an email. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to coordinate the provision of care in an evolving environment, bringing unparalleled experience and expertise to a truly unique setting.” The plan to terminate the contract was reported on Monday on the website DNAInfo. In the next few weeks, the Department of Investigation is expected to release a damning report that will criticize Corizon for failing to properly screen the health care workers it hires and will suggest it may have contributed to injuries and fatalities at the jail, according to one of the two city officials. Two weeks ago, the department arrested a Corizon worker for attempting to smuggle a straight-edge razor into the jail. When the worker was fingerprinted, the authorities learned that he had served 13 years in prison on a kidnapping charge. The report will describe several additional clinicians at Rikers who have been convicted of felonies. In the last nine months, two Corizon workers have also been arrested and accused of attempting to smuggle drugs into the jail. Public health care workers have said at least part of the blame rests with the city, for inadequately funding health care at the jail. Dr. Robert Cohen, a member of the city’s Board of Correction and a former medical director at Rikers, said that the last time medical care was first-rate was when Montefiore Hospital, a nonprofit institution, oversaw it 20 years ago. At a news conference in March, Mr. de Blasio said that improving health care was integral to improving conditions at the jail. “We’re keeping all our options open, because obviously we’re in the process of a major reform effort here and we’re trying to upgrade all elements of the work here, so we’re going to take a hard look at that contract,” he said.

Corizon Health fails to improve overall performance: report Private-sector health care provider Corizon Health Inc., which has a $126 million three-year contract for providing health care services in New York City's jails, has failed to improve its overall performance in the previous year, a review conducted by the city's health department revealed. A recent evaluation obtained by The Associated Press revealed that the overall performance of the private health care provider for New York City's jails failed to improve in previous year. Corizon Health Inc, which had a three- year of contract worth $126 million, expired on December 31. As per the annual review conducted by the city health department, the healthcare pioneer and leader received an overall rating of 'fair' in 2014 for the second year after being downgraded from 'good'. Officials noted that the Brentwood, Tennessee-based Company improved its care of mentally ill inmates, who make up about 40% of the roughly 10,000 inmates in New York's sprawling Rikers Island jail complex. The evaluation showed that the company did a 'subpar' job prioritizing the sickest inmates to be seen in jail health clinics. A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that Corizon's contract is still under review. In March, the mayor said administration officials were taking 'a hard look' at the company's contract. The city health department, which is charged with providing health care to the jail, has not issued any formal requests for proposals to solicit new bids. But a person knowing about the administration's discussions said it was likely that the city's public hospital system would take over inmate care. Corizon's flat ratings came amid heightened scrutiny of the jails in the wake of a series of AP revelations last year about gruesome deaths of mentally ill inmates at Rikers. Another AP report of last year showed that the timeliness and quality of jail health care was a factor in at least 15 inmate deaths deemed medical in nature since 2009. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, said, "Big cities across the country are dropping contracts with Corizon because of its underperformance. You're an inmate in jail, but when you're in that clinician's space you are a patient and you deserve best quality health care for whatever your ailment is".

Mar 19, 2015

On January 26, 2015, Rudolph Richardson sued the city of New York, prison healthcare contractor Corizon Health Services and Dr. Landis Barnes for allegedly delaying and denying him emergency medical care following an incident in which his cell door slammed shut on his fingers. According to the complaint filed in the District Court of the Southern District of New York, Richardson was hanging out in a common room at the Manhattan Detention Complex (MDC) in June, 2014 when he asked a guard if he could return to his cell to use the bathroom. The guard approved, and another officer in charge of operating the mechanical door to his cell allowed Richardson to enter. The toilet was positioned next to Richardson’s cell door, and while he was using the bathroom, the lawsuit states that the guard “suddenly and negligently closed the door to Mr. Richardson’s cell, causing the fingers of Mr. Richardson’s hand to get caught in said door.” Richardson’s hand was crushed. One of his fingers was cut off. He went into shock and was bleeding profusely. The complaint states that he ran back to the common room for help. There was supposed to be a guard posted there, but the station was empty. After noticing he was severely injured and in distress, some of the inmates in the room tried to help Richardson find a guard. They eventually reached an officer at another station, who then tried to contact the clinic. Richardson allegedly waited for more than 10 minutes before someone showed up to escort him. Once he got to the clinic, he was brought before a doctor working for Corizon Health Services. Dr. Landis Barnes allegedly took a quick look at Richardson’s hand and told him the finger could not be saved. According to the complaint, Dr. Barnes then instructed Richardson to throw his detached finger in the garbage. Richardson refused, begging Barnes to give him ice or a solution to preserve the finger. Dr. Barnes “reluctantly fulfilled his request.” Richardson says Dr. Barnes did such a poor job of wrapping his hand that he had to ask him to do it again in order to stop the bleeding. But Dr. Barnes allegedly refused. At this point, Richardson was so appalled by his treatment that he asked to file an incident report. He claims that the guard on duty told him that he had made bail at that same moment, and that if he filed the report they would not release him. Richardson demanded to fill out the report anyway. With the clock ticking on re-attaching his finger, Richardson quickly filled out the form. But guards took a long time to let him out of the room. When they eventually did, they handcuffed his bloody hand and took him to Bellvue Hospital, where he underwent surgery to reattach his fingers and treat his broken bones. His wounds were infected. The lawsuit states that Richardson now requires intensive physical therapy, and it is unclear if he will ever regain full use of his hand. This incident, which took place last year around the same time that complaints about medical service and officer brutality in NYC jails reached a fever pitch, is but one snowflake in a blizzard of allegations against Corizon Health Services. Yet, the city has made few if any indications that their contract could be in jeopardy.

Mar 8, 2015
Members of the City Council grilled representatives of Corizon, the for-profit company that provides healthcare on Rikers Island, over what many have deemed inadequate care and preventable deaths of inmates during a hearing today—and raised the specter of ending the city’s relationship with the company. “The allegations that have mounted over the years suggest that Corizon is failing to provide comprehensive and safe services to people under their care,” Health Committee Chairman Corey Johnson said. “These reports suggest that treatment provided to inmates may have been a factor in at least 15 deaths over the past five years and that these deaths may have been preventable.” Corizon provides healthcare at all but one of the city’s jails, and has since 2001. With more media attention on deaths at Rikers and the treatment of mentally ill inmates there, the company has been under increased scrutiny. A scathing report from the State Commission on Correction on the death of inmate Bradley Ballard called the company’s treatment “so incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience.” And its not just the care of inmates under the microscope: the company was also fined $71,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to keep its own employees safe from inmates. Corizon is part of a byzantine system that cares for inmates. It is overseen by the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, which sets policy, and Corizon itself employs affiliate companies to provide care. After nearly two hours of testimony from the Department of Mental Health about its contract with Corizon and new facilities for the mentally ill, council members turned their attention to top officials from Corizon: Dr. Calvin Johnson, its chief medical officer, and Dr. Jay Cowan, the president of Correctional Medical Associates, which actually provides medical care for Corizon. In testimony, neither of them mentioned any of the recent deaths on Rikers Island of inmates in their case with any specificity. Mr. Johnson went on to enumerate 15 of them—inmates who died of sepsis, or bacteria infections from constipation, of asthma attacks, of a torn aorta that was never detected because a chest x-ray was never done, despite multiple complaints of pain. Councilwoman Inez Barron slammed the doctors for not mentioning the deaths:  “It sends the signal that those lives are perhaps not as important as other lives, and I’m very offended that you wouldn’t at least mention that that’s a big problem.” Dr. Johnson said that wasn’t the impression the company intended to give. “We recognize these individuals who have lost their lives or who have been injured, not as numbers not as indiscriminate pieces of information, but as people,” he said. Mr. Johnson said he wanted to know what the company’s leadership had sought to change in the wake of the deaths, particularly after the city has allocated tens of millions of dollars more in its budget for Rikers Island. “I’m happy to hear that your’e happy to get all these additional monies for the seriously mentally ill. Were you requesting that? Were you saying for years, ‘here are the endemic problems at Rikers Island that we’re facing,’ so that these preventable deaths don’t happen?” Mr. Johnson asked. Dr. Cowan explained the procedures for reviewing incidents when someone dies or is badly hurt, but Mr. Johnson repeatedly pushed him for examples of system-wide reforms and proposals. For minutes, he asked the question repeatedly without getting many specifics, beyond aspirational comments about how Corizon and CMA wanted to work better with the department. After Mr. Johnson repeatedly returned to the line of questioning—including a digression slamming Mayor Michael Bloomberg for letting Rikers Island turn into the “wild west” and saddling Mayor Bill de Blasio with “a goddamn mess”—he charged Mr. Cowan with not answering his question and being “evasive.” “The de Blasio administration stepped up, came up with tens of millions of dollars to try to change course at Rikers Island after years of violence and endemic, systematic problems. You’ve been there for a long time. You were there in the Bloomberg years and you were there in the de Blasio years. I am not hearing anything specific about what you all have recommended to make the place a better place,” Mr. Johnson said, later urging to company to be more “pro-active.” Corizon’s contract with the city is up at the end of the year—and while in the past the company, formerly known as Prison Health Services, has been among the only bids the city has received to provide healthcare, today Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Sonia Angell signaled the city might go in a different direction. “An interagency team, including members form the Health Department, Department of Correction, Health and Hospital Corporation, the Law Department, and Office of Management and Budget, is examining potential new strategies for health care delivery in our jails,” Dr. Angell said. Among the principles guiding their search, Dr. Angell said, would be maximizing the links between jail healthcare and healthcare options outside jails—which would favor local hospital or health corporation such as HHC. But Dr. Angell said she couldn’t speak to specifics about what the city might do to try to attract new bidders or build in new requirements to any future contracts with Corizon, due to those “very direct” ongoing talks. After the hearing, asked whether Corizon was concerned about losing the contract, Dr. Johnson referred to the day’s testimony. “We want to be a good partner and we stand by our statement today and tried to articulate the important points,” he said. “We’re going to keep working hard at this. We’re going to get better and better.” The hearing, held by the Health Committee and the Fire and Criminal Justice Committee, chaired by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, also considered legislation from Mr. Johnson that would require the Health Department to submit a yearly report to the mayor and council regarding healthcare at city jails.

Feb 22, 2015
Loose tobacco seized at Rikers Island was allegedly among the contraband smuggled into the jail by nurse Jeffery Taylor for inmates. Three Rikers Island inmates were charged with paying a nurse to smuggle in alcohol, tobacco and drugs. In September, nurse Jeffrey Taylor, 48, of the Bronx was arrested on felony charges of sneaking in the banned products to inmates over five months. On Wednesday, the city Department of Investigation announced that three inmates have also been charged with receiving the contraband from Taylor while they were behind bars. The men — Kevin Lides, 25; Howard Powell, 56; and Trent Patterson — were charged with promoting prison contraband, a felony. They face up to eight years added onto their sentences if convicted. "Contraband smuggling is a dangerous influence on Rikers Island, one that breeds a culture of violence and corruption in the jails and threatens the integrity of the city's correction system," said Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters. The charges against Taylor, who worked at Rikers for four years, are pending. Prosecutors say he hauled in more than $2,200 in 28 payments via Western Union money orders for giving inmates a choice of vodka, rum and flavored drinks. Taylor also delivered loose tobacco, and once smuggled inside 20 strips of prescription opiate suboxone for a $200 payoff, according to the criminal complaint. The three inmates hid the contraband in an area where they worked as a cleaning crew, authorities said. The trio allegedly took the items and handed them out to other inmates. The scheme ran between May and September 2014, prosecutors said. Taylor worked for the embattled Corizon Health, a private firm contracted by the city to provide health care for inmates. The Tennessee-based Corizon has come under fire for failing to give proper medical care to suicidal inmates. The company's latest deal with the city runs through 2015 with an expected expense to the city of $126 million.

Aug 23, 2014

RIKERS ISLAND — Andy Henriquez, a 19-year-old from Washington Heights, whispered through the walls of his solitary cell on Rikers Island that he was dying.He begged for a doctor while his fellow inmates screamed and kicked their doors in a fruitless bid to get help. It was April 7, 2013, and a tear in Henriquez's aorta, an artery that supplies blood to the body, was making its way down to his groin. After days of chest pain he could barely breathe, but he still cried out, asking for a chance to call his mother to say goodbye. A doctor who visited him that day prescribed him a hand cream and wrote the prescription in the wrong name. Henriquez was found dead on the floor of his cell hours later. This wrenching account is detailed in court documents filed by Henriquez's mother, Sandra De la Cruz, a home health aide, who said she watched her son suffer with no treatment. She is now suing Corizon, a national company that covers medical care at the city's jails. “I felt desperate. I felt despair, not being able to help my child,” De la Cruz told DNAinfo New York in Spanish from her lawyer's office recently. “They should have let him leave. They should have taken him to the hospital. If I could have, I would have.” De la Cruz is one of more than two dozen New Yorkers who have sued Corizon since 2012, accusing the company of negligence in medical care at Rikers and other correctional facilities. At the same time, the company raked in $1.2 billion last year in revenue, according to a Moody's report, including tens of millions of dollars paid by the city. Henriquez's death came two years after New York's Commission of Correction had already opened an investigation into other state inmates' deaths under Corizon's watch, city records show. The outcome of that investigation was unclear and the commission declined to say whether it had finished or what it had found. Corizon and the city's Law Department declined to comment. "Although we sympathize with Mr. Henriquez’s family for their loss, we cannot comment on ongoing litigation," the city's Department of Correction said in a statement. Henriquez was 16 when he entered Rikers in June 2010, charged with murder and gang assault in the death of 17-year-old Mohamed Jalloh in Washington Heights. Henriquez was accused of being part of a group which attacked Jalloh and two other people, though Henriquez was not the one who fatally beat Jalloh with a machete, according to the criminal complaint and police. Henriquez was still awaiting trial when he died nearly three years later. The teen first complained of chest pain in September 2012, seven months before his death, and a physician's assistant at the jail's medical clinic diagnosed him with costochondritis, or joint pain near his heart, court documents show. He was given that diagnosis at least eight separate times over the next seven months, but the Rikers clinic repeatedly sent him back to his cell without ordering a cardiac exam or any follow-up testing that could have revealed the tear in his artery, court documents show. “He used to say ‘I don’t feel right, my chest hurts, I feel like I can’t breathe,'" according to Jesus Ramos, one of six Rikers inmates who said in depositions this spring that they had tried to get help for Henriquez as he was dying. “I used to scream — bend down from under my door, scream under my door, ‘CO, CO, 5 cell needs medical attention.'" Henriquez's mother and girlfriend visited him on April 6, the day before he died, and were alarmed to see the teen slumped over and in pain. They called 311 several times that day begging for emergency treatment for him, according to court records. He was finally seen at the jail clinic later that night and was given the anti-inflammatory drug Naprosyn and the muscle relaxant Robaxin and sent back to his cell, according to court documents. Hours later, he was given a hand cream that was prescribed to a different name. Correction officers were supposed to check on everyone in Henriquez's section of the jail at 15-minute intervals, but officers admitted in depositions that the checks did not happen like they were supposed to. The officers denied hearing any calls for help. But Ernest Madison, who was in a nearby cell, said in a deposition that correction officers ignored Henriquez's cries. “Then [on April 7], he was screaming again and that’s when they said, ‘Look, we took you yesterday. The doctor said you’re fine,'” Madison said in a deposition. By the end of the night, Henriquez was dead. The cause was a tear in his aorta, the city's medical examiner ruled. It's a condition that could have been treated in a hospital, saving Henriquez's life, according to Dr. Michael Golding, who is certified in heart and lung surgery in New York and wrote an expert medical report that is part of the lawsuit Henriquez's mother filed. "It was a gross departure from proper medical standards" to put Henriquez in solitary confinement without a full medical exam and testing, Golding said in documents. If Corizon's medical team had followed "standard medical protocols for recurring chest pain...they could have easily established a diagnosis [and] prevented his suffering and untimely death." Henriquez was just one of many Rikers inmates harmed by medical failures there, advocates say. "We get calls complaining about access to medical care and inadequate medical care on a weekly basis," said Mary Lynne Werlwas, an attorney at The Legal Aid Society's Prisoners Rights Project. "We're not a fan of the way they've been doing their job...and there's just been egregious health care." Other lawsuits pending against Corizon include one from the family of a 32-year-old man who died of a bacterial infection in Rikers in May 2013, arguing that he would have survived if he'd received prompt medical care, court records show. Prisoners who have sued also include a man who claims staffers overlooked his worsening leg problems, leading him to need an amputation, and a man with epilepsy who lost his vision after an assault and waited more than a month for glasses, court records show. The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has contracted Corizon for more than a decade, previously under the name Prison Health Services, city records show. The most recent three-year contracts pay a Corizon affiliate $280 million for medical care and more than $128 million for administrative support, according to the city comptroller's office. The two contracts are among the top 10 largest contracts in the city, according to a city report. Corizon has been the subject of multiple investigations by the state's Commission of Correction, according to city records, including inquiries into inmate injuries and deaths, but still received a new contract from the Department of Health last year. Corizon provides health services in correctional facilities across the country and has been the target of multiple probes involving its hiring practices and quality of care. In Philadelphia, the company paid a $1.8 million settlement to the city in 2012 for exaggerating its hiring of minority workers. In Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Corizon lost its contract for providing health care at a local jail after a federal report blamed the company for not properly treating a 49-year-old immigrant who had been detained. The man was suffering a bacterial infection and died in October 2009 after he was not taken to a full-service hospital until it was too late, according to reports. In New York, Corizon's contract ensures that the city will represent the Tennessee-based company in lawsuits and that taxpayers will cover the cost of medical malpractice judgments or civil rights violations, records show. Advocates said the contract raises concerns about whether the for-profit company would be motivated to provide better care. "These indemnification provisions create a perverse incentive for Corizon to provide substandard health care,” Carl Takei, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in an email. “These provisions essentially shield Corizon from the financial consequences of malpractice and constitutionally deficient medical care, because the [government] will pay any judgment or settlement.” Corizon was also separately censured earlier this month by the federal Occupation Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect its staff at Rikers and was fined $71,000, the Department of Labor said in a statement. More than a year after Henriquez's death, his family said the loss is still fresh. The men who were there alongside Henriquez that night say they are "haunted." “He was screaming all day and all night,” Ernest Madison said in a deposition. “It’s not a joke. A little boy died. He was a kid." With reporting by James Fanelli and Gustavo Solis


Aug 23, 2014
A diabetic man died on Rikers Island after being denied medical treatment for two days, a new lawsuit charges. In papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court, Linda Mercado says her brother Carlos slipped into a diabetic coma and then died after guards were slow to respond to pleas for help from Mercado and other inmates. Mercado, 45, was arrested on Aug. 22 of last year for heroin possession, and was taken to Rikers the next day. The suit says he "requested medical treatment for his diabetic condition" after he got to the jail, but "none was provided," the suit says. Mercado family lawyer Mark Taylor said the jail's health care provider, Corizon Health, gave Mercado a preliminary exam, but no treatment — and it should have been clear his client needed help. "He was yelling and asking for assistance, and those cries were taken up by his cellmates," Taylor said. By the time he was treated, it was too late. Correction officers called for assistance at 9:17 a.m., after he'd passed out. He was pronounced dead at 9:36 a.m. The wrongful death suit charges both the Department of Correction and Corizon Health, the embattled medical provider for the city's jails, with negligence, and seeks unspecified money damages. In the hands of the guards at Rikers Island he couldn't get the treatment he needed. No human being should go out like that. "My brother had managed his diabetes for a long time, he knew how to take care of himself, but he could only do that if he had access to his medication. In the hands of the guards at Rikers Island he couldn't get the treatment he needed," Linda Mercado said. "No human being should go out like that."  Taylor said that Carlos Mercado had been locked up at Rikers once before, in 2007. He was denied treatment for his diabetes then as well, and eventually had to be treated at Elmhurst Hospital Center. A rep for the city Law Department said the suit would be reviewed once the city is served with the legal papers. "Corizon Health stands behind the quality of care provided by our medical professionals," a spokeswoman said. DNAinfo reported earlier this week that Corizon has been sued over medical issues at city jails over two dozen times since 2012. In one particularly troubling case reported by the Daily News, Andy Henriquez, 19, died in solitary confinement.

Aug 10, 2014

According to a DOL news release, Corizon Health Inc. knowingly failed to protect its employees adequately against workplace violence and assault. The medical, dental, and psychiatric provider was inspected by OSHA and new faces $71,000 in fines. OSHA has cited Corizon for one willful violation for allegedly failing to develop and implement an effective workplace violence prevention program for its employees at Rikers Island. "Corizon failed to address the serious problem of assaults against its employees until OSHA began its inspection," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "Corizon needs to develop and implement an effective, targeted workplace violence prevention program that includes administrative and engineering control, as well as personal protective equipment and training, to reduce the risk of violence against its employees." OSHA has listed effective workplace violence prevention techniques, such as: administrative controls, including job site hazard assessment, evaluation of existing controls, implementing policies, procedures, and incident reviews; engineering controls, including the installation of panic alarm systems and protective barriers and configuring treatment areas to maximize an employee's ability to escape from workplace violence; personal protective equipment, such as personal alarm systems for all staff and an appropriate system and way to contact security/correctional officers; training, encompassing workplace violence prevention, stress management, recognition of signs of potential violence; and post-incident procedures and services to treat employees traumatized by a workplace violence incident.

July 29, 2010 NBC NY
A Rikers Island doctor was charged with sexually abusing a female inmate, authorities said Wednesday. Dr. Frank Leveille, a 12-year employee at the jail, was arrested in the early morning hours on two charges of sexual misconduct. Leveille, a 70-dollar-an-hour doctor who worked with female inmates, is an employee of Prison Health Services, a private company that handles medical care at Rikers. “The physician is charged with... violating his fundamental professional responsibility,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. A prison spokesperson declined comment and Leveille's attorney did not immediately return a call for comment. A female inmate alleges the sexual abuse occurred on March 28 at 2 a.m. New York law says it is illegal for a prison facility employee to have any sexual relations with an inmate. Leveille’s arrest marks the second medical scandal at Rikers in as many weeks. Dr. Trevor Parks resigned on July 14th amid allegations he was not certified to provide medical care to prison inmates -- yet he was managing the health care of 12,000 inmates. Critics charge Prison Health Services provides second-rate care in order to save money, the for-profit firm has a $123-million-dollar New York State contract. A PHS spokesman did not return calls for comment. Officials said Leveille also works as a family specialist at Brooklyn Medical Plaza. A woman who answered the phone there declined to comment. Leveille is charged with third degree sexual abuse and a third degree criminal sexual act. The doctor faces more than four years in prison himself, if convicted.

July 18, 2010 New York Times
The doctor in charge of medical care for 12,000 New York City jail inmates abruptly resigned last week after questions arose about his professional certification, forcing city officials and executives at the company that employed the doctor to race to find a temporary replacement. The doctor, Trevor P. Parks, resigned on Wednesday, a day after a reporter called the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the delivery of medical care to jail inmates, with questions concerning Dr. Parks’s board certification for internal medicine. Dr. Parks, the medical director overseeing care at Rikers Island and the Manhattan Detention Center, worked for Prison Health Services, a Nashville company that holds a $123 million contract with the city’s health department for comprehensive jail medical care. The company, one of the largest for-profit correctional health care companies in the country, has held that city contract since 2001, but not without controversy. While city health officials have defended the company’s performance and dedication to improvement, Prison Health’s critics, including state medical officials and some company doctors and clinicians, have said its focus on cutting costs and staff led to substandard care. Not long after the company arrived in the city, the State Commission of Correction, which investigates each prison or jail death, began publicly criticizing Prison Health for what it called a pattern of providing care that repeatedly harmed inmates with acute physical or mental illnesses. In a telephone interview on Thursday, Dr. Parks said he had resigned to concentrate on appealing a recommendation last month by the American Board of Internal Medicine to suspend his certification, the reasons for which he declined to discuss. “They’re just concerned with something that I got caught up in, and I’d really rather not go into it,” he said. The internal medicine board, through a spokeswoman, declined to discuss its recommendation to suspend Dr. Parks. Dr. Parks said that he was proud of his record as the company’s chief medical officer in city jails, and that Prison Health, under city oversight, had improved by “leaps and bounds” during his 10-year tenure. “I have to honestly say to you, from where jail care was when I started in 2001 to where jail care is in 2010, we have turned that place around,” Dr. Parks said. “We used to lose 30 people a year when I started, and last year maybe we had 12,” he added, referring to inmate deaths. “We do not follow the guidelines as set up by P.H.S. in other parts of the country; we follow guidelines specific to Rikers Island.” The city requires the Prison Health medical director to hold a board certification. That Dr. Parks’s certification was in jeopardy was a surprise to city health officials who oversee Prison Health’s medical care and rate its performance. Susan Craig, a health department spokeswoman, said the agency learned of the certification issue on Tuesday only when a reporter called to ask about it. Dr. Parks resigned on Wednesday. By Thursday, Ms. Craig said, Prison Health had appointed a temporary replacement to run medical services at Rikers and the Manhattan jail: Dr. Luis Cintron. Dr. Cintron’s appointment, however, is only temporary because though he has passed his board exams, he is not yet board-certified, said Louise Cohen, the health department deputy commissioner in charge of overseeing Prison Health’s medical care in city jails. Dr. Cintron, in turn, will be overseen by two health department doctors who will ensure the proper continuity of care to inmates, Ms. Cohen added. A Prison Health spokesman said in a statement that the company was working with city health officials to ensure that Dr. Parks’s resignation would not adversely affect inmate care.

September 19, 2008 New York Sun
A former substance abuse counselor at Rikers Island faces felony charges after allegedly attempting to smuggle heroin and cocaine into the prison, Department of Investigation officials announced yesterday. Juan Delarosa, 56, of Brooklyn, was arrested in February at the entrance to Rikers Island with 109 packets of heroin and two bags of cocaine, officials said. According to the DOI, he worked at the prison as a substance abuse counselor through an independent contractor, Prison Health Services. He is being charged with attempted promoting of prison contraband in the first degree, as well as misdemeanor contraband charges. "It's appalling that a person paid to counsel inmates against drug abuse is charged with trying to smuggle heroin and cocaine into the jail, the exact opposite of what he was paid to do," the DOI commissioner, Rose Gill Hearn, said in a statement yesterday.

June 2008 Gotham Gazette
Six months ago, Prison Health Services -- the private, for profit company that manages health care in 10 of the city's 11 jails -- got a raise. The Tennessee-based corporation, which has a virtual monopoly on health care in prisons nationwide, saw its payments increase by more than 10 percent -- a figure that has been adjusted for inflation -- since its previous agreement with the city in 2005. That boost, which city officials attribute to cost of living increases, came despite the company's failure to meet at least 15 percent of its performance standards set by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene between 2006 and 2008. On several occasions, the company has not met one in four of its performance indicators, which range from HIV care to completing intake histories and conducting physical exams, according to quarterly review reports from the department. Because of this performance, the city has fined Prison Health Services for the past three years in a row. While many advocates agree that care on Rikers Island has improved since it was run by a private hospital a decade ago, others say the city's jails still do not provide quality health care. Whether because of a lack of leadership or the challenges of dealing with a transient, often mentally ill, population, quality health care is as isolated from Rikers' inmates as the island itself is from most New Yorkers. The Quality Gap -- Prison Health Services just kicked off its third, three-year contract with the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The price tag: $366 million. As part of that contract, the health department issues quarterly performance review reports, evaluating whether the corporation has substantially met or failed to meet certain health care criteria. The reviews cover care of people who are HIV positive, women's health, asthma care, confidentiality, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and more. The measurements are gleaned from a review of 9,000 records per quarter, said Louise Cohen, deputy commissioner for health care access and improvement at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. These records assess Prison Health's performance through 40 indicators, some of which are analyzed by a random sample. In its last two years of service to the city, the time leading up to the contract renewal, Prison Health Services has continuously failed to meet a handful of city standards -- some more than others. In six of the eight quarters from January 2006 through December 2007, Prison Health Services did not properly follow up on certain HIV treatment testing . Some inmates, Cohen said, received these follow-up tests several days late. For five consecutive quarters, until mid-2007, the corporation did not meet standards for taking inmates' histories when they arrive at Riker's. Some of this can be attributed to skipping elements of the procedure's paperwork, said Cohen. On average, Prison Health complied with the department's intake standards about 61 percent of the time during that period. Now that the department is rolling out an electronic intake system, Cohen said, that process should run more smoothly. The Bloomberg administration requires that every inmate receive an intake physical within 24 hours of arrival on the island . According to the Mayor's Management Report, more than 89,000 intake exams were given in fiscal year 2007 -- that out of approximately 100,000 annual admissions. For three out of four quarters in 2007, Prison Health also did not meet standards for follow-up care for inmates in segregated housing. Cohen said this was due to security concerns in one facility that may have skewed the entire performance results. Due to all of the unmet criteria in 2007, Prison Health was fined $244,000. In 2006, the corporation was fined $299,500 and $249,500 in 2005. While some areas of care are problematic, the company has met criteria in others. For instance, women's care has received nearly a 100 percent compliance rate over the entire two-year period. This care includes cancer screenings, prenatal care and sonograms. Prison Health has also consistently tested for sexually transmitted diseases during an inmate's admission to Rikers. "We're more concerned than anyone in making sure that we have the right quality of care," said Cohen. "We are actually meeting the community standard in many cases and exceeding it in a number of others." A spokesperson for Prison Health Services refused to comment for this story and referred any comment to the city's health department. The Measures In Context -- For all of 2007, according to city health records, Prison Health Services met the standards for documenting suicide watches approximately 95 percent of the time. But, that doesn't mean there were no suicides on Rikers Island. There were three, according to the mayor's management report. This is one indication of how performance standards can miss measuring actually quality of care. Prison Health may receive a mark of 100 percent in some areas where but advocates continue to receive complaints about poor health care. Dale Wilker, a staff attorney at the Prisoners' Rights Project at the Legal Aid Society, said by far the most serious complaint from prisoners who have serious ailments, from HIV to heart conditions or asthma, is failing to have continuous access to needed medication. "The biggest complaints I have heard, not in terms of volume but in terms of seriousness, was medicine people are taking and are required to take are interrupted and not started for a period of time," said Wilker. "Since the city got away from using teaching hospitals and went to providers that are in some way to make money and to serve their stockholders, complaints have become much more frequent and much more serious." According to city records, Prison Health Services has met criteria outlined by the health department for several standards that deal with medication or prescription delivery, including long-term medication for asthmatics, the availability of medication within 24 hours after it is prescribed and the timeliness of medication orders for mental health patients. This is not the only area where anecdotal accounts of care contradict measurements by the city. The most frequent complaint of inmates, according to some advocates, is waiting times to get into one of the island's many clinics. Inmates have told the Gotham Gazette they have waited for hours before receiving care, regardless of their condition. On the other hand, the mayor's management report contends for the past three years inmates have waited about a half hour to receive care. A Quality Measurement -- Some say the department's quality performance reviews, while worthwhile, are not an accurate reflection of the quality of care on Rikers nor do they measure what is most important in providing correctional health care. It is difficult to determine whether the compliance record is a result of one box unchecked on an intake form, some say, or more serious failures by Prison Health Services. "For our purposes, in terms of our role, they are not the best items to be using to assess (whether) the things that we care about are being met," said Hildy Simmons, the chair of the city's Board of Corrections, which oversees the city's correctional system. Considering Prison Health Services' contract was just renewed, advocates contend the system must not be so atrocious that Rikers needs another provider -- as was true during the days of St. Barnabas in the early 1990s. "That suggests to me that things weren't bad enough for the department of health to not want to contract with them at all, or maybe they couldn't find another provider," said Wilker, who would like to see the city contract with university-affiliated hospitals. This is partially true. When the city requested contract bids for some of its independent borough facilities last year, no local, nonprofit hospital bid on it, said city health officials. Like any other city contract, Prison Health Services contract goes through a procurement procedure. This three-year contract was a renewal and was not put out to bid, said Cohen. "We think PHS is performing adequately," said Cohen. "We would love to have a local, nonprofit partner. One just isn't stepping up to the plate." The department does review all of its performance criteria on an annual basis to determine, which indicators to concentrate on. And, said Cohen, in any area the corporation fails, it is required to come up with a correction action plan, which the department continues to monitor.

February 29, 2008 New York Times
A substance abuse counselor assigned to a drug treatment unit at Rikers Island has been charged with selling $100 worth of cocaine to an undercover police officer. The counselor, identified in papers filed in Queens Criminal Court as Juan M. Delarosa, 56, was arrested on Jan. 6 at 19th Avenue and Hazen Street, less than a block from the bridge to the Rikers complex. Mr. Delarosa was pulled over by a detective who searched him and found two bundles labeled “Black Gold” in the pocket of his jacket, the court papers said. The two bundles contained 100 packets of heroin, the papers said. They said the detective also found five loose packets marked “Black Label” in Mr. Delarosa’s jacket and six packets in his wallet, as well as two plastic bags of cocaine in a pants pocket. The court papers said that he and an unidentified accomplice had sold an undercover detective $100 worth of cocaine and some pills in East Elmhurst last Oct. 4. The court papers did not explain why the undercover officer did not take Mr. Delarosa and the other person into custody then, nor did they explain how the initial sale came about. His arrest was reported on Wednesday on the Web site of The Village Voice, Mr. Delarosa is charged with two felony counts, criminal possession and criminal sale of a controlled substance. His lawyer, Scott Dufault, did not return a call seeking comment. Mr. Delarosa was employed by Prison Health Services, the Tennessee company that has been providing health care to Rikers inmates since 2001. John Van Mol, a spokesman for Prison Health, said the company has “a strict zero tolerance policy on drugs in the workplace.” He said that Mr. Delarosa had been fired and that Prison Health was cooperating with the authorities.

January 19, 2008 El Diario
David Mercado, a confused and distant seventeen year old, should have been placed under special watch as a potential suicide risk when he was sent to Rikers Island to await trial. Queens Criminal Court Judge Gene López ordered that the teenager be treated as a potential danger to himself, as had been recommended by Mercado’s lawyers. Instead, last month, Mercado was placed with 50 other inmates and had access to sheets and other items that someone labeled a potential suicide risk should not have been exposed to. Less than 24 hours later, Mercado was found dead. He hung himself with a bed sheet. Apparently, the judge’s order and that of Mercado’s attorney did not carry enough weight with the New York City Department of Correction. The Department responds that it had its own medical and psychiatric evaluation performed of Mercado and that he was placed in an appropriate unit. The willful disregard of court warnings by Correction bureaucrats is outrageous. That specially designed sheets to prevent inmates from killing themselves could have, should have, been given to Mercado makes his death more tragic. His death also raises serious questions yet again about the competency of the company contracted by the city to administer medical services to inmates, Prison Health Services (PHS). In 2005, PHS was the subject of an investigative series by the New York Times that found repeated instances of medical care that was flawed or negligent. Mercado’s death is under investigation. Arrested for having sex with a 14-year-old girl, he should have had his day in court, and the red flags that were raised about his mental health should have been heeded. Instead, uncaring treatment by a deaf bureaucracy helped to turn his punishment into a death sentence.

June 27, 2007 North Country Gazette
New York City could better manage its $359.4 million contract with Prison Health Services (PHS) by implementing a number of recommendations made in an audit released by the State Comptroller’s office. PHS is in the final year of a three-year contract to provide medical, dental, mental health, and pharmaceutical services at 10 of the city’s 11 jails, which have an average daily population of about 14,000 inmates. Although the New York City Department of Correction operates the facilities, including nine at Rikers Island, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) oversees the PHS contract. DOHMH reviews inmate medical files daily to determine whether PHS is delivering services as stipulated in the contract, and reports on PHS’s performance on a quarterly basis. If PHS fails to meet performance benchmarks outlined in the contract, DOHMH can require PHS to put corrective action plans in place and levy fines under the contract’s liquidated damages provisions. In 2005, for example, DOHMH levied fines totaling $250,000, which is about five percent of PHS’s $4.75 million administrative fee for that year. Auditors found that more than 25 percent (10 out of 39 in two quarters, and 12 out of 39 in one quarter) of PHS’s performance benchmarks for delivery of care were not met in consecutive evaluation periods. PHS failed to meet benchmark standards in areas including intake medical history and physical exams, dental services, and provision of some HIV-related services for new inmates. Auditors noted specific problems in the following areas: Performance Evaluation. In a review of the process by which DOHMH evaluates PHS’s performance, auditors found that the agency was accurately assessing the contractor’s work. In about half of the areas where corrective action was needed, auditors found that PHS performance had improved and did meet performance standards. But it sometimes took at least two quarters — six months — for services to improve to the contract benchmark levels. Mental Health Documentation. An initial corrective action plan noted the need for more clinical supervisors, especially on weekends. But performance still did not meet benchmarks and a second corrective action plan noted the same staff needs. Intake History and Physical Examination. After failing to meet performance benchmarks in these areas in the first quarter of 2005, a corrective action plan was put in place. But rather than improving, contract compliance fell in the two subsequent quarters. Quarterly Reports. Auditors pointed out that DOHMH’s quarterly reports on contract compliance are not required to be issued within a specific timeframe, and are usually disseminated two to three months after the end of the quarter. Therefore, there is often a one-quarter delay in identifying where corrective action plans are needed and putting them in place. Auditors recommended that DOHMH take action to expedite issuance of the quarterly reports. Corrective Action Plans. In some cases, corrective action plans may be needed even when benchmarks are met. For instance, in the Medical Follow-up Timeliness area, a compliance rate of 93 percent met the terms of the contract, but auditors noted that rate still meant that the contract requirement was not met in 5,600 instances in a nine-month period. Auditors outlined a number of strategies to improve the overall effectiveness of the contract with PHS, including a review of indicators used and acceptable compliance rates, and working more closely with the Department of Correction on specific details of the contract. The audit made several recommendations that, if implemented, would help the City get better value out of the contract through greater compliance by PHS. These improvements could occur through the balance of this contract, and during subsequent agreements with PHS or other vendors. Among the recommendations: expedite efforts to develop electronic medical records; periodically validate a sample of the Service Delivery Assessment Unit’s daily findings; expedite the development and implementation of corrective action plans; and develop an ongoing process for monitoring the effectiveness of corrective action plans. With an extended or new contract required after Dec. 31, 2007, OSC auditors note that the City should consider negotiating stronger liquidated damages provisions. The audit notes that existing penalties — which accounted for only about 5 percent of PHS’ 2005 administrative fee — may be insufficient as compliance incentives. In its response to the audit, DOHMH agreed with some of the auditors’ findings. DOHMH officials noted that the agency used other standards beyond performance indicators to monitor contract compliance, and that a failure by PHS to meet benchmarks is not an indication that medical care was substandard or that inmates lacked medical services. The complete response is included in the audit

November 8, 2006 New York Post
A dozen HIV counselors at Rikers Island got pink slips yesterday - drawing outrage from union officials. Prison Health Services - the for-profit firm that provides inmate health services for the city - said it was eliminating the positions as part of a restructuring involving the city Department of Health. "Eliminating counselors is tantamount to a death sentence for these inmates," said Jennifer Cunningham, vice president of Service Employees International Union, which represents the workers. The DOH confirmed the job cuts but insisted HIV-related services for inmates will not decline. DOH said 25 other staff members, including doctors, will continue to provide testing and counseling. "While the number of HIV counselors has fallen in the past two years, HIV testing, always with informed consent, has more than doubled," the department said.

January 31, 2006 New York Times
The deputy commissioner responsible for the city health department's Medicaid and jail health care programs resigned last Friday after only seven months on the job. His resignation is the latest of several recent departures and reassignments of doctors and administrators who supervised jail medical and mental health services, including the resignation this month of the assistant commissioner who oversaw the jail health program's daily operation. The deputy commissioner, Dr. Arthur N. Gualtieri, 65, left for "undisclosed personal reasons," and did not want to be interviewed, said Sandra Mullin, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He is being replaced by an associate commissioner, Louise Cohen, in charge of a departmental program to improve cancer and H.I.V. screening in city hospitals, Ms. Mullin said. But the relatively sudden departure of Dr. Gualtieri — a well-regarded physician and administrator who gave up his $168,774-a-year city post with less than two weeks' notice — has created the perception among inmate advocates and jail clinicians that inmate health services, a complex array of programs that Dr. Frieden has called a priority, are suffering from a lack of leadership. Managing a jail health care program as complex as New York City's is a daunting task for any administrator, one that the city's Tennessee-based medical contractor, Prison Health Services, has often made more difficult, city officials say, since taking over the contract in 2001. With varying degrees of success, city health officials have repeatedly prodded the company to improve its care, particularly for mentally ill and suicidal inmates, six of whom hung themselves during a six-month period in 2003. At the moment, only one of the top two jobs in charge of the health department's jail health care program is filled, and not by a doctor, leaving no one with much experience dealing with inmates' medical problems to monitor Prison Health Services. Recent turnover further down the ranks of the correctional health services unit has only deepened a sense that something is amiss, jail workers say. For instance, Dr. Maria Gbur, the medical director, was hired two months ago, after her predecessor, Dr. Donald Kern, left the job last June after only a year. And the psychiatrist who now runs the unit's mental health program, a crucial post in a city bureaucracy responsible for thousands of mentally ill inmates, was hired just three months ago.

January 27, 2006 New York Times
The Tennessee company that provides health care to city inmates failed to meet one-fourth of its contractual performance standards for a third consecutive quarter last year, city records show. The latest review, completed this month, prompted city health officials to withhold $71,000 in payments to the company, the largest quarterly penalty for poor jail care since 2001. In the third quarter of 2005, the company, Prison Health Services, did not meet medical or mental health standards in 10 of 39 areas, including those covering H.I.V. treatment, mental health care and suicide watch, records show. Six of the 10 clinical standards that the company failed to meet, such as quickly administering drugs to H.I.V.-positive inmates and completing evaluations of mentally ill inmates, have been graded as failing by health department monitors for three consecutive quarters, records show. In response to the continual failing marks, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which awarded the company a new $300 million, three-year contract in January 2005, raised the financial penalties it imposed on Prison Health by about a third compared with the first and second quarters of 2005. The company was fined $55,000 the first quarter and $52,500 the second. The city's quarterly measurement system has been criticized by some experts in performance measurements who have said it is flawed and unusually lenient.

January 12, 2006 New York Times
The psychiatrist in charge of monitoring medical care in city jails is resigning next week, after only six months on the job. The psychiatrist, Dr. Bruce David, an assistant commissioner in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is leaving his $166,514-a-year job on Jan. 20 for one with the Nassau County Correctional Facility, where he will direct mental health services, said Sandra Mullin, a spokeswoman. Ms. Mullin said he took the new job because he missed working directly with patients. Dr. David joined the department in January 2004 as its director of jail mental health care, after five years at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, a maximum-security hospital on Wards Island, as director of clinical services. In June, Dr. David, 44, was made director of correctional health services, a unit with a staff of 200 responsible for monitoring the performance of the city jails' medical contractor, Prison Health Services Inc., in 9 jails on Rikers Island and a 10th jail in Lower Manhattan. In the past two years, the monitoring unit issued quarterly report cards that repeatedly gave Prison Health Services a failing grade in several areas including treating diabetes, mental illnesses and acute medical problems. But medical-audit experts also criticized the unit for being too lenient, for bending its own rules for measuring the company's performance and for forgiving clinical mistakes that did not cause significant harm to inmates. It is currently being audited by the state comptroller's office.

December 26, 2005 New York Times
During the five years that a profit-making company, Prison Health Services, has provided medical care in New York City's jails, city health officials have assured the public that they were closely monitoring its work. The centerpiece of that oversight is a quarterly report card that scores the company's performance on all manner of care, a level of scrutiny that the city says is unusually rigorous. And during those years, while state investigators have faulted Prison Health for a rash of inmate suicides in New York, as well as deaths in jails upstate, city health officials have regularly given the company failing grades in many areas, including critical matters like treating diabetes, mental illnesses and acute medical problems. Despite the disturbing reports, city officials say that they have seen improvement, and that they have made their standards even tougher. But a close examination of how the city evaluates Prison Health's work reveals a process that often appears to be slapdash, subjective and lenient. Several experts in health care auditing, as well as doctors and nurses who work in the jails for the city and the company, question whether the report cards provide anything approaching an accurate picture of the medical services that cost New York taxpayers more than $100 million a year. Officials of the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have repeatedly bent their own rules for measuring the company's performance, forgiving flaws that do not cause significant harm to inmates - and saving the company thousands of dollars in city penalties. The department bases its report card on a review of inmates' medical charts, but lets Prison Health pull the charts itself - a practice that has allowed company employees to fix errors or omissions before city auditors could see the files, said two Prison Health clinicians and three health department employees involved in the process. Now the monitors themselves are being monitored. The state comptroller is auditing how the health department renewed its contract with Prison Health and how it oversees the work, an official in the comptroller's office said this week. "The audit began because the quality of the care has been a source of concern for a number of years," the official said. It beefed up the quarterly report card, setting standards in 39 areas of care; if the company failed to meet any standard 95 percent of the time, it would pay a penalty - usually $2,500 to $5,000 for each failing score. Those penalties could double if the company failed to meet the same standard twice in a row. The two reports issued since then have given Prison Health a total of 22 failing grades, and penalized the company $107,000. Those reports, health officials say, are part of a comprehensive auditing effort that has six auditors in city jails every day reviewing inmates' medical charts. "If there's a core value to the health department currently," Dr. Frieden said during a public meeting in October, "it's that we base our decisions on data." But some of that data is meaningless, because Prison Health employees are able to review it and change it, said four people who work at Rikers - two Prison Health senior clinicians and two auditors who work for the health department's monitoring unit, Correctional Health Services. Those employees were granted anonymity because they said they would be punished for speaking to a reporter. Every day, the health department gives the company a list of patients' charts it wants to review, a common practice in health care auditing. But sometimes, one auditor said, company doctors and supervisors go through the charts, correcting errors and filling in missing information, before handing them over. The auditor said that in one jail, the only way she could keep a physician's assistant from altering charts was to arrive at work first, at 5:30 a.m. Some of the changes the company has made - like adding a signature or checking a box that had been overlooked - are minor, the city auditors said, though such omissions could lead to a failing grade. But sometimes, they said, company supervisors have filled in answers to important questions, like whether the inmate has H.I.V. or a mental illness. "They'll just sit there and check 'no' to everything," without knowing whether the answers are true, said one auditor. But one city auditor said that the alterations were common, and that this year, after a mentally ill inmate died in the prison ward at NYU Downtown Hospital, a Prison Health doctor and mental-health workers went through the inmate's medical records, checking for missing information to fill in. In another incident, in 2003, that auditor said, a Prison Health doctor used correction fluid - a conspicuous violation of basic medical procedure, because chart notes must be crossed out, never erased - to change the date when he reviewed an inmate's abnormal lab test result. The change made it seem as if he had done the review within 24 hours, as required, the auditor said. The auditor said that complaints to health department supervisors had no effect. "It's so totally frustrating how they bend the rules," she said. Even when all the numbers are in, and the audit is completed, the scores are open to revision. Prison Health is allowed to produce what is known as "loose paper," patient information that was missing from the charts during the audit, but later found. Some auditing experts say that is a generally accepted practice in health care reviews. But the two city auditors said that Prison Health had sometimes misrepresented its work by turning in documents that it created after the audit. The company denied this. And even after all that data is assembled and auditors determine the scores, the medical director of Correctional Health Services allows the company to argue in its defense, and sometimes changes the scores if Prison Health makes its case that a particular failing did not harm patients. At least 19 times since 2001, the medical director has excused enough deficiencies in Prison Health's work that a failing score became a passing one, documents show. For example, inmates are supposed to receive a physical examination within four hours after being admitted to Rikers; but the medical director has repeatedly decided to overlook the timing - the whole point of the standard. But one health department manager familiar with the auditing process said the agency was trying to make Prison Health Services look good, because it chose the company. "If P.H.S. looks bad," he said, "we look bad." Indeed, some serious medical lapses have occurred without the city detecting them, said one Prison Health doctor. In April, he said, nurses performed kidney dialysis on inmates for several weeks without a doctor present, as is required. The health department said it was aware of only one incident, in which a nurse dialyzed a patient with a doctor present but without a current order to do so. The nurse was disciplined, the department said. But the incident was not mentioned on the report card for that quarter, and Prison Health was not penalized.

November 22, 2005 New York Times
State officials have reached a preliminary conclusion that New York City's $300 million contract for medical care at Rikers Island is illegal because it violates a state law regulating profit-making medical companies, according to the State Commission of Correction. New York law requires that corporations providing medical services for profit be owned and controlled by doctors, to prevent business considerations from influencing medical decisions. Prison Health Services, the Tennessee company that has been delivering care since 2001 to the 100,000 inmates who pass through Rikers Island every year, is not run by doctors. Officials with the State Commission of Correction, which oversees health standards in New York's prisons and jails, said state investigators informed them in August that they had tentatively determined that the city's multimillion-dollar arrangement with Prison Health was improper. State officials familiar with the city's contract with Prison Health have said that it appeared to violate the state law because it makes doctors at Rikers answerable to Prison Health executives in Tennessee. Prison Health hires all doctors at Rikers. The implications for the city of any formal decision that Prison Health's contract violates the law remain unclear. Last year, the company was among four companies that bid for the city jail health care contract, and all four were profit-making corporations. Lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled State Assembly have said a finding of illegality would require the city to address the state's concerns. Though city health officials have always maintained that the contract is legal, the State Commission of Correction said that investigators with the Education Department informed city officials late last summer that the contract was not legal.

August 25, 2005 New York Daily News
The family of a suicidal man who hanged himself at Rikers Island is suing the city for $45 million, claiming officials ignored signs that he was suicidal. David Pennington, 27, was found July 18, 2004, dangling from a bedsheet tied to his cell-door window at Rikers, where he had been jailed on burglary charges. The suit also names Public Health Services, the Tennessee-based firm that provides health care at the prison. Pennington had a longtime mental illness when he entered Rikers in June 2004, according to the suit filed in Manhattan Federal Court this week. He spiraled into a new depression in Rikers and told a social worker that he had tried to kill himself in the past and that his dad had died by hanging himself in prison, the suit says. He saw staffers three more times over two days, but no one put him on suicide watch or moved him to special housing for mentally ill inmates. Instead, he was sent back to the general prison population, the suit says.

June 10, 2005 New York Times
A recent evaluation of the company in charge of inmate health care at Rikers Island, coming months after it was awarded a new $300 million contract, has found that it has failed to meet a number of the most basic treatment goals. City records showed that the company, Prison Health Services Inc., did not meet standards on practices ranging from H.I.V. and diabetes therapy to the timely distribution of medication to adequately conducting mental health evaluations. The city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which oversees the company's work at Rikers Island and at a jail in Lower Manhattan, found that during the first quarter of 2005, Prison Health failed to earn a passing grade on 12 of 39 performance standards the city sets for treating jail inmates. Some of the problems, like incomplete medical records or slipshod evaluations of mentally ill inmates, have been evident since 2004 but have not been corrected, according to health department reports. Other problems identified in the department's review, involving things as serious as the oversight of inmates who have been placed on suicide watch, are more recent or had not been evaluated by city health auditors in the past. As a result, the city is withholding $55,000 in payments to the company, the largest penalty for poor performance it has incurred since 2001, the first year of its work in New York City adult jails.

May 11, 2005 New York Times
State officials have opened an investigation into whether the corporation that provides health care for more than 100,000 inmates each year in New York City jails is violating state law governing medical services. The State Department of Education, which regulates the practice of medicine, is examining the terms of the three-year, $300 million contract renewal the city signed in December with the corporation, Prison Health Services. The inquiry will determine whether the contract complies with a state requirement that for-profit corporations providing medical services be owned and controlled by doctors - a law intended to prevent business considerations, like maximizing profits, from influencing medical decisions. Prison Health executives and the city officials who oversee the company's work say they believe that the contract is in compliance. But state education officials say the matter of who is in charge is a serious one, with grave repercussions for the well-being and survival of inmates, as well as the public health. The investigation, in fact, marks a renewed effort by the Education Department, which first began to look into the Tennessee-based corporation in 2001, after several inmate deaths in upstate jails staffed by Prison Health began to draw stinging criticism from the State Commission of Correction, which monitors jail conditions. The department's investigators concluded then that Prison Health was violating the state law, saying that company executives were ultimately responsible for medical decisions and profiting from medical services. The two agencies asked the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, to halt the company's operations in New York, but Mr. Spitzer's office has declined to investigate. Now, however, education officials have decided to look into the company's largest contract of scores across the country, providing medical and mental health care at nine city jails on Rikers Island and a 10th in Lower Manhattan. On April 20, Education Department investigators met with three state assemblymen, city health officials and Richard Rifkin, a deputy to Mr. Spitzer, to discuss Prison Health's legal status. The Assembly members at the session were Richard N. Gottfried, chairman of the Assembly's Health Committee; Jeffrion L. Aubry, chairman of the Correction Committee; and Ron Canestrari, chairman of the Higher Education Committee. Assemblyman Canestrari said Prison Health appeared to be in violation of the state law governing for-profit medical services. "My understanding is their structure doesn't comply with the law," he said in an interview last week. "There have been attempts to meet the legal standard, but they have fallen short." But company officials insist doctors are in charge of medical decisions. In New York City, Prison Health says it provides only administrative services to a doctor-run corporation, P. H. S. Medical Services P. C., that directs all medical care at Rikers. But that corporation is run by Dr. Trevor Parks, who is a regional medical director for Prison Health. State education investigators have called Dr. Parks's corporation a sham, and said that when they questioned him, he had only a vague idea of his role in it. Several Prison Health employees at Rikers said in interviews that Dr. Parks recently gathered a group of supervising doctors there and informed them that they were employees of his corporation. Dr. Parks declined to comment yesterday.

April 4, 2005 New York Times
It was 2:50 p.m. on July 18, 2004, when David Pennington, a 27-year-old small-time thief in jail on a third-degree burglary charge, was sent from a clinic back to his cell at Rikers
Island 's largest jail. During the previous three days, jail doctors had received ample evidence showing that Mr. Pennington should not be left alone. Two days earlier, according to investigators, he had told a social worker at Rikers about two attempts to kill himself, about his psychiatric hospitalizations, about his father, who had killed himself in prison. Near the end, Mr. Pennington, increasingly agitated, had even told a jail doctor that he was hearing voices and was thinking again of killing himself. Still, Mr. Pennington was sent back from a Rikers mental health clinic to what is called the jail's general population - Cell 26 in Quad 14 - without any special instructions to correction officers or medical staff to keep a close eye on him. In fact, state investigators later discovered, Mr. Pennington was returned to his cell after a jail psychiatrist, despite being alerted by another doctor, chose not to examine him. Six and a half hours later, jail officers heard a commotion outside Cell 26. Inmates were gathered around the locked cell door, yelling for help. The officers rushed over to find Mr. Pennington slumped against the door, hanging from a bedsheet tied to the door's small window. He was brain dead, and three days later, at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens , his family had him removed from life support. In the view of state investigators, Mr. Pennington was another casualty of the sometimes deadly mistakes made by the Tennessee company hired to provide health care at Rikers, and to thereby tackle the problem of the growing number of mentally ill inmates who populate the jail, a sprawling complex in the East River . Over the past four years, in a series of increasingly urgent reports, the New York State Commission of Correction has excoriated the company, Prison Health Services, for mistakes in the care of 23 inmates who died in city and upstate jails. The commission, which is appointed by the governor to oversee jail and prison standards, has repeatedly condemned Prison Health for flouting state medical standards, hiring poorly qualified doctors and nurses and failing to properly treat several of its sickest patients, who eventually committed suicide - the leading cause of death in American jails. In its report on Mr. Pennington, made available to the public last week, the commission issued some of its harshest criticism of the company, calling its care of Mr. Pennington "flagrantly inadequate," and again asserting that the company was practicing in the state in violation of the law because executives in Tennessee, and not doctors at Rikers Island, were ultimately in charge of dispensing care. In a letter accompanying the report, the commission also criticized the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which monitors Prison Health's work at Rikers, for excusing the company's errors and for what it said is the company's continuing improper operations in the state. "This deliberate refusal to provide treatment to patient with active suicidal ideation who was directly referred by another physician constitutes professional medical misconduct on the part of the psychiatrist and flagrantly inadequate mental health care by PHS, Inc.," the state report said. Prison Health Services fired the psychiatrist three months later, for reasons that a company spokeswoman said were unrelated to Mr. Pennington's death.

March 25, 2005 New York Times
A 25-year-old inmate hanged himself in a jail cell on Rikers
Island last Friday, a Correction Department spokesman said yesterday. The suicide is the second in the city jail system this year and the fifth in the last 12 months. The inmate, Charon Watkins, had been assigned to what is known at Rikers as the punitive segregation unit, a set of cells meant to hold the most troubled or disruptive prisoners at the jail complex. He hanged himself with a torn bed sheet that he had tied to a sink faucet in his cell at the Otis Bantum Correctional Center , said Thomas Antenen, the Correction Department spokesman. Indeed, since 2001, investigators responsible for monitoring jails in the state have become increasingly critical of mistakes at Rikers in overseeing and treating mentally ill inmates, some of whom later killed themselves in their cells. Several state reports repeatedly urged city and Correction Department officials to follow state-issued regulations devised to reduce inmate suicides, and to punish inappropriate medical and mental health care that might have contributed to jail deaths. After six suicides in the first half of 2003, investigators from the New York State Commission of Correction, a panel appointed by the governor to review every inmate death, saved some harsh criticism for Prison Health Services, the publicly held profit-making company that has been paid hundreds of millions of dollars since 2001 to provide medical and mental care at the city's jails.

June 15, 2001
Medical treatment given to 13, 500 city inmates is not improving as quickly as city officials had hoped when they hired a Tennessee-based, for-profit company six months ago to revamp medical and mental health services at Rikers Island, officials on an oversight board said yesterday.  The death this week of a 37-year-old inmate who had to wait an hour and 10 minutes before an ambulance was called has only heightened broader concerns about the performance of the company, Prison Health Services.  Members of the Board of Correction, a citizens' committee appointed by the mayor and the City Council to monitor treatment of inmates, discussed several incidents yesterday at their monthly meeting, including the escape of a prisoner on Wednesday, the suicide of an inmate on May 22, a recent accidental gun discharge by a correction officer and a fight between two captains at the Brooklyn House of Detention. They also discussed the death on Tuesday of Anthony Rizzo of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, the third inmate to die this year after being attacked by another prisoner.  ( The New York Times)

Schenectady County Jail
Schenectady, New York
Schenectady Family Health Services (former run by Prison Health Services)
Sep 3, 2017
Schenectady jail death case settles for $100,000
SCHENECTADY — A lawsuit over a suicide at the Schenectady County Jail in 2014 was settled for just over $100,000, according to recently filed legal documents. Judge Daniel Stewart approved the settlement late last month, finding the amount appropriate, given the details of the case, which involved the death of Lucky Wilkins. The judge also ruled that the settlement be made public, going against requests by both the jail medical provider and attorneys for the estate of the man who died. In all, Correctional Medical Care agreed to pay $101,500 to Wilkins' estate to end the case, while denying the underlying allegations of improper care. The settlement involved no county money, Schenectady County Attorney Christopher Gardner has said. Correctional Medical Care covers legal costs and payouts in all such lawsuits. Jail employees discovered Wilkins dead in his cell on May 28, 2014. He had a sheet around his neck, the other end tied to a bar at the top of his cell. State correction officials closed the matter as a suicide, but Wilkins' estate contended Wilkins showed signs of severe depression during his two months in jail, where he was being held on drug-related charges. Wilkins' estate alleged he sought assistance for depression from medical staff at the jail and at Ellis Hospital but was never provided any meaningful help. The estate originally included claims against Ellis, but those were later dropped. The suit alleged Wilkins received no medical treatment, causing his death. Attorney E. Robert Keach represented Wilkins' estate. He would not comment on Monday. Representatives of Correctional Medical Care did not respond to requests for comment. In his ruling, the judge noted that Wilkins' two children will be the beneficiaries of the settlement. Keach noted in the original lawsuit that there have been previous allegations against Correctional Medical Care in Schenectady County and elsewhere — he highlighted a state attorney general's settlement with the company — in outlining what he called a "pattern of difficulties." Keach also represented the family of Nicole Carmen, who died in Schenectady County custody on April 29, 2013. She died from complications of opiate withdrawal, her suit contended. Carmen's family later won a $425,000 settlement from Correctional Medical Care. The judge in that case, David N. Hurd, also rejected a request from the attorneys to keep that resolution confidential and sealed. Stewart, the judge in the Wilkins case, cited the Carman settlement decision in his ruling to make the Wilkins settlement public. In ordering the Carmen payout to be disclosed publicly, Hurd cited the significance of the allegations and the substantial settlement. He also cited prior allegations against CMC, finding a "strong public interest" in the Carmen settlement. Correctional Medical Care's contract with the county ran out in December but has been extended, Gardner said. The county is preparing a request for proposals to determine whether Correctional Medical Care or another company gets the next contract, Gardner said. He said Monday he hopes to have that process concluded by the end of the year.

Apr 29, 2017
Lawsuit filed in Schenectady County inmate's death
Schenectady County Jail medical staff failed to provide proper medication to a man with a variety of ailments, leading to his death last year, a new lawsuit contends.  Jimmy Richardson, 53, of Emmett Street, died at the jail Jan. 17, 2016, of a heart issue. The lawsuit contends he managed his health concerns outside the jail, but that the jail medical staff contributed to his death by withholding some medication and changing pain medication. "While [Richardson] was obviously not the healthiest person, he had been successfully managing his medical conditions for several years. It was not until the defendants denied him his medication for several weeks ... that [Richardson] died," the suit reads, adding that the defendants' actions caused his death. Richardson's widow, Bernita Richardson, filed the suit last week in federal court in Albany seeking unspecified damages. Attorney E. Robert Keach is representing the estate. Named as defendants are the jail's medical provider Correctional Medical Care, Schenectady County and individuals connected to the jail and medical provider. Schenectady County Attorney Christopher Gardner on Thursday said the county is reviewing the case, but reserved comments on the allegations. Correctional Medical Care President Emre Umar issued a statement Friday saying that, while the company is "always saddened to learn about any loss of life or negative medical outcome," it "stands by the quality of services provided." Umar noted that jails house "a population with the highest levels of chronic disease, mental health and substance-abuse problems," and the company employs thousands of qualified and caring professionals. "It has become a cottage industry for some plaintiffs’ attorneys to abuse public perception and distort and exaggerate facts under the pretense that they care about this patient population, doing so for their own personal financial gain," Umar's statement reads. "This complaint, like any other, will go through the litigation process to separate facts from unfounded allegations." According to the lawsuit, Richardson "died a preventable death." Richardson suffered from a series of ailments, including a cardiac disease called Brugada's Syndrome that can cause sudden death. He took various medications to address his conditions. He also took strong opiate pain medication that can cause withdrawal symptoms if stopped, the suit reads. Richardson was jailed twice in the weeks leading up to his death, first for five days in December 2015, then again starting Jan. 4, 2016. The suit alleges he wasn't provided with any of his medication in his first stint at the jail and that records showing he received medication from the start of his second stint are fabricated. The suit notes that attorneys are still waiting for Richardson's pharmacy records, but based the fabrication allegations on a medical provider's note in conflict with his jail medical records and numerous handwritten "sick call" slips written by Richardson. He wrote in one dated Jan. 11, 2016, included in the suit "I am Hurting so Bad I need Help!!!" Medical records did record that Richardson did not receive any pain medication beyond Tylenol until Jan. 13, 2016, the suit reads, due to an apparent problem with a prescription written by a jail doctor. However, the prescription also changed his pain medication to morphine without consulting his personal doctor. He then received overdoses, the suit alleges. The night before he died, the suit alleges that Richardson again sought help and was in "obvious need of medical assistance," but a corrections officer threatened him with disciplinary action and denied him care. "The case is obviously in the early stages and we need more information," Keach said Thursday, "but Mr. Richardson's death is certainly indicative of a disturbing pattern of deaths at correctional facilities where health care is overseen by Correctional Medical Care." Keach has brought lawsuits for other deaths at the Schenectady County Jail and elsewhere related to Correctional Medical Care's work. He filed a lawsuit in January over the death of 57-year-old Michael Revels, alleging Schenectady County Jail medical officials continually interrupted his medication, leading to his November 2015 death. That case remains pending. Keach earlier won a $425,000 settlement in a 2013 Schenectady County Jail death and an undisclosed settlement in the 2014 suicide of an inmate at the jail after his suit contended he sought help for depression. Any settlements involve no county money as part of the county's agreement with the company, Gardner has said. Correctional Medical Care's contract with the county ran out in December and has been extended through June, Gardner said. The county is preparing a request for proposals to determine whether Correctional Medical Care or another company gets the next contract, Gardner said.

Feb 4, 2017 PCWG
Suit filed in death of Schenectady County inmate
Schenectady County Jail medical officials failed to properly care for an inmate in 2015, resulting in his death, according to a new lawsuit. Michael Revels, 57, who entered the jail in September 2015, was a kidney cancer survivor who required constant medication, the suit reads. By mid-November 2015, constant interruptions to his medication left him near death, Revels' family contends. He died at the hospital shortly afterward because of faulty care while in the jail's custody, the suit reads. "These conditions could have been easily treated had Mr. Revels been sent to the hospital or been monitored by a qualified medical provider" during his time at the jail, the suit reads. Revels estate is suing the jail's medical provider, Correctional Medical Care, as well as Schenectady County and several individuals. They filed the suit in federal court in Albany last week. An attorney for Correctional Medical Care could not be reached Monday. Schenectady County Attorney Christopher Gardner said the county believes there's no basis for the suit. According to the suit, Revels' medication regimen began to be routinely interrupted upon entering the jail. He received the wrong medication, failed to get refills and received cheaper and less effective medication, it alleges. He underwent tests at the jail, but no real treatment, the suit reads. The jail medical staff made no contact with Revels' specialists and made decisions without being medically qualified to do so, the suit continues. Jail officers found Revels unconscious in his cell on Nov. 18, 2015, but he wasn't hospitalized until two days later. Revels fell into a coma and died at the hospital Nov. 25, 2015, the suit reads. The suit also contends jail officials sought and won Revels' release after transporting him to the hospital, a move that placed the financial burden of the hospital stay on his family. The estate's attorney, E. Robert Keach, has sued Correctional Medical Care multiple times in the past, winning settlements that include a $425,000 settlement in a 2013 Schenectady County Jail death. Keach cites several of the previous cases in his suit, calling the Revels case part of a "well-documented pattern" of the company providing inadequate care. Another lawsuit in a Schenectady County Jail death was settled earlier this month, records show. Details of that settlement have yet to be released. Such settlements involve no county money, Gardner has said. The medical provider covers all such lawsuits. Payouts, if any, are fully paid by CMC. The county budgets about $2.5 million for inmate health services overall. The jail saw about 3,000 inmates booked in 2015, requiring 23,000 medical encounters, officials have said. Overall, the county is satisfied with the care provided by CMC, Gardner said. "The county and the sheriff are continually monitoring any issues that may arise ... and we're constantly working to improve the provision of medical care," Gardner said.

Jan 15, 2017
New York: Wrongful death suit settled
SCHENECTADY -- The estate of a man who took his own life in the Schenectady County Jail in 2014 has reached a settlement with the jail's medical provider in a lawsuit filed over the death, records show. Details of the settlement over the death of 29-year-old Lucky Lee Wilkins Jr., were not available Wednesday, but U.S. District Court records indicate the two sides reached the agreement after lengthy discussions last week. Whatever the settlement is, Schenectady County Attorney Christopher Gardner indicated it involves no county money. The jail's medical provider, Correctional Medical Care, chose to settle the case, Gardner noted. The settlement agreement now goes to the presiding judge, Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart, for approval. Stewart will also decide on a request to seal the details of the settlement. A different judge rejected a request to seal details in a similar Schenectady County Jail case settlement a year ago. Wilkins died in county custody on May 28, 2014. Jail employees discovered him with a sheet around his neck, the other end tied to a bar at the top of the cell, according to court documents. He had been jailed on a felony drug charge for more than two months and was being held on $25,000 bail. In the original lawsuit, filed in August 2015, his estate contended Wilkins showed signs of severe depression, including suicidal thoughts, during his time in the jail. The estate alleged  Wilkins sought assistance for depression from medical staff at the jail and at Ellis Hospital but was never provided any meaningful care. The estate originally included claims against Ellis, but those were later dropped. The suit alleged Wilkins received no medical treatment, causing his eath. The attorney for Wilkins' estate, E. Robert Keach, refused to comment on the settlement. An attorney for Correctional Medical Care could not be reached Wednesday. While no taxpayer money is going to the settlement, Gardner said the county doesn't think there was "any wrongdoing on anyone's part." The state Commission of Corrections, which looks into all in-custody deaths, issued its final report in the fall that showed fellow inmates told investigators Wilkins had been upset over a breakup with his girlfriend and over his criminal case. The public portion of the redacted report, released Wednesday as a result of a Freedom of Information Law request, includes no testimony or indication that Wilkins reached out for help from staff or others. The report recommended the investigation be closed as a suicide. Correctional Medical Care covers all such lawsuits. Payouts, if any, are fully paid by CMC. Keach noted in the original lawsuit that there have been previous allegations against Correctional Medical Care in Schenectady County and elsewhere. He also noted a state attorney general's settlement with the company, in alleging a "pattern of difficulties." Keach also represented the family of Nicole Carmen, who died in Schenectady County custody on April 29, 2013. She died from complications of opiate withdrawal, her suit contended. Carmen's family won a $425,000 settlement from Correctional Medical Care. The judge in that case, David N. Hurd, rejected a request from the attorneys to keep that resolution confidential and sealed. Hurd noted the significance of the allegations in the case and the substantial settlement in ordering the Carmen resolution to be publicly disclosed. He also cited the prior allegations, finding a "strong public interest" that the Carmen settlement should be open.

Feb 13, 2016
$10 million each sought for two inmate deaths at Schenectady County Jail
The estates of an inmate with major heart-related problems who died in his cell at the Schenectady County Jail and another prisoner at the facility who survived kidney cancer only to become so badly bloated that he died at Ellis Hospital have put the county on notice that they plan to file wrongful death suits. The deaths of Michael Revels and Jimmy Richardson occurred about 2½ months apart and a notice of claim filed Friday by their attorney alleges both might still be alive if they had received proper medical care from Correctional Medical Care Inc., a firm the county has contracted for years to treat its inmates. During that time, Elmer Keach III, an attorney representing Revels and Richardson, contends the county was negligent in hiring the Philadelphia-area company as a medical provider at the jail, "given the company's troubled past." Sheriff Dominic Dagostino and County Attorney Chris Gardner rejected the allegations. "It's our position that regardless of who the medical provider was or is that the outcome would have been the same with regard to these three individuals because of their declining health," said Dagostino. The third inmate the sheriff mentioned is Terrance Duncan. He died at the jail in August. On Friday, Dagostino said officials are awaiting toxicology results as part of their internal probe into Duncan's death. Keach contends that what he generally sees is that CMC doesn't provide inmates with adequate follow-up care after being notified by correction officers of health issues. He surmised the company receives incentives for steering inmates to the hospital. County Attorney Chris Gardner dismissed Keach's claim against CMC as a "bright shining lie," stressing that the county pays for any extra medical costs, including hospitalization and specialty care that inmates require. "We believe they are patently baseless lawsuits," Gardner added. He noted with the more than 3,000 inmates housed at the jail each year, there will be some who are really sick and their time behind bars is for many defendants is the first time they receive adequate medical care. "We do provide very good medical care to the inmates, and not all inmates are going to be healthy," said Gardner. Correctional Medical Care did not return a call Friday seeking comment. The notices of claim, precursors of a lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of the estates of Revels and Richardson by their widows, separately seek $10 million in damages for each man's pain and suffering. Revels, 57, who was serving time for driving without a license, died Nov. 25. He was a kidney cancer survivor who required a diuretic medication to help his kidneys get rid of excess fluid from his body. At the jail, the notice of claim alleges, on several occasions Revels got the wrong medication or cheaper, less effective ones, or didn't get them at all. The court papers also contend that despite being well aware of his medical condition, the staff at the jail punished him for lying down in his cell when he felt sick before lock-in. By November, Revels' condition worsened to the point, the notice says, that he was regularly collapsing on the floor. He was found unconscious by medical and jail staff on Nov. 16 and Nov. 20. On the later date, the claim states Revels was taken to Ellis Hospital where he was so badly bloated that the doctor had to drain 7½ liters of fluid around his kidneys and other organs. There are about five liters of blood in the human body, the notice indicates. The fluid buildup sent Revels into cardiac arrest. He was taken off life support on Nov. 25. The notice of claim says after Revels died, the county secured his release and his wife got stuck with paying his remaining medical bills. In Richardson's case, he landed at the jail on Jan. 5, a day after being arrested by Schenectady police for violating an order of protection. He spent his first night in custody at Ellis Hospital for assorted medical problems ranging from high blood pressure to asthma and a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat. The notice of claim indicates that jail guards failed to check on Richardson, 53, or notify medical staff even though his breathing was so labored that other inmates could hear him gurgling all night long. At the time, Richardson was on a medical supervision status, meaning the correction officers should have been checking him every 15 minutes. The notice says that on Jan. 17 Richardson, who was awaiting trial on a criminal contempt charge, died alone in his cell of high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia and an enlarged heart. It also alleges jail and medical staff should have known about Richardson's health problems because he had been incarcerated at the facility in 2015 and had not received the proper medical care or his medication, resulting in him experiencing breathing problems. "Failing to provide medical treatment to someone experiencing severe breathing problems is inexcusable," the notice of claim states. "There is no question that officials at the Schenectady County jail knew about Mr. Richardson's serious medical condition, as he had informed them about his condition on several prior incarcerations. Nevertheless, Mr. Richardson would be alive today if he was provided appropriate and timely medical treatment and supervision."

Feb 7, 2016
$10 million each sought for two inmate deaths at Schenectady County Jail
The estates of an inmate with major heart-related problems who died in his cell at the Schenectady County Jail and another prisoner at the facility who survived kidney cancer only to become so badly bloated that he died at Ellis Hospital have put the county on notice that they plan to file wrongful death suits. The deaths of Michael Revels and Jimmy Richardson occurred about 2½ months apart and a notice of claim filed Friday by their attorney alleges both might still be alive if they had received proper medical care from Correctional Medical Care Inc., a firm the county has contracted for years to treat its inmates. During that time, Elmer Keach III, an attorney representing Revels and Richardson, contends the county was negligent in hiring the Philadelphia-area company as a medical provider at the jail, "given the company's troubled past." Sheriff Dominic Dagostino and County Attorney Chris Gardner rejected the allegations. "It's our position that regardless of who the medical provider was or is that the outcome would have been the same with regard to these three individuals because of their declining health," said Dagostino. The third inmate the sheriff mentioned is Terrance Duncan. He died at the jail in August. On Friday, Dagostino said officials are awaiting toxicology results as part of their internal probe into Duncan's death. Keach contends that what he generally sees is that CMC doesn't provide inmates with adequate follow-up care after being notified by correction officers of health issues. He surmised the company receives incentives for steering inmates to the hospital. County Attorney Chris Gardner dismissed Keach's claim against CMC as a "bright shining lie," stressing that the county pays for any extra medical costs, including hospitalization and specialty care that inmates require. "We believe they are patently baseless lawsuits," Gardner added. He noted with the more than 3,000 inmates housed at the jail each year, there will be some who are really sick and their time behind bars is for many defendants is the first time they receive adequate medical care. "We do provide very good medical care to the inmates, and not all inmates are going to be healthy," said Gardner. Correctional Medical Care did not return a call Friday seeking comment. The notices of claim, precursors of a lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of the estates of Revels and Richardson by their widows, separately seek $10 million in damages for each man's pain and suffering. Revels, 57, who was serving time for driving without a license, died Nov. 25. He was a kidney cancer survivor who required a diuretic medication to help his kidneys get rid of excess fluid from his body. At the jail, the notice of claim alleges, on several occasions Revels got the wrong medication or cheaper, less effective ones, or didn't get them at all. The court papers also contend that despite being well aware of his medical condition, the staff at the jail punished him for lying down in his cell when he felt sick before lock-in. By November, Revels' condition worsened to the point, the notice says, that he was regularly collapsing on the floor. He was found unconscious by medical and jail staff on Nov. 16 and Nov. 20. On the later date, the claim states Revels was taken to Ellis Hospital where he was so badly bloated that the doctor had to drain 7½ liters of fluid around his kidneys and other organs. There are about five liters of blood in the human body, the notice indicates. The fluid buildup sent Revels into cardiac arrest. He was taken off life support on Nov. 25. The notice of claim says after Revels died, the county secured his release and his wife got stuck with paying his remaining medical bills. In Richardson's case, he landed at the jail on Jan. 5, a day after being arrested by Schenectady police for violating an order of protection. He spent his first night in custody at Ellis Hospital for assorted medical problems ranging from high blood pressure to asthma and a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat. The notice of claim indicates that jail guards failed to check on Richardson, 53, or notify medical staff even though his breathing was so labored that other inmates could hear him gurgling all night long. At the time, Richardson was on a medical supervision status, meaning the correction officers should have been checking him every 15 minutes. The notice says that on Jan. 17 Richardson, who was awaiting trial on a criminal contempt charge, died alone in his cell of high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia and an enlarged heart. It also alleges jail and medical staff should have known about Richardson's health problems because he had been incarcerated at the facility in 2015 and had not received the proper medical care or his medication, resulting in him experiencing breathing problems. "Failing to provide medical treatment to someone experiencing severe breathing problems is inexcusable," the notice of claim states. "There is no question that officials at the Schenectady County jail knew about Mr. Richardson's serious medical condition, as he had informed them about his condition on several prior incarcerations. Nevertheless, Mr. Richardson would be alive today if he was provided appropriate and timely medical treatment and supervision."

Sep 12, 2015

Schenectady County site, medical company blamed for 2014 suicide
The estate of a man who committed suicide in the Schenectady County jail is suing the county, including top jail officials and its medical providers, alleging negligence in the death. The former inmate, Lucky Lee Wilkins Jr., 29, was found sitting on the floor of his cell in May 2014 with one end of a sheet wrapped around his neck and the other end tied to the top of the cell bars. Wilkins was severely depressed and had expressed suicidal thoughts, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court last month. Wilkins was held at the jail for three months on $25,000 bail after being charged with third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance. The complaint alleges Wilkins repeatedly sought help from the jail's medical staff for severe depression and "had threatened to commit suicide on multiple occasions," but was denied any treatment. Jail officers thought he was "faking" his condition, the complaint alleges. Wilkins allegedly told other inmates, multiple jail officers and medical staff at Ellis Hospital, where he was evaluated, that he was suffering from severe depression. "Wilkins was never provided any meaningful mental health treatment, including being evaluated by a qualified psychologist, and/or being provided appropriate medication ... the failure to provide Wilkins any medical treatment directly caused his death," the complaint reads. The lawsuit targets the jail's medical provider, Correctional Medical Care Inc., Ellis Hospital, Schenectady County, including County Sheriff Dominic D'Agostino and Jail Administrator Jim Barrett. Jonathan Bernstein, an Albany lawyer representing Schenectady County, D'Agostino and Barrett, declined to comment. Officials with Correctional Medical Care Inc. and Ellis Hospital did not return calls for comment. Correctional Medical Care, Inc., a Pennsylvania company that provides medical services to inmates at the Schenectady jail, provides medical services to at least 12 county jails across New York, according to its website, including jails in Albany and Rensselaer counties. "This company is irresponsibly run and its actions have led to the death of detainees in upstate New York," said Elmer Robert Keach, an Albany-based lawyer representing Wilkins' estate. "I believe that Mr. Wilkins' actions were a direct result of the irresponsibleness of this company." "Mr. Wilkins should have been provided with mental health care before he unfortunately took his own life," Keach added. Last year, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman conducted an investigation into Correctional Medical Care, which found that it provided poor medical care. The company was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution to Tioga County and $100,000 in civil penalties to New York state, as well as paying for an independent monitor for a period of three years to ensure compliance with its contracts. "CMC understaffed facilities and shifted work hours from physicians and dentists to less qualified and lower-wage staff, including, in one case, a nurse with a felony conviction," Schneiderman said in a 2014 release.

December 31, 2005 The Times Union
A federal judge has dramatically reduced the $782,988 award a jury gave a former jail inmate who claimed his heart attack was improperly treated by officials at the Schenectady and Schoharie county jails and by the medical company hired to handle prisoner medical care at the Schenectady facility. U.S. District Judge Donald E. Walter set aside $632,988 in punitive damages that a jury in July awarded to Byron Lake, now 59 years old. Lake claimed his caregivers and the jails violated his civil rights by delaying his access to medical care while he was incarcerated six years ago. In his ruling signed Thursday, Walter deferred to the jury's "inference" that Schenectady County and EMSA Government Services, which has since been purchased by Prison Health Service, acted with deliberate indifference to Lake's medical needs. But the judge found that none of the defendants acted with "malicious or callous indifference to Lake's medical needs," and he overturned the award for punitive damages. Walter upheld the jury's award of $150,000 in compensatory damages and legal fees to Lake. Lake's attorney said it was too soon to say whether there will be an appeal.

August 9, 2005 WNYT
The Schenectady County Sheriff released a report on his own jail Tuesday after the death of an inmate last week. Sheriff Harry Buffardi gave a copy of his report to NewsChannel 13 because he felt it was his duty as a public official and as a member of law enforcement. Last Wednesday the inmate was transported from the jail to Ellis Hospital where she was pronounced dead.  She had undergone open heart surgery at Ellis a few days earlier, but the sheriff maintains it was the treatment at the jail by the contracted medical provider that was the problem. Thirty-nine-year-old Laura Woolsey was being held at the Schenectady County Correctional Facility since last September on manslaughter charges. The sheriff's report maintains that at 7:45 a.m. on Aug. 3, Woolsey began presenting cardiac problems and a member of his corrections staff notified the on-call nurse with the jail's contracted medical provider, Schenectady Family Health Services. Twenty minutes later that nurse was re-notified that the patient appeared to be worsening.  A second nurse then administered medication. By 10:20 p.m. Woolsey went into total cardiac arrest.  Paramedics with the Schenectady Fire Department responded, but were instructed by SFHS staff to not perform chest compressions because of her recent surgery. The surgeon who performed the open heart procedure later told a sheriff's investigator that decision was contrary to sound medical emergency procedures. The sheriff says his department signed on with SFHS within the last year after not renewing a contract with the previous medical provider following an inmate death there in 2001.

August 8, 2005 The Empire Journal
The state Commission on Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at Schenectady County Jail and the head nurse on duty on the time of the death has been banned from the jail, according to Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi. Laura Woolsey, 39, who was awaiting sentencing on second degree murder charges after admitting the stabbing death of her boyfriend James Flomer, was found unresponsive in her cell Wednesday. According to an announcement by Buffardi, head nurse Loraine Walker allegedly told paramedics from the Schenectady Fire Department who responded to the emergency call at the jail not to do chest compressions on Woolsey in an effort to save her life. Buffardi said that “she gave direction under orders of the doctor that she (Woolsey) couldn’t receive chest compressions and that’s not true.  He never gave such an order” Walker is reportedly employed by Schenectady Family Health Services which is under contract with the county to provide medical services at the jail.  The agency is reportedly conducting its own investigation of the incident. The jail has no infirmary.  Schenectady Family Health became the jail’s medical provider last year after ending its contract with Prison Health Services. In mid-July, a federal court jury awarded $782,988 to Bryan Lake, 59, who sued Prison Health Services, Schenectady and Schoharie Counties for negligence in not treating him for a heart attack which went undiagnosed for several days in August, 1998, leaving Lake disabled.
In 2004, the state said the jail and Prison Health Services were found negligent in their treatment of Brian Tetrault, 44, who died at the jail in 2001 after PHS failed to give him the medication his needed for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. State investigators called PHS actions “medically reckless” and “flagrantly inadequate”.

July 18, 2005 Times Union
A federal court jury has awarded $782,988 to a former jail inmate who sued Prison Health Services and Schenectady and Schoharie counties for failing to properly treat a heart attack that left him disabled.  Prison Health Service was ordered to pay $632,988 in punitive damages for their treatment of now 59-year-old Byron Lake, who claimed his caregivers and the governments violated his constitutional rights by delaying for days his access to medical care while he was an inmate at the two jails in August 1998. At the time of the incident, Schenectady County's medical service was provided by EMSA Government Services Inc., a firm PHS bought in January 1999.  After a four-day trial in front of visiting U.S. District Court Judge Donald E. Walter, the jury held PHS and the two counties liable for compensatory damages of $150,000 and punitive damages of $632,988.  It was the latest controversy for PHS, which lost its contract with Schenectady County two years ago after another prisoner in the company's care died in treatment state investigators called "medically reckless" and "flagrantly inadequate."  The verdict puts an epitaph on Schenectady County's troubled history with PHS, which has come under withering criticism in other parts of the country for inadequate health care.  The county severed its longtime relationship with PHS in 2004 after the death of another inmate treated at the jail by the Brentwood, Tenn.-based company. Brian Tetrault, 44, died Nov. 20, 2001, several days after jail doctors stopped giving him medication he needed to control Parkinson's disease, according to a report released by the state Commission of Correction.  Tetrault's condition deteriorated steadily over the course of his 10-day incarceration after the medical staff accused him of faking his sickness. Tetrault died of withdrawal, state officials said.  The county later hired Schenectady Family Health Services to run the jail's medical facility.

February 9, 2005 Times Union
Schenectady County has been dropped from a lawsuit filed by the family of a prisoner who died in custody after he was allegedly denied medication to control his Parkinson's disease, said County Attorney Christopher Gardner. Attorneys familiar with the case said the family of the prisoner, Brian Tetrault, and Prison Health Services Inc., which operated the jail's medical services at the time, are negotiating a settlement. Tetrault, 44, died on Nov. 20, 2001, 10 days after being booked for allegedly violating a protection order. The lawsuit, filed by Tetrault's family, contended the inmate was not given medication for his diseases and began having medical problems. He was transferred to Ellis Hospital on Nov. 17 and died three days later. The state Commission of Correction issued a scathing report last July that detailed Tetrault's death, blaming "medically reckless" and "flagrantly inadequate" care by Prison Health Services. The report blasted the jail's head doctor, W.J. "Duke" DuFresne, for altering Tetrault's drug regimen. The state called Tetrault's death "physician-induced."
Last year, the county severed its contract with Prison Health and brought in a local medical firm. 

July 2, 2004
"Medically reckless" and "flagrantly inadequate" care by a company hired to provide medical services at the county jail killed a prisoner suffering with Parkinson's disease, according to the state Commission of Correction. A 10-page report on the death of Brian Tetrault's on Nov. 20, 2001, paints a grim picture of the 44-year-old Niskayuna man's final days as he slowly died from withdrawal caused by the refusal of prison doctors to give him the medication that controlled his condition.  The report blasts the jail's head doctor, W. J. "Duke" DuFresne, and his employer, Brentwood, Tenn.-based Prison Health Services Inc., for drastically altering the drug regimen upon which Tetrault relied.  Tetrault's condition deteriorated steadily over the course of his 10-day incarceration after the jail's medical staff accused him of faking his sickness. He spent five days in the jail before the staff realized the severity of his condition and had him admitted to Ellis Hospital, according to the report released Wednesday.  "Mr. Tetrault died from the flagrantly bad medical care afforded him by PHS Inc. and its employees at the Schenectady County jail. His death was physician-induced," Commissioner Frederick C. Lamy wrote in a June 23 letter to the Prison Health Services' Albany attorney, Robin Bartlett Phelan. "This patient had been successfully managed by Albany Medical Center for 10 years. He lasted five days in the Schenectady County Jail under your client's care," the letter stated.  The state commission also accused jail officials of falsifying records to make it appear that Tetrault had been released from their custody before he died in order to evade state reporting requirements, an issue the commission asked District Attorney Robert M. Carney to investigate.  (Times Union)

Second Circuit Court of Appeals
New York
Feb 10, 2017 enewspf
Second Circuit Court of Appeals Rules Corporations Cannot Stop Release of Government Documents
New York –(ENEWSPF)–February 9, 2017.   Yesterday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by private prison corporations seeking to block the release of government documents about their immigration detention practices. A federal judge ruled in July, in a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Detention Watch Network (DWN), that under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) the government must release details of its contracts with private prison corporations. The government chose not to appeal, but the United States’ two largest private prison corporations,  the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), recently rebranded as “CoreCivic,” intervened to stop the release and filed an appeal of their own. “The court’s ruling is a victory against private prison corporations who are fighting hard to avoid accountability,” said Mary Small, Policy Director of Detention Watch Network. “It’s astounding that private prison contractors thought they had the right to dictate the scope of government secrecy. But the Second Circuit has shown that courts can still exercise oversight over frivolous attempts to hide the profiteering schemes that devastate immigrant communities and the American public. This victory is especially important as we face a presidential administration committed to mass privatization as well as mass detention and deportation.” “In a one-paragraph decision, the Second Circuit has rightly ruled that private contractors cannot be allowed to stand in the shoes of government and make decisions about dissemination of government information to the public,” said Jenny-Brooke Condon of the Center for Social Justice of the Seton Hall University School of Law, which co-counsels the case with CCR.  “CCA and GEO tried to interfere with the balance Congress sought to strike between the public and their elected representatives regarding the transparency appropriate in our democracy.” “The Second Circuit found it obvious that private entities that take on public functions must be subject to public scrutiny,” said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Ghita Schwarz. “The court dismissed the private contractors’ baseless argument that they would be injured by the government’s reasonable decision to comply with a district court order to release crucial information. A decision to allow private companies to choose how the government informs the public about detention practices would be devastating to U.S. democracy and transparency principles.” The Second Circuit’s decision lets stand the July ruling by  the district court, which rejected arguments by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that the terms of government contracts constitute corporate trade secrets that may be withheld from the public. The court reasoned that the contract terms were not “confidential commercial information” and that releasing them would not harm the competitive advantage of the private prison companies. The court also ordered the release of details about staffing levels of medical and social service personnel in privately-run immigration detention facilities. Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed the FOIA litigation to obtain information about the workings of the detention bed quota, which requires the funding of 34,000 immigration beds at any given time. DHS and ICE have interpreted the quota as a requirement that at least 34,000 immigrations beds must be filled at any given time, which attorneys say has rendered immigrants, including children and families, a source of profit for contractors. In June, Detention Watch Network and the Center for Constitutional Rights released a report, Banking on Detention 2016 Update, showing the extent to which ICE grants financial benefits to private and public entities that detain immigrants through government contracts requiring ICE to pay for guaranteed minimums at detention facilities. The case is Detention Watch Network et al. v. ICE et al.  Read today’s filing in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals here.

Shea Stadium
New York

May 7, 2007 AP
The New York Mets fan whose back was broken by an apparently drunken 300-pound man who fell on her at Shea Stadium during the team's home opener has filed a lawsuit because of her injuries. Ellen Massey, 58, says in court papers that on April 9 she was in the second row of the right field upper deck near a "visibly intoxicated" man who was "acting in a rowdy, boisterous and dangerous manner for a long period of time." Around 3:30 p.m., court papers say, the man, who has not been found or identified, "in an intoxicated condition fell upon plaintiff causing her to sustain severe personal injuries." Massey's lawyer, Stephen Kaufman, said Monday that the fall by the drunk, who was described as a blond 300-pounder, cracked several of the woman's vertebrae. "He got up and left," apparently uninjured, Kaufman said. "We have information that one of the security people might have spoken to him and let him leave." Two emergency medical technicians sitting directly in front of Massey gave her first aid and comforted her until an ambulance arrived, Kaufman said. Massey underwent surgery for spinal injuries at Jacobi Medical Center and was hospitalized there for about two weeks, Kaufman said. Doctors put rods and screws in her back and will have to operate on her again, he said. Massey was at the game with two adult nephews when the incident occurred between the sixth and seventh innings, with the Mets behind 5-3. The home team went on the beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 11-5. Massey, a Manhattan lawyer, named Sterling Mets L.P., owner of the baseball team; Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., the beer vendor; the Service Employees International Union Local 177, whose members are security guards at Shea Stadium, and "John Doe," the unidentified man who fell on her, as defendants. Massey's court papers say that Sterling Mets had a duty to provide reasonable safety for stadium patrons, that Aramark should not have sold alcohol to spectators who appeared to be already drunk and that the union employees should have prevented unruly behavior. The lawsuit, filed Friday in Manhattan's state Supreme Court, seeks unspecified money damages for Massey's injuries. The Mets issued a statement about the lawsuit saying, "We believe the claim has no merit." Aramark said it was reviewing the complaint. "We continue to work closely with the Mets and stadium security personnel in investigating this incident," spokeswoman Kristine Grow said.

The Tombs (New York City Jail)
New York, New York
Prison Health Services

January 9, 2009 Village Voice
In 2007, the Voice detailed the death of Oswald Livermore in the city jail known as "the tombs." Livermore died from acute alcohol withdrawal with delirium tremens on May 11 of that year. His family alleged misconduct by guards and medical personnel in connection with the death. Now, the top state agency charged with monitoring jails and prisons has finally issued a detailed report on the incident. Obtained through a Freedom of Information request, the heavily redacted state Commission on Correction report finds that Livermore's death may have been prevented if medical officials in the jails had simply diagnosed the condition and treated it. Medical care in the jails is supplied by Prison Health Services, a private contractor. And according to the commission, they dropped the ball. Commission investigators found that Livermore's condition was not only untreated, but unrecognized--even though his paranoid ramblings and thrashing in his cell were both clear indications that something was seriously wrong. "The conclusions in the report track the allegations in the federal lawsuit, that they failed to comply with their own protocol," says Jonathan Chasen, a Legal Aid lawyer representing Livermore's widow. Specifically, when he was brought into the jail, Livermore reported that he was a heavy drinker. But the person examining him failed to follow a city requirement that a special form be added to his file, the report says. In addition, the medical staffer failed to evaluate him for alcohol withdrawal symptoms--another violation of city rules. Livermore started behaving erratically less than 24 hours after his arrival in the system. At 10 p.m. on May 10, a guard referred him to mental health. While waiting in a holding area, he was anxious, crying, sweating, disoriented and paranoid. A captain ordered him to the medical clinic. What happened there has been redacted, but for some reason, he was ordered back to his cell three hours later. That was a huge mistake. In the cell, Livermore began hitting and kicking the walls and making paranoid statements, the report says. An officer brought him out of his cell, where Livermore promptly ran down a staircase and fell heavily. Then, he began saying that the police were coming to get him, and they wanted to operate on his penis. An officer and an inmate tried to hold him still. He jumped up and ran to the other end of the unit. Two officers forced him to his knees and handcuffed him. What happened after that is redacted. The commission asked the Health Department to investigate the actions of two PHS medical employees, and come up with a way to improve communication in the medical operation at the jails. We called the Department of Correction for comment, but have yet to hear back.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Entergy Nuclear Northeast
September 22, 2002
Florida-based Wackenhut Corp. provides security services at 28 nuclear plants across the country, but the plant we're most interested in is the "safe, secure and vital" one on the Hudson River known as Indian Point.  They're certainly red with embarrassment over at Wackenhut, though.  Since Sept.11, the "professional nuclear security officers" have been wondering what on earth happened to a certain 9mm Glock semiautomatic handgun that disappeared from a safe and vital lock box.  This is Barney Fife's territory.  Well, at least the Wackenhut guys did'nt leave the gun on the roof of a car, or in Aunt Bea's picnic basket.  Nor, thank God, did they leave it on a control panel inside the plant.  That would be beyond Barney Fife and into the cartoon realm of the incomparably incompetent Homer Simpson.  Larry Gottlieb, the director of communications of Energy Nuclear Northeast, the mega-nuke firm that owns Indian Point, went to great pains yesterday to explain that the gun was not in a "controlled area" when it seemingly walked away eight days ago.Gottlieb held out the possibility that the gun was'nt actually taken at all, but was mistakenly left out of the shipment.  Try this one on for size:  Maybe the Glock had a defective part, a missing spring or something, and you know, maybe somebody shipped it back to the manufacturer and forgot to mention it to a supervisor.  C'mon Larry.  Let's just say it's a good thing they did'nt lose a bazooka, OK?  Riverkeeper, the environmental group that has been strenuously lobbying for the closing of Indian Point, has had a field day with the Glock caper, saying that it can be added to a growing list of security lapses at the plant. Earlier this week, the organization sent out a press release headlined, "Six Days Later, Indian Point Nuclear Plant Owners Still Cannot Find Semiautomatic Weapon."  The release included a misleading statement from Alex Matthissen, Riverkeeper's executive director.  "How can Governor Pataki, Senators Schumer and Clinton expect New Yorkers to feel safe when we live mere miles from a terrorist target which is being 'guarded' by characters right out of an episode of 'The Simpsons,' " Matthissen said.  The statement is misleading because we've already established that the missing gun is a Code Barney mishap, and not a Code Homer, which is a dumber infraction.  Remember last March when a Wackenhut guard got canned after he pulled a gun on another guard as a joke? Now that was a Code Homer. D'oh!  Anyway, shame on you, Alex.  Talk about bad timing. Last week, Entergy sent out a propagandistic mass mailing of its own, quoting James Kallstrom ("Mr. Robust"), the Homeland Security guy who conducted a two-month study of Indian Point.  "This is an extremely safe place," Kallstrom said.  Safe, secure and vital. OK, fine.  But maybe they ought to bring Kallstrom back to find that gun.  (Journal News)

September 14, 2002
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the disappearance of a semiautomatic handgun from the Indian point 2 power plant, officials said yesterday.  Officials learned that the gun was missing during an inventory check Wednesday, said Jim Steets, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear Northeast, which owns Indian Point.  The gun belongs to the Wackenhut security firm that patrols Indian Point 2.  The NRC yesterday sent an inspector to the plant to investigate weapons security there.  Wackenhut provides security at several Entergy nuclear plants in the U.S.  In February, a Wackenhut guard, Michael Dahlia, pulled a gun on a colleague, apparently as a joke.  He was charged by state police with second-degree menacing, a misdemeanor.  Wackenhut fired Dahlia and a supervisor, Thomas Jason, for failing to report the incident as required by the NRC.  (Journal News)

Varick Street Detention Facility
Manhattan, New York
Ahtna Technical Services Inc.

November 2, 2009 New York Times
A startling petition arrived at the New York City Bar Association in October 2008, signed by 100 men, all locked up without criminal charges in the middle of Manhattan. In vivid if flawed English, it described cramped, filthy quarters where dire medical needs were ignored and hungry prisoners were put to work for $1 a day. The petitioners were among 250 detainees imprisoned in an immigration jail that few New Yorkers know exists. Above a post office, on the fourth floor of a federal office building in Greenwich Village, the Varick Street Detention Facility takes in 11,000 men a year, most of them longtime New Yorkers facing deportation without a lawyer. Galvanized by the petition, the bar association sent volunteers into the jail to offer legal counsel to detainees — a strategy the Obama administration has embraced as it tries to fix the entire detention system. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement considers the access to legal services at Varick Street as a good model,” said Sean Smith, a spokesman for Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security, who oversees immigration enforcement. But the lawyers doing the work have reached a different conclusion, after finding that most detainees with a legal claim to stay in the United States are routinely transferred to more remote jails before they can be helped. The lawyers say their effort has laid bare the fundamental unfairness of a system where immigrant detainees, unlike criminal defendants, can be held without legal representation and moved from state to state without notice. In a report to be issued on Monday, the association’s City Bar Justice Center is calling for all immigrant detainees to be provided with counsel. And an article to be published this month in The Fordham Law Review treats the Varick jail as a case study in the systemic barriers to legal representation. The new focus on Varick highlights the conflict between two forces: the administration’s plans to revamp detention, and current policies that feed the flow of detainees through the system as it is now. A disjointed mix of county jails and privately run prisons, where mistreatment and medical neglect have been widely documented, the detention network churns roughly 400,000 detainees through 32,000 beds each year. “Any attempt to get support or services for them is stymied because you don’t know where they’re going to end up,” said Lynn M. Kelly, the director of the Justice Center. When she asked that the lawyers’ letters of legal advice be forwarded to detainees who had been transferred from Varick, she said the warden balked, saying he had to consider the financial interests of his private shareholders: 1,200 members of a central Alaskan tribe whose dividends are linked to Varick’s profits under a $79 million, three-year federal contract. Federal officials would not discuss their transfer policies, but asked for patience as they try to make the detention system more humane and cost-effective. “We inherited an inadequate detention system from the previous administration that does not meet ICE’s current priorities or needs,” said Matthew Chandler, a Homeland Security spokesman. Officials say they are committed to a complete overhaul, including less-penal detention centers with better access to lawyers. The volunteer lawyers and the petition’s author, an ailing refugee from torture in Romania who spent eight months inside Varick, say many problems persist there, though the added scrutiny has led to improvements. Detainees who want a Gideon Bible no longer have to pay the commissary $7. Immigration officials are more responsive when a lawyer complains that a detainee in pain is not getting treatment. But most detainees do not have a lawyer, and the few who do include men who have fallen prey to incompetent or fraudulent practitioners. Recurrent complaints include frigid temperatures, mildew and meals that leave detainees hungry and willing to clean for $1 a day to pay for commissary food. That wage is specified in the contract with the Alaskan company, which budgeted 23,000 days of such work the first year, and collects a daily rate of $227.68 for each detainee. The Alaska connection is one of the stranger twists in the jail’s fitful history. Opened as a federal immigration detention center in 1984, Varick became chronically overcrowded after 1998, when new laws mandated the detention of all noncitizens who had ever committed a crime on a list of deportable offenses, expanded to include misdemeanors like drug possession. A Dominican man there died of untreated pneumonia in 1999 — the first reported death in the nationwide detention system, which now counts 106 since October 2003. The Varick facility, which is on the corner of Houston Street, fell short of national detention standards adopted in 2000, because it lacks any outdoor recreation space. But under a grandfather clause, it was allowed to remain open until 9/11, when the terror attack, blocks away, forced its evacuation. For years, it was shuttered. It quietly reopened in February 2008, operated by Ahtna Technical Services Inc., a subsidiary of Ahtna Inc. — still with no access to fresh air. As an Alaska Native corporation, Ahtna has won numerous federal contracts without having to compete with other companies; last year it paid its tribal shareholders about $500 each in dividends. It hires a Texas subcontractor to supply guards and transportation, along with the shackles and belly chains routinely used on detainees being moved in or out. Varick’s population includes illegal immigrants, asylum-seekers and legal immigrants who face deportation because they have past criminal convictions. Almost half of those screened by the volunteer lawyers have already been in detention for four to six months, according to the bar association report, and nearly 40 percent have legal grounds to contest deportation. A few, the report says, have a possible claim to citizenship, which would make their detention unlawful. But the volunteers, including lawyers from 16 corporate firms, say they can offer only rudimentary legal triage to a handful of detainees a week. The Department of Justice is asking Congress for money to expand the law project, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement invites Washington officials to visit the weekly triage sessions. The agency allowed a reporter to observe a session, but not to tour the jail. On a recent Thursday, only 11 of 35 detainees who had signed up made it into one of five glassed-in booths where they could consult with pairs of legal volunteers. One, a 25-year-old Mexican, had been delivering food for an Italian restaurant on Madison Avenue until his detention. After a week in Varick, the government had not served him with a “notice to appear” telling why he was detained and setting the date and place where he would be heard by an immigration judge. Volunteers were researching his case a week later when he was transferred to Atlanta. It could just as easily have been Louisiana or Texas, far from any free legal help, said Maria Navarro, a Legal Aid lawyer who supervises the volunteers. Even in cities, she said, lawyers are reluctant to represent detainees who may be suddenly moved far away. Another 25-year-old, who had come to New York as a legal immigrant from Belize at age 2, told lawyers he had worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken to support his 5-year-old daughter, a citizen, when his sickle-cell anemia permitted. After a standing huddle, the lawyers told him that because his notice listed old convictions for possession of marijuana, he was ineligible for release on bond or with an electronic monitoring bracelet. A Haitian, who had served time for at least one drug-related offense, had a lawyer but wanted a second opinion after being held in Varick for 16 months. He described himself as a barber, interpreter and legal resident of Brooklyn for 23 years. “It is double jeopardy,” he protested, nursing a swollen jaw with teeth missing. “I become a diabetic here, because of anxiety, stress and suicidal conditions.” Yet a detainee from the former Soviet Union praised the jail. “Varick is heaven” compared with some county jails in New Jersey (Bergen and Monmouth) and Florida, he said, citing abuse by anti-immigrant guards. A century-long line of Supreme Court decisions holds that immigration detention is not a punishment or deprivation of liberty, and does not require legal counsel for fundamental fairness. But Daniel I. Miller, 39, the Romanian whose petition reached the bar association, said his own case showed how high the stakes can be. Mr. Miller, a chef, fled his native land in 1994 after the secret police mutilated him for advocating gay rights. In New York, he had already been paroled for a criminal conviction — for signing his partner’s name on a contract — when immigration authorities detained him. To no avail, records show, his lawyer and an outraged doctor at St. Vincent’s Hospital Manhattan urged his release from Varick for treatment of tumors on his liver. Instead, he was transferred in April to the Orange County Jail in Goshen, N.Y., where he said he also circulated a petition. The authorities there accused him of trying to start a riot and sent him to segregation with a murder defendant. “These people have no rules, that’s the main problem,” Mr. Miller said, speaking from the Midtown office where he is starting an organic catering business. He credits his lawyer, Howard Brill, for that turnaround: On Sept. 2, after almost a year in custody, an immigration judge granted him the right to stay in the United States.

Wackenhut Detention Center (AKA Queens Private Correctional Facility)
Queens, New York
GEO Group (Formerly Wackenhut Corrections)
December 22, 2011 Queens Chronicle
City Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) held a hearing on Tuesday to investigate the treatment of immigrants at detention centers throughout the city, many of which are privately operated. One, at 182-22 150 Ave. in Jamaica, run by Geo Group, a private company, has been the subject of public debate since as early as 2004, when hunger strikes occurred at the center. Five years later, two guards there were convicted of covering up the beating of an inmate, according to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Over a dozen people testified at the hearing, among them immigrants detained at the facilities, immigration lawyers and immigration advocacy groups. They alleged that a slew of abuses have occurred at the facilities, including sexual abuse by guards, detainees being denied the right to access their attorneys, lack of medical care and being detained for periods longer than six months without being charged. “It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Forest Hills immigration attorney Naresh Gehi of the amount of time his client, Taimur Hussain, has been detained. Hussain, who lived with his family in Astoria before being jailed nine months ago, moved to the country illegally in 1995. He is being held in a facility called the Delancey Detention Center in New Jersey, Gehi said, and has no criminal record. “He has two American children, they’re completely displaced,” Gehi added. Many undocumented immigrants at these facilities have no criminal record, according to Dromm. Some are asylum seekers while others may have been caught during Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids on workplaces, for example. “You have people who have not committed a crime,” Dromm said, “but they’re being thrown into prison-like conditions.” Dromm and de Blasio would like tours of the facilities in New York. They would also like the Department of Homeland Security, which Dromm said oversees the centers, to make what goes on inside them more transparent. Both have called on a Department of Justice investigation into the matter. “Geo has refused to make any statements at all,” Dromm said. “We want to know what they’re doing at that Jamaica facility.”

December 8, 2011 Queens Chronicle
New York lawmakers are calling on the Department of Justice to investigate immigration detention centers run by GEO Group, Inc., a private company. GEO runs several facilities in New York, one of them in Jamaica at 182-22 150 Ave. Since as early as 2006, officials have decried alleged abuses at the center. Private companies control nearly half of all immigration detention beds in the country, according to a recent report in the New York Times. Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), one of the officials who signed a letter to the Department of Justice, said that “denial of access to attorneys” and “charges of physical abuse” were among the allegations against the facility. Dromm will be holding a hearing on Dec. 13 to probe the issue. He said the problem with a privately run facility is that it lacks accountability. “We don’t really know what’s going on [inside],” Dromm said, noting that immigrants being deported are usually civil, not criminal, offenders. A spokesman for GEO Group declined to comment on the issue, and added that the facility does not hold immigrants, but federal offenders who are in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

December 1, 2011 Public Advocate for the City of New York Press Release
Elected officials from across New York City announced steps to shine a light on the abuse of undocumented immigrants at private detention centers, following a refusal by the Justice Department to conduct its own investigation as requested by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. City Council Member Daniel Dromm announced his Committee on Immigration will conduct a hearing on December 13th to examine the practices of the private detention industry’s treatment of immigrants. And in a letter to the Justice Department, Members of NYC’s congressional delegation joined de Blasio and Dromm in calling for a thorough investigation into GEO Group, a private detention company contracted by the federal government. Public Advocate de Blasio, Council Member Dromm, and Members of Congress Yvette Clarke, Joseph Crowley, Jerrold Nadler, Nydia Velazquez and Gregory Meeks called on the Department to reconsider all federal contracts with GEO if the company is found to have systematically neglected or mistreated detainees. GEO operates facilities in the five boroughs used to house people awaiting federal trial, in addition to its facilities used to detain immigrants across the country. “This is not complicated: government should not do business with companies that violate basic human rights,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Officials from across the city are adding their voices to this campaign and fighting for the principle that no immigrant—regardless of legal status—should ever be put at risk of abuse.” “In most instances when government privatizes services that government should be doing, it invites corruption,” said New York City Council Member and Chair of the Immigration Committee, Daniel Dromm. “In this case, the allegations are even more distressing. The federal government should act immediately to investigate the GEO Group's abusive practices at these detention facilities and ensure that immigrant detainees are not mistreated. We must be fully committed to upholding and protecting basic human rights. I will continue to work with my colleagues in government to address any potential human rights violations that occur especially in the City of New York.”

November 1, 2011 Messenger Post
The U.S. Marshals Service has declined to investigate allegations by activists that immigrants at a private New York City detention center have been abused. A spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service says the Queens Detention Facility passed its September inspection. Spokesman Jeff Carter says the center adheres to federal regulations. Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and immigrant rights groups called for an investigation of the center last month saying they had received reports of mistreatment of detainees and lack of medical care. The center is operated by the Florida-based GEO Group Inc., under contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold about 200 people accused of crimes. The company’s spokesman, Pablo Paez, says the firm cannot respond to accusations from “third parties,” referring to the immigrant rights groups.

July 7, 2009 New York Post
Three prison guards were convicted today of obstructing justice after they beat an inmate who complimented a female guard for her looks. Supervisor Marvin Wells and two other guards were found guilty of staging a cover-up in a split verdict by a Brooklyn federal jury that cleared Wells of using excessive force. The female guard, Krystal Mack, was found not guilty of the conspiracy. During the trial, convicted heroin smuggler Rex Eguridu said the attack occurred after he ran into Mack, 32, at the Queens Private Correctional Facility on April 17, 2007 and told her, "Hello, baby. You look beautiful today." Eguridu said another guard hauled him into a shower room, where Wells ordered the prisoner to strip off his clothes and repeatedly punched his chest and throat. "He said if I ever called an officer 'baby' in his department again he's going to kill me," Eguridu testified last month as he wiped tears from his eyes. After the beating, Wells, 46, forced Eguridu to apologize directly to Mack. The jury rejected prosecutors' claims that Wells violated the inmate's civil rights by beating him. But the panel found that the supervisor and two other guards made false statements to authorities and doctoring reports after Eguridu complained. The jury could not agree on whether Mack tampered with a witness.

June 25, 2009 New York Daily Times
A former inmate at a Queens jail used by the feds testified Wednesday that an innocent remark he made to a female guard - "Hello, baby, you look beautiful today" - led to his brutal beatdown by her enraged supervisor. Rex Eguridu took the stand in Brooklyn Federal Court against Lt. Marvin Wells, charged with using excessive force and covering up the attack. Eguridu, 28, was working the laundry detail at the Queens Private Correctional Facility in Jamaica, on April 17, 2007, when he made the comment to female guard Krystal Mack. The Nigerian national, who was being held on heroin smuggling charges, was marched by Wells into the bathroom shower and ordered to strip naked. Wells allegedly punched him three times in the chest and neck. After the beating, Wells ordered the inmate to kneel in front of Mack and apologize. "[Wells] said if I ever call an officer 'baby' again ... he's going to kill me," Egurido testified. He received an $80,000 settlement from the GEO Group, which operates the jail under a contract with the U.S. Marshal's Service.

November 24, 2008 North Country Gazette
An indictment was unsealed this morning in Brooklyn federal court charging three former correctional officers of the Queens Private Correctional Facility, now known as the Queens Private Detention Facility. Marvin Wells, Stephen Rhodes and Kirby Gray, and a current QPCF officer Krystal Mack have been charged with excessive force and obstruction of justice stemming from the assault of a federal inmate in April 2007. The QPCF is a prison owned and operated by The GEO Group, Inc. which houses federal inmates pursuant to a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service. As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, the charges stem from an assault committed by Wells, 46, against a pretrial detainee at the QPCF on April 17, 2007. During the assault, which was allegedly in retaliation for the inmate purportedly making a comment to Mack, 32, about her appearance, Wells, the tour commander of the day as well as one of the highest-ranking officers at the QPCF, together with Rhodes, 36, and Gray, 47, brought the victim to a shower room, where Wells ordered the victim to remove his clothes. Wells allegedly repeatedly hit the victim in the neck, causing the inmate’s head to slam against the wall. Prosecutors said Wells then ordered the victim to apologize to Mack and allegedly threatened to kill him if he reported the assault. The assault was brought to the attention of QPCF authorities after inmates in the victim’s dorm demanded that he receive medical treatment. Subsequently Wells, Rhodes and Mack allegedly conspired to cover up the incident and attempted to prevent two other QPCF officers, both of whom reported to Wells, from reporting the assault to the U.S. Marshals Service and the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. In addition, Wells, Rhodes and Gray allegedly made false statements to law enforcement authorities in an effort to obstruct the government’s investigation.

November 20, 2008 NBC New York
Four prison guards were arrested and charged Thursday with beating an inmate in a shower room after the inmate had hurled insults at a female corrections officer. Federal investigators said the officers then tried to cover up the attack on the pretrial inmate when other officers tried to report the incident. Marvin Wells, Stephen Rhodes and Kirby Gray are facing charges in connection with the alleged attack. The female officer, Kirby Mack, was also charged. They work at the Queens Private Correctional Facility, a private jail contracted by the federal government to hold inmates. Investigators said the unidentified inmate was dragged, stripped and then hit in the neck repeatedly as his head slammed against the wall. The inmate was then forced to kneel and apologize to officer Mack for the comments about her appearance, prosecutors said. The officers then threatened to kill the prisoner if he ever reported the incident, according to a court filing. The incident happened in April 2007. With his head swelling from the impact, other inmates demanded he receive medical attention for his injuries. Investigators said when questioned, the officers filed false reports claiming the attack never happened. The defendants were expected to be arraigned in federal court late Thursday. A spokesman for the private prison company did no immediately return a call for comment. U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said, "This prosecution affirms our strong commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of individuals not to be subjected to unjustified and excessive force by officers whose duty it is to uphold the law." If convicted on the excessive force and obstruction of justice counts, the officers could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

October 25, 2007 Queens Chronicle
Holding homemade signs and chanting “GEO must go,” a small group of Springfield Gardens residents protested early Saturday morning the upcoming contract renewal of a prison they feel is too close to home. The Queens Private Correctional Facility at 182-22 150 Ave., has been on the minds of many residents in the area, as news spread throughout the community that the facility’s contract may be extended in December for another 20 years. “This is not the kind of building we want in our backyard,” said Jason Hillard, community liaison for Congressman Gregory Meeks. Taking to the streets in protest, a group of about 20 residents marched from 147th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard to the prison, chanting loudly on their way. Michael Duncan, chief of staff for Councilman James Sanders, led the march and expressed his disgust for the facility’s deception of the community. The prison displays only subtle indications of its purpose. Many residents have passed the building and never given it a second thought. “You see this building? They have no sign on the door,” Duncan said to the marchers. “What kind of prisoners are they bringing into our community?” The correctional facility, formerly Wackenhut Detention Center, has housed detainees apprehended by the U.S. Marshals since 2005. It is managed by the GEO Group, a Florida-based corporation that builds and manages prisons worldwide. Information on the GEO website indicates the prison held 229 detainees as of August 2006. The building was a converted warehouse, opening as a prison in 1997 for illegal immigrants. Currently, it houses federal offenders awaiting trial for drug or weapons charges, along with other federal crimes. Some residents were just learning that a prison sat so close to their homes. Many were surprised by the appearance of the facility, which uses plastic coverings on the windows, instead of bars. “It’s something that is new to me, but given the sense of the facility, I don’t think it belongs here. It should be relocated,” said Sally Davidson of Rosedale. Some residents want to eliminate it in favor of something the community needs. “We’re trying to get other companies to bid for the building, so that the building can be used for a community center or something more productive,” Duncan said. Ophelia Gross, a longtime resident of Springfield Gardens, was also in favor of a community center. “I was mostly concerned about the children because they have no space. All they do is leave bodies in the street. This is dangerous because we only have a glass wall between us and our backyards,” she said. Duncan, who organized a march last month, has no plans to stop his protests, saying residents need to take to the streets more frequently now. Sanders has organized a community meeting for Tuesday, Oct. 30 at JHS 231, 145-00 Springfield Blvd., Springfield Gardens at 7 p.m., to further address concerns. “They tried to put this institution in Howard Beach, they wouldn’t have it. We need to be vigilant,” Duncan said.

December 13, 2006 New York Daily News
Springfield Gardens
homeowners frustrated by the presence of a controversial federal prison in their neighborhood will have to wait a few more months, at least, for relief, a local politician has learned. Federal officials have informed City Councilman James Sanders Jr. that they won't make a determination on the fate of the Queens Private Correctional Facility until March at the earliest. That's when the U.S. Marshals Service is expected to decide whether or not to renew its contract with The Geo Group, a private firm that manages the prison. Sanders (D-Laurelton), who has led his constituents in protests against the facility, has appealed in writing to several federal agencies in an attempt to have the prison moved from what was once an industrial building on 150th Ave. A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said the agency reviewed a letter it received from Sanders and forwarded on to another federal agency for review. The spokesman would not comment further or elaborate on the forwarding of the letter. As recently as October, Sanders asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to order the shutdown of the detention center, which is situated just blocks from a residential enclave. Sanders also asked the DHS to examine allegations of inmate abuse at the privately run facility, which is located on an industrial stretch of 150th Ave. "My job, since they [prisoners] are in my district, is to see them as constituents - they are here. We will not stand by for the mistreatment of anyone," said Sanders. Walter McCaffrey, a spokesman for The Geo Group, said that the charges are untrue.

November 16, 2006 Queens Chronicle
With cries of “Educate, don’t incarcerate,” dozens of Springfield Gardens residents marched from Springfield Park to the Queens Private Correctional Facility on Saturday, calling for the prison to be shut down. Protesters, led by Councilman James Sanders (D Laurelton), have repeatedly marched the same route to the small, windowless prison at 182 22 150th Ave. for almost a year. The prison is run by Boca Raton, Fla. based GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut), which is the second largest private prison corporation in the world. Along the way in this extended battle over the prison, accusations have flown back and forth about the main parties involved: GEO Group, Sanders, Congressman Gregory Meeks (D St. Albans), and even the neighbors who participate in the periodic rallies. Sanders, who, as a city legislator would have little sway over the prison’s federal contract, has been repeatedly accused of organizing the rallies as a means of pursuing Meeks’ congressional seat. “It’s the same people who come every time,” said GEO spokesman Martin McLaughlin, who described the rallies as politically motivated and stale. “This is not a new thing. As long as you papers keep covering Sanders, he’ll keep going out and protesting. He’ll keep having a good time getting in the paper.” Sanders bristled at the accusations, describing his involvement as one of moral and community obligation. “How long are they going to run around with that one?” he asked of GEO. “They accused me of running for office last year. Well, November has come and gone, but they’re still saying the same thing.” Sanders added: “I refuse to believe that people can’t do things without having ulterior motives. We can do things just because they’re right.” Sanders said the protests were targeted mainly at the federal government, and that frequent protests were necessary to ensure that both GEO and the U.S. Marshals Service—which holds the contract—know that the community continues to be dissatisfied. He added that the fact that GEO was not able to expand the prison last April showed that mobilizations were effective. Meeks, who as the congressman representing the area is in the best position to negotiate with GEO and the marshals about the contract, has also come under fire. “This is my sixth march, and I haven’t seen (Meeks), he hasn’t been to any of these,” said resident Joann McCants, flanked by her four children. “He should be here.” Meeks’ spokesman Brian Simon said that the congressman’s schedule was too full to attend the protests, but emphasized that the rallies are important. “It really strengthens the congressman’s voice when the rallies continue,” he said. Simon also strongly denied allegations that Meeks was not working hard enough to shut down the prison after receiving a $1,000 campaign contribution from GEO last year. “That was an unsolicited contribution to the congressman,” Simon said. “That has not influenced the congressman’s position on this issue … he’s still against the prison, and he has never wavered from his position (against GEO): ‘I don’t want you here.’”

October 4, 2006 New York Daily News
A Queens politician has called on the U.S. head of Homeland Security to order the shutdown of a federal detention center located just blocks away from a residential southeast Queens neighborhood. Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, asking the agency to close the Springfield Gardens jail in the wake of complaints from area homeowners leery of living so close to federal prisoners. Sanders also wants the DHS to check into allegations of inmate abuse at the privately run facility, which is located on an industrial stretch of 150th Ave. "I am requesting an intervention from your department on behalf of [Council] District 31," Sanders wrote. "I am insisting on an investigation to be conducted into these allegations as well as the closing of the prison." A statement from the Homeland Security Department said that, upon receipt of the councilman's letter, they would review his request before conducting any investigation. The Geo Group Inc. of Boca Raton, Fla. manages the Queens Private Correctional Facility under a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service. The Geo Group has managed the facility since 1995, when it was called the Wackenhut Immigration Detention Center and housed illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. The Wackenhut operations moved to Elizabeth, N.J. in 2004; when the Geo Group took over, the agreement changed from an immigration contract to a U.S. Marshals Service contract.

August 24, 2006 Queens Chronicle
Two dozen angry Springfield Gardens residents protested a controversial private prison in their neighborhood Saturday, seven weeks after company executives extended a federal contract to house the facility in the area for another year. Councilman James Sanders led about 25 locals on a march from Springfield Park to the Queens Private Correctional Facility at 182 22 150th Ave., where 200 mid level detainees—many of them convicted drug offenders—are awaiting sentencing. At the prison, protesters marched around the building while community leaders spoke out against the proximity to residences, a school and a women’s shelter. “If a prisoner escapes, he’s a 60 second sprint from our backyards,” Sanders said. “There are plenty of other prisons within driving distance of a courthouse in this city, so this is clearly optional for the federal system. But we can’t just opt out.” Saturday’s protest marked the second time in a year that residents have joined publicly with local leaders to demand a shutdown of the facility. In January, three times as many protesters marched against the prison after elected officials learned that the international prison management company overseeing the site, Boca Raton, Fla. based GEO Group, had bought a neighboring warehouse and planned to expand the center’s capacity by 170 detainees. Prior to that, few in the community were even aware that GEO Group had converted the center into a federal prison in July 2005.Previously, the center had served for 11 years as a temporary detention facility for undocumented immigrants apprehended at nearby Kennedy airport.

July 6, 2006 Queens Chronicle
The controversial prison in Springfield Gardens will remain open at least one more year. The federal Department of Justice executed the option on its contract with the private corporation that owns the facility on 150th Avenue. The prison, which houses about 200 low to mid level federal inmates awaiting trial or sentencing, will remain open through at least June 30, 2007. The contract renewal had been a target of community activists and local politicians seeking to shut the facility down. “This is going to be a long, drag out fight,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks in an interview in June. “We’re in this for the long haul. I’m going to continue to fight with (the Bush) administration.” Meeks and City Councilman James Sanders have led the public fight against the prison, while Meeks has met with Department of Justice officials and executives from the GEO Group, the Boca Raton, Fla. based corporation that owns the facility. GEO contributed $1,000 to Meeks’ re election campaign shortly before the prison became public knowledge in late 2005. GEO initially signed a contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency in 1996 to house undocumented immigrants nabbed at nearby Kennedy Airport. The U.S. Marshals took over the facility, which is within blocks of homes and a school, from the immigration agency in July 2005. The change in inmates became public in December 2005 when GEO attempted to buy an adjacent warehouse to expand the prison’s capacity. The expansion efforts were halted after the public outcry. —Christopher Henderson

June 22, 2006 Queens Chronicle
Congressman Gregory Meeks (D St. Albans) accepted a campaign contribution in late 2005 from the corporation that owns a controversial private federal prison in Springfield Gardens. Although Meeks has stated publicly that he opposes the prison and wants it shut down, he accepted a $1,000 donation from the Boca Raton, Fla. based Geo Group Inc.’s political action committee on Nov. 21, 2005. Meeks said the donation was unsolicited, adding that the Queens Chronicle’s inquiry was the first he had heard of the contribution. “If I can’t be bought by the hundreds of thousands given to me by labor, I certainly won’t be swayed by $1,000 from Geo,” said the congressman, referring to his vote for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, despite the opposition of many labor unions that are among his largest contributors. The Geo Group did not return calls for comment. Meeks said he still wants the prison—known as the Queens Private Correctional Facility—closed, but lamented that Geo Group’s contract with the U.S. Marshals Service will likely be renewed at the end of this month. “We’re in this for the long haul and I will continue to fight with (the Bush) administration,” he said.

May 24, 2006 Times Ledger
U.S. Rep. Greg Meeks held a Town Hall meeting in Springfield Gardens Monday, where much of the conversation focused on the status of a federal prison that has quietly taken root amidst warehouses and trucking businesses at 182-22 150th Ave., not far from the site of the meeting. Meeks took a few minutes to criticize President George W. Bush's proposed 2007 budget, which he said would adversely effect low and middle income New Yorkers, of whom a disproportionate number are minorities. Meeks said it was unconscionable for Bush to propose making tax cuts permanent while also cutting key job training, education and health care programs. "Anyone in this room making over $300,000, you want this budget," Meeks said, as many of the estimated 75 residents, scoffed. "It's a bad budget." Meeks spent most of the evening updating residents on the status of a federal detention center in Springfield Gardens. The prison's owners, The Geo Group Inc., based in Florida, want to expand the facility from 215 to about 370 beds -- a proposal that Meeks has vowed to stop. Meeks said that federal officials have told him the expansion is on hold. Meeks, though, said that Geo clearly wants to expand and he plans to remain vigilant.

April 6, 2006 Queens Chronicle
Congressman Gregory Meeks says elected officials will have a difficult time forcing the closure of a private prison in Springfield Gardens. After studying the contract between the federal Department of Justice and the owners of a private prison in Springfield Gardens, elected officials said it will be difficult to cancel the agreement and shut the facility down. Congressman Gregory Meeks (D St. Albans), who hosted a meeting with civic leaders and elected representatives last weekend, said the community will need to take other measures to shutter the prison on 150th Avenue that has riled neighbors because of its proximity to residences and a school. “We did not see anything in the contract that we could utilize,” Meeks said. He added that since the contract is part of the Department of Justice’s overall budget instead of a line item, he cannot cancel the contract legislatively. Councilman James Sanders, who attended the meeting along with state Sen. Ada Smith and a representative from Assemblywoman Michele Titus’ office, agreed with the congressman’s assessment. “There is no glaring contractual error, but the contract can be revoked without cause,” Sanders said. The contract between the Department of Justice through the U.S. Marshals Service and GEO Group, Inc., the Boca Raton, Fla based prison management corporation that owns the 200 bed detention center, runs through June but there is an option to extend to March 2007. “This is a year to year renewal,” Meeks said. “We need to refortify our efforts so that we make sure we know what is going on.”

March 2, 2006 Queens Chronicle
Congressman Gregory Meeks took aim at a local prison and the federal budget at a town hall meeting on Monday night. Meeks, who represents most of Southeast and Eastern Queens in Washington, called President George W. Bush’s budget “reckless” and the prison in Springfield Gardens “a problem.” “I’m not for any (prison) facility remaining in this community,” Meeks said of the detention center at 182-22 150th Ave. “We can’t continue to be dumped upon and taken advantage of.” Meeks told the audience of about 70 people that he and other local elected officials met with the U.S. Marshals, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Detention Trustee last week to discuss the facility. The privately owned prison, known as the Queens Private Correctional Facility, holds about 200 federal inmates awaiting trial or sentencing. The inmates are so-called “low- to medium- risk.” The marshals informed Meeks that this designation means the prisoners do not have a history of violence or escape. The inmates’ current charge is not considered when designating them low- to medium-risk. The facility is located in the warehouse district near Kennedy Airport, within walking distance of residences and a school. GEO Group, Inc., the owners of the prison, bought an adjacent warehouse in December with plans to double the prison’s capacity. Meeks said the federal officials told him they will not support the expansion project. “Fighting the expansion is key because the size that it is now does not allow them to make the money they want to make,” he said.

February 9, 2006 Queens Chronicle
City Councilman James Sanders Jr. cancelled a meeting last week between local politicians and federal officials to discuss a controversial private prison in Springfield Gardens because Congressman Gregory Meeks asked that it not go forward without his presence. Sanders had invited officials from the U.S. Marshals and the Department of Homeland Security to meet with elected officials at his office in Laurelton last Wednesday evening. The marshals currently house about 200 prisoners at the Queens Private Correctional Facility on 150th Avenue. Both Meeks and Sanders have urged the marshals to cancel their contract with the building’s owners, Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group, Inc. Meeks could not attend Sanders’ meeting because he was in legislative session in Washington, D.C. Several state office holders were also unable to attend Sanders’ meeting. Immigration and Customs Enforcement moved out of the facility in July to a facility in Elizabeth, N.J. GEO Group and U.S. Marshals officials have said previously that the prisoners do not pose a danger to the surrounding community. Sanders is concerned about GEO’s involvement in the discussions with Meeks and the marshals. “There is still a possibility that GEO could find another client. Or suppose Meeks comes up with another deal. Only community vigilance will make sure this goes where we need it to go,” he said. Sanders will host a community meeting about the prison this Thursday at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Rosedale. The prison first became news when elected officials learned of GEO Group’s plans to expand the facility. The international prison management company bought the warehouse next to its current facility and intends to double the prison’s capacity. Sanders said he has stopped the expansion, but GEO Group spokesman Martin McLaughlin said the expansion is still going forward. McLaughlin added that the company plans to meet with Meeks, but a date has not been set. U.S. Marshals officials would not comment on the contract with GEO Group and referred questions to the Department of Federal Detention Trustee, which negotiated the contract. Federal Detention Trustee officials did not return calls for comment.

January 26, 2006 Queens Chronicle
City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (D-Laurleton) announced this week that the expansion plans for a private prison in Springfield Gardens have been halted, but a spokesman for the company that owns the prison said the expansion will go ahead as scheduled. Sanders said an official announcement will come next week after he and other elected officials meet with The U.S. Marshals Sevice, which holds a contract with the prison at 182-22 150th Ave. “We were called upon to deal with life and death issues,” Sanders said. “By the grace of God, we have prevailed this time.” The Marshals house 200 federal prisoners at Queens Private Correctional Facility. Until last July, the facility, which is owned by GEO Group, Inc., held immigration detainees caught at nearby Kennedy Airport. In December, GEO Group, an international prison management company, bought the warehouse next to the prison and announced plans to increase its capacity by 170 inmates. GEO spokesman Marty McLaughlin said the company still intends to go ahead with those expansion plans. Local officials and community groups have fought against the prison over the past month after the expansion and the change to federal prisoners became well-known. Sanders led a march on the prison on Martin Luther King’s birthday last week. At an earlier town hall meeting, residents raised concerns about the prison’s proximity to their homes and PS 52 on 146th Terrace.

January 19, 2006 Queens Chronicle
Dozens of determined Springfield Gardens residents demanded answers from the owners of a private prison at two events this week. First, elected officials and neighbors questioned George Zoley, chairman and CEO of the GEO Group, Inc. and other company executives for almost two hours at a town hall meeting at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Springfield Gardens last Wednesday. Then on Monday, City Councilman James Sanders led about 75 locals on a march from Springfield Park to the controversial pre-detention facility at 182-22 150th Ave. Once at the site, they marched around the building seven times in a reference to the biblical story of Jericho. Residents voiced vehement opposition to the change in the prison’s population, its expansion plans, and its proximity to residences and a school. “There is no environmental justice in this neighborhood,” said Barbara Brown of the Springfield/Rosedale Community Action Association, at the town hall meeting. “Things like this (prison) can be dumped here. You wouldn’t put this in your neighborhood.” Zoley and his staff delivered a short presentation at the start of the meeting, but then sat in silence as one resident after another took to the microphone. Mike LaValle of Springfield Gardens went so far as to hand Zoley a piece of paper with a Middle Village address on it asking that the CEO consider it as an alternative site. Zoley conceded that his company did not reach out to the community quickly enough about the changes at the facility. “I thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. I regret that we haven’t spoken earlier,” he said. He went on to say that the decision to place the facility in the warehouse district near JFK was made with community input when it first opened 11 years ago. “My memory is clear. There was a discussion at that time as to where to put the facility. The airport was discussed and (the Port Authority) said absolutely not. The present location is what was agreed to and it was done in a public forum.” State Senator Malcolm Smith, who sat next to Zoley, disagreed with the CEO’s recollection of events. “Ten years ago I was running the office of Congressman Floyd Flake when you came here. We clearly stated that you had no support for that project. You back-doored the process.” Joining Smith in denouncing the prison were state Senator Ada Smith, Assemblywoman Michelle Titus, Brian Simon of Congressman Gregory Meeks’ office, and Councilman James Sanders. Sanders, who organized both the town hall and Monday’s protest, raised concerns about the prison’s proximity to residents and the facility’s possible expansion. “What will prevent ‘Fort Springfield’ from spreading? What is to prevent you from buying three buildings later on or from changing your mission again? Who is to say you won’t bring hardened criminals there?” Zoley stated that the facility has not had an escape as long as it had been open. The facility houses “low risk” inmates, such as drug offenders, according to GEO Group and U.S. Marshals officials. Brown, who protested against GEO Group in 1989, when it opened a previous immigration facility on 226th Street, disputed Zoley’s contention. She pointed out that five detainees escaped from the old facility in 1990. Three escapees were never caught. In 1994, after continued protests by locals, the company, then known as the Wackenhut Corporation, moved the center to its present location. “They would not go into white communities and just do this. Everything that is negative comes to Southeast Queens,” Brown said, adding that the facility’s detainees staged hunger strikes in 1999, 2003 and 2004. Sanders said that he and the other elected officials plan to march again while developing a legal strategy aimed at forcing the prison out of the neighborhood. He said the politicians have met with the Center For Constitutional Rights, a litigation group that is working on the domestic-spying issue. “If GEO Group cannot convince us that its (facility) is safe, we need to shut it down,” he said.

January 18, 2006 New York Daily News
There's bad news about a Springfield Gardens jail for federal detainees, says a local elected official - and then there's worse news. City Councilman James Sanders says nearby residents may not have been aware that 182-22 150th Ave. houses about 200 federal prisoners awaiting trial, or that the private company that runs the facility has acquired an adjacent property so that it can expand inmate capacity to 370. However, as if that wasn't enough, Sanders (D-L-Laurelton) said a neighboring property owner told him that the jail's proprietors have offered to buy still more nearby buildings. "We are certainly seeing in my district the literal rise of the prison industrial complex. Our worst fears seem to be confirmed," said Sanders, who led 75 protesters on a march to the facility Monday. The Geo Group Inc., manages the jail under a contract with the U.S. Marshals Service. The nondescript building, fitted with outdoor security cameras, is located in an industrial area just blocks away from homes, a school and shelters for women and families of domestic violence. Sanders said he hopes the Geo Group is being truthful about its growth plans. Even so, he plans to convene local leaders and elected officials this week to further discuss the issue, with an eye toward meeting with Geo officials next week. "Before you know it, we'll become the headquarters for federal prisoners," said Borough President Helen Marshall. "We didn't know about this proposed expansion. This is not something that belongs near a residential community."

January 15, 2006 NY1
Some Queens residents gathered at a town hall meeting Wednesday night to fight to shut down a federal prison that they say popped up in their neighborhood without notice. NY1's Ruschell Boone was there and filed the following report. Denise Brooks says she was shocked to find out there's a federal prison in her neighborhood, and that it's been there for six months. "I feel outraged," says Brooks. "We knew nothing about this; this is the first time I've heard of any of this." Brooks was not the only one in the dark, so were the Rosedale residents who crowded into a town hall meeting Wednesday night. They say they should have been notified. "We will not stand by idle and allow you and your prison industry to come into our neighborhood and destroy our community," says resident Derrick Warmington. The building where the prison is located is a former detention center. For ten years, it housed illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, but a change was made in June when the GEO Group, the private company that runs it, won a federal contract with the U.S. Marshals service to house low and mid-level federal prisoners. Many are drug offenders and gang members awaiting trial or sentencing; inmates are held no longer than 6 months. Residents at the meeting also discovered that there are plans in the works to expand this facility next year so that an additional 177 inmates can be held here. "We've been in Rosedale for 48 years, so we've been here a long time, seen many changes, and this is one change we don't need," says a resident. Many are now wondering how the federal government was able to open a prison in their back yard without notifying them.

January 12, 2006 Queens Journal
A federal detention facility in Springfield Gardens plans to increase its capacity by nearly 200 inmates within the next six months. Geo Group, Inc., the owner of the Queens Private Correctional Facility at 182-22 150th Ave., plans to upgrade an adjacent building and add up to 170 new prisoners to the pre-detention facility’s population, according to a company spokesman. The expansion is not popular with local officials. Congressman Gregory Meeks and City Councilman James Sanders oppose the plan because of the facility’s proximity to local residents. Meeks has lobbied the federal Department of Justice to cut off the funding for the contract that the U.S. Marshals hold with Geo Group to house inmates at the facility. The contract is up in June, about the same time the expansion is due to be completed. “I’m not in support of that facility being used by the U.S. Marshals,” Meeks said. “The prisoners are substantially different than the detainees that were held there before.” The prison houses 200 “low to mid-level” inmates in a building within walking distance of a residential neighborhood. Until six months ago, the facility, which is indistinguishable from the warehouses that surround it, held undocumented immigrants detained at nearby JFK airport. In July 2005, Geo Group, an international private prison management company based in Boca Raton, Fla., signed a contract with the Marshals. Sanders toured the prison on Monday and said he “saw a secure facility.” He expressed concerns, however, about the proposed expansion as a possible first step toward creating a much larger facility. “How do we know this isn’t a mushrooming problem? How do we know they are not building Fort Springfield Gardens? (Geo Group) may say ‘We got away with this one (expansion), why not buy five or six more warehouses?’ The more dangerous prisoners you have, the more money you get. It is a lot easier to break out of Fort Springfield than it is from Attica.” Meeks said he did not find out about the switch from immigrant detainees to federal offenders until November, four months after the change was made. “I found out when the U.S. Marshals called someone in my office asking for support for the expansion. I said, ‘Expansion? I didn’t even know you were there.’” Meeks refused the request and instead wrote the Justice Department requesting that funding for the contract be discontinued. Sanders blasted Geo Group for issuing a press release about the change, but not meeting with local officials and community members. “The press release was insufficient. It was not what I would call a good faith effort to alert the community.”

January 10, 2006 New York Daily News
Some Springfield Gardens residents who were surprised to learn that the nondescript building at 150th Ave. and 182nd St. is a federal prison are now worried that there are plans to expand it. An emergency town hall meeting is scheduled for tomorrow night to address neighborhood concerns about the facility. Located at 182-22 150th Ave., it is fitted with outdoor security cameras, can house 200 prisoners and - although located in an industrial area near Kennedy Airport - is just blocks away from a residential neighborhood. "I didn't know about that jail," said Thelma Grey, who has lived on 147th Ave. - not far from the prison - for the past 11 years. "A prison ... that sounds strange to me." The building was formerly the Wackenhut Immigration Detention Center, which housed illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. It now confines federal prisoners awaiting trial and is controlled by the Geo Group Inc., a privately run correctional and detention management company.

July 13, 2005 NY Daily News
From noncriminal visa violators to federal lawbreakers: a detention facility in Springfield Gardens that used to hold illegal immigrants is changing hands and will now hold prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service, the company operating the jail has announced.  The GEO Group, a private correctional management firm, said last week it will continue to run the penitentiary at 182-22 150th Ave., but for a different agency with a different set of inmates.  "We have made a significant investment in enhancements and upgrades to the facility in order to better meet the security needs of the U.S. Marshals Service," George Zoley, CEO of the Florida-based GEO Group, said in a statement.

June 2, 2005 Queens Chronicle
The Wackenhut Detention Center in Springfield Gardens will close next month because of high detainee costs. The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Queens Detention Center in Springfield Gardens, commonly referred to as the Wackenhut Detention Center, will close next month, as the federal government looks to ship its detainees upstate and to New Jersey. Detainees will now be sent to county jails in Batavia, New York and Elizabeth, New Jersey, where it costs $53 per night to house each person. It costs $225 per night at Wackenhut. USICE is moving to these facilities because Wackenhut does not allow them to hold people accused of crimes, and the Batavia and Elizabeth facilities will allow the government to hold all detainees in one place whether they are accused of crimes or not. Activists with Human Rights First, a human rights watchdog group that is working to better the conditions of detainees in the United States, applauded the move because of Wackenhut’s low release rate. Heidi Altman, a program associate with the group, said that Wackenhut is also inappropriately jail-like despite the fact that detainees there are not charged with any crimes. “There’s very little access to outdoor recreation. The only time they get to move around, they are in a closed room, with an open but grated ceiling.” But she said that’s typical of many detention facilities, including the Elizabeth, New Jersey building that will serve as the new detention center for those seeking asylum at Kennedy Airport. “It’s hard to say that one of them is worse when all of them have such inhumane conditions.” One immigrant’s harrowing story is recounted in Warren Lehrer and Judith Sloan’s tapestry of Queens, “Crossing the BLVD: Strangers, Neighbors, Aliens in a New America.” They chronicled the journey of a man named Bovic, who left civil war in Zaire only to spend over two years at Wackenhut before being released. Bovic spent $2,500 to flee Zaire and arrived in a cargo plane at Kennedy Airport, where he requested asylum. A judge ruled in October of 1997 that he would be able to apply for asylum, but during the next two years the government tried to deport him three times only to be thwarted by his otherwise chronically absent lawyer. Bovic described the facility to the authors. “That first day, they took me ... to a fully-bedded dormitory with all men who are there in orange uniforms. I thought, surely this is a mistake. In a field of 40 beds, one of them is mine. To my right is the desk of the security officer. To the left, three toilets. No door to give you privacy. The showers, the toilets, the telephone booths, even the prayer station ... must be seen by the security official who sits with his eyes on you ... “What else is in this Wackenhut universe? A Ping-Pong table. A TV with some chairs around. A small, maybe three-by-three square meter room that they call a library, but I have to find another word for that room because most books people needed were not found there.” He also describes the “worst-quality” food and concludes, “Of all that I have been through, my time at Wackenhut prison is the darkest period in my life.” Bovic was eventually released but was unable to join his child and wife. She had moved in with another man in Canada, she said, because Bovic had been detained too long.

May 25, 2005 Newsday
A controversial immigrant detention center near Kennedy Airport will be closed at the end of next month to save money, a federal official said Wednesday. Known as the Wackenhut Detention Center, the converted warehouse in Springfield Gardens is a windowless holding area that can house up to 200 asylum seekers at a time. A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said each person costs $225 a day to detain there, compared with an average of $53 in county jails in Batavia, N.Y., and Elizabeth, N.J., where the immigrants will be sent instead. The spokesman, Manny Van Pelt, said the Queens center also lacks the capability to detain immigrants convicted of crimes here, and "we want to be able to detain more criminal aliens." Advocates for immigrants are only too happy to see the closing of Wackenhut, which is the former name of the private company that runs it. "It has had a long history of problems over the years," said Eleanor Acer, director of the asylum project at Human Rights First, which represents people who flee to the United States from other nations. "This particular facility was notorious for not releasing asylum seekers even when they met the parole criteria -- and it had among the lowest release rates in the country," Acer said.

March 9, 2005 Newsday
Immigration advocates called yesterday for a more humane system of detaining people seeking political asylum, saying applicants often languish in harsh conditions for years while their cases are mired in bureaucracy. Speaking at a conference at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, the advocates pointed to Wackenhut Detention Center next to Kennedy Airport. At the center, they said, about 200 detainees share large, windowless dormitories where they eat, sleep, shower and wait. It's not uncommon for them to spend six years there while their applications are being processed. "In many ways it's inhumane," said Sister Dolores Castellano, a volunteer who visits detainees at the center. "No air. No exercise. Just being locked up in a room 23 hours a day." Department of Homeland Security officials could not be reached yesterday for comment. They have said they do the best they can to provide detainees with suitable quarters. Wackenhut was the site of a hunger strike by dozens of detainees in 2003 that lasted several days. Yesterday's event brought together about 75 people including immigration lawyers, volunteers who work with political asylum applicants and Molloy professors and students. The program included a play about the plight of people seeking political asylum performed by Sara Kahn, an actress and immigrant rights worker in New Jersey.

August 29, 2004
The hunger strike is over. But the plight of the more than 200 human beings imprisoned in a privately run Queens immigration jail is now out in public.  And many people are outraged by the unfairness and arbitrariness of the situation.  The striking inmates, all detained for alleged immigration violations, were not making any outrageous demands. They simply wanted humane treatment and due process.  But after guards threw some of them in solitary confinement and threatened them with immediate deportation, the 175 male inmates who began the strike on Aug. 16 at the Queens Detention Center (formerly the Wackenhut Detention Center) ended it four days later.  Calling this Queens jail a little gulag is no metaphor.  "The authorities also tried unsuccessfully to force prisoners to sign documents," said Bobby Khan of the Coney Island Avenue Project in a press release. "The nature of those documents remains unclear."  The right to humane treatment, a lawyer and due process, appropriate medical care and food, to have their cases reviewed and immediate release and family reunification - those are the fair demands of the Queens Detention Center detainees. And they should not have to resort to another strike to get what is rightfully theirs.  (NY Daily News)

August 19, 2004
 There is a little gulag in New York City. And it is nothing to be proud of. Its name is the Wackenhut Detention Center, and more than 200 human beings - men and women - languish ignored within its walls. Yet most New Yorkers have never heard about it. The situation of the people inside the privately run immigration maximum-security jail is so hopeless that on Monday, 175 of the imprisoned men resorted to a desperate measure: They went on a hunger strike. "Nobody is eating," said Makham Singh in a telephone interview. An immigrant from India in his 30s, Singh has a wife and two children who are American citizens. He has been in Wackenhut for six months.
The Wackenhut prison is a converted warehouse building with no windows in the middle of a warehouse district in Springfield Gardens, Queens. "Yet they are locked up 23 hours per day, and several have been there a year or more," said Bobby Khan, a member of the Coney Island Avenue Project, a group based in the Pakistani community in Brooklyn that advocates for the rights of imprisoned immigrants. "The food is insufficient and inadequate, and even though some of the detainees have heart conditions or suffer from diabetes and ulcers, medical care is practically nonexistent." (NY Daily News)

August 16, 2004
Thousands of Palestinian prisoners have entered the second day of a hunger strike to protest conditions in Israeli jails. Meanwhile in New York 200 immigrant detainees are staging a one-day hunger strike at the Wackenhut Detention Center in Queens. The detainees are demanding the government review their case and for the immediate release of non-criminal detainees. According to a press release issued by Khan (Bobby Khan, of the Coney Island Avenue Project): "None of the prisoners currently being held at Wackenhut Detention Center have any terrorism related or other criminal charges against them. Yet, they are locked for 23 hours per day and several have been there for close to a year or more. These detainees were picked up in the aftermath of 9.11 and have been held without criminal charge or due process, and in some cases, without access to a lawyer or access to appropriate food and medical healthcare. Several of the detainees are married to US citizens." (

October 25, 2003
Before leaving Nigeria two years ago, he was a university student studying science. But after repeated threats from gang members who targeted the school's students, the 23-year-old fled to America, hoping for political asylum and the chance to begin anew.  Now, the young man is one of scores of asylum-seekers being held in the Wackenhut Detention Center near Kennedy Airport who are on a hunger strike, according to Marie Viola, 59, an Upper East Side resident who is acting as his advocate through a Riverside Church group.  About 180 men in the detention center have refused to eat since Wednesday morning, advocates reported.  "We have heard that all of the men at the facility have been engaging in a hunger strike to protest the length of their detention and jail-like conditions," Eleanor Acer, asylum program director at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, said Friday.  The 200-bed facility, a former cargo warehouse, is privately owned by Wackenhut Corrections Corp. and operated under a contract with the federal Department of Homeland Security. It holds immigrants while their asylum applications are processed by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which sometimes takes years.  No one in the detention center, which also houses a small number of women, is charged with or suspected of a crime, Acer said. It was unclear Friday if the female detainees also were participating in the hunger strike.  Members of Sojourners Ministry, a Riverside Church volunteer group, visit detainees every week. They say Wackenhut may not be a prison, but that detainees are treated much like prisoners - known by ID numbers, made to wear uniforms and sometimes handcuffed.  "The conditions are pretty grim," said Tom Weise, 36, of Battery Park City, a volunteer for two years. He described the immigrants as living in six large dormitories in the 60,000-square-foot facility, with no windows, no heating and no privacy. Even the toilets and showers are exposed, Weise said.  The unpleasant conditions and legal limbo have taken their toll on the detainees' morale, Weise believes. Volunteers interviewed Friday said they did not know who is leading the strike or how it was organized, but the detainees appear determined.  (News Day)

June 5, 2001
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service is holding 851 foreigners who, according to INS computer records, have been in detention for three or more years without conviction, reports said Tuesday.  Thavarajah, a 38-year old farmer, is one of those prisoners who have been jailed without a conviction.  He says he was beaten and jailed during civil turmoil in his native country of Sri Lanka, was hoping to reunite with family members in Canada when his plane stopped in New York nearly four years ago.  INS officers apprehended him on that day in May 1997, and Thavarajah has been locked in an American jail ever since.  "The only thing this person has done is not have a visa to enter the U.S.," said Deborah Greitzer, a Buffalo, N.Y., lawyer who is working on his case.  "And the reason he didn't have a visa was because he was fleeing his homeland."  Thavarajah has been held at a detention center operated by Wackenhut Corp. in New York.  Prisoners there, according to reports, are not allowed to be outdoors.  (Dallas Morning News)

June 23, 2000
Eric Deravin, an INS facility officer, received a letter from the agency stating that his clearance to work at the facility was revoked. The contract operator of Wackenhut appealed the action, but to no avail. INS officials were reacting to an altercation that took place between Deravin and a detainee on March 1, 1998. The INS has the right to grant or revoke employment clearance to Wackenhut employees  working at INS facilities and other contractors. Deravin did not learn of the disposition of the Wackenhut appeal until March 13, 2000. He filed a suit against the company April 13, 2000 for age and race discrimination. The complaint was dismissed by the District Court, Southern District of New York. (S.D.N.Y.)

Oct. 18, 2000
Immigration officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport violated the rights of a Jamaican-born college student by shackling and strip-searching him, then detaining him for more than 40 hours. The ACLU says Richard Riley, of Syracuse University, spent his first night in INS custody chained to a narrow bench. He allegedly was paraded, in shackles, through the airport when he was taken to the Wackenhut Detention Facility in Queens the next day. There, he was strip-searched for the third time. Finally, the lawsuit says, he was allowed to call a lawyer. The incident was the result of INS officials' belief that Riley was carrying false immigration papers, which were filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. (USA Today)

York County Prison
York County, New York
Prison Health Services

December 7, 2005 York Daily Record
A woman whose son, Michael Herman, 19, committed suicide in a solitary-confinement cell at York County Prison on Jan. 6, 2004, has filed a wrongful death and discrimination lawsuit in federal court. The lawsuit, filed by Deborah Herman, 418 Jennifer Drive, New Cumberland, claims her son did not receive appropriate medical care and treatment for his mental illness. The lawsuit was filed against prison warden Thomas Hogan, corrections officers Jorge Alvarez and John Darymon, Prison Health Services, and two licensed practical nurses who work for Prison Health Services, a Tennessee firm that has a contract to provide health services at the prison. Herman said in the lawsuit that her son had a history of mental illness, including bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and had made multiple attempts to commit suicide. According to the lawsuit, despite a judge's instructions and Michael Herman's statements to prison officials and the two nurses, no attempt was made to ascertain his medication history or take any precautions in recognition of his risk for suicide. The lawsuit said his attorney had asked that Herman not be placed in the general prison population because of his condition, appearance and size, which made him vulnerable to attacks by other inmates. On Jan. 5 and 6, 2004, Herman was assaulted by another inmate, the lawsuit said, and was placed in administrative custody in a solitary-confinement cell pending a hearing. The lawsuit said Herman remained alone and unchecked in his cell for an extended period of time and that he tried to commit suicide twice, once unsuccessfully with his shoelaces and once successfully with bedsheets. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and calls for unspecified general and compensatory damages against all defendants, exemplary damages against Prison Health Services, attorney fees and costs.