MARGARET J PLEWS
PO BOX 20494
PHOENIX, AZ 85036

arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

480-580-6807

Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews


This site is to monitor conditions in Arizona's criminal justice system, as well as offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex from a prison abolitionist/anarchist's perspective. If you're unfamiliar with prison abolition, check out Critical Resistance. I'm a freelance writer and human rights activist, and have no legal training, FYI.

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AS OF AUGUST 2014 I am dealing with a family emergency out of state, and will likely be gone for the next month. If you need assistance, write to my PO box and my friends with the PHOENIX ANARCHIST BLACK CROSS will try to help you. Or email me at arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com, which I'll try to check at least a couple of times a week.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison (HBO)

America's prisons are broken. Just ask John Oliver and several puppets.

THE I-Files: Teens in Solitary Confinement

AZ PRISON WATCH ACTION ITEMS:

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN
Petition by the family of Tony Lester, victim of suicide in AZ DOC custody.

Prisoners and Families: Send your SOS to the DOJ!

We really need those of you out there who have been in an AZ prison, have lost a child or other family member in an AZ prison, or have a loved one in an AZ prison now, to write a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (that one is mine) about the need for a federal intervention here, and send me a copy, with a nice photo, if you have one, of the beloved prisoner - I don't have to post your letters and pictures, but please tell me if I may, with or without names.

If you need some motivation, see what the Governor had to say to him about the swell state things are in here. Don't let her pass that BS off on him unchallenged.

When the truth of prison rape and violence is made public and appeals for relief come directly from those affected, the rest of the community identifies better with prisoners as people, and it puts more pressure on the feds - as well as the governor- to act. And you are the ones with the most at stake here. So, please back me up on this argument I'm making, folks. If the feds listened to me, they'd have been here long ago - I need your support!

And don't just "like" me on Facebook or the Daily KOS - SHARE SHARE SHARE!!!

US Attorney General Eric Holder
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington DC 20530


Send word to your loved ones in prison to write the AG as well, and to send me copies if they want me to post their letters, too.

AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:

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NOTE AUGUST 12, 2014: I am dealing with a family crisis out of state, and will likely not be available for the next month. Please write to my PO box (above) if you need assistance and my friends will try to help you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Transgender prisoner raped at CCA Eloy Detention Ctr, punished with solitary confinement.

from the transgender law center:

 

ICE Retaliates Against Marichuy, Places Her in Solitary Confinement #freemarichuy

Transgender Law Center
August 11, 2014

ICE Retaliates Against Transgender Woman Raped in Eloy Detention Center by Placing Her in Solitary Confinement Against Her Will; Family and Supporters Continue to Call for Marichuy’s Immediate Release as Her Mental Health Worsens
 
Marichuy Leal Gamino, a transgender woman raped in the privately-run Eloy Detention Center in Arizona, was placed in solitary confinement for two days by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Marichuy (legal name: Jesus Leal Gamino, A# 047-283-870) was placed in segregation against her will and as calls for her release escalated with support from over 60 LGBT and immigrant rights organizations nationwide and solidarity actions in Los Angeles and New York.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION TO FREE MARICHUY

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, using confinement to protect a threatened population is a punitive measure. Solitary confinement is known to cause severe psychological symptoms, including depression, insomnia, racing thoughts, and hallucinations. For Marichuy, these symptoms were compounded by post-traumatic stress due to her recent assault. On August 4, after two weeks of living in the same detention facility where she was assaulted, she reported feeling suicidal.

Karolina Lopez, a transgender woman formerly detained in Eloy, explains, “What’s happening to Marichuy is not so different from what I went through, or what I saw other trans women in Eloy experience. I was harassed by two men, then placed in solitary confinement. Officials said it was for my own security, but they treated me like I had done something wrong. I almost went crazy, I still have fear of small spaces, and of officials. If ICE actually cares about Marichuy’s security, they should let her go.”

Since Marichuy was first detained in Eloy over a year ago, ICE has failed to provide even a minimum level of safety and dignity. Now, in response to the pressure of public attention, ICE has threatened to send Marichuy to yet another detention facility, further from her family and community in Arizona, instead of using its discretion to release her from detention.

Around the nation, LGBTQ and immigrant communities are calling for Marichuy’s immediate release. A petition to the national ICE headquarters has more than 3,500 signatures, calling on Director Andrew Lorenzen-Strait to free Marichuy as ICE has demonstrated they cannot keep her safe. Over 60 organizations around the country, including the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Detention Watch Network, have publicly called for Marichuy’s release back to her family and community, where she can begin to heal from the rape that took place under ICE’s watch.

 CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION TO FREE MARICHUY

Monday, August 18, 2014

NY TIMES: Brewer's AZ DOC routinely sloppy about executions.

Does nothing embarrass the Governor of this state anymore?


 ------from the NEW YORK TIMES------

Arizona Loose With Its Rules in Executions, Records Show


PHOENIX — In an execution in 2010 in Arizona, the presiding doctor was supposed to connect the intravenous line to the convict’s arm — a procedure written into the state’s lethal injection protocol and considered by many doctors as the easiest and best way to attach a line. Instead he chose to use a vein in an upper thigh, near the groin.

“It’s my preference,” the doctor said later in a deposition, testifying anonymously because of his role as a five-time executioner. For his work, he received $5,000 to $6,000 per day — in cash — with two days for practice before each execution.

That improvisation is not unusual for Arizona, where corrections officials and medical staff members routinely deviate from the state’s written rules for conducting executions, state records and court filings show. Sometimes they improvise even while a convict is strapped to a table in the execution chamber and waiting for the drugs coursing through his veins to take effect.
In 2012, when Arizona was scheduled to execute two convicted murderers, its Corrections Department discovered at the last minute that the expiration dates for the drugs it was planning to use had passed, so it decided to switch drug methods. Last month, Arizona again deviated from its execution protocol, and things did not go as planned: The convicted murderer Joseph R. Wood III took nearly two hours to die, during which he received 13 more doses of lethal drugs than the two doses set out by the state’s rules.


While it is unclear whether the constant changes have led to cruel and unusual punishment, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit became so disturbed in 2012 about the expired drugs that it chastised the state, saying Arizona “has insisted on amending its execution protocol on an ad hoc basis.” While the court permitted the two executions to proceed and they went off without a hitch, the Ninth Circuit nonetheless observed that Arizona had a “rolling protocol that forces us to engage with serious constitutional questions and complicated factual issues in the waning hours before executions.”


Douglas A. Berman, an expert on criminal sentencing at Ohio State University, said corrections officials tended to have a cavalier attitude that might now be backfiring on them. As Mr. Berman archly put it, “What’s the big deal, as long as the guy ends up dead and I’m not literally torturing the guy along the way?” Prison officials and execution teams, he said, “don’t see any adjustment that they are making as likely to cause unnecessary suffering or pain.”

Joseph R. Wood III
Arizona Department of Corrections
 
There are, however, signs that suggest otherwise. Mr. Wood, 55, gasped — seemingly for air — more than 600 times before he died on July 23; his execution is now the subject of an independent investigation commissioned by the state. In January in Oklahoma, Michael Lee Wilson, 38, said, “I feel my whole body burning” right after the drugs used in his execution — a mix meant to paralyze him, render him unconscious and stop his heart — began flowing through his veins. He died moments later.

Courts are starting to show frustration with the constant changes in the protocols themselves, some of which have been prompted by the increasing difficulty in obtaining execution drugs. On Aug. 8, a federal judge extended a moratorium on lethal injections in Ohio over concerns with a protocol change that the state had made this year.

Legal cases in Arizona, which has been a particular target of death penalty opponents, offer an unusual window on execution protocols and actual practices. There have been 37 executions in Arizona since 1992, of which 14 were overseen by the current director of the Corrections Department, Charles L. Ryan.

Mr. Ryan, who has no medical training, has said in depositions that the state’s protocol gave him virtually unlimited discretion to deviate from the written guidelines, essentially making him the ultimate arbiter in executions. He personally authorized the repeated doses of drugs given to Mr. Wood, who had murdered his estranged girlfriend and her father. Five of the 15 doses of lethal drugs were administered to Mr. Wood while his lawyers pleaded to a federal judge to stop the execution, which by then had dragged on for well over an hour.


“The Department of Corrections was making it up as it went along,” Dale A. Baich, a lawyer for Mr. Wood, said of the execution. Credit Samantha Sais for The New York Times
“There’s the protocol that’s in place and there’s what happens, and those aren’t necessarily the same thing,” said Dale A. Baich, an assistant federal public defender who represented Mr. Wood. “What we’ve learned from this execution is that the Department of Corrections was making it up as it went along.”

Mr. Ryan has affirmed that the length of Mr. Wood’s execution — one hour and 57 minutes — and the amount of drugs Mr. Wood received comply with state law, which calls for the administration of “an intravenous injection of a substance or substances in a lethal quantity sufficient to cause death.” He declined a request for an interview; a spokesman, Doug Nick, said this was because of the continuing search for an independent team to assess Mr. Wood’s execution.

Document: Court Filings From Arizona Prisoners’ Lawsuit

Logs detailing the sequence of events in the execution of Mr. Wood, as well as hundreds of pages of filings and depositions linked to five other executions in Arizona, describe a process whose rules are open to interpretation. And the rules are frequently amended, as the Ninth Circuit noted in its 2012 decision. Mr. Baich of the federal public defender’s office said that as a result of the court’s concerns, the Corrections Department had begun allowing witnesses to see through closed-circuit monitors the intravenous lines being placed on convicts during executions.

In other cases that deviated from state protocol, criminal records for members of execution teams went unchecked and a lack of qualifications was ignored, according to a 2011 filing by the federal public defender’s office. In four executions, a Corrections Department employee got to lead the medical team in charge of setting intravenous lines even though the employee could not recall inserting an IV line since the time he trained as an emergency medical technician for the military years earlier.

In the 2011 execution of Donald Beaty, convicted of killing a 13-year-old newspaper carrier in Tempe, Mr. Ryan, the corrections director, asked the medical team about replacing one of the three drugs with another. The medical team leader did so, concluding that the drugs were “essentially equivalent” based on information he read in their packages and on the Internet, according to a filing in a federal lawsuit brought by another death row inmate.

In a 2010 execution, according to the anonymous deposition by the doctor who led the medical team, Mr. Ryan asked that the extra supplies of the drugs be injected into the inmate’s body. “The director preferred that all the chemicals be given, if possible,” the doctor said. He advised against doing so, because if the patient’s heart had stopped, “the vein might rupture, and then they would just go inside the abdominal cavity,” the doctor testified. But Mr. Ryan “indicated he wanted us to try.” When injecting the drugs proved problematic, the doctor recalled, “I looked at him and I said, ‘I don’t think that this is a good idea.’ And he said, ‘O.K., that’s fine, stop.’ ”

Mr. Berman of Ohio State University said Arizona was not the only state whose loose adherence to lethal injection protocols had led to problems in the courts. After a series of problematic executions in Ohio, Judge Gregory L. Frost of United States District Court stayed the execution of a killer, Kenneth Smith, writing that the state had not stuck to its own policies in carrying out executions and was “haphazard” in its application of the process.

Judge Frost went on, “Ohio pays lip service to standards it then often ignores without valid reasons, sometimes with no physical ramification and sometimes with what have been described as messy if not botched executions.”

Dr. Jay Chapman, who devised the first lethal injection protocol in Oklahoma in 1977, has questioned the problems with executions in the years since. “It seems to me that it would not be that difficult to find people that are competent to carry out the tasks,” he said by telephone.

Fernanda Santos reported from Phoenix, and John Schwartz from New York.

The "execution" of Lino Flores, ASPC-EYMAN: Even supermax isn't "safe".


Another homicide at the AZ DOC, this time in the Supermax prison, ASPC-Eyman. Interestingly, according to the records below, both prisoners were both moved to their current location at Eyman on the same date, perhaps together. Also of note - the victim was Native American, while the killer is identified as Mexican American. That means this crime was intensely personal and spur-of-the-moment, or Salazar had the permission of - perhaps was under the orders of - one of the gangs to take Flores out; otherwise this might start a race war.  

How either of these two men were considered to be lower than MAX custody is a puzzle, since they had both apparently killed someone in custody before. Wow, in fact, this was Flores' case. More startling, here is one of the reports about Salazar's history: it says he actually stabbed an officer in the head in 2007 - and that was apparently before he killed someone else. And he was only close custody? Yet they bury political prisoners and the mentally ill guys who have harmed no one in solitary for years...). 

Inmate 156258

Last NameFirst NameMiddle InitialBirth Date
SALAZARJULIOC01/22/1982
GenderHeight (inches)WeightHair Color
MALE 69165BLACK
Eye ColorEthnic OriginCustody LevelInmate/Detainee
BROWNMEXICAN AMERICANCLOINMATE
SentenceAdmissionPrison Release DateMax Supervision End Date
Sentence Information Below01/23/200109/18/2035
Cur. AbscondedHist. AbscondedRelease TypeMost Recent Loc
-N---RECEIVED FROMEYMAN
Community Supervision ParoleLast MovementCommitment StatusStatus
04/30/2014COMPLETE AND VERIFIED ACTIVE
Commitment Information 2 record(s)
Commit#Sentence CountyCourt Case#Offense DateSentence StatusCrimeFelony Class
A01 MARICOPA 2000007153 04/29/2000 IMPOSED MANSLAUGHTER CL2
B01 PINAL 2007-00258 01/17/2007 IMPOSED MURDER 1ST DEGREE CL2
Sentence Information 2 record(s)

I don't know why the DOC didn't have Flores in Protective Custody - he was a target, with that sex crime conviction on his record; it looks like he murdered his rape victim. I'd really call this one a state-assisted execution, not a "murder".


Inmate 040338
Last NameFirst NameMiddle InitialBirth Date
FLORESLINO09/23/1960
GenderHeight (inches)WeightHair Color
MALE 67140BLACK
Eye ColorEthnic OriginCustody LevelInmate/Detainee
BROWNNATIVE INDIANMEDINMATE
SentenceAdmissionPrison Release DateMax Supervision End Date
Sentence Information Below11/19/1979LIFE
Cur. AbscondedHist. AbscondedRelease TypeMost Recent Loc
-N---RECEIVED FROMEYMAN
Community Supervision ParoleLast MovementCommitment StatusStatus
04/30/2014COMPLETE AND VERIFIED ACTIVE
Commitment Information 5 record(s)
Commit#Sentence CountyCourt Case#Offense DateSentence StatusCrimeFelony Class
A01 MARICOPA 0106761 04/13/1979 IMPOSED MURDER 2ND DEGREE CL3
A02 MARICOPA 0106761 04/13/1979 IMPOSED SEXUAL ASSAULT CL3
B01 PINAL 0009748 10/15/1981 IMPOSED DANG/DEADLY ASLT BY PRSNR CL1
B02 PINAL 0009748 10/15/1981 IMPOSED PRISNR POSS DEADLY WEAPON CL4
C01 PINAL 0010992 01/03/1984 IMPOSED MURDER 1ST DEGREE



Unfortunately, this man's death is not just "one less bad guy off the taxpayers back" (a comment left at the end of this AZCENTRAL.COM article below by one reader). Yet another homicide in the AZ DOC is symptomatic of the huge problem of violent gangs and thugs running the AZ Prison system under Department of Corrections director Charles Ryan (Jan Brewer's chief disciplinarian); even minor drug offenders are vulnerable to being murdered over petty debts. This victim was probably asking for some kind of protection and denied it before he was killed, and the killer was likely given no choice but to do the deed or be killed himself. That's the way it works in the AZ DOC, under the Mexican Mafia's rule. Better take a closer look at the recent suicides, too - they have a habit of strangling guys and leaving them hanging in the showers.

Due to the high rate of violence, medical neglect, and outright abuse of prisoners in the past 6 years, the AZ DOC has come to be known as the most poorly-run prison system in the country; officers and prisoners alike aren't safe in any of the state prisons, not even in Protective Custody ( where the last two homicides occurred). 

So before we celebrate this man's murder - be it because of the seriousness of his own crimes or whatever other reason one may think it represents "justice" -  think about how many lives and tax dollars are being wasted warehousing potheads with murderers in the kind of hellhole where they are more likely to develop a new heroin habit than get any kind of substance abuse treatment. We should all really be asking Jan why she still stands by her man there...



photo by Robert Haasch
art by Margaret J Plews

 the day the nazis came to town 
 (phoenix, november 2010)


---------from the Arizona Republic----







Florence inmate death may be homicide, officials say

Authorities are investigating a suspected homicide at a state prison in Florence, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Prison officials found Lino Flores unresponsive and suffering from traumatic injuries at about 2 p.m. Saturday in his cell at the Eyman prison complex, ADC spokesman Doug Nick said.

Paramedics pronounced Flores, 53, dead at the scene, Nick said. Flores was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, second-degree murder, sexual assault, possession of a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon.

Investigators are questioning fellow inmate Julio Salazar, Nick said. Salazar, 32, is serving time for first-degree murder and manslaughter.

No other information was immediately available.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Deliberate indifference to addiction: AZ DOC treats only a fraction of their prisoners.

According to the AZ Department of Corrections, of the roughly 60,000 people who were cycled through our state prison system last year, only 3,175 got any kind of substance abuse treatment. How is that something to brag about, when the DOC themselves say that 75% of new arrivals come due to substance abuse problems? That's a treatment enrollment rate of something like 5% of prisoners, and there's no indication of what their success rate is for those who go through their programs. I mean, really: that's supposed to be some kind of "great achievement"?

I really feel for all the folks who develop new heroin and meth addictions behind bars due largely to the despair and tedium, with the lack of any meaningful activity. DOC knows about their drug epidemic behind bars, but simply puts prisoners in the hole when they get busted with dirty urines or need to leave a yard due to a drug debt - never offering them treatment options. This press release below, I suspect, is actually a response to my repeated criticisms of the AZ DOC's lack of treatment for addictions, and their waning support for even allowing 12 step groups to come in and help. 

Below is an example of one of my recent complaints to AZ DOC Director Charles Ryan about a young mentally ill/addicted prisoner who needs protective segregation due to being targeted for extortion after he got into trouble with drug debts and chased off a yard. I was pretty angry when I wrote it...


"Director Ryan:                                                                                              July 24, 2014

I have written to you previously about XX. According to Ms. Crabtree's email below, the AZ DOC is knowingly returning this dually-diagnosed young man to a hostile situation where he will likely be again victimized, his family having already been targeted for extortion that clearly is organized across the prison system, and extends beyond collections on the original drug debts. That's deliberate indifference to this prisoner's safety, as well as to his mother's.



 

Based on Ms. Crabtree's report alone of this guy's issues (my own assessment as emailed to you June 17 was much more thorough),  the DOC has a duty to at LEAST provide this young man with meaningful substance abuse treatment and a relatively clean and sober living environment - are folks you capable of doing that much? Is there ANYWHERE in the DOC system where this kid has a real chance to make it? Or do you plan to house him on a yard where he can more easily obtain heroin than a job or psychiatric and substance abuse treatment? What will you do to assure X is able to get the support he needs to resist or avoid the proliferation of drugs, despair, and gang violence in your system? And what has your Criminal Investigations Unit done to investigate the extortion attempts his mother has reported? X's mother is in the CC line and I believe she at least deserves a reply to those concerns. So do those legislators in the cc who are supposed to represent her interests.


Thank you for your time and attention to this prisoner's safety and welfare.

Margaret Plews"

(Ryan ignored this email, needless to say - but his media people sure didn't! 
Gotta make it look good, now, because the above email was cc'ed to some legislators...)

---------from the AZ DOC website----------


      ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS


1601 W. JEFFERSON
PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85007
(602) 542-3133


JANICE K. BREWER
GOVERNOR
CHARLES L. RYAN
DIRECTOR

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release


      For more information contact:
Doug Nick
dnick@azcorrections.gov
Bill Lamoreaux
blamorea@azcorrections.gov
Wednesday, August 13, 2014

THOUSANDS OF INMATES COMPLETE ADDICTION TREATMENT PROGRAMS IN FY 2014

PHOENIX (Wednesday, August 13, 2014) - More than three-thousand inmates successfully completed addiction or DUI treatment programs provided by the Arizona Department of Corrections in the most recent fiscal year, which ended June 30.

In that period, 2,052 inmates concluded various substance abuse treatment programs, and another 1,123 inmates finished Level I and Level II DUI treatment programs.

“Addiction treatment programs are vital to the work of the Department of Corrections,” said Director Charles Ryan.  “Typically in recent years, more than 20 percent of the inmates incarcerated in ADC facilities have been committed for a drug-related offense.  Many other crimes can be traced to some involvement with illicit substances.  And we are all familiar with the tragic consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Therefore, it is very important that substance abuse treatment programs are made available, and that they are effective.”

Arizona is among a small number of states in which all inmate addiction treatment groups are provided by licensed substance abuse counselors.

Karen Hellman, the department’s Counseling and Treatment Services Administrator, notes this is an essential component to the program’s success. “It’s essential to have professional counselors who can work through the treatment process with the inmates,” she said.  “In order for inmates to transition back to society, as we expect them to do, they need the best possible assistance, and using licensed counselors goes a long way to reaching that goal.  Having more than two-thousand inmates complete this important step for addiction treatment and another 1,100 for DUI programming in the past fiscal year is a great achievement.”

Addiction treatment programs operate on a six or 12 month timetable and require inmates to participate in two hour sessions twice a week.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Parsons v Ryan: AZ AG/DOC seeks settlement talks, as CORIZON treats cancer with antacids.


Condolences to the family of Glen Huggins and every other AZ DOC prisoner who has died from the violence of deliberate indifference under this governorship. May we soon see an end to the drug war, and the beginning of the end to our legislature giving blessings to those who would maximize profit by stealing public resources from the sick and dying. The prisoners, the ACLU-AZ and the Prison Law Office, among others, are doing their part to fight the parasites our state does business with, having filed Parsons v Ryan (which goes to trial in October, unless it's settled first). Please do your part as well, and honor Glen's dying wish that no more prisoners have to suffer as he did: hold all these people accountable. Demand that your legislators launch an investigation into the DOC's ineffective leadership, high number of unnecessary prisoner deaths, and poor oversight of contract agencies. You can find them here:


Arizona State Legislature
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890


Also call on Governor Brewer's office to sack AZ Department of Corrections' Director Charles Ryan for this mess, and insist that a new director improve health care as a top priority - Ryan's DOC has only sought to grow prisons and the profits of folks like Corizon. 

Her contact info is here:

http://www.azgovernor.gov/Contact.asp

The Honorable Janice K. Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007

(602) 542-4331

 

Thank you to CH 12/KPNX and Wendy Halloran, from the prisoners and the family members I've spoken to about Corizon and the AZ DOC's complicity in depriving state prisoners of the most basic things they need to survive - which begins with recognizing their humanity, as well as our own.

If you are the loved one of a prisoner of the AZ DOC who is suffering without care, contact Arizona Prison Watch. I will provide what resources I can to help - including a list of attorneys who have sued the state prison system and don't give me kickbacks for referrals (likewise, if you know of any good lawyers who may help other families, please let me know). I can be reached at:arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com or 480-580-6807

Here are a couple of other blog posts that give concrete info about fighting the AZ DOC on medical issues.




Please also contact KPNX/AZ Republic's parent company, to tell them we need more stories like the one below, because prisoners' lives matter. Cut and paste this email to reach them at connect@ad.gannett.com

 
-------------from CH12/KPNX-----------

Costs up, no improvement in prison healthcare quality

Wendy Halloran, 12 News | azcentral.com 

 10:50 p.m. MST August 1, 2014





First they refused to admit there's a dire problem. Now, after a 12 News investigation, the Arizona Department of Corrections is offering to settle up with inmates in a class-action lawsuit filed in 2012.

We first brought you the story of inmates not getting proper healthcare, even though taxpayers are footing the bill, in May. Our reporting revealed there were at least 16,000 delays in medical care to Arizona inmates in 2013.

So far, the only action taken has been imposing fines on Corizon, the company contracted to provide healthcare for inmates in the state.

HEALTHCARE RATE INCREASE 

The state has paid Corizon $130 million a year to provide healthcare for inmates. Arizona taxpayers have paid, on average, $348,000 per day.

In July, a rate increase went into effect, from $10.10 per inmate per day to $10.42, due to changes made by ADC. According to Corizon's contract, the increase is to pay for 34 more staff positions to hand out medications. This followed an ADC policy change regarding what medications inmates were allowed to self-administer after multiple suicides and overdoses.

So costs have gone up, but newly released records obtained by 12 News show the problems inside the state's prisons are getting worse.

ADC-employed monitors routinely document Corizon's performance in monthly reports known as MGARs. In our review of the new batch of reports covering November of last year through April, we found numerous cases of delay, lack of treatment, noncompliance with the terms of the contract, ADC monitors noting staff shortages, and lack of medication and psychiatric care for mentally ill prisoners.


THE STORY OF INMATE GLEN HUGGINS

On December 15, 2013, Glen Huggins had 72 hours left to live.

Huggins was serving a 12-year prison sentence on drug convictions at the state prison in Tucson. He had already served eight years when he suddenly became gravely ill.

In August of 2013 Huggins complained to prison staff in Tucson about abdominal pain. He filled out what is known as an HNR, a Health Needs Requests inmates are required to fill out to get medical care. He complained he had not been able to swallow his food and keep it down since June, and had been losing weight.

More than a week later, a nurse saw Huggins. His symptoms were documented but his case was deemed "not urgent."

At the end of August, a nurse practitioner saw Huggins and, thinking the pain was due to Hepatitis C and acid reflux, gave him an antacid.

"That wasn't doing anything," Huggins' son, Cody, told us. "Meanwhile he's still losing weight, he can't swallow."

Huggins' family provided 12 News his medical records, which show he had a family history of cancer.

We asked Dr. Palav Babaria, a primary-care physician in Oakland, California to review the documents and give her opinion on whether the family's allegations of delays in care were accurate.

Dr. Babaria has done work for the Prison Law Office, one of the plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.

"For someone like Mr. Huggins, who had the medical history that he had, any complaints of not being able to swallow accompanied by profound weight loss he was talking about, I think any competent physician would have worried about cancer until proven otherwise," said Dr. Babaria.

On September 17, Huggins wrote in an HNR the antacids he was taking weren't working and his condition was getting worse.

In an October request, Huggins wrote a nurse had seen him eight times and an abdominal X-ray was normal, but still no doctor was assigned to examine him.

He filed more HNRs complaining of continued difficulty swallowing food and keeping food down. He wrote that the antacids were not helping with his pain.

Dr. Babaria says an abdominal X-ray was not an appropriate test.

"The two easiest ways of doing that are getting X-rays called a barium swallow, and see if liquid that shows up on the X-ray is passing or not, or just doing an endoscopy, going down with a camera to get a really good look and do biopsies," she said.

Dr. Babaria says, in Huggins' case, it seems that none of that was done when he first complained of the symptoms. Instead he was treated as if he only had acid reflux.

According to records obtained by 12 News, Huggins was just one of several inmates at the Tucson prison who suffered from a lack of medical care.

The Department of Corrections' own monitors documented long delays for inmates to be seen by outside specialists. Only nine patients out of 33 received urgent consultations in a timely manner. The requirement is that urgent consultations are done within 30 days, which goal Corizon met only 27% of the time.

A SON'S STRUGGLE 

Reading his father's HNRs was upsetting for Cody Huggins.

"You see a man that is just pleading for help and asking for help practically begging for help there at the end," he said.

According to Huggins' prison records, on October 23, 2013 a possible diagnosis of cancer is noted after a mass extending from Huggins' chest to his navel was discovered. This was made by the Corizon nurse practitioner.

Only then did Corizon approve sending Huggins to an outside hospital. The first time Huggins was seen by a doctor was when he arrived in the emergency room. According to Huggins' medical records, within an hour, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 esophageal cancer.

The cancer spread from his esophagus to other parts of his body. The doctors could not put a stint in to open up his esophagus because of the size of the tumor. Instead, they inserted a feeding tube in his stomach so he could get some nourishment.

His medical records show he lost almost 40 pounds in the months he kept requesting treatment and reporting problems.

On December 5, 2013 the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency recommended his sentence be commuted due to "imminent danger of death."

Gov. Jan Brewer signed a clemency order on December 11. Huggins was medically paroled the next day. His family took him home to die.

Huggins died on December 18, less than a week after his release.

Cody Huggins called it inhumane and hopes this doesn't happen to any other inmates or their families.

Dr. Babaria says the degree of suffering was preventable.

Now, Huggins' family plans to file suit against Corizon, accusing the healthcare provider of denying Huggins adequate and competent care.

Corizon denies any wrongdoing in Huggins' death. The company issued this statement:

"State and federal privacy laws forbid disclosure by Corizon of any identifiable patient medical information, let alone argument of factual claims regarding patient care in the news media. We can state that the allegations made by Ms. Halloran related to the patient's access to nursing staff and medical providers are not supported by the medical record. The inmate patient received timely, appropriate and professional care. The onset and advance of the patient's condition were unfortunately rapid and aggressive, just as they are often so among other similarly stricken patients. Allegations to the contrary are misleading and untruthful."

Cody Huggins struggles with his father's death. He thought his dad would be released from prison for the last time and they could rebuild their relationship and start a new one with Cody's young daughter.

Over the last two quarters, Corizon has been sanctioned by the state for a total of $71,000 based on its performance. An ADC spokesman emailed us this statement:

"The MGAR reports are valuable tools to document compliance with identified performance measures. Corrective action plans are implemented to hold Corizon accountable for those measures. ADC has imposed financial sanctions on Corizon as part of the company's contract with the state.

"As with any such contract, Corizon's agreement is subject to the state Procurement Code as well as adherence to the Department of Corrections Department Order 302, Contracts and Procurement, to ensure transparent, fair and equitable practices and has the approval of the Attorney General's Office and State Procurement Officer."

Meanwhile, the class-action lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Arizona, ACLU National Prison Project, and the Prison Law Office is scheduled to go to trial this October in Phoenix. It accuses the Department of Corrections of providing inadequate medical care, mental healthcare and dental care that has led to deaths.
Defending against the suit is private law firm Struck, Wieneke & Love PLC of Chandler. So far, billing records reveal taxpayers have paid this firm approximately $3.4 million to defend the Arizona Department of Corrections against the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the Prison Law Office has confirmed via email that settlement talks are underway to avoid a trial, issuing the following statement:

"The AG's office filed a request seeking a settlement conference, and after preliminary discussions with the AG's office we agreed to that request. A court-supervised settlement conference is scheduled for August 5."



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