Retiring Arizona Prison Watch...

This site was originally started in July 2009 as an independent endeavor 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. It was begun in the aftermath of the death of Marcia Powell, a 48 year old AZ state prisoner who was left in an outdoor cage in the desert sun for over four hours while on a 10-minute suicide watch. That was at ASPC-Perryville, in Goodyear, AZ, in May 2009.

Marcia, a seriously mentally ill woman with a meth habit sentenced to the minimum mandatory 27 months in prison for prostitution was already deemed by society as disposable. She was therefore easily ignored by numerous prison officers as she pleaded for water and relief from the sun for four hours. She was ultimately found collapsed in her own feces, with second degree burns on her body, her organs failing, and her body exceeding the 108 degrees the thermometer would record. 16 officers and staff were disciplined for her death, but no one was ever prosecuted for her homicide. Her story is here.

Marcia's death and this blog compelled me to work for the next 5 1/2 years to document and challenge the prison industrial complex in AZ, most specifically as manifested in the Arizona Department of Corrections. I corresponded with over 1,000 prisoners in that time, as well as many of their loved ones, offering all what resources I could find for fighting the AZ DOC themselves - most regarding their health or matters of personal safety.

I also began to work with the survivors of prison violence, as I often heard from the loved ones of the dead, and learned their stories. During that time I memorialized the Ghosts of Jan Brewer - state prisoners under her regime who were lost to neglect, suicide or violence - across the city's sidewalks in large chalk murals. Some of that art is here.

In November 2014 I left Phoenix abruptly to care for my family. By early 2015 I was no longer keeping up this blog site, save occasional posts about a young prisoner in solitary confinement in Arpaio's jail, Jessie B.

I'm deeply grateful to the prisoners who educated, confided in, and encouraged me throughout the years I did this work. My life has been made all the more rich and meaningful by their engagement.

I've linked to some posts about advocating for state prisoner health and safety to the right, as well as other resources for families and friends. If you are in need of additional assistance fighting the prison industrial complex in Arizona - or if you care to offer some aid to the cause - please contact the Phoenix Anarchist Black Cross at PO Box 7241 / Tempe, AZ 85281.

until all are free -

MARGARET J PLEWS (June 1, 2015)


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wexford, human rights causing riot fears at ASPC-Perryville?

My mail has been hung up for a few weeks now, beginning with a mailing I sent to women correspondents at Perryville prison about their health care rights. A copy of the latest version is below - all but one or two copies appear to have been intercepted by prison authorities, though. One of the men I sent the second of the two letters below to said his copy was seized by officers and marked "riot material". After not hearing back from over 70 prisoners I'd written to in the past few weeks, by this weekend I felt pretty sure that the DOC was intercepting most of my mail going into their prisons, and are preventing those who had previously corresponded with me from getting word out. 

Unfortunately, since Director Ryan still hasn't responded to the following email I sent him 5 days ago, I don't know if any of those allegations I've made are true. For all I know, I'm about to be arrested for attempting to incite a riot or for promoting prison contraband. Or perhaps the DOC just made a huge mistake by messing with my free speech rights and diverting the US mail inappropriately. 

We'll soon see. I'll keep you posted here...

 Remembering victims of neglect and suicide at ASPC-Perryville 
(Phoenix, AZ : November 2011)

----from my email account-----

On Sat, Oct 20, 2012 at 4:48 PM,
Arizona Prisonwatch <> wrote:

Director Ryan:

While we're on the subject of rioting, I thought you should see these other two letters yourself and tell me if they warrant confiscation as well. I've hardly heard a word out of Perryville since mailing them to about 30 women there - nor much from the 40 men to whom I sent the one with Donna's emails - and suspect that either these letters have also been diverted from the intended recipients, or their voices are being repressed. A similar problem has befallen one of your Botulism patients - his mail from me about who victimized him and what he might be able to do to assure his rights are protected has definitely been interfered with, and he'll run out of time to exhaust his remedies and access the courts if he's kept in the dark about his options much longer. I'm also concerned about the possibility that his ability to advocate effectively for himself right now could still be impaired by the neurological damage done to him after your people at Eyman refused to get him to a hospital for a week. I don't trust that they now have his best interests at heart.

Are you aware of the escalating crisis of guys trying to get into your Protective Segregation program because the gangs are totally in control on medium and higher yards? The guys all are. Your prisoners also have the right to know why - after four months of filing HNRs or going through the grievance process - they are still suffering with an untreated urinary tract infection, or have gone without their Metformin since July, who is responsible for that kind of thing, and what they can do about it.

You have the duty to Arizonans behind bars and in the community alike to assure that you are doing no harm to those people entrusted to your care for rehabilitation, because 95% of them will someday have to come home to the rest of us. We'd like them to return with better social and employment skills than when they left, not come back to us more disturbed or violent than they ever were before.

The men are already "rioting", by the way, according to Dr. D'Angelo, because they are hungry and terrified of dying horribly due to gross medical neglect in your custody. I also think the fear that one is about to be assaulted if one doesn't strike first is contributing to the escalating rate of vicious attacks on vulnerable prisoners over things that previously would have gone unnoticed on the yards, and thus creates some of your 805 backlog.

The women will be rioting soon without me too, you know. That's your doing, however, not mine.

The men and women alike in your prisons are all tired of being expected to shut up and disappear when they resist sexual violence or extortion, say no to racism, and challenge the deliberate indifference of their health care providers. Those allegations about Wexford include some of criminal misconduct, not just the heartless greed that our ALEC-laden legislature happily expected they were satisfying when they mandated you to outsource the prisoners' health care for didn't put up much resistance or educate them about better options, as I recall. None that I could see evidence of, anyway.

One way to reduce the level of violence in your prisons may be to empower people to learn and use the law and civil discourse in a constructive manner to protect themselves from harm instead of reaching for a gun or a gang to alleviate their fears - the deepest of which no one here talks much about, which is rape. I haven't even begun to look at your PREA reports lately; is sexual assault and exploitation on the rise, too?

Many prisoners are waiting to hear back from me on issues related to their health and safety, Director Ryan; they write to me begging for their lives. Please get with your lawyers and get back with me soon. I need to know whether you have some rogue mailroom employees absconding with my mail, or if what I've written to your prisoners deserves to be suppressed because it's more dangerous than the conditions that you've cultivated and are now allowing to fester.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Margaret Plews

Again, no one but myself is responsible for the contents of this email or the attachments. Be aware that it and any response it gets (or doesn't get), is hardly going to be kept between us.

--------------------October 4, 2012 letter to the women of Perryville prison---------

October 4, 2012

Please read all the enclosed material carefully; I'm sending it to all the good addresses I have for women at Perryville. The Orange Gazette needs to do the bulk of the work from here, though. Spread my PO Box if nothing else, and I'll send whomever writes to me the same materials as long as I am able to. The enclosed are also posted at the Arizona Prison Watch blog, where your families can download the letter as well as info about how advocating for yourselves as prisoners, and mail it to you themselves.

If ever you were in a fight for your lives and real justice, it is now. It’s not just about you, either - you need to stand with the women suffering even more around you. I applaud those of you who have had the courage to do so already - facing certain reprisal. I know that if they don’t nail you now, they will once no one is looking at the prisons again.

I took your complaints and letters to the Sun City/ West Valley National Organization for Women last month, and their program committee is inviting me to come speak about Perryville’s conditions and the health care crisis for their November meeting. So for October I need to be kept up to date with what’s happening there - both in the way of improvements or deterioration of the situation for each of you individually and on your respective yards. If you have copies of grievances and responses you can send me, even better.

If you are willing to let me use your name and story publicly, please tell me - and be explicit if you would like me not to identify you as well… though don’t think your involvement in organizing with NOW will be a secret to the DOC if you write to me - they will no doubt be monitoring all of my correspondents, and their officers may repeatedly move you or search your cell to steal the evidence you accumulate against them. Your silence will not protect you either, though, as Audre Lourde once said. You each need to do what you have to do to survive your sentence, though. I respect that. You alone know what you can and can’t risk in there.

If you do correspond with me, please remember that I am not an attorney or a journalist - I’m just an artist and freelance writer in the community - a civilian doing my good deed before I leave this earth. Nothing you send me is privileged information, and I don’t know if the first amendment would protect my sources the way it does for the mainstream media. I sure don’t have a corporate legal team behind me to protect any of us if the state tries to harass or punish those of you courageous enough to correspond with me. But I need that information in order to get help in there to you, and it must be current and verifiable. If victims of and witnesses to abuse, neglect, and criminal activity by state or contract agents are willing to send signed statements you’ll swear by that I can publish and read aloud to the women from NOW, it would make the most impact.

Things often get worse before they get better when you are fighting people with this much power over your very right to survive. It may not even get better there before you leave - and some of you may die in the battle for women‘s rights. But the more of you who stand and speak out now, the safer it will be for others who come after you to keep up the fight, and really make a change from the inside out. You can’t count on the ACLU or the rest of us to rescue you - and we can’t do our part right without you.

So, you know where to find me. Be patient but persistent if I am slow to respond directly to your individual letters - I run out of ink and postage and have to juggle crises of varying magnitude. But I am listening, and I have friends out here who care about Perryville’s prisoners as well. So please, if you can, write to me.  Send me your poetry, too. And letters from your kids, if you want - these women need to know just who I am asking them to help and why - you need to be real people to them; touch them, please. They are willing to hear you.

Let me know if any of this is contrabanded. There are two other pieces of paper enclosed - one is an AZ Republic Article from last week, and the other is an email to Chuck Ryan from Donna Hamm, both reporting on what’s really up with this BS with Wexford Health.

In Solidarity,

Peggy Plews

-----update of October 2 2012 letter about health care rights----

REVISED October 15, 2012

AZ State Prisoners:

Sending the following letter to you is not Donna Hamm's doing – it's mine alone. Many of you will need this information for evidence and to guide your discovery for more if you (or, in the case of your death, your family) decide to file a lawsuit about your rights being violated. If you go that route, you also need an attorney – not me.

That said, please don't go threatening to sue your nurses and doctors or accuse them of criminality or complicity – save the posturing for others to do. That just pisses the wrong people off while you still have no power and need their help. This guy D'Antonio proves there are still some good people in the mix, so look for them and tell me who they are when you find them, just like you tell me about the bad guys. Don't chase the good ones away.

Even if you think following the rules of engagement with the DOC will yield nothing, you must file HNR's about your specific health care needs or complaints according to policy, which you need to ask to see if you didn't get a copy from me – don't take some guard's word for it. If the response to the HNR is unsatisfactory, don't just call home to get them to call Central Office or file another HNR asking the same thing a different way: they will appease and stall family and you will just lose your rights thinking you are getting action that way.

Follow the grievance process all the way to the top, or you stand no chance in hell if you ever take any of these people to court to sue for your constitutional rights. Follow the rule of law to the letter on this matter, or you will lose your civil case even if the DOC and Wexford cause you to lose your sight or legs, or ultimately your life. Make sure your grievances reflect what you anticipate you may have to fight for in court, too. If the grievance policy for health issues has changed since Wexford took over, get it in writing and get it out to me.

Please report to me any DOC officer or health care employee who obstructs your attempts to file any informal resolution or grievances, or anyone up the chain of command who doesn't respond in a timely fashion according to policy – I need names and dates and reasons for the grievance you attempted to file. Also report anyone to me who refuses to show you DOC policy that governs grievances and how you are able to access medical care. Just don't tell any of them you're reporting them, or you'll likely get punished for it one way or another. Assert yourselves appropriately, but keep your heads down and study up on your rights like mad – catch up with the SOBs later in court, once you know how to do it right.

Please remember that I am an artist and community activist – not an attorney. I don't know anything about the law except what I've taught myself while trying to help you folks figure it out. So, use the reference guides I send you and the resources below, and share them with others who need them too...

Donna is a former judge and a professional criminal justice consultant, and can help more with legal questions and strategy than I can, if you can afford to hire her. She's been doing this for 25 years.

Donna Leone Hamm
Middle Ground Prison Reform
139 E. Encanto Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281

Ask the ACLU-AZ for a copy of “Parsons' v Ryan” – the class action against the DOC for medical and psychiatric neglect and abuse of the mentally ill in solitary. Also file a complaint with them if you haven't already about your prison health care.
ACLU-AZ PO Box 17148, Phoenix, Az 85011

The National Lawyer's Guild will send you their complete Jailhouse Lawyer's Handbook if you send them $2 in stamps, check or money order. I can't print the whole thing up, but you need it like a bible for the duration of your sentence. Ask family to send for it (it must be mailed directly to you from the NLG), or write me if you have no one – I'll find a sponsor to order one for you.

National Lawyers Guild 132 Nassau Street, Rm 922 New York, NY 10038

Here is the address to the AZ Medical Board. Request each of their pamphlets and a complaint form – but again, don't tell Wexford or DOC what you're doing, just do it. Be prepared to document allegations well, though, or face real problems yourself.

Arizona Medical Board
9545 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85258

All of you need to stand together if you take these people on, don't leave it to one or two prisoners, or they'll get picked off like flies. You need to show each other solidarity, and be attentive witnesses to staff misconduct when it goes down. Write statements and have another witness them when you see things – just like the guards write incident reports - and always send copies of your statements and other evidence (HNRs, grievances, etc) out to someone you trust – preferably to the loved ones who will have standing to sue in federal court if you die from neglect. The DOC routinely ransacks cells to steal and destroy evidence against them. Just don't think you can engage in this without risks and retaliation – it may get worse before it gets better – it probably will, so study up.

Arizona Prison Watch, by the way, is just the blog I write – not an organization, per se. I have friends behind me, but not in high places – we're all pretty poor and hated by the authority in this state, no doubt. I am anti-capitalist and think the profit motive undermines human rights. I hate the drug war and the war on the poor, and the kind of mass incarceration we practice in this country has been used to destroy communities of resistance as well as liberation movements – I want to abolish the whole system and start over. I believe the prisons are the front lines in the battle to save our collective humanity. It's where the worst abuses occur because society has already exiled and silenced you for your crimes (and class, and race, and so on), and justified great harm to your lives. I don't want to live in a state that encourages cruelty and exploitation in my name, for my ”safety”. It's the public, not the prisons, I most want to reform. How we treat our prisoners is a reflection of our collective spiritual evolution, and I want this world to move forward.

So, I am here for as long as I am able, simply to serve as a counterbalance to the overwhelming power of the state to silence and oppress you, by giving you what tools I can to help you fight for yourselves, and amplifying your voice. That's basically my mission.

Be patient but persistent if we are working together on something – I''m swamped with correspondence. And take care of each other in there.
Peggy Plews
    Arizona Prison Watch
    PO Box 20494
    Phoenix, AZ 85036

    (this is all also part of that mailing. perhaps this is what they really fear will cause a riot...) 

October 2, 2012

Mr. Charles Ryan, Director
Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 West Jefferson
Phoenix, Arizona  85007
Dear Mr. Ryan:
Yesterday, Oct. 1, I received a telephone call from Dr. Lawrence D'Antonio, who works for a contractor who provides professional healthcare workers to Wexford.  As you know, Wexford, in turn, provides all medical care for prisoners within the Arizona Department of Corrections.  D'Antonio currently works at the Eyman Complex/Rynning.  He was originally supposed to work at Meadows, but now only works at Rynning. He says the Meadows Unit is a "lost cause."   If I understood him correctly, he believes there is no doctor currently assigned to Meadows Unit and that the Clinical Center there is essentially inoperative.  He has been a doctor (D.O.) for 27 years.  He has worked for the contractor who provides doctors to Wexford since about July 2012.

D'Antionio says that Dr. Tom Bell is the Statewide Medical Director employed by Wexford.  The Regional M.D. for Wexford is Dr. Hector F. Garcia.  He is Dr. Bell's boss.  Karen Grant is the Director of Nursing for Wexford.  D'Antonio refuses to converse with or take orders from Grant.  Grant was abusive, used obscenities with him, and was unprofessional during their initial conversation.  He believes that it is ironic that only current physican at the Eyman/Rynning Unit (D'Antonio) has no communication  with the Director of Nursing.  He has advised his own employer that either Wexford needs to obtain someone other than Grant for him to communicate with or he will not work there at all.

He says "personnel (medical) are leaving in droves."  Grant was ordering him to do things outside his training and outside of his expertise.  She was ordering him to see patients who needed specialists; he is not a specialist.  He says that Dr Bell ordered  that certain medications are to be stopped for some inmates.  When asked why the medications were to be stopped, Bell stated, "Because they are prisoners."  He asked Bell, "Is this your own medical decison-making?"  Bell replied, "This comes from Wexford."

Karen Grant has ordered D'Antonio to write prescriptions en masse for patients whom he has not seen.  He refused to do so, stating that in most cases he needs to see each patient individually before he can prescribe a medication.  He says Wexford is sabotaging everything by doing such things as excessive questioning of the doctor ("for more information") when he prescribes a medication.  When he makes a referral for a patient to have a procedure, obtain a specialist's opinion, have additional testing, etc., Wexford has a procedure which they call a "collegial" conference call.  Their staff get on a conference call and the vast majority of the time, they delay the additional procedure by requesting "additional information" from the referring doctor.  This goes on and on, back and forth, so that the procedure itself never gets done or is so delayed as to be meaningless (or dangerous) for the patient.

He says that he was told that all prior referrals (for specialists, tests, etc.) made by DOC healthcare workers prior to July 1, when Wexford took over, are cancelled, and will not be honored.  Instead, the inmate is required to go through the referral process all over again, thus further delaying what might be life-saving diagnostic testing.  D'Antonio says that many of the referrals are "shelved" and continuously cycled through the "get more information" process over and over.

D'Antonio refers to the mistakes and unethical conduct going on by Wexford employees as "staggering" and "criminal."  He says that while he does not consider himself to be soft on crime or criminals, "they are human beings and deserving of basic medical care."  He has restricted his exposure to liability for the type of care being provided to inmates by limiting the days he will work, the hours he works, and the units at which he will work.  He says what is happening at the Meadows Unit and throughout the Florence prisons is a "disgrace."

The doctor says that there are such people as what doctors refer to as "hatchet" doctors or "administrative" doctors -- they work for a corporation and have given up their ethics (and oath) to 'do no harm' by accepting a huge paycheck just to go along with corporate policies and directions.  D'Antonio says there are doctors (or nurses) such as this that work for Wexford.

He says that each time he sees a patient, he must fill out a progress note.  This is a form.  When he orders lab work, an x-ray or a prescription, each requires a separate form.  At the Meadows Unit, it was nearly impossible to find the forms needed, thus delaying and complicating the already dysfunctional process.  He says chart work is ignored and there is no review process.  He was originally hired just to do induction physical exams for incoming (new) prisoners, but that he has ended up doing everything from emergency care, chronic care, diagnostics, etc. and that they are so back-logged in reviewing charts that there is no reasonable way that each patient's chart can be reviewed in a timely manner.

He states that he has been told by Wexford employees that, "We are forbidden from talking about what happens here. . ." and that he has been advised, "Prisoners have died at the Meadows Unit due to lack of care since Wexford took over . . . ." (He was unable to provide me any names or DOC #'s of inmates who have allegedly died at Meadows Unit due to lack of medical care since Wexford took over on July 1, 2012).

He says that the Wexford formulary for approved medication is "archaic." He gave an example of the medication that Wexford has approved for hay fever.  (I can't spell it).  He says this was a medication that was being phased out in the 1980's (it was a medication that he would have taken as a child)  -- and that the standard of care in today's world for allergies is an antihistamine and/or a nasal steroid spray.  He says Wexford approves a salt water/ocean spray which is so outdated, it is laughable.  So, when he writes a prescription for a timely/updated drug (a "non-formulary" drug), Wexford can't fill it (won't fill it) because it isn't in their formulary.  So, there is a huge delay for the patient in obtaining non-formulary medication, and the formulary list itself is actually responsible for delay after delay after delay for patients to obtain a prescribed medication, including for serious medical problems.  He states that Wexford would likely claim that their formulary medications are "great" and "adequate," but many of their medications are simply not used anymore in today's real world of medicine in the USA.

He says he works a 12-hour day with no breaks and he even eats lunch while charting.  He works the hours by choice in order to get in his weekly hours in as short a time as possible to get out of there as quickly as possible.  But the workload is so far behind, it would require a full team of doctors to get caught up and would take a year.

He is concerned because many of the inmates are complaining they are not getting enough food and the doctor is concerned about the weight loss he has actually observed.  His says he has heard comments from many people that the real reason for the recent riots/disturbances at Tucson and Rynning is because of an underlying tension or stress among the inmate population due to (1) not enough food; (2) being denied medical care.  The DOC explained the reason for the riots to the media as "racial disturbances."

Dr. D'Antonio has openly discussed with Dr. Bell his concern that Dr. Bell could have a work-related breakdown over his job.  He is deeply concerned about Dr. Bell's mental well-being and feels it is possible that Dr. Bell may become "overwhelmed" by his job duties as Medical Director.  D'Antonio believes the various relevant Arizona professional medical boards and nursing board should immediately become deeply involved and investigate what is happening.  The Hippocratic Oath:  Do no harm -- is being violated directly.   He says he is witnessing "outrageous" medical neglect and actions contributing to such neglect by staff.

When a patient is referred for an outside professional test, procedure or consultation, the referral goes to the Wexford "collegial board."  He has asked, "What happens if it (the referral) is denied?"  Dr. Bell told him, "Well, it goes back to the referring doctor."  D'Antonio said, "Well, what happens if I refer the same patient a second time for the same procedure because I obviously believe he needs it?"  Bell replied, "Well, then we fire you because you keep making referrals."

He says many doctors and nurses have quit.  About 9-10 doctors have quit between the Florence and Eyman Complexes.  Describing the situation as "under-manned" or "under-staffed" is a diversionary term by Wexford.  The doctors who quit need to come forward to explain the reasons why they quit.  The under-manned situation is a result of the very problematic things that are happening.

D'Antonio says that what is happening in the Department of Corrections with respect to inmate medical care is "nothing short of outrageous."

He will agree to an interview with the media or with the ADC Director, but will only do face-to-face.  He lives in Tucson.

Mr. Ryan, on September 5, 2012, I wrote you an email expressing my concerns about the care being afforded to inmates by Wexford, and wondered why the company did not seem to be attempting to especially impress the Department during the early stages of their multi-million dollar, multi-year state contract.  You did not respond to this email.  It now appears as though Wexford sees the ADC as a cash cow for corporate profits at the expense of the very care they supposedly are contractually, legally, morally, and medically committed to providing.  This cannot be permitted to continue, and corporate assurances of corrective action are fundamentally insufficient as a response to the level, nature, and depth of the issues that now are emerging as a result of the outsourcing of inmate medical care to Wexford.

Just prior to the Sept. 5th email, I had notified you of a Wexford nurse who had ordered a female inmate to lick a powdered prescription medication from her own hand after the nurse had poured it into the hand.  The inmate protested because of the unprofessional and unorthodox method of medication administration and ended up with a disciplinary sanction and movement to another yard.  It is unknown if the nurse was sanctioned or terminated, but you did advise me that Wexford had "retrained" their nurses in the proper method of distribution of medication.

Now, with the above serious information as provided to me, I have no choice but to contact the relevant Medical and Nursing Boards of the State of Arizona.  Human lives are at stake.

While we appreciate the recent well-written noncompliance letter from Joseph Profiri, that letter does not go far enough.  For example, there is no mention that families can't get in touch with or recieve call back response from Wexford about their loved one's medical care.  Families repeatedly complain to me that Wexford's "hot line" is completely non-responsive.


Donna Leone Hamm, Judge (Ret.)
Executive Director
Middle Ground Prison Reform

----------------EMAIL #2----------------

October 5, 2012

Mr. Charles Ryan, Director
Arizona Department of Corrections
1601 West Jefferson
Phoenix, Arizona  85007

Dear Mr. Ryan:

It is my understanding, based on information coming directly from Dr. Lawrence D'Antonio, that Dr. D'Antonio was escorted off the Rynning Unit by the Deputy Warden of the Unit and a security officer, after my recent email to you had been (apparently) forwarded to Wexford.  This is apparently the procedure applied toward whistle-blowers by Wexford.

It is also my understanding that Karen (or Caryn) Grant, Director of Nursing, resigned very recently (since my email to you).  I don't know if her resignation is connected to the fact that when I filed a complaint against her with the Arizona Nursing Board, they advised me that there is no "Karen Grant" who is licensed to practice nursing in the State of Arizona at this time, but that a "Karen Grant" was licensed up until 1991.  I believe that impersonating a nurse is a felony in Arizona.
Meanwhile, I have learned some additional very disturbing information from Dr. D'Antionio which, if verified as correct, amounts to an EMERGENCY situation.  The following information cannot simply be passed along to the "appropriate personnel" as you advised about my previous email.  Each and every prisoner who is incarcerated in the state Department of Corrections is entrusted to your department's care and custody, and you and your Department are ultimately responsible for their care, welfare and safety, which -- of course -- includes providing the community standard of care for serious medical needs.
During the time he worked at the Rynning Unit, Dr. D'Antonio personally observed that some inmates are given incorrect medications.  He also observed that some inmates are receiving medications which are contraindicated for other conditions that they have (for example; no inmate who is a diabetic should take a beta-blocker, etc.).  Some combinations are drugs which have the potential for being lethal.   He also observed that some inmates are being given double doses of prescribed medication, each dosage from a different manufacturer with a different name.  Once again, in some cases, the double dose could be fatal or seriously debilitating.  He reported to me that he advised Dr. Tom Bell of his observations, and Bell essentially shrugged him off and did not seem to grasp the import of D'Antonio's concerns.  As Dr. Bell had previously stated, "They are just prisoners."

Because you now are in possession of the above information as related to me by a licensed doctor in the state of Arizona and based upon his own personal observation, I believe that you are obligated to order an immediate audit/investigation of ALL inmate medical files for inmates housed at the Rynning Unit.  The investigation must be conducted by an independent qualified doctor or doctors who are not connected to Wexford or to the Department of Corrections in any manner.  Wexford should pay for the audit/investigation.  Other units should be audited as well because there is no reason to believe that these egregious mistakes are isolated to the Rynning Unit only.
Again, it is insufficient to simply pass this message along to Wexford. This potentially dangerous and/or lethal information must be addressed at once and I expect to receive a report of the findings in a timely manner.  A report that addresses these issues would not have to reveal HIPPA protected information because a code number could be assigned to each case.  It is imperative, however, that any incorrect medications, double-dose medications or contraindicated medications must be identified at once; hopefully, prior to an emergency situation induced by deliberate indifference or by gross negligence.

Please advise.

Donna Leone Hamm, Judge (Ret.)
Criminal Justice Consultant
Executive Director
Middle Ground Prison Reform
(480) 966-8116 (or contact James Hamm at (602) 339-0176