US Marijuana Party

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Inmate health care to be privatized

Charlotte Observer

NC - A private company will begin providing health care for Union County Jail inmates April 1, saving the county about $140,000 and bringing increased services and staff hours to the jail.

County commissioners Monday unanimously approved a contract with Tennessee-based Prison Health Services (PHS), one of three firms vying for the job.

The company is the nation's largest private provider of inmate health services and serves jails in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties. But PHS has been under fire for some of its dealings in other states, where critics have accused it of providing subpar care.

For-profit companies serve about 40 percent of the nation's inmate population. PHS leads the field, with an estimated $690 million in revenue last year and more than 375 jail and prison sites in 36 states, according to its Web site.

Results of a yearlong investigation of PHS published Feb. 27 in the New York Times show the company provided "flawed and sometimes lethal" care, sometimes sacrificing safety for profit.

Investigators in New York found the company culpable in two deaths, and it has paid millions of dollars in fines and settlements, the article said.

The article also says that since 1992, at least 15 inmates have died in 11 Florida jails "where Prison Health appears to have provided inadequate care."


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