The American Civil Liberties Union is the latest group to express concern about medical care for inmates at the Allegheny County Jail.
Witold “Vic” Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said Monday the county should hire an outside monitor to oversee Corizon Health Inc. services and make information publicly available. On the day Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner cited continuing problems with medical care at the jail, Mr. Walczak said his agency also has received numerous complaints in the last year from prisoners, jail health care staff and outside providers.
“The situation is so dire at the jail that the only way to restore public confidence is to have an independent monitor who makes public reports,” Mr. Walczak said.
County spokeswoman Amie Downs declined comment.
Ms. Wagner’s audit, which she previewed last month, said Corizon failed to provide inmates with required clinical care and directions for followup care when they leave the jail. She also called for the creation of an oversight committee to monitor improvements.
The company, hired under an $11.5 million contract in September 2013, “is not holding up its end of the deal,” Ms. Wagner said in a release.In a prepared statement, Warden Orlando Harper said jail inmate medical care is a “complex and challenging service” and called the switch to a new provider after 12 years a “significant undertaking.”
“There have been challenges in the transition, but those challenges have been addressed through constant communication between the Jail staff and Corizon officials, and the ongoing monitoring of the contract,” the statement said in part.
Ms. Wagner noted the jail posted a position for a contract compliance monitor.
A spokeswoman for Corizon said that the controller’s findings “are not based in medicine, nor are they balanced, complete or accurate.” The company said it has made improvements such as providing nursing staffing above contract requirements at its own expense; enhancing clinical services in the infirmary; and developing services to better assist in preparing inmates for successful re-entry when they leave the jail.
Ms. Wagner said auditors began their review in March but revisited all the samples as recently as October and the “same findings, the same observations stood … as they did in our initial sampling period.”
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1944.