AFSC's report, "Death Yards: Continuing Problems with Arizona's Correctional Health Care" outlines illegal and deadly mistreatment of Arizona inmates whose medical care the state contracted out to the country’s largest private prison health care provider.
On March 6, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) charging that prisoners in the custody of the Arizona Department of Corrections receive such grossly inadequate medical, mental health, and dental care that they are in grave danger of suffering serious and preventable injury, amputation, disfigurement, and premature death. The AFSC report, released in October 2013, provides evidence that supports the lawsuit.
This class action lawsuit has the potential to force the state of Arizona to improve its prison medical care. But legal battles are long and costly. The state is fighting tooth and nail, including an upcoming challenge to the suit’s class action status. The final resolution will likely take years. But what has changed in the day-to-day provision of medical care to prisoners in Arizona? Have conditions improved in light of the charges brought by the suit? Has the transition in management of the medical care from one for-profit corporate contractor (Wexford) to another (Corizon) addressed any of the previous health care lapses?
Sadly, the answer appears to be no. Correspondence from prisoners; analysis of medical records, autopsy reports, and investigations; and interviews with anonymous prison staff and outside experts indicate that, if anything, things have gotten worse.