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  #1  
Old 12-02-2008, 08:03 PM
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Default Health care behind bars criticized

http://www.clarionledger.com/article.../1001/newsfrnt

The Clarion Ledger
December 2, 2008

Health care behind bars criticized

Ex-inmates, families say treatment lacking

Chris Joyner
chris.joyner@jackson.gannett.com

William Morris Byrd Jr. had been in and out of prison most of his life, but Charlotte Boyd, his sister, said he did not have to die there.
Byrd, 53, died Nov. 21 after what Boyd described as months of wasting away at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl. While the family is waiting for the autopsy, Boyd said the initial cause of death is Crohn's Disease, a chronic but treatable inflammation of the digestive path that she said had blocked her brother's esophagus.
"He literally starved. We watched him turn into a skeleton," she said.
Byrd was serving a lengthy sentence for rape and was not eligible for parole until 2020. Boyd realizes her brother may not be a sympathetic figure to most, but after reading a story last week in The Clarion-Ledger, she said her brother may not be alone.
"If they are doing him that way, they are going to let somebody else die, too," she said. "Even a dog needs medical attention."
Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said Byrd received appropriate medical care from the prison. "We provided timely, quality medical care for the inmate," he said, "as we do for all of our inmates."
Mississippi's per-capita death rate for prisoners has spiked in recent years. In 2001, the state's death rate was at the national average, but in 2006 Mississippi's inmate death rate was the second highest in the nation. In 2007, inmate deaths rose again.
The majority of those deaths are from natural causes, and former inmates and family members of current inmates say medical care in the state's prison system is inadequate.
Epps blames the higher death rate on several factors, including an increasingly aged prison population and generally unhealthy lifestyles that have made the state a leader in medical problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Epps expressed confidence in MDOC's medical contractor, Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Wexford Health Sources, but the Legislative Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review last year released a report criticizing the prison system's response to chronic-care issues.
PEER also found that Wexford's medical staffing was not in compliance with the terms of its contract with the state. The report found 13 percent staffing shortages at the MDOC prisons in Pearl, Parchman and Leakesville.
Officials at MDOC referred questions about current Wexford staffing levels to the contractor. Wexford did not return a telephone call Monday but last week referred questions to MDOC.
Senate Corrections Chairman Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, said the increase in the prisoner death rate is worth keeping an eye on, but he said Epps' explanation of the increase is plausible.
It's something lawmakers would want to pay attention to and monitor, "get a little more information on," he said. "It didn't come across as there was any kind of serious problem of neglect."
But the rising number of deaths worries people like Diane Rowell, whose hypoglycemic son is in South Mississippi Correctional Facility serving a short sentence for a parole violation. She said her son has lost weight and complains of being tired.
"It worries me. I cry a lot about it," she said. "I know they broke the law, but they are still human beings."
David McGowan, 59, spent seven years in the MDOC system on a drug charge before being released a year and a half ago. McGowan said he suffered a heart attack and a stroke while in prison.
McGowan said he had medical problems in the free world but that once he was locked up medical care was hard to get. "The nurses were telling me that there wasn't anything wrong with me," he said. "I was getting substitute medications. They weren't controlling my blood pressure."
McGowan said sometimes he would not get any medication at all, especially when he was moved from one prison to another.
"Everybody has done wrong in their life, but the system still has an obligation - not to spend a lot of money, (but) you shouldn't be treated like you are nothing," he said. "People say, 'You did wrong.' Well, that's true, but you shouldn't be treated like that."
McGowan was given early release due to his complicated medical situation, a decision MDOC is making more often.
From January through May, MDOC released about 13 prisoners a month for medical problems, but that figure more than doubled from June through October, when an average of 31 prisoners were given medical release.
Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, who serves on the House Corrections Committee, said he wonders if the increase in deaths can be traced to staffing cuts at MDOC in 2004. That year, MDOC eliminated nearly 200 positions to accommodate a $25 million budget cut.
Since then, inmate populations have continued to rise while MDOC has relied on young and inexperienced correctional officers to be the system's first responders for medical issues, he said. The medical complaints are nothing new to him, Mayo said.
"I probably average three, maybe four calls, a month on medical issues alone," he said.
But it is hard to distinguish the real complaints from those constituents who are trying to game the system.
"I think there's a bona fide lack of medical care and a lot of people complaining just so that they can get special treatment for their kid," he said.
Obstacles to proper medical care are further complicated by increasingly crowded prisons. In 2007, Mississippi's inmate population rose 6 percent from 21,069 to 22,335, the third-highest increase in the nation. The most recent figures show another 3 percent increase this year.
There is some hope of relief thanks to a new law that allows MDOC to allow offenders who have not been convicted of a violent or drug trafficking-related crime to qualify for early parole. The law chips away at a 1995 "truth in sentencing" law that caused state prison populations to soar by requiring prisoners to serve 85 percent of their sentence.
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:34 PM
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Angry Inmate Medical Care

Due to my own experience since my husband was moved to CMCF on Jan. 8th I would have to disagree with the statements made in this article by the officials. He went 8 days without blood pressure meds. And Wed .Jan. 28th it will be 3 weeks without his Bi-Polar meds. I don't call that adequate or timely.And repeated phone calls to numerous people in various positions have not been returned.This type of treatment is uncalled for and inhumane .Inmates are not numbers,they are people.and no matter what they might have done our Constitution says they are to be treated better than this.What if one of their loved ones were being done this way ? Would they sit back and do nothing ? I think not. So I will continue to do what I have to do until my husband gets his medications. I will not go away . I will not be quiet. And neither should anyone else who has a family member or friend not receiving needed and proper medical treatment.
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Old 05-04-2009, 02:32 PM
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My experience is the same as Ms. Magnolia. After telephoning Parchman's medical department numerous times and receiving no satisfaction, I've found that timely medical care can be received by citing the complaint in writing to the National Prison Project of the ACLU in D.C.

Since the successful lawsuit by prisoners, represented by ACLU attorneys, MDOC is well aware that they are being monitored.

Thankfully, I've met with success in having medical tests performed and treatment ensured. It's an ongoing struggle, however, the only way to protect our loved ones in a system that has no regard for health care concerns.
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:31 AM
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My fiance is in dcf in greenwood he has been having these bad pains in his legs where he can barley move he asked to go to medical and was seen by a nurse that told him to take ifbroven he asked to see a dr and was refused they said give it a few days im thinking it could be blod clots or something else that needs to be taken care or so i call and complain i was told that i did not need to call anymore that if he had a problem he needed to take care of it his self!!
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Old 05-23-2009, 04:26 AM
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I will be the first to say that if you went to jail for the free and exceptional health care, you have made a terrible, terrible mistake.
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Old 01-24-2012, 01:04 PM
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The medic servic is the very opposite of timely. I know people who have been weeks w/o their medications from bi-polar to heart meds to methadone and suboxcine(sp?). My bf is in hinds co. waiting to be transferred to cmcf and his po sent him in with 2 weeks worth of suboxine...he never got a dose, but luckily never went through the harsh withdrawals: vomiting, constant diarrhea, listliness, depression etc.

Honestly, with its black market value, I bet they sold it
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