Press Contact: Joe Watson
Tucson, Arizona — June 22, 2018 — The American Friends Service Committee of Arizona (AFSC-AZ) applauds today’s ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan that imposes $1.4 million in sanctions against the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) and Director Charles Ryan. For years, ADC and its current for-profit contractor of medical and mental health services, Corizon Health Inc., have failed in their duty to provide adequate care to more than 34,000 state prisoners, resulting in needless suffering and hundreds of deaths.
We appreciate Judge Duncan’s decision to hold Ryan and Corizon Health accountable under the terms of the Parsons v. Ryan healthcare settlement. However, because ADC continues to search for cost-cutting options via for-profit contractors like Corizon, sanctions alone will not fix this broken system.
“Until Arizona accepts that there is no such thing as cheap prison healthcare, people will continue to unnecessarily die under the care of ADC and private companies like Corizon,” said Caroline Isaacs, program director of AFSC-AZ. “If Governor Ducey and our state legislature want to reduce the costs of caring for those who are incarcerated, they should stop sending so many people to prison.”
Despite looming sanctions for its non-compliance with Parsons v. Ryan, ADC renewed Corizon’s contract in May for another year and increased Corizon’s per diem rate by 20 percent, which was rubber-stamped by a joint legislative budget committee earlier this week. ADC has also released a new RFP for a three-year healthcare contract to begin in 2019, further perpetuating this vicious cycle by taking bids from companies with equally bad track records who hope to profit off Director Ryan’s malfeasance.
“It’s not a question of replacing one bad apple,” Isaacs said. “The problems are inherent in the business model of for-profit prison healthcare.”
We urge Governor Ducey and state lawmakers to address the root of the problem by, first, demanding accountability at the top. Fire Charles Ryan, who holds the ultimate responsibility for failing to exercise control over contractors and his department. Second, conduct a comprehensive overhaul of our correctional healthcare system. And finally, pursue legislation that reduces the prison population by reforming drug laws and sentencing guidelines to ease demands on prison healthcare professionals.
American Friends Service Committee-Arizona (AFSC-Arizona) works to reduce the scope and impact of the criminal punishment system in Arizona using research and documentation, advocacy, and policy reform to advance sentencing reform, halt prison expansion and improve conditions of confinement.