E-Alerts & Press Releases

Call to Action - People Are Dying

“Being tough on crime shouldn’t mean putting prisoners’ lives at risk through blatantly inadequate medical care.”
– Baltimore Sun editorial (August 20, 2009)

People in Maryland prisons and jails are getting sicker unnecessarily and some of them are even dying as a result of inadequate medical care. Can you take a few minutes of your time to help save lives? Please read below for more information and then contact Senator Verna Jones and ask her to take action.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Health care in Maryland’s prisons and jails is dangerously deficient.

Maryland prisoners’ and pretrial detainees’ access to basic and adequate health care has been extremely problematic. In fact, in 2007, the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits (OLA) issued a damning report on the state of inmate healthcare in Maryland prisons and in the Baltimore City Detention Center. Healthcare in Maryland’s prisons and in the Baltimore City Jail is provided by private for-profit medical contractors. The OLA report found significant deficiencies in the contractors’ performance as well as problems with the State’s monitoring of those health care contracts. For example:
 

  • 40% of prisoners do not receive a timely response to their request for medical attention.
  • Patients have to request care numerous times before it is delivered (if it is ever delivered).
  • Patients experience long delays in getting life-saving medications.
  • The medical contractor is not providing the level of staffing that the State is paying for.

 Read the full audit report here.

 WHAT SHOULD BE DONE ABOUT THE PROBLEM?

Further auditing is necessary.
 

  • There is still a problem with inmate health care in Maryland prisons and jails. People are dying!  In March 2009, a man who was being held pre-trial in the Baltimore City Detention Center died unnecessarily. He had diabetes and the jail failed to adequately monitor and control his blood sugar level; had the healthcare contractor done its job, he would not have died. In 2008, at least 8 people died in the Baltimore City Detention Center. One man was accused of malingering (faking illness) by the medical staff and he died just 5 days later.
  • The Legislature has been advised that another audit must be done to fix the problems but it has not taken action. The OLA advised the Maryland General Assembly that further investigation should be conducted to make sure that the State remedies the many problems OLA found. Maryland legislators have not requested another audit despite requests from the Public Justice Center.
  • The State will soon be awarding another multi-million dollar prisoner health care contract. The State is in the process of deciding on a prison health contractor for a multi-year term. The State needs to get more information about the performance of the current health care contractor before it potentially awards it another multi-million dollar contract. The sooner another audit can be conducted, the sooner the State will have this crucial information. We cannot afford to wait!

 WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP!

Maryland State Senator Verna Jones is the co-chair of the General Assembly’s Joint Audit Committee. She has the authority to request that the OLA perform another audit of the inmate healthcare system. She needs to hear from you. Please call or write to her now and tell her how important it is that she make this request for an audit and that she make it right away! People’s lives are at stake. Precious taxpayer dollars have been squandered. Click here for suggested language that you can use to call Senator Jones, send her an email, or send her a letter (please consider writing a handwritten letter). Once you have contacted Senator Jones, please report your communication to the PJC at hessw@publicjustice.org.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. "
-Margaret Mead



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