NY AG probes private company role in 9 inmate deaths

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has opened a probe into 9 inmate deaths at county jails from 2009 through 2011. (Photo: AG website)

New York’s Attorney General is probing the deaths of 9 inmates in county jails from 2009 through 2011, fatalities which have been linked to the care provided by a private health-services company called Correctional Medical Care Inc.

According to the story broken by Gannett reporter Steve Reilly, Correctional Medical Care has also drawn criticism from the state Commission of Correction, which initially investigated the deaths.

[R]eports by the New York State Commission of Correction’s Medical Review Board have found some level of fault with the CMC in the nine inmate deaths.

In some cases, the review board also has placed partial blame on correctional officers for mistakes that contributed to the fatalities.

The Medical Review Board has blamed CMC for failing to follow its own drug withdrawal and detoxification policies, for ignoring signs of mental illness and for failing to treat some illnesses.

CMC spokespeople defended the company’s performance.  Spokesman Nazif Chowdhury told Reilly that they provide quality care to inmates who often enter the county jail system suffering severe physical and mental ailments.

“These are the patients that most clinics would dread getting, because they’re complex,” Chowdhury said. “Essentially, they’re train wrecks.”

Correctional Medical Care, based in Pennsylvania, is part of a growing for-profit industry that has grown up around American jails and state prisons.

One study, conducted in 2009, found that health care behind bars has emerged as a major sector for medical companies.  “It has been estimated that $3 billion in annual correctional health expenditures, or 40% of total expenditures, belong to the private sector,” the report concluded.




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