Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Corizon Abandons Kentucky Jail Contract in Wake of Death and Lawsuits

Corizon Abandons Kentucky Jail Contract in Wake of Death and Lawsuits

By David Reutter

In the wake of seven prisoner deaths and subsequent lawsuits, prison healthcare provider Corizon has decided to not seek renewal of its contract at Kentucky’s Metro Corrections in Louisville.

For much of the last two decades, Corizon has been Metro Corrections’ provider of prisoner healthcare. Its decision to walk away from its $5.5 million annual contract comes on the heels of the deaths of seven sick prisoners in the last year.

Three lawsuits have been filed in recent months, contending Corizon staff ignored or dismissed prisoners’ complaints and doctors were slow to review the prisoners’ conditions or to send them to a hospital.

A lawsuit filed in August on behalf of the family of Samantha George alleges that when she was taken to Metro Corrections on a charge of buying a stolen computer, she informed a nurse that she was a severe diabetic, needed insulin, and was feverish and in pain from a MRSA infection. She was so ill she was unable to keep water down.

The nurse contacted Corizon’s on-call doctor to suggest George be sent to a hospital. To avoid that expense, the doctor said he would see George the next day. He never followed up on the matter.

George’s mother, Theresa, called Metro Corrections to advise them of the serious of her daughter’s condition, which required insulin hourly. “They said ‘I’m looking at her right now and she’s fine,’” said Theresa George. “Four hours later, she was dead.

Samantha George was found unresponsive in her cell on August 8, 2012, and was pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital. It was concluded that she died of complications from a severe form of diabetes, compounded by heart disease.

Weeks after George’s death, prisoner Kenneth Cross died at Metro Corrections. He was arrested after a traffic stop that occurred while a friend was taking him to a hospital for an overdose. The arresting officers believed Cross was faking the overdose, so they took him to Metro Corrections on a warrant for a drug possession charge.

The booking nurse noted Cross had “slurred speech” and fell asleep “several times during his interview.” He was placed in a cell, where he was found unconscious hours later. A short time later he was pronounced dead; a medical examiner noted the cause of death as a drug overdose.

“Nodding off… clearly should raise a red flag in the case of someone who was arrested for drug possession,” said Cross family attorney Gregory Belzley. “Either hospitalize him or put him under very careful observation in which he was not allowed to go to sleep.”

The Cross case is similar to the April 2012 death of Savannah Sparks, 27, She died from opiate abuse and withdrawal only six days after entering Metro Corrections.

A December 2012 email from Metro Corrections Director Mark Belton advised his staff, “Mistakes were made by Corizon personnel and their corporation has acknowledged such mistakes.” Six Corizon employees resigned amid an investigation into the deaths. With Corizon being out of its contract, a new contract will be selected amongst six proposed bidders.


As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login