by Paul Wright
For the past 28 years, Prison Legal News has reported on prison and jail medical care that ranges from abysmal to the barbaric. With the possible exception of California, whose prison system’s health care is under federal receivership, medical and mental health treatment for prisoners throughout the U.S. is universally terrible.
When the Arizona Department of Corrections was sued over poor medical care, the litigation was seen as long overdue. After that case settled it remained to be seen what, if any, commitment state officials had to actually improving health care for prisoners. As this month’s cover story indicates, the answer is not much. Despite well-documented evidence that privatized prison and jail medical care does nothing more than bilk taxpayers and kill prisoners through neglect and deliberate indifference, governmental infatuation with privatization continues.
It does not appear to be any surprise that the Arizona DOC and its medical contractor, Corizon Health, are unwilling to provide minimally adequate health care, with the latter being more focused on enriching its corporate owners. The privatization model is simple: get as much money from taxpayers as possible and deliver as little as possible in return.
Alas, in the medical context that translates to numerous preventable prisoner deaths each year and immeasurable misery, pain and suffering. We will continue to report on the state of medical care in Arizona prisons.
Further, the Arizona DOC has been censoring PLN, claiming that our coverage of sexual assault cases makes us a “pornographic” publication when we quote federal court opinions. So it isn’t surprising that a prison system and government officials who ignore the Eighth Amendment don’t like the First Amendment either. Our censorship suit against the Arizona DOC remains pending on cross-motions for summary judgment.
As this issue of PLN goes to press, our petition for writ of certiorari has been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, and eight amicus briefs from over 100 amici partners are being filed on our behalf. We are asking the Court to grant review and reverse a decision by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld the Florida DOC’s longstanding, statewide ban on PLN, supposedly due to some of our advertising content. We should know by early January 2019 if the Supreme Court will grant review in the case. I would like to thank everyone who has helped us wage this struggle for as long as we have. All of the briefs in the case are available on PLN’s website, and we will report developments as they occur.
By now all PLN subscribers should have received our annual fundraiser. If you can afford to make a contribution to support our work, please do so. We rely on donations from readers like you to fund our advocacy on behalf of current and former prisoners, their families and other criminal justice-impacted populations. We get very little in the way of foundation or grant funding, and the income from our magazine subscriptions does not cover all our costs. Our 2017 annual report, included in the fundraiser packet, covers the depth and breadth of our litigation, publishing and advocacy work.
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