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Articles by Marsha McLeod

The Private Option

One company has become the biggest provider of jail health care. Sheriffs are worried: “If you’re the only dance in town, you can pretty much call your own shots.”

Story by Marsha McLeodThe Atlantic

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – In the span of 24 days in May 2017, two men died in Forsyth County’s jail. Both were fathers. Both were black. The first man, Deshawn Lamont Coley, had written request after request begging for his asthma inhaler – accurately predicting that his sporadic access to it was putting his life at risk. The second, Stephen Antwan Patterson, was found without a pulse about a week after he was booked with a blood-pressure reading that would likely have led any free person to the emergency room. The deaths came at an uncomfortable time for Forsyth County: Patterson died just four weeks before the Board of Commissioners sat down to decide whether to renew a contract with the private health-care company that had cared for the two men, then called Correct Care Solutions and now Wellpath, or sign with someone else.

What might have been a routine board meeting turned tense. “Correct Care Solutions makes the sheriff’s office look bad, makes ...