EBRPPRC Calls on EBR Parish Officials to End Correcthealth Contract Now
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On Sunday, December 6th under the most horrific and unnecessary circumstances, Mr. Marcus Morris became the latest death in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison under the Correcthealth contract. In January 2017 Correcthealth LLC began operations at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, a local primarily pre-trial detention facility. The first death on their watch occurred in January of that year, under their watch. The next death was just one month later in February 2017. To date there have been 19 deaths since Correcthealth LLC took over medical operations, the most recent in August 2020.
In addition to the deaths, the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition and our partners have recorded hundreds of complaints regarding the lack of appropriate medical services and treatment in the Parish Prison. In March 2020 COVID-19 hit and attempts to get preventative and proactive protocols in place fell on deaf ears. Correcthealth has completely ceased testing.
The Parish is finally taking the first step in over 4 years to develop a Medical Request for Proposals (RFP). While this is not a cure, we know one thing, Correcthealth's long and documented inability to provide even the most basic of medical care and treatment protocols has and is putting lives in jeopardy. East Baton Rouge Parish must make a clean start by installing a prison monitor for healthcare and disqualifying Correcthealth from bidding on any future contracts.
The following is one parent's story:
"My experience with EBRPP was difficult and& frustrating from the very start. My son had never been to prison and having just turned 18 years old. He was extradited over 1000 miles from me so I couldn't just go to the prison to& get information.
My first call I remember clearly as I was transferred twice, put on hold and& then the line was disconnected. I called back and& was again transferred several times. I finally was able to speak to someone but was just told that yes, my son was at the prison. The person I spoke with was very gruff, so I didn't push getting any more information. I waited several hours and& called again. This time I was told my son was in solitary confinement, but they wouldn't disclose why. Now knowing my son, I knew that wasn't good. My son has several mental conditions which include severe depression, ADHD, bipolar, etc.
Several hours later I got a call from my son. He was hysterical and& crying. He told me that he was in solitary confinement because someone tried to beat him, up and so the guards put him in there to keep him "safe." I asked my son if anyone had talked to him about when his court appearance was or taken any information down about his health and he said no. I told him to try and & ask for a pastor to visit him.
After talking to my son, I tried to call the prison back in hopes that I could give them some information on my son's medical condition. The prison informed me that since my son was considered an adult that they couldn't give out information about him. I then asked to speak with a doctor or nurse. I was transferred was given transferred to another number and had to leave a message. I then called back asking if the prison had a pastor. I was given a phone number to call. I tried several times, but no one answered.
A day went by without a call from my son. I was in panic mode knowing this wasn't a good thing.
After getting money on my son's books, which took me hours to figure out, I got a call from my son. He was still in solitary confinement, but a caring guard took pity on him and& allowed him to make a quick call. My son had tried to commit suicide because he was so scared.
He had been placed in a holding area with numerous other prisoners. He had no bed, no blankets,had not been allowed to shower or be given meals which in my opinion were horrible. I was able to calm my son down and& told him to speak to a nurse or doctor about getting his meds for his mental condition. I also told him to again ask for a pastor. He said he had been asking but his requests were falling on deaf ears.
The next day I got a call from my son saying he had a video conference for court that day. He plead not guilty and& was given another date for his court appearance and& was given a bond amount. Now being 1000 miles away and& not knowing anyone he could stay with posed a problem for us, so I had no choice but to leave him in prison. I tried calling the public defender's office but was again told that since my son was considered an adult that they couldn't give me information. I truly felt defeated.
I am a single mother who lives off a limited income because I am disabled so funds are very tight. I put as much money on my son's books and& commissary as I could. The cost of the calls was in my opinion ridiculous, but I knew if my son couldn't talk to me the results would be disastrous, so I had to do without which meant not paying bills, going without eating, etc.
Days turned into weeks and& I finally was able to talk to a nurse and& explain to her about my son's medical issues. She told me she would have him seen by a doctor. Several days passed and & still he had not been seen by a doctor. I could tell his mental health was failing fast. I told him to continue asking to see a doctor, nurse and pastor daily. He said he was scared to upset the guards, but he would try.
During this time, he was put in solitary confinement several times for "his own good" as his depression continued to rise. Finally, a kind guard had him fill out a request to see a doctor.
After several days he was seen by a nurse who took his information down. After a week of waiting he still wasn't given his meds that were supposed to be taken daily. My son had twice tried to commit suicide, but nothing was being done by EBRPP to figure out why.
After being in prison for 2 months he was finally given meds for his anxiety and & depression. He was told by the nurse the cost of his meds would be taken out of his commissary. That caused my son more anxiety as he knew my funds were limited.
After a week of him getting meds his mental condition leveled off a bit, but he was still having problems. I tried telling the nurse, but it fell on deaf ears. His requests to see a doctor and pastor went unanswered.
My son needed serious help mentally and physically. He had been transferred to Riverbend detention center for 3 weeks and then back to EBRPP 3 weeks later.
I was finally able to get the public defender's office to do a well-being check on my son.
After his transfer back to EBRPP it took them several weeks and several calls from me to get him back on his meds.
Then in March the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Being as my son has a compromised immune system I seriously panicked. I tried to relay this information to the nurses and& doctors at the prison, but it fell on deaf ears. My son was in an overcrowded prison with mold above his sleeping area and& in the showers, tight sleeping and living quarters and very unsanitary living conditions.
My son asked a guard for a request form to see a doctor. The guard told him to ask a different guard who in turn told him to ask a different guard. Three requests later he was finally given a request form.
His court hearing was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He was stressed, constantly on the edge of breaking down and& I feared he would try and& commit suicide again. He was constantly in a panic and& I knew I had to do something.
In searching Facebook for help I found the EBRPPRC who became my son's guardian angel. Within a day of reaching out to them they had talked to a pastor who did a well-being check on my son. The Coalition guided me in the right direction on what to do. After his well-being check, the prison must have gotten nervous because they miraculously discovered that my son wasn't being given the correct dose of meds. He was supposed to be getting them twice daily instead of once. So, after 4 months in the prison they finally got him a few of the meds he was supposed to get on a daily basis but not all of them. He never did get his daily thyroid medication.
Three days after I contacted the Coalition, they had set up a call with The Bail Project and had a call set up for me with the Judge who lowered my sons bail amount, so he was able to be bonded out and placed in a facility outside.
My experience and my son’s experience with EBRPP was absolutely horrendous. The conditions the prisoners live in are beyond horrible and bond amounts are ridiculous. The medical staff cannot or will not cooperate with prisoners or their family members who just want the best for them. My son has numerous mental and& physical issues but had never attempted suicide before being sent to EBRPP. In there he tried twice and I know if the Coalition hadn't stepped in he would have tried again and succeeded.
Something needs to be done fast or countless lives will be lost."
Healthcare inside of the Parish Prison must be provided in accordance with State and Federal Standards and Best Practices. In addition to a meaningful RFP process, an independent jail monitor must be put into place.
Join us in telling the East Baton Rouge Parish Government that not one more death should occur in the Parish Prison; legally innocent pretrial detainees deserve quality healthcare services. Correcthealth LLC must go!
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