Judge calls Arizona prison health care system ‘corrupt’
PHOENIX (AP) — A federal judge incensed by recent news reports said he believes Arizona’s prison health care system may be so “corrupt” that it can no longer be trusted.
United States Magistrate Judge David Duncan on Wednesday read from a report by Phoenix’s KJZZ radio detailing apparent efforts by health care contractor Corizon to subvert the monitoring system of various health care standards, the Arizona Capitol Times reported .
“I’ve used words like ‘shocked’ and ‘flabbergasted,’ but I have run out of words,” Duncan said. “I’ve run out of ways to communicate what is such an egregious departure from honest representation in this case.”
Duncan said he intends to find out for himself “how deep this evil goes.”
Duncan will hear testimony Feb. 9 on the credibility of the report, including from Dr. Jan Watson, a doctor who worked in the Arizona Department of Corrections-Eyman Complex in Florence.
The KJZZ report included an email from a Corizon representative instructing Watson to cancel one of her patient’s infectious disease consultations.
“We do not have a provider to send him to,” the representative wrote. “One was approved and has been sitting there for 42 days. After 30 days we get nailed for 1000 bucks a day until they are seen.”
Duncan said he understands statements such as that to mean Corizon representatives were instructing care providers on how to get around monitoring and the consequences that could follow.
Prison officials will be required early next year to file a list of every instance of non-compliance during December 2017. Duncan has threatened a $1,000 fine for each instance.
Duncan said he is concerned that “corruption” in the system is preventing him from ensuring compliance with his orders, which he would consider a “disgusting” subversion of his efforts.
And if that so-called corruption has rendered the current monitoring system ineffectual or untrustworthy, it might have to be modified.
Duncan said he may appoint an outside monitor not associated with Corizon or the Department of Corrections to take over the monitoring process.
Information from: Arizona Capitol Times, http://www.arizonacapitoltimes.com