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AZ Prisons, Under Fire On Health Care, Face Questionable Choice

February 17, 2012 10:15:45 am

The Arizona Department of Corrections, under orders to privatize its troubled prison health-care system, faces a questionable choice, says the Arizona Republic. The department is expected soon to award a three-year contract to provide medical and mental-health care for the nearly 34,000 inmates in Arizona's 10 state-run prisons. The state must choose between two companies with checkered records and a third company that has no track record in correctional health care.

Corizon Inc. of Brentwood, Tn., a privately held company, is the country's largest provider of correctional medical care, operating at 400 prisons and jails in 31 states, with a total prison population of about 400,000. Corizon formed last June from a merger of fierce rivals, both of which repeatedly ran into problems providing adequate health care in other states. As soon as next week, a legal coalition representing Arizona inmates is expected to file suit  alleging that the state has systematically and unconstitutionally denied medical care to inmates for weeks or months even for severe, life-threatening conditions.

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