Alabama Department of Corrections Healthcare is a Joke and thats not the half of it…

Alabama Department of Corrections likes to put out numbers concerning the amount they spend on inmates healthcare, but they are lies. We have to fill out a sick call for each thing that is wrong with us, and pay $4.00 each time. Any over the counter medicine given to us costs $4.00 for each medicine.

Alabama Department of Corrections Healthcare is a Joke
Alabama Department of Corrections Healthcare is a Joke

For example, if we sign up for a cold, we are charged $4.00 for the visit, $4.00 for the Ibuprofen, $4.00 for the Sinus pills, and $4.00 for the decongestant. They rarely give out antibiotics. We have to sign up at least 3x before we can see the nurse practitioner or Doctor. When we have an accessed tooth, they put us on the Dental waiting list, sometimes it takes 2 months before you see the Dentist, and then you have to be given antibiotics to get rid of the infection, before the tooth can be pulled.

We’ve had girls with their cheeks swollen 3x the normal size because of an accessed tooth and yet health care will not let them see the Doctor to get started on an antibiotic, whilst waiting to see the Dentist.

Those on chronic care for high blood pressure, have to pay $4.00 if we feel that our blood pressure is up and ask to have our blood pressure checked. If you complain about the healthcare at Montgomery Women’s Facility too much, they will send you back to Tutwiler, where no one wants to go. Its their way of punishing us for speaking out against their mistreatment. We call healthcare, deathcare and most of us try to avoid their type of care.

Correctional Medical Services, which later became Corizon, held the contract from 2007 to 2012. ADOC awarded Corizon the healthcare contract in 2012, through to Sept. 30, 2017, under extension, it was the only company to submit a bid. The $181 million extension will bring the total cost of the contract to $405 million. State funds pay 100 percent of the cost. So why the hell are inmates forced to pay for each appointment despite having to wait in some cases months to see a healthcare professional and then pay extortionate prices for over the counter medicine which cost pennies in the free world and where the hell are they supposed to get the money from in the first place?

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program have sued Alabama Department of Corrections, over the failure to provide adequate medical care, mental health care and accommodations for the disabled violates the constitution and federal law. Despite ADOC claiming their “healthcare” is adequate, it has agreed to improve conditions for inmates with disabilities, the lawsuit is ongoing and in fact, The SPLC, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and the law firm of Baker Donelson have asked a federal judge to certify its lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) as a class action, which would allow rulings in the case over the inadequate medical and mental health care of 43 prisoners named in the lawsuit to apply to the 25,000 people held in a prison system that has had one of the highest mortality rates in the country.

 

Despite talks of reform, Alabama’s prisons remain deplorable

Article Originally published here on January 09, 2017 at 3:35 PM, updated January 09, 2017 at 3:39 PM
Inmates sitting on their bunks in a dorm in Julia Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)
Inmates sitting on their bunks in a dorm in Julia Tutwiler Prison in Wetumpka. (Julie Bennett/jbennett@al.com)

By Dr. Larry F. Wood, retired clinical and correctional psychologist

I spoke out on the prison reform issue two years ago after working in Tutwiler women’s prison as a prison psychologist. Even after 25 years of professional experience in prisons, I was unprepared for the immensity of the problems. In particular, mental health and medical care were severely inadequate. The administration of the prison was unprofessional and abusive. Two years ago, I described the prison environment as a culture of abuse.

In the past two years, a federal investigation has continued and a trial is under way. The State of Alabama continues to deny that the conditions are unconstitutional. No substantial improvements or program changes have been announced. Governor Bentley has focused on borrowing money to build more prisons.

I have been disappointed that little seems to have happened over the past two years. State Senator Cam Ward has spoken eloquently on the subject, but there seems to be no political will to address the problem directly.

One core of the problem is the simple overuse of imprisonment to deal with social problems other than aggressive criminality. The most extreme example is mental illness. State hospitals were closed because of abusive conditions and now, most of the seriously mentally ill in our state are in prisons. Many other inmates are intellectually inadequate, socially unskilled, or drug addicted. Many were traumatized by a lifetime of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Prisons were initially used to control and punish the overtly dangerous. Their role has been expanded over many years to include the chronically disruptive in society. Such people are arrested numerous times and are backed up in county jails, waiting for beds to house them in prison. Prison, as a punisher, is not appropriate or effective for many such inmates.

Simply stated, Alabama’s prisons are overcrowded because too many people are being held in expensive, high security lockups. If our prisons were reduced to recommended population levels, they could be operated safely and professionally. Minimum security facilities with focused treatment and programs would be far less expensive than prisons for most inmates.

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Mental illness and depression – An untitled letter from an inmate at Montgomery Women’s Facility

In the middle of a major breakdown…while attempting to quit smoking…I was trying to hear the voice of God…I wanted to hear “I love you”…Instead i hear the laughter of demons, taunting me…telling me that i am not loved…I am alone, I am forgotten…God is not real…look around…These women have been crying out to him for years…decades…Do you truly believe he’ll come to rescue you?

Mental illness and depression - An untitled letter from an inmate at Montgomery Women's Facility
Mental illness and depression – An untitled letter from an inmate at Montgomery Women’s Facility

He has yet to answer their call for help…You are ugly, unwanted, stupid, evil and poor…You are lower than any bit of scum on the earth. When the Officer yelled at me, I snapped…Instantly…I went back to hiding behind the couch…watching my dad scream at my mom and choke her, mercilessly…I tried to isolate myself to prevent this from happening…I tried to free my mind from the demons that held it hostage…I tried to rid myself of the memories of my dead best friend and her brutal murder…

I tried to lift myself out of depression caused by hearing my little sisters call for help…She’s homeless with a 7 year old and a 2 week old baby…She’s also trying to heal from the abuse from her new borns father…I don’t understand…Why do we have to pay for everything we’ve done wrong? Why do we have to pay for the pain that others have caused us? My dad doesn’t have to pay for abusing me, my siblings and my mom…my dad’s sister doesn’t have to pay for molesting me when i was 4 years old…The 2 men that raped me while i was drunk don’t have to pay…The man that raped and sodomized me doesn’t have to pay either…I do. And i continue to lose while paying big.

It doesn’t matter what i do…good or bad. I never win. I keep trying to move forward from the past…Its hard…These Officers are paid to make sure I’m “Safe and secure” but, they only come for one reason and one reason only: To abuse me, continually. I have no room for error, their rules change constantly and each Officer has their “Personal” set of rules…90% of the staff is authoritarian, so even asking them for a basic need angers them…They’ll just start barking commands. Theres nowhere to run, hide or turn…Mental health will only keep telling me I’m “Psychotic”…Im safest in my bed…The very place my soul began to die…The only thing i can do is pray the same prayer I’ve prayed, way before i thought about committing a crime: “Dear Jesus, please take my life…I don’t want to be selfish and take my own life, so please Lord, let me die…Amen”.

Letter transcribed by admin