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Old 11-24-2008, 09:53 PM
msearp99 msearp99 is offline
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Default News story - Prison deaths almost to the top

Miss. inmate deaths near top

PEER report found state's prisoners didn't always get timely medical care

Chris Joyner
chris.joyner@jackson.gannett.com

State prisoners in Mississippi are sick and dying at one of the highest rates in the nation.
Mississippi's inmate mortality rate was second in the nation in 2006, the most recent year for which national data are available. And according to a review of state-level reports, Mississippi's mortality rate rose in 2007.
It's a situation that is raising legal concerns with lawmakers and moral questions with prison-reform advocates.
Mississippi Department of Corrections officials say the high rate of in-custody deaths is the result of a number of factors: aging prisoners, drug and alcohol abuse prior to incarceration and the generally unhealthy lifestyles of Mississippians.
But Patti Barber, executive director of the prison-reform group Mississippi CURE, said the state does a poor job of looking after the chronic health needs of inmates.
"We are getting tons of letters from inmates, for instance, who have been diagnosed with diabetes. They are not getting their (blood) sugar checked daily, as they are supposed to," she said. "Things just plain aren't getting done."
That is what the Mississippi Legislature's Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review found last December when it released a report on inmate health care. The PEER report found inmates did not receive timely medical treatment from MDOC's medical contractor, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, and that Wexford did not meet medical care standards set forth under its contract with the state.
In addition, the PEER committee found Wexford did not adhere to its own standards in following up on inmates with chronic health problems.
Wexford, which took over inmate care in 2006, referred all questions to MDOC. Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said he is satisfied with the contractor's performance.
Not maintaining suitable health care puts the state in greater legal liability, said Rep. Harvey Moss, D-Corinth, chairman of the PEER committee when the report on inmate health care was released.
"We're trying to keep the inmate care up and keep the state out of trouble from a lack-of-care standpoint," he said.
A search of the federal court system found more than a dozen open lawsuits filed by inmates against MDOC on medical issues.
A Clarion-Ledger analysis of inmate death data found the number of prisoners dying increased in 2003 and reaching its peak last year with 78 deaths. The system is projected to lose another 64 inmates this year, based on the rate of deaths.
Mississippi is second only to Tennessee in per-capita deaths among inmates, based on the latest national data. Five years earlier, the state ranked 23rd and was at the national average.
"It alarms me very much," Barber said of the inmate death rate. "We have to find out where this responsibility is falling between the cracks."
The Clarion-Ledger analysis found half of the inmates who died in custody were 51 years old or older and the vast majority died of natural causes. Half died within the first two years of their confinement.
Cancer and heart disease were the most common causes of death, but the death reports for many of the inmates listed multiple medical problems. The report for one offender who died in February 2007 at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl listed pneumonia, coronary artery disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as contributing factors.
Moss said the PEER committee members were concerned about the amount of time it took for a sick inmate to see a medical professional.
"It's hard to get a handle on it, to be honest. I know that cost is always a factor," he said.
As in the free world, health-care costs are becoming an ever-larger part of the MDOC budget. From 2001 to 2007, the cost of prisoner health care in Mississippi rose 32 percent.
In the last fiscal year, Epps said MDOC spent $50.8 million on inmate health care.
While violent causes of death were not as common as disease, Mississippi was well above the national average there, too.
MDOC had three inmate homicides in 2007, giving the system a per-capita rate three times the national average. The system's 10 suicides last year was 40 percent higher than the national average.
Two months ago, Ricky Sykes, who was a year and a half into a four-year term for felony DUI, collapsed and died following a fistfight with another inmate in the State Penitentiary at Parchman. Cynthia Sykes, Ricky Sykes' niece, said MDOC told her family nothing about the fight.
"We had no idea that that is what happened," she said shortly after her uncle's death. "All we were told was that he passed out and never came to."
The Sykes' family learned the details of Ricky Sykes' death after a brief story appeared in The Clarion-Ledger. Cynthia Sykes said prison can change people, but the uncle she knew was no fighter.
"He would cry or turn (away) before he would fight," she said.
The Sykes family has since hired an attorney.
Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said Sykes' death was a "trickier case" than most because of his pre-existing medical condition.
"He had a heart condition, and he had been in a fight with another inmate," she said. "The fight, with the blunt-force trauma, induced a heart attack, so it was ruled a homicide. He had lots of heart problems."
Epps said the overall poor health of inmates entering the system and their advancing age contribute to the higher death rate. Over the course of the decade, the number of inmates over 60 increased 83 percent, from 263 to 480, he said.
"When you combine this with mandatory sentences, habitual sentences, a population entering prison that is not healthy anyway - 70 percent has an alcohol or drug problem or both, (the average education) level is sixth grade - this is what you end up (with)," Epps said.
Max Arinder, executive director of the PEER committee, said he is cautiously optimistic that there has been progress since last year's report. Arinder said MDOC and Wexford have agreed to a new medical information system that will keep closer tabs on chronically ill inmates.
The PEER committee plans to follow up in 2009 to see what changes have been made, he said.
"Those negotiations for those contracts and system were at such an early stage of development that PEER really reserves opinion on whether we have solved the problem," he said.
Additional Facts facts Ranking:

In 2006, the last year in which national comparative statistics are available, Mississippi had the second-highest inmate mortality rate in the nation.

Five years earlier, it had been 23rd.

In 2007, the number of Mississippi inmates who died in custody increased 34 percent.

The most recent data (2008) suggests a projected drop to 2005 levels, but still up over levels at the state of the decade.

Facts about deaths:

Half of all deaths occur within the first two years of confinement.

Median age of inmates is 51.

93 percent of all deaths are from natural causes.

Mississippi's violent death rate in 2007 was more than three times the national average.

Suicide rate was 40 percent greater than the national rate.

Source: Analysis by Chris Joyner based on MDOC records



11.23.08

link:http://www.clarionledger.com/article...3/-1/frontpage
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  #2  
Old 11-24-2008, 10:14 PM
Davids Davids is offline
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This is an article in the DeSoto Times Online Dated November 24, 2008.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's inmate mortality rate was second in the nation two years ago and the executive director of a prison-reform group says the state is doing a poor job of looking after the chronic health needs of its prisoners.

Mississippi Department of Corrections officials say the high rate of in-custody deaths is the result of a number of factors: aging prisoners, drug and alcohol abuse prior to incarceration and generally unhealthy lifestyles.

But Patti Barber, executive director of the prison-reform group Mississippi CURE, says her group has been getting letters from inmates that point to inadequate medical care.
Mississippi was second only to Tennessee in per-capita deaths among inmates in 2006, based on the latest data available. Five years earlier, Mississippi ranked 23rd.
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Old 11-25-2008, 12:53 AM
Waiting4MyLuv Waiting4MyLuv is offline
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Epps' comments make me sick. How much more non-caring could one person be? I wish he'd man-up and admit there's a problem!!
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:35 AM
msearp99 msearp99 is offline
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11/25/08 next Clarion Ledger story
http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pb...=2008811250322

Inmates: Death sentence? Or free health care?

The Clarion-Ledger

According to The Clarion-Ledger's review of prison statistics, Mississippi's inmate mortality rate was second in the nation in 2006 and worsened in 2007.
The picture revealed by the numbers is that prisoners in Mississippi are sick and dying at one of the highest rates in the nation, raising the question: Is a sentence to a Mississippi prison a death sentence?
Mississippi Department of Corrections officials say the high rate of in-custody deaths is the result of a number of factors: aging prisoners, drug and alcohol abuse prior to incarceration and the generally unhealthy lifestyles of Mississippians.
Prison advocates say that health care in Mississippi's prisons is simply inadequate.
The answer is probably a mixture of both.
But the question the public and those in charge of public policy must address is: How much is the system willing to spend for the health care needs of criminals?
And what should be done to both ensure inmates are being treated humanely, while not also bankrupting the government?
It's true that Mississippi routinely ranks at or near the top in obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardio-vascular problems among its general population.
Add to that list the fact that most inmates are chemically dependent when they land in prison, from drugs or alcohol, with health problems ranging from liver, heart and lung problems, to poor diet and dental disease, and it's no wonder prisons are not models of health, whatever the amenities provided.
This problem of providing health care to inmates is not confined to state prisons.
Last year, Board of Supervisors President Peggy Calhoun grimly joked that "free" health care is already here, courtesy of the taxpayers of Hinds County, to all who are incarcerated at the jail.
Hinds has inmates being treated for maladies such as renal failure, deviated septum, HIV/AIDS, anemia, paranoid schizophrenia, knee replacement and Hepatitis C, reports Sheriff Malcolm McMillin.
The budget for county inmate care exceeds $2 million annually, but has gone over budget. It recently paid a $400,000 medical bill to Central Mississippi Medical Center for an inmate who suffered a stroke or had a possible heart problem.
Certainly, adequate care must be provided.
The Legislature's watchdog Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee reported last year that inmates did not receive timely medical treatment from MDOC's medical contractor, Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources.
That must be remedied.
Hinds officials and the courts try to get sick, nonviolent inmates out on bond before trial when it makes sense to do it, McMillin has said. Is it possible for sick state inmates to get a "get out of jail free" card, too?
It is ironic that those who are supposed to be punished for crimes can get paid health care that law-abiding folk cannot afford.
Until the United States adopts universal health care as the law of the land, the government will have to reserve it for the few.
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Old 11-25-2008, 08:37 AM
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11/25/08
http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pb...=2008811250371

Paroles pushed up to cut jail expenses

Inmates also will be removed from county jails, private prisons

Jimmie E. Gates
jgates@clarionledger.com

About 300 state inmates will be removed from county jails, 154 from regional jails and 50 from private prisons beginning as early as January as the Mississippi Department of Corrections trims its budget by $6.5 million.
MDOC will further reduce cost by increasing the number of inmates on house arrest and parole. Roughly 1,225 inmates are on house arrest and 3,000 are on parole.
"We have sent a list of 2,900 nonviolent inmates to the Parole Board," Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps said of those who could be considered for early parole.
However, Epps said the public can be assured safety won't be jeopardized.
Gov. Haley Barbour has mandated most state agencies and departments trim budgets by 2 percent this fiscal year because of a projected revenue shortfall. The budget year ends June 30.
With an annual budget of $346 million, MDOC is one of the state's largest agencies.
The removal of the 300 inmates from the 60 county jails will save about $176,000, Epps said. The state has roughly 1,500 inmates in county jails.
MDOC pays counties $20 per- day, per inmate. The Legislature sets that figure.
Epps said he will remove 50 prisoners from private prisons, saving about $1.6 million. The state pays a minimum of $31.70 per day, per inmate to house prisoners in private prisons. There are more than 5,300 state inmates in private prisons.
Steve Owens, a spokesman for Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America, said it's too early to tell what impact it might have if the state removes inmates from the company's two private prisons in Mississippi.
CCA operates three prisons in Mississippi, but the Tallahatchie facility doesn't have Mississippi inmates. It houses prisoners from other states, including California.
MDOC also will remove 154 inmates from the state's 11 regional correctional facilities. Most of the 11 facilities each incarcerates 280 state inmates.
Holmes County Sheriff Willie March said removal of some inmates from the Holmes-Humphreys County/Regional Correctional Facility wouldn't have a great impact.
"I think we will be able to survive," March said. "I didn't hire any additional personnel when we started housing state inmates."
In addition to those cuts, MDOC has removed 84 vehicles from its inventory, Epps said. The vehicles will be sold at auction. MDOC had about 675 vehicles on its inventory.
The department is also looking at releasing from prison individuals with severe medical conditions.
"We have 50 now on medical parole," Epps said.
Those released on medical parole will still be under the supervision of MDOC.
The benefit to the state is that the inmates won't be officially in custody and the state wouldn't be responsible for their medical care.
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Old 11-26-2008, 11:26 AM
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"When you combine this with mandatory sentences, habitual sentences, a population entering prison that is not healthy anyway - 70 percent has an alcohol or drug problem or both, (the average education) level is sixth grade - this is what you end up (with)," Epps said.



This should make it easier for us to get the S.B230 1993, 1972 Mandatory Sentence turned around, Mr. Epps Himself just stated in the interview above, that that was part of the problem...

The more awareness we can get out there the better! The timing for all our voices to be heard is now!!!
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Old 11-28-2008, 07:44 PM
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Default Safety must be first in releasing inmates

http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/a...ON01/811280349



November 28, 2008

Safety must be first in releasing inmates

In a move that will have ramifications across the state, the Mississippi Department of Corrections will release state inmates from county and regional jails and private prisons as the department prepares to cut $6.5 million from its budget.
The budget cuts are mandated by Gov. Haley Barbour in response to a dip in state revenues. With an annual budget of $346 million, the Department of Corrections is one of the state's biggest agencies.
The department said it would release 300 inmates from county jails, 154 from regional jails and 50 from private prisons beginning as early as January.
To put that in some perspective, the state has approximately 1,500 inmates in county jails, 3,080 in regional jails and 5,300 inmates in private prisons.
In addition, it will put more inmates on house arrest and parole.
Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps told the Clarion-Ledger Monday that a list of 2,900 nonviolent inmates have been sent to the Parole Board for consideration of early parole.
Epps says public safety won't be jeopardized as he takes this action.


However, releasing these many inmates begs the question: If these are low-risk inmates, why are state taxpayers paying for their incarceration to begin with? It shouldn't take a budget emergency to consider alternatives such as house arrest.
We trust that the safety of Mississippi citizens is the first and foremost consideration as the decision is made on whom to release. And we also think it's a good time for the state to look at reintegration and rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders that probably cost a lot less than prison.


I added the bold.

Why are they taking so long to release the ones who have been approved for parole? And according to what I have been told repeatedly, approximately 7000 are eligible under the new law. Everyone that is eligible gets a parole eligibility date of April 7 2008!
Checking MDOC's website statistics and my math, from April to Nov 1, 08, approximately 503 have been released on parole. Which ones are they supposedly releasing beginning in January? I have heard there are guys in the satellites who have been granted parole but still have not been released. What about the satellites, are they considered regional jails? Anyone have any info.
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:20 PM
patticake patticake is offline
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I know the paperwork is slowing down the release process. The detail to properly close out a prison file is very detailed, and I'm sure they are doing things so they don't come back and get bit in the derrier! As slow as they are on everything else, I really think they are moving along quite well for a Gov agency.
I'm not sure about the ones beginning Jan...but I'm sure Jonathan will...Also the number of reentry programs in the state of Mississippi is very sad....and these inmates have to have somewhere to go ..if they don't have family or sponsors to live with.
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:34 PM
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"Death Sentence or the Free Health Care"...they are all missing the point, we as taxpayers are paying for a health care provider for the MDOC .... and we are not getting what we as the tax payers are paying for according to, Weltex and their own guidelines...
It has nothing to do with being liberal, conservative or inmates or not...we as taxpayers are not getting what we are paying for from a private contractor to the state of MS. period.
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