DOC, service providers refute SPLC report on prison health care - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

DOC, service providers refute SPLC report on prison health care

Commissioner Kim Thomas (File Photo) Commissioner Kim Thomas (File Photo)

Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas and two companies contracted to provide health services to inmates in Alabama prisons are refuting allegations in a report released by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program.

The report claims the Alabama prison system is violating federal law by not providing adequate medical care to prisoners.

MHM and Corizon provide medical and mental health services in state prisons.

"The Report issued by the SPLC is not an accurate representation of the Alabama prison system or the respective roles of MHM or Corizon within the system," said a joint statement from the companies in part. "More importantly, the Report is an affront to the excellence, dedication and compassion displayed by the individuals working within the Alabama prison system. Without these individuals, the Alabama prison system would fail."

DOC Commissioner Thomas released the following statement Wednesday:

"The Alabama Department of Corrections is proud of the health care we provide to inmates, health care which costs Alabamians millions of dollars each year and is better than health care given to most uninsured Alabamians. We have allowed the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program to come into our institutions, and permitted access to our facilities, records and offender interviews for more than two years in an effort to work with them on a variety of concerns related to the prison system. We met with the SPLC and ADAP recently regarding their concerns after receiving a letter containing much of the same information included in their report. With an interest in working to resolve their concerns, we asked for clarification and additional information so we could fully understand their concerns and investigate the information they claimed to have received. Our requests for clarification and more information were, however, emphatically denied.

We are disappointed that we were not allowed more information so we could look into certain allegations raised in the report. We are still reviewing the report and have passed the information on to Corizon and MHM. MHM and Corizon have informed me that many of the allegations in the report are grossly inaccurate and appear to be based on incomplete information.

 As Governor Bentley stated yesterday, my door is open to the SPLC and ADAP if they wish to cooperate with our department in resolving the concerns raised in their report. Regardless of how they proceed, this department will remain committed to ensuring that every individual incarcerated in our system is confined in an environment that complies with the United States Constitution."

After the DOC released it's response, Maria Morris, managing attorney of the SPLC's Montgomery Legal Office, released this statement:

"We are surprised and disappointed to hear that the Alabama Department of Corrections is proud of the health care delivered to prisoners, despite the systemic problems we have documented. They've known about the problems for years. We recognize that prison officials have to say some things for public consumption, but we are concerned about the commitment of officials to bring the standards up to a humane and constitutional level."

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