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Corizon Health
Founded2011 (2011)
United States
Revenue$1.5 billion in 2015 [1] Edit this on Wikidata

Corizon Health, Inc., formed by a 2011 merger of Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (CMS) and Prison Health Services, Inc. (PHS), is the "foremost" privately held prison healthcare contractor in the United States.[2] The company provides healthcare and pharmacy services (PharmaCorr) to approximately 98 clients in 26 U.S. states, including 518 state prisons, municipal jails, and other facilities. Serving over 332,000 inmates, Corizon Health offers dental, mental health, optometry services, and substance abuse treatment as well as general healthcare.[3] The company is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee.[4]


CMS became Corizon Health, Inc., in 2011,[citation needed] after essentially merging its operations with PHS Correctional Healthcare (previously known as Prison Health Services, Inc.), its largest competitor in the correctional health care industry. PHS's headquarters, in Brentwood, Tennessee, is now the headquarters for Corizon Health.[citation needed]


Corizon was sued for malpractice 660 times between 2011 and 2016.[5][6]

Corizon Health, like its predecessors CMS and PHS, and its competitors, along with self-operated correctional health programs, has faced criticism from government officials, public-health advocates and experts for being more concerned with maintaining lucrative government contracts than effectively treating sick inmates, who are considered the most chronically and profoundly physically and mentally ill members of any society.[7] In 2005, The New York Times published investigative articles that revealed broad complaints about Corizon's corporate predecessor, PHS, from officials, medical experts and its own employees about the companies treatment of the incarcerated people in its care.[8] Civil rights organizations such as the ACLU claim Corizon puts profits ahead of the healthcare of inmates.[9] David Fathi, the director of the ACLU National Prison Project, in response to the June 2010 death of inmate Xavius Scullark-Johnson at the Minnesota Correctional Facility – Rush City (served by Corizon), said, "We believe that incarceration is a uniquely governmental function that should never be contracted out to private, for-profit corporations. When you combine the profit motive with limited oversight and an unpopular, politically powerless group like prisoners, it's a recipe for bad outcomes."[10]

The Maine Department of Corrections selected CMS as a party to begin a contract with in early April 2003.[11] However, a 2011 Report by the Maine State Legislature Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability revealed serious deficiencies in the care provided to Maine prisoners by CMS.[12] It cited issues with administration of medication, improperly maintained medical files, delays in provision of care and insufficiently trained staff. In June 2012, the Maine Department of Corrections terminated its contract with CMS.

At one time the Mississippi Department of Corrections contracted with CMS which provided health care services at county and state-owned Mississippi DOC facilities.[13] CMS's contract began on July 1, 2003.[14] A three-year contract, to Wexford Health Sources awarded in 2006, was for $95 million. It was to provide medical, mental health, pharmacy, rehabilitation, utilization management, claims processing and technology services to more than 14,000 Mississippi prisoners at 34 facilities statewide.[15] The contracts for the state's four for-profit prisons which held MDOC inmates subsequently went sequentially went to a Jackson, Mississippi provider, one who paid substantial bribes to MDOC Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps. In 2016 Epps was indicted for taking close to $2 million in bribes from a number of contractors.

Corizon currently operates Arizona's prison healthcare system and has been criticized for inadequate staffing and neglect by former employees and the ACLU. A former Corizon employee turned whistleblower claims that staff shortages resulted in mentally ill prisoners going unfed or sitting for hours at a time in their own excrement; in some cases prisoners died from lack of proper treatment. Dan Pochoda, legal director for the ACLU in Arizona, said the healthcare system in Arizona prisons is the worst he has seen in his 40-year career. “People are often sent to prison for two-year, three-year sentences that have turned into death sentences because of the absence of the basic minimal care,” he said.[16]

Another former Corizon employee, psychotherapist George Mallinckrodt, claims he was fired as retaliation for writing reports on inmate abuse. Corizon claims the discharge was due to falsifying timesheets in order to take longer lunches.[17] Mallinckrodt has since written a book about the alleged torture and murder of Darren Rainey by guards at Dade Correctional Institution which occurred while Corizon provided mental health services at the facility, but after Mallinckrodt had been fired.[18]

Corizon provided medical care at the Washington County (Oregon) Jail, where inmate Madaline Pitkin died on April 24, 2014 after going through heroin withdrawal. Multiple employees of Corizon responsible for Pitkin's care allegedly made mistakes in care, such as not responding to Pitkin's complaints about withdrawal, misrecording dates of care, failure to follow protocols for regular blood pressure measurements, inability to complete blood pressure measurements, and inability to communicate with attending physicians and nurses. Pitkin also collapsed several times during her stay at the jail, but she was not transported to an outside medical facility.

Washington County conducted an audit of Corizon's performance as medical provider for the jail, and determined that Corizon failed to staff the jail with a registered nurse approximately 20% of the time they were required to. Five months after the audit was completed, Washington County replaced Corizon with NaphCare, a competing correctional medical services company. According to a county spokesperson, most of the former Corizon employees are no longer working at the jail. [19] [20]

In May 2016, the company lost its contract with the state of New Mexico. The firm paid more than $4.5 million to settle lawsuits brought by the state. Most of the suits, press reports indicate were related to a single doctor who was accused of sexually abusing inmates at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility in Santa Rosa and the Northeast New Mexico Detention Facility in Clayton. Other payments were for two deaths of inmates.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Neate, Rupert (2016-06-16). "Welcome to Jail, Inc". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  2. ^ "About Corizon Health". Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  3. ^ "Corizon Health, Inc.: quotes & news - Google Finance". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  4. ^ "Corizon Correctional Healthcare". Retrieved 2015-08-19.
  5. ^ "Prison healthcare companies shouldn't profit off denying needed care". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  6. ^ "Wexford Health Archives - Florida Bulldog". Florida Bulldog. Retrieved 2017-10-20.
  7. ^ City questioned over prison-health-care firm. Philadelphia Daily News, Jan. 10, 2013
  8. ^ Harsh Medicine: An examination of Prison Health Services, the biggest commercial provider of medical care to inmates The New York Times, 2005.
  9. ^ Liliana Segura (1 October 2013).With 2.3 Million People Incarcerated in the US, Prisons Are Big Business. The Nation. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  10. ^ Simon McCormack (26 June 2012). Xavius Scullark-Johnson, Prisoner, Dies After He's Denied Health Care. The Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  11. ^ Goodman, Giselle. "Prisons have new contractor for health care." Portland Press Herald. April 26, 2003. 1B. Retrieved on August 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Maine State Legislature, Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability. "Health Care Services in State Correctional Facilities" (PDF). Maine State Legislature. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  13. ^ "Medical Services." Mississippi Department of Corrections. December 21, 2003. Retrieved on August 14, 2010.
  14. ^ "Critics: Death row is causing insanity." Associated Press at Gainesville Sun. April 25, 2003. 2A. Retrieved from Google News Page 25 of 93 on August 14, 2010.
  15. ^ Briefs: Comcast eyeing Findlay site for office space, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 1, 2006. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  16. ^ Abigail Leonard & Adam May (28 May 2014). Whistleblower: Arizona inmates are dying from inadequate health care. Al Jazeera America. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
  17. ^ Is it OK for guards to scald an inmate to death?
  18. ^ Florida prisons boss, under fire over shower death, announces changes
  19. ^ Rebecca Woolington (10 April 2016). Jail inmate described feeling 'near death' twice before she collapsed in cell. The Oregonian. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  20. ^ Rebecca Woolington (10 April 2016). Dying alone: A jail inmate's health spiraled for 7 days and no one stopped it The Oregonian. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  21. ^ Haywood, Phaedra (29 June 2016). "Corizon paid $4.5M to settle inmate lawsuits". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved 30 June 2016.

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