Wagner Criticizes Health Services at County Jail

Dec 5, 2014

“This is the most damning audit in terms of the findings in my tenure,” says Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

The controller is referring to an audit of Corizon, the Tennessee-based firm contracted to manage the infirmary and health care for inmates at the County Jail. Corizon provides health services at other jails and prisons across the country, including Rikers in New York

Wagner said Corizon, which is paid $11 million a year, is failing to provide clinical care to inmates. 

“When they’re not getting the proper care, it can create a very unstable environment at the jail that impacts everybody else’s health including the other inmates and including the employees who work there,” she said.

The controller also faults Corizon for not keeping complete medical records for inmates, especially for when they transition back into society. 

“In the health care area they are to get basically records and referrals to they can have some continuity of care, know how they’ve been treated or what medication they had at the jail,” she said.

Wagner said she was never in favor of the decision last year to dissolve the former nonprofit that provided health services at the jail. 

“They were not perfect, but I would make the argument based on this report that they were doing a much better job than Corizon is,” she said.

There has been no comment from Corizon. The company has until Dec. 10 to respond to the controller’s findings, and then Wagner will issue a final report the week of Dec. 15. But she knows one recommendation she’ll make — more stringent supervision. 

“What I see here in many of our findings is there isn’t proper oversight," Wagner said. "We’ve basically just handed over the responsibility of the care of the jail, and there is not a proper structure to monitor what is being done."