The Ill in Arizona's Privatized Prison Health System Ordered to "Be Patient or Pray"
Date:  09-15-2014

In too many cases, neither directive worked
When the American Civil Liberties Union hired doctors to serve as expert witnesses in their class action lawsuit against the state of Arizona over the poor medical treatment of sick people in its prison system, they expected that the doctors would find troubling instances of neglect. But, what the expert witnesses found was beyond troubling. Think Progress reports one doctor as stating "In my more than three decades of doing this work, I have never seen such callous disregard demonstrated over and over again."

The following article was published by Think Progress on September 11, 2014.

Doctors Say Arizona Prisons Mocked Sick Inmates, Left Stroke Victims in Soiled Diapers for Weeks

By Aviva Shen

Arizona’s privatized prison healthcare system routinely abuses and ignores sick and mentally ill inmates, according to newly released confidential reports from doctors who visited prisons and reviewed inmates’ medical records. The experts are serving as witnesses in a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and expected to go to trial this fall.

The physicians described a dysfunctional health care system that withheld important medications, ignored serious warning signs and denied inmates’ pleas for medical care. Many inmates became seriously ill and even died of treatable diseases. One patient who repeatedly complained of intense pain and disorientation was allegedly mocked for “faking” his symptoms. He eventually died of lung cancer which was not diagnosed until a few days before his death. Another prisoner died of AIDS-related pneumonia after prison staff ignored his requests for an HIV test. Others waited months for vital surgeries or prescriptions.

One sick inmate said he fell and was left on the floor for three to five hours. “I would just like to feel safe and not fall. That’s all,” he told one of the visiting doctors.

"In my more than three decades of doing this work, I have never seen such callous disregard demonstrated over and over again," Dr. Robert Cohen wrote in his report.

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