Months after he landed in Florida’s Manatee County Jail, Jovon Frazier’s pleas for treatment of intense pain in his left shoulder were met mostly with advice that he take Tylenol.
“I need to see a doctor!” he wrote on his eighth request form. “I done put a lot of sick calls in & ya’ll keep sending me back and ain’t tell me nothing.”
Four months later, after Frazier’s 13th request resulted in hospitalization and doctors diagnosed bone cancer, his arm was amputated, according to a lawsuit by his family.
But the cancer spread. Frazier died in 2011 at age 21, months after his release.
As an inmate, his medical care had been managed not by the county sheriff’s office that runs the jail, but by a private company under contract.
That company, Corizon Health Inc., is under growing pressure after losing prison contracts in Maine and four other states, seeing its credit rating downgraded by analysts and being the target of increased scrutiny of how it cares for inmates. Corizon, responsible for 345,000 inmates in 27 states, is the country’s biggest for-profit correctional health provider, but is just one of many firms vying for billions of public dollars spent on prisoner care.
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“We get letters from prisoners about medical care not being provided and the list is endless. And it’s increased tremendously since Corizon took over,” said Randall Berg, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute, who represents inmates petitioning for care.