May 31, 2014

It's Time to Put Corizon Health, Inc. Under a Magnifying Glass Regarding Inmate Abuse

Since Julie Brown broke the story about the scalding death of Darren Rainey, there has been an intense focus on the lackluster efforts of the Florida Department of Corrections, Miami Metro Homicide, and the Medical Examiner's office to resolve his case and bring his killers to justice. However, there is another player in this story that has received scant attention, namely, Corizon Health, Inc.

I sent six letters on Friday, May 30th to key Corizon executives regarding Corizon's lack of any guidelines, protocols, directives and/or trainings for the reporting of inmate abuse. I wrote the original letter over six months ago. I've been reluctant to send it earlier for fear of retribution given corporate America has a bad track record when it comes to the treatment of whistleblowers. A copy of the letter has been posted to my blog:

Corizon Health, Inc. had no guidelines for the reporting of inmate abuse. There was no training at all for mental health staff and no section in the employee manual mentioning inmate abuse. This from a company that declares itself the Industry Leader. A search for the term 'inmate abuse' on their website leads to a page titled, Specialized DOC and Jail Modules that has nothing to do with inmate abuse. Clicking a link on this page called, A Culture of Patient Safety - a grand euphemism if ever there was one - brings up a page that describes a partnership with the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF). I was incredulous when I read their self-serving rhetoric about how committed Corizon was to patient safety. Incensed might be more accurate. I wonder if the NPSF really knew how poorly Corizon treats inmates. Incidentally, a modicum of surfing the internet yielded tons of bad press nationwide regarding Corizon practices. Try Googling "Corizon Deaths" for starters.
Concerning the beating of inmate Joseph Swilling, I took the issue to a morning staff meeting and was met with silence. We all knew guards beat him, yet I was the only one who wanted to talk about it. What bothered me then, as it still does now, was that when I asked the Senior Psychologist/Site Manager/Supervisor if she had contacted Corizon about the beating, she answered, "Why should I do that?" She looked at me as if I asked the most ridiculous question in the world. In my mind, the unit was spiraling out of control and she was doing nothing to reign it in.

By that morning meeting, this supervisor had already heard the eye witness account of Swilling's beating from an unlicensed registered intern and the intern's insistence of writing on the Incident Report that she didn't see anything. The intern's concerns that guards would retaliate against her were well founded. The two of them signed off on the falsified report despite DOC rules to the contrary. Their signatures effectively put a wax seal on a cover up.   

I believe mental health and medical staff are in effect, the 'Checks and Balances' in the prison system. Clearly, the Florida DOC has a 'stick our heads in the sand' mentality paired with a 'cover up' strategy for inconvenient truths. We cannot trust the DOC to regulate themselves. Why should the burden of reporting inmate abuse fall on people like me and the inmate Harold Hempstead? Private contractors such as Corizon should have a 'Zero Tolerance' policy with regard to inmate abuse. If Secretaries of DOCs, Wardens, Administrators, and most importantly guards, knew that Corizon staffers were required to report abuse or get fired, I think inmate abuse would be greatly reduced.

Had reporting protocols been in place when I started working for Corizon, the beating of Swilling and the murder of Rainey may well have been avoided. We cannot count on spineless prison bureaucrats to do the right thing. The reporting of abuse must be taken out of their hands. It must be made mandatory.

Letter to Corizon:


George Mallinckrodt

DATE:  May 30, 2014


Woodrow A. Myers, Jr., M.D. - Chief Executive Officer
Carla Cesario, M.S.W. - Interim Chief Operating Officer
Calvin B. Johnson, M.D., M.P.H. - Chief Medical Officer
Becky Pinney - Chief Nursing Officer
Scotty Lee - Corporate Compliance
Dennis Wade - Senior Vice President, 
Chief Human Resources Officer

Corizon Health, Inc.
105 West Park Drive, Suite 200
Brentwood, TN 37027

Dear (Individually addressed to the above),

I am in the final edit phase of a nonfiction book I wrote about my experiences working in the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) at Dade Correctional Institution in Florida City, Florida. I want to accurately portray Corizon's position on inmate abuse. I have questions regarding the duty to report abuse of inmates as it applies to the Senior Psychologist/Site Manager/Supervisor. The time period spans Late 2009 to August 2011.

Hypothetically speaking, suppose an unlicensed registered intern (Mental Health Specialist) was an eye witness to the beating of an inmate by correctional officers. The intern described the incident to the Senior Psychologist/Site Manager/Supervisor (SP/SM/S). At this point, what was the duty of the SP/SM/S according to Corizon?

  • Did Corizon have a separate Employee Manual for the SP/SM/S during the period of 2009 to August 2011?
  • If there was a separate Employee Manual for the SP/SM/S, did the manual compel her to report abuse? What was the actual language, word for word, in the manual, if there was one? What form does the reporting of abuse take? Was the SP/SM/S required to keep her subordinates apprised of the situation?
  • If there was not a separate Employee Manual for the SP/SM/S, what training did she receive regarding the reporting of inmate abuse?
  • After describing the beating incident, the unlicensed registered intern told the SP/SM/S she/he was feeling intimidated by correctional officers. Fearing retaliation, the Mental Health Specialist decided to write on the Incident Report that she/he did not see anything. What should the SP/SM/S's response have been according to Corizon?
  • When concerns about other types of inmate abuse were raised by Mental Health Specialists, what should the SP/SM/S's response have been according to Corizon?
  • Does Corizon compel the SP/SM/S to liaison with the Warden and other appropriate correctional officers to establish guidelines and boundaries for the humane treatment of mentally ill inmates in a psych ward such as TCU?
  • Incidentally, the Corizon/Correctional Medical Services Employee Success Guide for that time period had no guidelines for Mental Health Specialists with regard to reporting inmate abuse. In addition, when Corizon replaced MHM in South Florida Region IV, there was no face to face training regarding the reporting of inmate abuse.

As I alluded to earlier, I want to correctly depict Corizon's position on the reporting of inmate abuse. In addition, recent news stories and television and radio interviews regarding the scalding death of Darren Rainey at a psychiatric ward at Dade Correctional Institution warrants a speedy response from Corizon. Corizon was the private contractor at the Transitional Care Unit where abuses by guards went unaddressed.

Thank you for your consideration,

George Mallinckrodt

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George Mallinckrodt