Joint letter to DC Council re Corizon contract April 2015
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March 31, 2015 Via electronic Mail Chairman Phil Mendelson Council of the District of Columbia 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Ste. 504 Washington, D.C. 20004 Dear Chairman Mendelson and Council Members: The 86 undersigned organizations urge you to ensure all District residents have access to high quality healthcare, by voting “no” on the Corizon contract and taking the necessary steps to award a provider with a record of providing responsible, high quality care to individuals who are incarcerated. Corizon has been sued over 1,000 times in the past five years because of horrific deaths and permanent injuries to men and women in their care. Problems have been documented in lawsuits and in court and police investigations in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. This is not about the D.C. Council meddling in contracts but about safeguarding the human rights of the District's incarcerated residents. The District should not be added to the above list of jurisdictions whose residents have been wronged by Corizon. As the nation is taking steps to reform a criminal justice system that perpetuates poverty and disproportionately impacts people of color and the low income population, the District too must confront a similar history at the D.C Jail. Currently, African Americans are overrepresented in the DC Jail: 91% of DC inmates are Black, while only 55% of District residents are black; 37% of male inmates report having less than a high school diploma. As they return to the community, these individuals already grapple with many obstacles; the District should not be adding another barrier in the form of poor health and mental health care. Providing quality healthcare for our incarcerated residents is an opportunity to meet the health and mental health needs of one of the city’s most marginalized populations. With the right provider, the jail can be a place where the city addresses public health crises such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and diabetes. It’s critical that we facilitate continuity of care for this population by creating links to services when they are discharged. By rejecting the healthcare contract with Corizon, the Council can demonstrate that we value all lives and will protect the human rights of everyone in our city, including the rights of D.C. residents who are incarcerated. There are improvements that should be made to health and mental health services at the jail. However, contracting with a for-profit company - particularly one with a prolific track record of questionable health care practices - is not the improvement we seek. Instead of continuing to pursue approval of this contact, the city needs to move forward, working with the D.C. Department of Corrections, to revise the flawed RFP process that would result in a contract award to a company with Corizon’s abysmal track record. We are looking forward to a future where D.C. correctional facilities and practices are a model for the country. Please take the first step by rejecting the contract with Corizon as unworthy of our city. We thank you for your consideration and welcome the opportunity to talk to you further about how we can ensure high quality healthcare for District residents who are incarcerated. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Tammy Seltzer, University Legal Services, at 202-547-0198 x 121 or Samantha Davis, SOME, at 202-797-8806 x2112. Sincerely, ACLU-NCA AFL-CIO Campaign for Youth Justice Cherish, LLC. Christ House Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants DC Books to Prisons Project DC Employment Justice Center DC Environmental Network DC Fair Budget Coalition DC for Democracy DC Jobs Council DC Jobs with Justice DC Lawyers for Youth DC Metropolitan Foster and Adoptive Parent Association DC Primary Care Association DC Statehood Green Party District of Columbia Peer Support Association Emmaus Services for the Aging Empower DC Family Voices of the District of Columbia Inc. Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Georgetown University Pride Grassroots DC Grassroots Leadership GWU Alpha Phi Omega HIPS Homeless Services Unit The Downtown Cluster of Congregations Human Rights Defense Center Hyacinth's Place In The Public Interest Internaitonal CURE Joseph's House Jubilee Housing Justice Policy Institute Latin American Youth Center Many Languages One voice Mary's Center Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association Miriam's Kitchen movement for love and unity NAACP DC Branch Federal Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia FOPDOC Corrections Union National African American Drug Policy Coalition National Association of Concerned Veterans National Black United Front New York Avenue Presbyterian Church ONE DC P.E.E.R.S. Pathways to Housing DC Popular Resistance Positive Force Private Corrections Institute Progressive cheverly The Black Swan Academy The Campbell Center The DC Center for the LGBT Community The DC Recovery Network The District Church The Family Place Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Reasons To Hope Foundation Reentry Task Force REPECT DC/FABC Restaurant opportunities Center-DC Restorations Ministries, Inc. Returning Citizens United, Inc. Sasha Bruce Youthwork Service to Justice Sin Fronteras SOME (So Others Might Eat) Southeast Ministry Thursday Network- Greater Washington Urban League Young Professionals cc: Chairman Phil Mendelson Councilmember Yvette Alexander Councilmember Charles Allen Councilmember Anita Bonds Councilmember Mary Cheh Councilmember Jack Evans Councilmember David Grosso Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie Councilmember Brianne Nadeau Councilmember Vincent Orange Councilmember Elissa Silverman The Reentry Network for Returning Citizens The Washington Literacy Center The Washington Peace Center The Way Home DC University Legal Services Washington Ethical Society Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless We Act Radio We Are Family Welcome Home Reentry Program of Catholic Charities