Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project to Launch at Jail Oversight Board meeting on Thursday

Jail workers, human rights advocates, community groups, and inmates’ family members seek an end to appalling health care at ACJ

PITTSBURGH- Allegheny County area advocacy organizations will announce the launch of the new Allegheny County Jail, Health Justice Project this Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. during the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board meeting, with a press conference to follow.  The ACJ Health Justice Project seeks to ensure that members of our community incarcerated at ACJ receive comprehensive health care.

This Thursday marks one month since Frank Smart, 39, died, after less than a day in ACJ custody.  “I lost one whole child because of one pill. All he needed was one pill,” said Tomi Harris, mother of Frank Smart, who died at ACJ on January 5, 2015.  During a phone call hours before his death, Frank said that he was not being provided his anti-seizure medication.  Unfortunately, Mr. Smart was not the first member of our community to lose his life at the hands of Corizon Prison Health Management under the careless watch of Allegheny County officials.  It is time to act to ensure that no more fathers, sons, sisters or wives suffer dire health consequences as a result of unconstitutionally inadequate care created by Corizon’s poor management and cost cutting measures.

Over 18,000 residents of Allegheny County pass through ACJ each year.  Once there they are experiencing unacceptable delays in receiving medical care and the denial of necessary prescriptions simply because Corizon has deemed crucial medications too expensive.  Compounding matters, the medical staff at ACJ are being denied critical supplies and organizational supports they need to provide care: all with an almost $12 million annual cost to Allegheny County.

Despite repeated warnings and admonishments from public officials and private citizens alike, Corizon is refusing to even admit there is a problem.  This should come as no surprise from a national prison profiteer that has been named in over 660 medical malpractice lawsuits.

The ACJ Health Justice Project calls on Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Jail Warden Orlando Harper and the members of the Jail Oversight Board: Judge Cashman, Judge Williams, Ms. Lazlo, Ms. Moss, Sheriff Mullen, and Dr. Walker to step up to the plate and sincerely oversee the abysmal medical care at ACJ.  They cannot continue to look the other way when the mortality rate at the ACJ is twice that of the national average.  The ACJ Health Justice Project calls on these members of our County government to ensure that members of our community are not being sentenced to death at the time of incarceration at ACJ.  Corizon Health has shown time and time again that they do not care about the health and well being of our community.

Rich Fitzgerald, Warden Harper, Judge McDaniel, Judge Williams, Ms. Lazlo, Ms. Moss, Sheriff Mullen and Dr. Walker, have the responsibility to stop these human rights abuses.  Do not commit another taxpayer dollar to Corizon Health, show them the door this September.  Our community deserves better.

Organizations endorsing the project include the Abolitionist Law Center, the PA Institutional Law Project, United Steelworkers, New Voices Pittsburgh, We Change Pittsburgh, the Garden of Peace Project, the Human Rights Coalition-Fed Up!, and Fight Back Pittsburgh.

Contact:    Randa Ruge                      rruge@usw.org         412-522-9687
Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz    amorgan-kurtz@pailp.org 412-434-6175

4 Replies to “Allegheny County Jail Health Justice Project to Launch at Jail Oversight Board meeting on Thursday”

  1. This makes me angry beyond words My website ‘My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison’ http;//mynameisjamie.net is about an inmate who has epilepsy and has had countless seizures during his years in prison. I have written several posts about it. Sometimes they have skipped giving him his meds or they change meds and doses without any reason. He feels as though he is being used as a guinea pig. One time he woke up to find himself cuffed – for THEIR protection. He has fallen off his bunk and broken teeth. One time he was made to work in extremely high Texas heat and seized. Many many seizures. How many can a brain take without it killing him. He needs proper care.

    He doesn’t just have epilepsy. He has severe epilepsy. He was born having a seizure, back to back until, as a child his brain was bleeding and he had laser brain surgery to cut off some of the bleeding.

    They don’t care that these are human beings behind these walls. Just because they are locked up – for whatever reason – doesn’t mean they should be allowed to let them die – for profit!!

    Yes, this makes me very angry that this man had to die for the sake of a pill, because they think he has no value. I know about Corizon – and CCA – and they want to buy the prisons with 20 year contracts and they have to be kept full and those that profit from them are spending huge amounts of money to do that. They need to be stopped. Those that say they care have to do more than just “think” that it is bad.

  2. Reblogged this on My Name is Jamie. Life in Prison and commented:
    I am posting this here from the Abolitionist Law Center because it is something that is very important to me. You can read why when you read my reply at the end of the article.

    Jamie has epilepsy. I couldn’t post all the letters he has written to me telling me about another seizure he had and what he thought might be reason he had it. Often, someone knows when a seizure is about to happen and he can try to get in a safe place, but not always. The indignity he is show by the callousness of the guards is sickening. Too many people have so little regard for the life of an inmate, who is also a human being. This article goes hand in hand with a recent post about the murders of several inmates where the guards were not held accountable for their actions, and it is the warden and the judge who determined that the guards we not at fault. Why is it that other murders are institutionalized for the crimes they commit and yet the people in the prisons, who work for the prisons are let free to torture yet another inmate. Oh, maybe they’ll lose their job, but their nature, which allows them to think it’s okay to kill people, doesn’t go away just because they left the building. Other people will suffer because they are mentally ill. Corizon, and CCA do it for profit which is just as sick.

    There are links on this article. Educate yourself.

  3. If my grandson wasn’t transfered when he was in 2-5 days he would have died in ACJ it isn’t just corizon its also the guards the warden and whoever else works there they figure they are criminals and who cares

  4. I am a friend of the Smart-Harris family. It saddens me that my dear friend had to suffer the pain of losing her son to such a violation of all of his rights. Everyone involved needs to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

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