Inmate abuse case grows stronger against AZ DOC - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Inmate abuse case grows stronger against AZ DOC

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

The case against Arizona's Department of Corrections seems to be getting stronger.

A lawsuit filed against the DOC alleges widespread abuse and mistreatment of thousands of inmates over the past several years.

The lawsuit claims that some critically ill patient "begged prison officials for treatment,"only to be told it's all in their head.

One case alleged that a "prisoner died of untreated lung cancer," while another prisoner claimed to have "permanent paralysis because he did not receive proper medical care."

Now, there's new information supporting those allegations.

The DOC's former healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources, did an assessment of inmate care, then presented its findings to DOC officials and the Governor's office in November 2012.

Wexford stated, "After working within the ADC inmate care systems for four months - Wexford finds the current class action lawsuit to be accurate. The ADC system is broken and does not provide a constitutional level of care."

Dan Pochoda is legal director for the ACLU of Arizona, which is leading the legal fight against Arizona's Department of Corrections.

"These are experts that are brought with medical backgrounds, mental backgrounds and in every area, from nursing to dental to medical to mental health care," said Pochoda. "It was absolutely inadequate and deficient. It clearly would result in inadequate care."

Less than six months after Wexford made that presentation, the state severed ties with the company, saying that Wexford provided poor physical and mental care to inmates.

Doug Nick is communications director with the DOC.

In a statement, Nick said "The Department of Corrections and Wexford terminated the contract for delivery of comprehensive health care based on mutual disagreement of Wexford's performance in providing inmate health services. The delivery of comprehensive health care is the subject of on-going litigation and the Department's response to specific allegations is being addressed through the legal process."

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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