In. Prison Workers Fired; Suit Cites Health Care


Two Indiana prison employees were fired and a third was disciplined after convicted thief Wayne Spencer died suddenly this year in a state prison, reports the Indianapolis Star. Indiana State Police are looking into medications given to Spencer, who died Feb. 26 after spending just one night at the New Castle Correctional Facility, a 378-bed facility that opened in 2002.

Spencer’s death, and an unrelated lawsuit filed by a former prison employee, are raising questions about the quality of the health care at the prison. Prison officials won’t discuss the

Spencer case and say it is under investigation. They say they conducted an internal review and fired a guard and a nurse. They haven’t offered an explanation to the inmate’s mother. “I’m being kept totally in the dark,” said Phyllis Spencer. “I know they did something wrong.”

The $123 million medium-security facility 35 miles east of Indianapolis opened with the aim of offering medical care, hospice services, and mental health treatment to more than 1,800 prisoners. Because the state doesn’t have the money to staff it, it operates at about a quarter of capacity.

In a lawsuit, the former health care administrator at the prison says she was driven out for questioning what she described as substandard care. “If you’re going to fit a certain population all in one spot, you’re going to have to provide adequate health treatment,” Barbara Logan told the Star. “This wasn’t even the minimum.” Logan, 50, was hired by Prison Health Services, a private company paid about $35 million a year to oversee health care for Indiana’s 21,500 inmates. She says prison officials did not keep close tabs on sharp instruments and narcotic drugs; improperly disposed of medicines; and routinely interfered with doctors’ orders.


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