The American Friends Service Committee-Arizona, a Quaker group critical of the way prison inmates are treated, renewed claims that the state delays and denies medical care to prisoners, reports the Arizona Republic. The group’s Caroline Isaacs says the state fails to provide medication and medical devices to inmates, allows low staffing levels by a private contractor and has insufficient mental-health treatment for those in its charge. She says there have been 50 deaths, including eight suicides, within the prison system during the first eight months of this calendar year. “Anyone would agree that 50 deaths is 50 too many,” she said.
State records show the number of prisoner deaths has declined since hitting 100 fatalities in fiscal 2008. In fiscal 2013, which ended June 30, there were 83 deaths, seven of them suicides, in the system of roughly 40,000 inmates. Wexford Health Sources Inc. and the state agreed earlier this year to terminate Wexford's medical-services contract in the wake of accusations that the company improperly dispensed medicine to inmates and wasted state resources. To replace Wexford, the state signed a more expensive contract making Corizon Inc. of Brentwood, Tn., the health-care provider at all Arizona-run prisons.