Florida to Privatize Prison Healthcare

A state appeals court in Florida has ruled that the state will be allowed to go forward with a plan to privatize the healthcare in their prisons, something that has proven disastrous in other states. A lower court had blocked the plan last year.

Private prison contractors have become popular with many Republican lawmakers across the country because of their promises to cut costs. But these companies also often cut corners to increase their own profits, leading to abysmal conditions, inmate abuse, and frequent riots.

Private health care companies have especially bad records on inmate treatment. Nightmarish stories of inmates dying from treatable diseases because they were refused care arefrighteningly common in prisons that have outsourced their healthcare. One of the largest prison health care providers, Correctional Medical Care, is under criminal investigation in New York after its negligence led to nine deaths.

Other states with private prison health care can forecast the conditions Florida inmates will now face. A Kaiser report on these systems found “inhumane” conditions, with terminally ill inmates left in soiled linens without food or water for days. One Arizona man with lung cancer begged for treatment, only to be told by medical staff that he should drink energy shakes to cure his symptoms. Others who have begged for medical aid have been told they were simply making it up or that they should “pray to be cured.”

I’m sure it will come as a huge surprise that private prison companies have already donated more than $100,000 to Gov. Rick Scott’s reelection campaign.

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  • erichoug

    Gee what a surprise. The combination of the War on Drugs and the privatization of US prisons is one of the most starkly horrifying trends in this country, EVER!.

    The police and local officials make money though forfeiture and seizure whether or not someone has committed a crime. The US government supplements this with millions of dollars to militarize our police forces with tanks and drones and other military hardware. Meanwhile, if you call them because you got mugged, it will be an hour before they show up, take the report, pat you on the shoulder and tell you to be more careful walking at night.

    Once they do arrest you, probably for a drug charge, they put you in Jail for a ridiculous amount of time. Not effort at all is give n towards rehabilitation, drug treatment or anything else that might help you re-integrate back into society. Instead, the only concern is minimizing the cost of your incarceration while maximizing the profit going to the private company that is paid out of the public trust to keep you, a dangerous pot smoker, in jail.

    What they are really doing is education you for your future career: Inmate. It doesn’t have a lot of perks or bennies but it does have way more job security than nearly anyone else on the outside world.

    This is one area of our government that we should all be both horrified and appalled by. Call your congressperson and tell them to end private, for profit prisons and the war on drugs and we’ll all be happier in the long run.

  • Randomfactor

    The Governor of Florida is probably lamenting the fact that he can’t import Dementors to be prison guards. It would blow his cover.

  • There is a time and place for privatization. Closed, captive markets don’t seem to be either.

  • Abdul Alhazred

    One last privatization before ‘Obamacare’ kicks in?

    One last local grab before the big grab?

  • unbound

    Isn’t Florida the state with the mandatory drug testing of the poor which is actually costing them more money?

  • Now do you see? This is why us conservatives are so against Big Government. It can’t even privatize competently!

  • Why is it always Florida?

  • Sastra

    The doctors employed by these private prison healthcare contractors — are they just regular doctors? Most people go into the medical profession in order to help people. Are there physicians who get caught up in this system … and gradually learn to dehumanize their patients? Or perhaps they become increasingly frustrated with things they have no control over.

    Or perhaps the system filters out those who have a conscience to start with.

  • Ah, Republicans! They’re always either stupidly immoral or immorally stupid–I can never be sure which.

  • kermit.

    What do you mean, “something that has proven disastrous in other states”? I’ll have you know that a handful of people have made a bundle off of this so far. It’s working just like it was intended to.

  • kermit.

    aaronbaker They’re always either stupidly immoral or immorally stupid–I can never be sure which.


    I’ve said for years that it’s usually difficult to distinguish between ethical behavior and smart behavior. I guess the opposite (inverse?) is implied.

  • Whoever said “Crime doesn’t pay” was obviously not a republican.

  • d.c.wilson, or Wall Street.

  • lochaber

    welp, I guess the one good thing about global warming is that eventually Florida is going to go away.

    Why is it so often either Florida or Texas? Is it something to do with crossing the 30th?

  • jba55

    @Sastra: I worked in healthcare for quite a few years (in a large, physician-led, non-profit hospital) and sadly I found that a lot of doctors not only didn’t get into it to help people but even if they did they got turned into cogs in the faceless machine pretty quick. Not just doctors either, but I worked in CT scan and all of the permanent technicians were horribly dehumanizing. They wouldn’t refer to patients by name, ever, it was always by whatever type of scan they were getting or what they were getting it for. Even when I tried to use names they would insist. I found that only nurses consistently treated the patients as people, it was really disillusioning.

  • left0ver1under

    Here’s a thought:

    If an inmate dies of a condition that was easily treated for a low cost, the “doctor” who allowed him to die (or better yet, the CEO of the company) must serve out the remainder of the deceased’s sentence.

    I doubt you’d hear about any more dead prisoners, though it would probably be due to coverups, not better care.

  • briandavis

    @8 Sastra said:

    The doctors employed by these private prison healthcare contractors — are they just regular doctors?

    If I were an unscrupulous owner of one of these companies I wouldn’t waste money on doctors. I’d hire naturopaths and homeopaths. Hell, I’d train them in my own school so I could take their student loan money, and then pay them a pittance to work for me in the prisons.