Corizon Lied to Families of Deceased Rikers Island Inmates

Corizon Corizon

Corizon Health Services, inc. (formerly known as Prison Health Services, Inc.) routinely lied to families of deceased Rikers Island inmates about their cause of death — including incidents for which the company may have been responsible.

A spokesperson for Corizon told reporters that the death investigations were not technically kept secret from the families because they were always available through public records requests– an extremely difficult and time consuming process that not only forms an unnecessary obstacle to obtaining information they have the right to possess, but also ignores the fact that the families didn’t know there were investigations in the first place. How could they request documents for an investigation they didn’t know existed?

Meanwhile, as internal reports showed the company was regularly failing in its duty to care for inmates, Corizon continued to win contracts and make a profit selling taxpayers a terrible service:

Despite these four SCOC reports and four other reports criticizing Corizon’s care of suicidal inmates, the firm still received a new three-year contract in 2012. DNAinfo reported in September that the Health Department, which oversees Rikers medical care, asked city hospitals to take the contract, but no local providers stepped up.

This last part is particularly interesting to me. Why haven’t city hospitals pursued the contract for Rikers Island? Such an arrangement would be in the prisoners’ best interest, and the de Blasio administration is allegedly considering moving the system to a public or non-profit model that would probably involve these same city hospitals anyway.

How successful could the mayor’s plan be if none of the city’s hospitals are willing to participate?

I’m honestly not sure what’s going on here, but if you look at the history of health care at Rikers Island, it’s hard to miss how difficult it is to work in the city’s prisons and within the Department of Corrections.

Does the island have such a bad rap now that the city’s hospitals don’t want to work there? Have standards fallen so much in the past few years that the culture of impunity and brutality is just too dangerous for healthcare workers?

Brian Sonenstein
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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein is a Berkeley-based writer, activist and former Campaign Director and Associate Publisher for Learn more at
Brian Sonenstein
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