In New York, for-profit prison healthcare loses another paying customer

New York City recently announced its plans to end its contract with the for-profit prison healthcare provider Corizon Health in the city’s infamous Rikers Island jail complex. The Health and Hospitals Corporation of New York City, which currently operates all of New York City’s public hospitals, will now control Riker’s health care. This decision comes on the heels of Washington, DC, City Council’s decision to reject an offer from Corizon, that had been approved by the city’s own Office of Procurement.

New York City’s comes as a major victory for people who believe that for-profit corporations are the root of all evil when it comes to atrocities of incarceration in the United States. For-profit prison healthcare corporations such as Corizon have a history of malpractice lawsuits, negligence, and horror stories of abuse and torture of the mentally ill that would shock even the most ardent cynics. Accusations against Corizon include leaving a man with diagnosed manic-depressive disorder locked for four days in four-point restraints in a room that was 106 degrees. He died. Another accusation involves a Corizon employee who would withhold food and water from patients she did not like. Corizon’s reputation was so bad, a University of Virginia doctor claimed that releasing a cancer patient into their care was unethical.

While there is no denying the evils of Corizon, the problems with Rikers Island do not begin and end with healthcare. Corizon did not prescribe Kalief Browder with two years of solitary confinement. Corizon doctors did not beat Kalief Browder for a fight he did not partake in, as he awaited trial behind bars for three years for a crime he did not commit. The men who did this to Kalief Browder were government employees not motivated by profit and the almighty dollar, but instead fueled by the violence of incarceration. We can continue to reform this nation’s jails, but the fact remains that we are incarcerating and abusing men and women who are deprived of their humanity and dignity for crimes they did not commit. To paraphrase the curator of this blog, Dan Moshenberg, the best medicine for the people of Rikers is freedom.


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About Daniel Landsman

Daniel Landsman is a D.C. resident and activist in the blossoming local movement towards a more just justice system