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Jail health provider in spotlight at commission meeting
by Noreen Cochran
December 03, 2013 03:54 PM | 1806 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Wednesday’s meeting of the Fulton County Board of Commissioner’s will include a second attempt to solidify a $15.6 million contract for inmate physical and mental health services with St. Louis, Mo.-based Corizon Inc.

Fulton County jail conditions are in the spotlight.

The contract debate comes on the heels of a Nov. 25 show cause order from federal Judge Thomas Thrash for alleged violations of a consent order entered in the 2004 Harper v. Fulton County jail overcrowding lawsuit.

The third Corizon contract extension, although reduced from $16.3 million, would still contribute to more than $53 million in payments to the provider in its three years of service.

At the Nov. 6 meeting, when the contract extension first appeared on the agenda prior to a 5-0 vote to hold the item for 30 days, county Chairman John Eaves challenged the provider’s efforts to reduce the number of rearrested offenders at the Rice Street and Union City jails.

“For us to be allocating $16 million and we still have an 80 percent recidivism rate? There’s no impact on this. How many years have they had this contract? There should be some downward trend. I don’t see any evidence of a downward trend,” he said.

George Herron, director of jail health services, Fulton County Jail, said the rate was 35 percent in a recent test group, but Eaves asked for a wider sampling.

Eaves also asked for better savings.

“There used to be two separate contracts, one for physical health and one for mental health. The thinking was that the combining of the two with one vendor would be less than two separate ones. This was sold to us as combined, it would be cheaper,” he said. “My gut says it’s going up.”

He is correct, a staff member told him, with $11 million for physical health and $4 million for mental health under separate contracts. Commissioner Robb Pitts said he was concerned about the quality of the provider’s work in light of wrongful death lawsuits in Gwinnett and Broward counties.

Vice Chair Emma Darnell weighed in on the concerns of taxpayers. “I’m going to request on behalf of the taxpayers, before you ask us to renew a contract for $16 million, you do a cost analysis so we know if we’re getting a good deal in terms of service and the money,” she said.

According to an internal memo, the services to be provided under the contract include inmate screenings, examinations, sick calls, optometry, dental emergency care services, pharmacy, radiological, laboratory services, chemical treatment dependency program, psychological services, women’s program, behavior management program and psychological evaluations.

Other items on today’s agenda include a $3.5 million jail food contract with Aramark Correctional Services, an alcoholic beverage license for the Wet Lounge in College Park, $900,000 in economic development services from Stone Mountain resident Edward A. Nelson Jr., the sale of park land to the city of Sandy Springs and a zoning application for a College Park landlord who wants to diversify his shopping center’s tenant base.

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