Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Campbell calls for immediate resignation of Arizona DOC Director Charles Ryan

Campbell calls for immediate resignation of Arizona DOC Director Charles Ryan

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 24), is calling for the immediate resignation of Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan.

“Director Ryan has exhibited a pattern of mismanagement and a lack of leadership resulting in an unsafe corrections system in our state,” Campbell said. “Under his direction, our corrections system has wasted tax dollars, jeopardized people’s lives and damaged the state’s credibility.”

Campbell’s action follows the recent death of an inmate in a Buckeye prison.  Suicide and homicide rates occurring within Arizona prisons have earned the facilities negative attention in the past.

“We’ve seen reports that Arizona’s prison suicide rate was 60 percent higher than the national average between the years of 2010 and 2012,” Campbell said. “In addition to this, the attempt to cover up what happened to an inmate allowed to bleed to death in front of prison guards is a gruesome consequence of Ryan’s negligence.”

Campbell said he believes Ryan has failed to properly supervise private prison contracts. He points to the inmate escape from Kingman as an example.

“In 2010, three inmates convicted of violent crimes including murder and armed robbery, escaped a privately operated state prison in Kingman,” Campbell said. “Following this incident, Ryan admitted that the DOC didn’t properly monitor this facility. This is a community safety issue.”

Campbell said private prisons cost more than state-run prisons and that the DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state. He also said the state awards contracts in a manner that is not transparent and seems indicative of cronyism. An example of this occurred earlier this year, when the DOC terminated a contract with Wexford Health Sources, a private company that provided healthcare for inmates statewide.

“The Department of Corrections contracted with a company that has a controversial record of service. In fact, one of Wexford’s employees exposed more than 100 people to hepatitis C in a prison in Buckeye,” Campbell said. “The DOC terminates that contract and replaces Wexford with Corizon, another company surrounded by controversy that also happens to have ties to people who are close to the governor. This situation reeks of patronage.”

Campbell thinks using tax dollars on mismanaged facilities is unacceptable.

“We are wasting taxpayer money on mismanaged facilities,” Campbell said. “That is especially true with the for-profit, private prisons. They are not saving the state money.”

Last year, Republicans repealed a state law in the budget requiring a comparison of state and private prisons every two years to ensure that private prisons were providing the same quality of services as state prisons at a lower cost. Department of Corrections Per Capita Cost Reports compiled over five years consistently show that the state is losing money on private prisons, and security audits show serious safety flaws in all of Arizona’s for-profit prisons, including malfunctioning cameras and alarm systems.

 “For years, Ryan has showed that he is incapable of properly handling his position. Arizonans deserve better. He should resign immediately,” Campbell said.


Reasons to call for Director Ryan’s resignation

1.       Security failures. A recent audit by the State Auditor General found disturbing security violations at state prisons, including broken perimeter alarm systems that staff ignored and a failure to keep an inventory of keys.

2.       Personnel problems.  News reports have indicated that there is low morale at state prisons and that employee turnover is very high. The Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association submitted a letter of “no confidence” regarding Director Charles Ryan. 

3.       Criminal behavior.  The Arizona Department of Corrections Inspector General has documented hundreds of acts of criminal conduct by DOC employees, including DUI and domestic violence.
4.       Pattern of mismanagement and lack of leadership. One examples of mismanagement is the awarding of the medical care contract to Wexford, then rescinding that contract and re-awarding it to Corizon. Both companies have faced controversy and accusations of poor medical services.

5.       Conflict of interest.  The Department of Corrections has close ties to the private prison industry as well as private health care providers.  One example is Chuck Coughlin’s relationship with Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which has a contract with the state to provide private prisons. Coughlin has a well-known relationship with the governor, who appointed Director Ryan to his position. Another example is Director Ryan’s ties to Terry Stewart who works with Advanced Correctional Management, which lobbies for private prison expansion, as well as Stewart’s work with Corizon, which was eventually awarded the statewide contract to provide health care to inmates.

6.       High suicide rates. Suicide rates at state prisons were 60 percent higher than the national average between 2010 and 2012.

7.       Poor medical care. Inmate medical care has been severely neglected. Egregious examples of inmates being given grossly inadequate health care have been outlined in the class action lawsuit against DOC.

8.       Abuse and neglect of inmates. There has been a pattern of abuse and neglect of inmates, including Marcia Powell who died after being left outside in the sun for many hours and Tony Lester who was allowed to bleed to death in prison while correctional officers watched and did nothing to help him.

9.       Private prison problems.  In addition to the conflict of interest noted above, Director Ryan has also failed to properly manage private prison contracts and supervise the private prisons.  The inmates escaping from Kingman is one example of his failure to oversee the private prisons. Additionally, private prisons often cost more than state-run prisons, and DOC has failed to hold the private prison companies accountable for the terms of their contracts with the state.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Escamilla supporting NCHP’s efforts to help veterans and their families

Escamilla supporting NCHP’s efforts to help veterans and their families

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Juan Carlos Escamilla, D-San Luis (District 4), recently praised National Community Health Partners for earning a grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans and their families.

“NCHP is an exemplary organization that benefits people in our community and across the country,” Escamilla said. “The grant that NCHP won will help many of our veterans get access to crucial services.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program, awarded NCHP a grant for $1.1 million annually for up to three years to fund the Housing for Heroes project. This project is designed to help very low-income veterans and their families in Pinal and Yuma counties get services, including housing stability assistance, health care, legal support, educational/vocational support, financial planning and child care. The grant will also be used to implement a transportation system in both counties to enable the veterans and their families have access these services.
Escamilla joined a bipartisan group of elected officials and organizations submitting letters of support to bolster NCHP’s grant application. In a letter to Escamilla, Albert Moreno, NCHP chief executive officer, wrote:
“Without a doubt, your letter of support and ongoing dedication to assist our veterans and families proved to be major factors in National Community Health Partners being awarded funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
Escamilla said he is pleased the grant will have such a broad impact.
“This will go a long way in helping our veteran community,” he said. “The amount of services that NCHP can offer with this grant is both impressive and inspirational. I am honored to have played a part in helping the organization get this funding.”
NCHP is based in Tucson and was founded in 1984 to address the health needs of border populations. NCHP now houses more than 70 public health programs and services. It also provides educational services to minority and underserved populations in 46 states and three U.S. territories. For more information on NCHP, go to www.nchponline.org.


Monday, July 01, 2013

Larkin’s statement on Yarnell Hill Fire

Larkin’s statement on Yarnell Hill Fire
‘The Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy will not be forgotten’

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Jonathan Larkin, D-Glendale (District 30), made the following statement regarding the devastating loss of life and property in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

“I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the families of those lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire. I am truly saddened by this tragedy and eternally grateful for the sacrifices these firefighters made and for the sacrifices all Arizona firefighters make on a daily basis. Our first responders are some of the bravest men and women in our state. It is my hope that everyone who dedicates their lives to Arizona’s public safety knows how much we respect the work they do.  

“The Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy will not be forgotten. It will be front and center in my mind at the Capitol when we consider measures to prevent wildfires and to protect the rights and benefits of those brave people who serve and protect our public safety. For right now, our focus is on helping the families of the firefighters who lost their lives doing their jobs and on the hundreds of evacuees. Donations to help the families of the fallen firefighters can be made at www.100club.org and donations to help the Yarnell Hill Fire evacuees can be made at http://www.redcross.org/az/phoenix/ways-to-donate.


Democratic leaders: Arizonans can help grieving families, evacuees

Democratic leaders: Arizonans can help grieving families, evacuees

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX - Senate Democratic Leader Leah Landrum Taylor and House Democratic Leader Chad Campbell released the following statements on the deaths of 19 Prescott firefighters and the devastating Yarnell Hill Fire. Donations to help the firefighters’ families can be made athttp://www.100club.org. For the hundreds of evacuees, help can be given at http://www.redcross.org/az/phoenix/ways-to-donate.

Senate Democratic Leader Leah Landrum Taylor (D-27):
"Our families grieve with the loved ones of the courageous firefighters who selflessly answered the call to help protect the lives and property of fellow citizens," said Sen. Landrum Taylor. "Our hearts ache for the Arizona families who have been displaced by this catastrophic fire. Please join me in doing anything you can to help all who are affected by the catastrophic Yarnell Hill Fire."

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-24):
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the heroes that Arizona lost yesterday and the residents of Yarnell," said Rep. Campbell. "I also want to thank all those still putting their lives on the line fighting wildfires around the state and country. I encourage everyone to do all they can to send help to those whose lives have been devastated by this horrific situation."

Miranda releases statement on Yarnell Hill Fire

Miranda releases statement on Yarnell Hill Fire

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Rep. Catherine Miranda, D-Phoenix (District 27), released the following statement regarding the tragic loss of life in the Yarnell Hill Fire:

“As the ranking member of the Arizona House Agriculture and Water Committee, I would like to express the strongest possible support for the families who have suffered life and property losses in the worst tragedy for first responders in our state’s history.  Our deeply felt thanks go out to Speaker Tobin and Governor Brewer for their expeditious response to this tragedy felt by all of Arizona. "