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Joint letter to DC Council re Corizon contract April 2015

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March 31, 2015

Via electronic Mail
Chairman Phil Mendelson
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Ste. 504
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Chairman Mendelson and Council Members:
The 86 undersigned organizations urge you to ensure all District residents have access to high quality
healthcare, by voting “no” on the Corizon contract and taking the necessary steps to award a provider
with a record of providing responsible, high quality care to individuals who are incarcerated.
Corizon has been sued over 1,000 times in the past five years because of horrific deaths and permanent
injuries to men and women in their care. Problems have been documented in lawsuits and in court and
police investigations in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New
York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
This is not about the D.C. Council meddling in contracts but about safeguarding the human rights of the
District's incarcerated residents. The District should not be added to the above list of jurisdictions whose
residents have been wronged by Corizon.
As the nation is taking steps to reform a criminal justice system that perpetuates poverty and
disproportionately impacts people of color and the low income population, the District too must
confront a similar history at the D.C Jail. Currently, African Americans are overrepresented in the DC Jail:
91% of DC inmates are Black, while only 55% of District residents are black; 37% of male inmates report
having less than a high school diploma. As they return to the community, these individuals already
grapple with many obstacles; the District should not be adding another barrier in the form of poor
health and mental health care.
Providing quality healthcare for our incarcerated residents is an opportunity to meet the health and
mental health needs of one of the city’s most marginalized populations. With the right provider, the jail
can be a place where the city addresses public health crises such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and
diabetes. It’s critical that we facilitate continuity of care for this population by creating links to services
when they are discharged.
By rejecting the healthcare contract with Corizon, the Council can demonstrate that we value all lives
and will protect the human rights of everyone in our city, including the rights of D.C. residents who are
incarcerated. There are improvements that should be made to health and mental health services at the
jail. However, contracting with a for-profit company - particularly one with a prolific track record of

questionable health care practices - is not the improvement we seek. Instead of continuing to pursue
approval of this contact, the city needs to move forward, working with the D.C. Department of
Corrections, to revise the flawed RFP process that would result in a contract award to a company with
Corizon’s abysmal track record. We are looking forward to a future where D.C. correctional facilities and
practices are a model for the country.
Please take the first step by rejecting the contract with Corizon as unworthy of our city. We thank you
for your consideration and welcome the opportunity to talk to you further about how we can ensure
high quality healthcare for District residents who are incarcerated. If you have any questions, please feel
free to contact Tammy Seltzer, University Legal Services, at 202-547-0198 x 121 or Samantha Davis,
SOME, at 202-797-8806 x2112.

Sincerely,
ACLU-NCA
AFL-CIO
Campaign for Youth Justice
Cherish, LLC.
Christ House
Citizens United for Rehabilitation of
Errants
DC Books to Prisons Project
DC Employment Justice Center
DC Environmental Network
DC Fair Budget Coalition
DC for Democracy
DC Jobs Council
DC Jobs with Justice
DC Lawyers for Youth
DC Metropolitan Foster and Adoptive
Parent Association
DC Primary Care Association
DC Statehood Green Party
District of Columbia Peer Support
Association
Emmaus Services for the Aging
Empower DC
Family Voices of the District of Columbia
Inc.

Free Minds Book Club & Writing
Workshop
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Georgetown University Pride
Grassroots DC
Grassroots Leadership
GWU Alpha Phi Omega
HIPS
Homeless Services Unit The Downtown
Cluster of Congregations
Human Rights Defense Center
Hyacinth's Place
In The Public Interest
Internaitonal CURE
Joseph's House
Jubilee Housing
Justice Policy Institute
Latin American Youth Center
Many Languages One voice
Mary's Center
Metropolitan Washington Public Health
Association
Miriam's Kitchen
movement for love and unity
NAACP DC Branch

Federal Public Defender Service for the
District of Columbia
FOPDOC Corrections Union

National African American Drug Policy
Coalition

National Association of Concerned
Veterans
National Black United Front
New York Avenue Presbyterian Church
ONE DC
P.E.E.R.S.
Pathways to Housing DC
Popular Resistance
Positive Force
Private Corrections Institute
Progressive cheverly

The Black Swan Academy
The Campbell Center
The DC Center for the LGBT Community
The DC Recovery Network
The District Church
The Family Place

Public Defender Service for the District
of Columbia
Reasons To Hope Foundation
Reentry Task Force
REPECT DC/FABC
Restaurant opportunities Center-DC
Restorations Ministries, Inc.
Returning Citizens United, Inc.
Sasha Bruce Youthwork
Service to Justice
Sin Fronteras
SOME (So Others Might Eat)
Southeast Ministry

Thursday Network- Greater Washington
Urban League Young Professionals

cc:
Chairman Phil Mendelson
Councilmember Yvette Alexander
Councilmember Charles Allen
Councilmember Anita Bonds
Councilmember Mary Cheh
Councilmember Jack Evans
Councilmember David Grosso
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Councilmember Brianne Nadeau
Councilmember Vincent Orange
Councilmember Elissa Silverman

The Reentry Network for Returning
Citizens
The Washington Literacy Center
The Washington Peace Center
The Way Home DC

University Legal Services
Washington Ethical Society
Washington Lawyers' Committee for
Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
Washington Legal Clinic for the
Homeless
We Act Radio
We Are Family
Welcome Home Reentry Program of
Catholic Charities

 

 

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