WBEZ | Illinois Department of Corrections http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-department-corrections Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Prison health care worker finds request for medical care after inmate dies http://www.wbez.org/news/prison-health-care-worker-finds-request-medical-care-after-inmate-dies-110470 <p><p>On July 28, 2012, Elawndoe Shannon put in a request for sick call at the prison where he was housed in Lawrence, Illinois. Two days later, he died. The day after his death a nurse in the health care unit finally got his request slip for medical care.</p><p>&ldquo;That means somebody took it and just said, &lsquo;Oh it don&rsquo;t matter, ain&rsquo;t nothing wrong with him.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s crazy!&rdquo; said his sister Jackie Shannon in a recent interview on the front porch of her house on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody&rsquo;s entitled to see a doctor. I don&rsquo;t care, you could live in a hole somewhere. If you come out of that hole and you&rsquo;re sick, you should be able to see a doctor. How many other ones in there that need to see the doctor are not seeing a doctor?&rdquo; she said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157870823&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="736.25px"></iframe></p><p>It&rsquo;s not unusual for Illinois inmates to complain that they have trouble seeing doctors.</p><p>In another story, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460">WBEZ reported on Anthony Rencher</a> who went to the prison health care unit in the middle of the night where he was observed in the waiting room for an hour before he returned to his cell where he died.</p><p>And then there&rsquo;s the case of Daniel Nevarez.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-10%20at%2012.15.56%20AM.png" style="width: 620px;" title="Salvador Nevarez sitting on the front stoop of his home near Midway Airport with his son, Alonzo. (WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)" /><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Letter from the grave</span></p><p>Daniel&rsquo;s brother Alonzo Nevarez sits on the front stoop of his dad&rsquo;s bungalow near Midway Airport and reads through a letter his brother Danny wrote from prison.</p><p>&ldquo;We got the letter after Danny passed, and it was, it&rsquo;s him talking from the grave actually,&rdquo; said Nevarez.</p><p>It&rsquo;s in Spanish and Alonzo translates while he reads. &ldquo;The reason for this card, to beg you to help him, he&rsquo;s sick, and the people from this facility, no me quieren, they don&rsquo;t want to help me. These people are not taking me serious. I need help.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/157730343&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><blockquote><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Related:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;" target="_blank">Man who died of prostate cancer showed symptoms in prison 14 years before death</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>According to medical records, in March of 2010 Nevarez complained to a prison health care worker of pain in his knee. The prison took an X-ray but found nothing. The doctor prescribed some drugs and told Nevarez to exercise as much as possible.</p><p>A year later Nevarez was still complaining about his knee. He was prescribed Motrin and referred to a doctor. The next two appointments with the prison doctor were cancelled, one because of understaffing and another one because there was no security escort.</p><p>&ldquo;He called when he was in prison complaining that they were ignoring him. They wouldn&rsquo;t let him see the doctor,&rdquo; said Nevarez.</p><p>The medical records also show that on several occasions Nevarez refused to see health care workers. In one instance he&rsquo;s quoted as refusing to see the prison doctor because he wants to be immediately taken for surgery on his knee. On another occasion he refuses to pay the $2.00 co-pay and is therefore denied care.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Cancer diagnosis</span></p><p>When the mass on his knee was diagnosed as cancer 15 months after his first complaints, the tumor was hard to miss. It was 5 centimeters by 5 centimeters by 3 centimeters.</p><p>Daniel&rsquo;s father Salvador Nevarez said his son was complaining that the prison wasn&rsquo;t giving him health care,&nbsp; so the family had a lawyer contact the prison.</p><p>Nevarez went to an outside hospital where the tumor was removed. He also went for 33 radiation treatments. A year after his treatments on December 13, 2012, Nevarez once again sought medical care. According to records he appears to have fainted and gotten a cut above his eye when he fell.</p><p>He told doctors his head hurt and he couldn&rsquo;t remember things. A doctor at the facility seems to have decided Nevarez was lying in an attempt to get drugs. The way it&rsquo;s recorded in the medical record is: &ldquo;appears to be med seeking.&rdquo;</p><p>Nevarez was sent back to his cell. He fell into a coma. A CT scan of his head was taken and it showed he had two large, dense brain tumors and swelling in his brain. He died that day at the age of 31.</p><p>The autopsy states, &ldquo;Given the lack of follow up care and systemic chemotherapy for this patient, in combination with with the poor prognosis in general for such a tumor, it is not surprising that he developed widespread metastases a year after diagnosis.&rdquo;</p><p>In the death review the department handed over to WBEZ, where it asks, &lsquo;Was an earlier intervention possible?&rsquo; the answer is redacted. On the non-redacted version given to the family, it says the cancer diagnosis could have been made sooner, though it says it was, &ldquo;probably too late for significant intervention.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Seeing a doctor &#39;can take months&#39;</span></p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a symptom of an overloaded system that it takes forever to get over to a doctor,&rdquo; said Alan Mills, an attorney specializing in prison litigation. &ldquo;And then once you&rsquo;re there you don&rsquo;t see the doctor right away, you go through two or three screening processes before you finally get to see a doctor. So that can take months.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There are red flags all over the place,&rdquo; said Mills. &ldquo;But without the details, you have to get beyond just saying, &lsquo;well this person died too soon.&rsquo; You don&rsquo;t know that unless a doctor looks at the medical records and says, &lsquo;no this test was done or this test wasn&rsquo;t done, this is what the follow should have been and it wasn&rsquo;t.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>That work is now being done by a doctor appointed by a federal judge as part of the class action suit Mills filed over health care.</p><p>The State of Illinois pays a company called Wexford Health Sources more than $100 million a year to provide health care in the prisons. Wexford did not return repeated calls for comment over the last two weeks. That&rsquo;s just the most recent refusal&mdash;WBEZ has had an ongoing request for an interview with the company for almost two years.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-10%20at%2012.16.06%20AM.png" style="width: 620px;" title="Attorney Alan Mills says a review of health care in the Illinois Department of Corrections by outside medical experts will answer a lot of questions. (WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer)" /></div><p>Attorney Alan Mills has studied the contract between Wexford and the state.</p><p>&ldquo;Wexford gets paid the same amount whether they provide a lot of care or a little care, so therefore, every time they provide care their stockholders lose money. So that is a fine model, but you have to have some control to make sure that they&rsquo;re actually providing the care that you&rsquo;re contracted to giving them. Nobody in the state of Illinois regularly audits the Wexford contract, either financially, or more importantly, a health audit to see what the outcomes are that we&rsquo;re getting,&rdquo; said Mills.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">IDOC won&#39;t discuss Mills</span></p><p>Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer won&rsquo;t discuss issues raised by Mills. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to discuss anything that Alan Mills says because Alan Mills has been proven to state things that are false, so I&rsquo;m going to respectfully decline to include any information coming from Alan Mills in this interview. Anybody else you want to talk about, fine, not him,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p>The medical director who oversees more than $100 million Illinois pays Wexford for medical care refused to speak to WBEZ.</p><p>WBEZ asked Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office about the medical director&rsquo;s refusal to discuss medical care. After an initial conversation the governor&rsquo;s office simply ignored follow-up calls and emails from WBEZ.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Illinois prisons have low death rates compared to other prisons</span></p><p>Shaer says focussing on just a few cases does not give an accurate picture of health care in the department. He points to Bureau of Justice statistics showing Illinois&rsquo; prison system has one of the lowest death rates in the country compared to other prison systems.</p><p>&ldquo;We have pretty high standards here. We do the best we can within our ability to monitor that and if we felt that our ability wasn&rsquo;t adequate, we would find a way to address that,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24.44444465637207px; line-height: 22px;">Independent experts should provide some answers soon</span></p><p>&ldquo;I see enough things that tell me there are really some warning signs here. I mean there are problems,&rdquo; said State Rep. Greg Harris.</p><p>Harris held committee hearings last year to dig into allegations of poor care.</p><p>&ldquo;You know in the testimony, in the contacts from individual families, in the lawsuits that have been settled and paid by the state for deaths that should have been preventable, I know there are things that we should have done that we did not do and that there are probably things that we ought to be doing better now,&rdquo; said Harris.</p><p>As a result of the hearings, Harris concluded that no one in Illinois is paying close attention to the $100 million the state pays Wexford every year. Harris brought in the National Commission on Correctional Health Care to audit health care, both the finances, and the health outcomes.</p><p>He says independent experts who know how to evaluate health care in a prison setting are looking at the system and should provide some answers soon. That audit is in addition to a federal court monitor who is also evaluating Illinois&rsquo; prison health care system in response to complaints.</p></p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 00:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/prison-health-care-worker-finds-request-medical-care-after-inmate-dies-110470 Illinois inmate dies 3 hours after seeking medical care http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 6.17.11 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Keith Dean has a manila envelope that causes him a lot of grief and regret, but he can&rsquo;t throw it out. On his front porch, by the light of a single lamp next to his front door on a quiet street in Gary, Indiana, he turns the envelope over in his hand.</p><p>&ldquo;I always looked at this envelope on the outside when I&rsquo;m going through my office trying to organize, throw away stuff I don&rsquo;t need but I never threw this away. I just kept it in a file,&rdquo; said Dean.</p><p>But Dean hasn&rsquo;t looked at the envelope for a couple years and can&rsquo;t actually remember what&rsquo;s in it. He knows it was some medical stuff from his brother in prison but when he opens the envelope he is surprised to find a letter from his brother as well. He pulls it out and reads from it to me.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;This doctor has endangered my life by failing to provide me with the proper follow ups and examinations. I need to get out of this facility before something happens to me, man.&rsquo;&nbsp; That was dated February the 5th, 2011. Almost a month later, he passed away,&rdquo; Dean said with his eyes downcast.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">What are families supposed to do?</span></p><p>Kevin Dean was 49 when he died. Keith Dean says his brother used to complain all the time that he needed medical care and the prison wasn&rsquo;t giving it to him. Once Keith called the prison and was told that his brother was receiving proper care. Beyond that he wasn&rsquo;t sure what he was supposed to do. He still doesn&rsquo;t know.</p><p>&ldquo;He was sending me this to show me that definitely, there&rsquo;s something wrong, and they&rsquo;re not taking the proper steps as far as his medical care and I just didn&rsquo;t, I didn&rsquo;t know it was as bad as it was,&rdquo; said Dean. &ldquo;I just didn&rsquo;t believe it. I figured you&rsquo;ll be alright, you&rsquo;ll be okay and I have to live with that. I just wished I had a paid attention, man.&rdquo;</p><blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455" target="_blank">Man who died in prison of prostate cancer showed symptoms 14 years before death</a></strong></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:24px;">IDOC: Care is &#39;adequate&#39;</span></p><p>&ldquo;We do our job constitutionally and legally. Is it the best health care in the world? No, but it is adequate and that&rsquo;s our job,&rdquo; said Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer in a recent interview at the State of Illinois building in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop.</p><p>Between 80 and 100 people die behind bars in Illinois every year. The average age of the people who die is 54. The Department of Corrections says it carefully reviews every death, but information on deaths provided to WBEZ was scattershot and incomplete.</p><p>WBEZ has been reviewing IDOC records regarding deaths in custody in 2011 and 2012 and we&rsquo;ve found some cases that seem especially egregious.</p><p>For example, according to an incident report by a nurse at the Vandalia prison, on October 2, 2011 an inmate named Anthony Rencher went to the health care unit at 2 a.m.</p><p>In her report the nurse notes Rencher was complaining that he didn&rsquo;t feel well and couldn&rsquo;t walk. The nurse then wrote, &ldquo;but he could walk.&rdquo; I go over the nurse&rsquo;s report with IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer. Here&rsquo;s our exchange:</p><p>&ldquo;She says no abnormal findings,&quot; I said. &quot;She says she observes him in the waiting room for an hour. At 3 a.m. he requests to go back to his cell. To me that make very eminent sense. He goes for medical care, he doesn&rsquo;t get any, there&rsquo;s no tests run, there&rsquo;s nothing being done&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Let me ask you this right now,&rdquo; Shaer said.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, let me finish,&rdquo; I said.</p><p>&ldquo;No let me finish,&quot; Shaer said. &quot;So you just decided that the reason he asked to go back to his cell is that he didn&rsquo;t get the treatment, rather than he may have been feeling okay. How do you know why he made that decision? You just presumed that he decided that because he didn&rsquo;t get the care he sought so that&rsquo;s why he went back to his cell. How do you know he didn&rsquo;t decide to go back because he no longer had symptoms?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Because he died two and a half hours later,&rdquo; I said.</p><p>&ldquo;Okay,&quot; Shaer asked. &quot;How do you know that he had symptoms at the time, two and a half hours before his death?&rdquo;</p><p>According to the report, after sitting in the waiting room in the prison&rsquo;s health care unit for an hour at three in the morning, Rencher returned to his cell where he died. Shaer says unfortunately many of us know people who die unexpectedly without any warning signs.</p><p>&ldquo;To say that he went there and got no treatment is inaccurate. That&rsquo;s just not accurate,&rdquo; said Shaer. &ldquo;If he&rsquo;s in the healthcare unit being seen by a medical professional he is getting treatment and this inmate did.&rdquo;</p><p>To be clear, Shaer is a press spokesman, not a doctor. Dr. Louis Shicker, the medical director of Illinois&rsquo; Department of Corrections, refused to talk with us about the $100 million in medical care he oversees.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">IDOC: Documentation is difficult</span></p><p>Two years ago, after hearing complaints about health care, WBEZ submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for incident reports for all inmate deaths in the Department of Corrections. The department denied the FOIA, and fought it through an appeal to the attorney general of Illinois, saying it would be too burdensome. They said it would take months to collect the information because it&rsquo;s kept at all the different prisons around the state.</p><p>When WBEZ threatened to sue, the department did finally hand over documents, but the records were incomplete to say the least, and did not even reflect all the deaths that occurred. For example, the department says 97 inmates died in 2011 but the records handed over to WBEZ as part of a legal proceeding stretching out over the course of a year reflect only 79 deaths, omitting 18.</p><p>&ldquo;Eighteen out of 97, we don&rsquo;t feel, is indicative of a major problem with getting you the information you&rsquo;re entitled to. But I would say anything less than a hundred percent is not satisfactory. There are different levels of being unsatisfactory. This is a moderate level of dissatisfaction that we have and we&rsquo;re looking into it but I can&rsquo;t tell you why you asked for 97 and got 79,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">ACLU: Don&#39;t count on IDOC stats</span></p><p>&ldquo;If you say you look at every death and analyze what happened and how to fix it, that should be readily available and if it&rsquo;s not, what does that tell you?&rdquo; said Benjamin Wolf, the associate legal director of the ACLU of Illinois.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I also don&rsquo;t think any of the department&rsquo;s statistics are ones that I would count on as being accurate,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>The ACLU is one of the parties in a federal class action lawsuit over health care in prison.</p><p>&ldquo;When we decide whether to jump into a major class action we want to make sure it&rsquo;s a good commitment of our limited resources, including our limited staff, and this problem emerged as one of the most serious civil liberties problems in this state,&rdquo; said Wolf.</p><p>Wolf says before deciding to join the health care case the ACLU did some research. They hired experts in correctional health care to go through lots of records and policies and data.</p><p>&quot;It looked to them like there were very serious problems and very serious deficiencies including some deficiencies that may have caused people to die,&rdquo; Wolf said.</p><p>As part of the class action suit, the court has now appointed an expert who is doing a review of health care inside Illinois prisons. It means an independent doctor has access to all the medical records and death reviews and is going into the facilities as well.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re going to learn that the department&rsquo;s excuses for these things and defenses for a lot of these things are not persuasive and that their system is in fact deeply flawed and dangerous to the inmates,&rdquo; said Wolf.</p><p>Wolf says, when the expert report becomes public, Illinois citizens will have a much more accurate picture of health care inside Illinois prisons.</p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-inmate-dies-3-hours-after-seeking-medical-care-110460 Of natural causes: Death in Illinois prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455 <p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated 11:45 a.m. July 9, 2014</em></p><p dir="ltr">When Doris Green married an inmate in prison, she knew it was kind of weird, and yet for her it was also normal. As a prison chaplain the Rev. Green says she performed more than 20 weddings between inmates and women on the outside.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;No one else wanted to bring people together like that because it&rsquo;s something wrong with that because they&rsquo;re criminals,&rdquo; Green said in a recent interview at an office on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side where she runs a prison ministry program. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m like, &lsquo;aw, c&rsquo;mon now.&rsquo; They wanted me to do it because none of their chaplains wanted to, so I didn&rsquo;t care. I loved it. I loved counselling with them and preparing for their wedding and making sure their families got there and I did all that. Sure did.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Green says she eventually fell in love with and decided to marry Michael Smith, inmate N40598.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s my time, and I&rsquo;m gonna do this and here&rsquo;s your volunteer ID. Take it back,&rdquo; Green said.</p><p dir="ltr">She says she knows it was a little scandalous.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It is. I&rsquo;m so bad and I&rsquo;m a minister too. I&rsquo;m so bad you know, but whatever. Who tells who, who to love?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">When Green gave up her work as a prison chaplain she stayed involved in prison issues. She&rsquo;s currently the director of correctional health and community affairs for the Aids Foundation of Chicago. She helps connect inmates leaving prison with health care on the outside. Because of her job she knows health care workers in the Department of Corrections. But that didn&rsquo;t make much difference when her husband got sick.</p><p dir="ltr">On May 19, 2011, Smith died of prostate cancer. Green pulls out a medical record that she keeps protected in plastic. &ldquo;PSA was 7.6, high, they put in parenthesis &lsquo;high,&rsquo; and look at the date on here.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The date is December of 1997. Fourteen years before he died of prostate cancer a prison medical record shows he had a high PSA, which is an indicator of prostate cancer. The record says &ldquo;needs follow up,&rdquo; but Green says 14 years later her husband died from prostate cancer that hadn&rsquo;t been treated.</p><p dir="ltr">Between 80 and 100 people die each year inside Illinois prisons. WBEZ has sought information about those deaths, but the Department of Corrections under Gov. Pat Quinn is taking a &ldquo;trust us, nothing to see here&rdquo; attitude. However, persistent and disturbing complaints from inmates and their families make it hard to just move along.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Symptoms too obvious to ignore </span></p><p dir="ltr">Green says in 2011 her husband was getting up to urinate five times a night and was in extreme pain. That followed a decade of complaints of back pain, noted in the medical record. Green pushed the prison system to get him to a doctor at an outside hospital.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So when the urologist tested him, really gave him the biopsy, it was Stage 4 prostate cancer and bone cancer in his back,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The treating physician says at that point the PSA level had risen from 7.6 in 1997 to 250.6. &nbsp;He says he then prescribed an anti-hormonal injection, but that the Department of Corrections must never have given Smith that injection because the next time he saw Smith the PSA level was 892. He says the cancer should have been diagnosed much earlier.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I know everybody,&rdquo; said Green. &ldquo;I got them on speed dial, the director, all of them. I work with them and help people make sure they have health care. I couldn&rsquo;t get it for my own husband. I could get, I could talk to the people but I couldn&rsquo;t get the people, as the wife, I couldn&rsquo;t get the people to respond to the urgency of my husband&rsquo;s condition.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Green says she didn&rsquo;t find out about that 1997 test with the high PSA level until after her husband&rsquo;s death.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="" and="" any="" at="" before="" care="" class="image-original_image" custody="" dramatically="" entering="" had="" have="" health="" hepatitis="" higher="" hiv="" idoc="" inmates="" issues="" many="" national="" not="" of="" or="" other="" percentage="" received="" regular="" serious="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/deathage.png" style="height: 196px; width: 500px;" than="" the="" title="*Source: WBEZ review of Illinois state prison death records for 2011 and 2012. **Source: Center for Disease Control, 2011. According to IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer: &quot;The 'young people' entering IDOC custody have a percentage of Hepatitis C, HIV and other serious health issues dramatically higher than the 'national average' and many inmates with serious health issues had not received regular health care (or any at all) before entering IDOC.&quot;" with="" young="" /></div></div></div></div><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Spouse kept in the dark</span></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We couldn&rsquo;t do anything about something we didn&rsquo;t know,&quot; Green said. &quot;And when I say that, I ran across that one page after I got his medical records sent to me. That&rsquo;s when I seen the medical that he&rsquo;d had that prostate cancer, prostate test way back then. These people knew what was happening in my husband&rsquo;s body and just didn&rsquo;t tell him and didn&rsquo;t tell me! They knew he was suffering! It&rsquo;s all in here!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">While pushing for medical care for her husband Green says she&rsquo;d also been asking the governor&rsquo;s office for compassionate release so her husband could die at home, but that didn&rsquo;t happen. She says he died in his cell.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And that same day he died I got a call from the governor&rsquo;s office asking to meet with me about Michael Smith,&quot; Green said. &quot;And the receptionist that called me was so, I can feel it in her voice. I felt that I wanted to comfort her in some way. I told her, I said, he just died. And she said, I&rsquo;m so sorry. C&rsquo;mon. Too much. Too late. Too much. It&rsquo;s too late but it&rsquo;s not too late for those that are in there.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">IDOC: Green&#39;s claims &#39;false&#39;</span></p><p dir="ltr">The Illinois Department of Corrections strongly disputes Green&rsquo;s version of events. IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer says privacy laws prevent him from defending the department&rsquo;s track record in the case of Green&rsquo;s husband, but, &ldquo;I can tell you that the claims made by the third party in this case, Ms. Green, are filled with false statements covering the time from inmate Smith&rsquo;s diagnosis in 1997 and his death 14 years later, after I believe, I&rsquo;m not sure, she married him while he was in prison. There are many false statements covering that time. I wish I could get into further specifics but I can&rsquo;t do that. She evidently can. We legally cannot,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Medical director won&#39;t discuss care</span></p><p dir="ltr">The medical director for the Department of Corrections refused to discuss medical care, even in general terms, with WBEZ because of pending litigation. But there are always lawsuits pending. In fact, according to Shaer, there are 4,600 lawsuits against the Department of Corrections right now. Nonetheless, Shaer says citizens should be confident in the health care inside prisons.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Things happen in health system,&rdquo; said Shaer. &ldquo;If they happen here, when we investigate we find them and we take whatever action is appropriate. I&rsquo;m not saying that there was any such action appropriate in this individual&rsquo;s case, or any particular case. I am telling you that we do the same thing as hospitals do. We review our performance of our staff, our vendors and we take action when appropriate.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Bureau of Justice statistics, Illinois has one of the lowest inmate death rates in the country. Shaer says that&rsquo;s proof that Illinois is providing good care.</p><p>&ldquo;The total number of deaths, the overall issue with people dying in Illinois prisons is absolutely a non-story,&rdquo; said Shaer.</p><p><em>Reporting on deaths in Illinois prisons will continue throughout the week.</em></p><p><em>Patrick Smith contributed to this report. </em></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="" and="" any="" at="" before="" care="" class="image-original_image" custody="" dramatically="" entering="" had="" have="" health="" hepatitis="" higher="" hiv="" idoc="" inmates="" issues="" many="" national="" not="" of="" or="" other="" percentage="" received="" regular="" serious="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image (4).png" style="height: 487px; width: 620px;" than="" the="" title="*Source: WBEZ review of Illinois state prison death records for 2011 and 2012. **Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics report on mortality in local jails and state prisons, 2011. According to IDOC spokesman Tom Shaer: &quot;The 'young people' entering IDOC custody have a percentage of Hepatitis C, HIV and other serious health issues dramatically higher than the 'national average' and many inmates with serious health issues had not received regular health care (or any at all) before entering IDOC.&quot;" with="" young="" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 23:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/natural-causes-death-illinois-prisons-110455 Illinois DOC says revised gun bill would still be costly http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-doc-says-revised-gun-bill-would-still-be-costly-109185 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP168520649673_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois prison officials say revised legislation stiffening penalties for gun crimes would still cost hundreds of millions of dollars and add inmates to the crowded correctional system.</p><p>The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers <a href="http://bit.ly/1fc0j4h">reports</a>&nbsp;the figures come from the Illinois Department of Corrections.</p><p>The agency says the latest version of the gun bill would add nearly 2,500 inmates to the state&#39;s prison system and cost another $579 million over 10 years. That covers operating and construction costs.</p><p>The amended bill is backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and makes illegal gun-holders serve more prison time. But the measure stalled in the Illinois House after members of the Legislative Black Caucus stopped the bill through a procedural move.</p><p>The original measure required a three-year mandatory sentence for first-time offenders.</p></p> Tue, 19 Nov 2013 10:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-doc-says-revised-gun-bill-would-still-be-costly-109185 NATO 5 protester in solitary in maximum security prison http://www.wbez.org/news/nato-5-protester-solitary-maximum-security-prison-108511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Pontiac Prison.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>One of the so-called NATO 5 protesters has been put in segregation in prison for having &ldquo;dangerous written material&rdquo; in his cell.</p><p>Mark Neiweem is serving a three-year sentence for asking someone to buy him components to make a pipe bomb in the run up to the NATO summit held in Chicago. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections,&nbsp; Neiweem was put into segregation in mid-July at the maximum security Pontiac prison. Inmates held in segregation get one shower and five hours outside their cell per week.</p><p>A disciplinary report on Neiweem states he &ldquo;was found in possession of copious amounts of Anarchist publications, handwritten Anarchist related essays, and signs and symbolisms indicative of Anarachists.&rdquo; That violates departmental rule 209: &ldquo;Possessing written material that presents a serious threat to the safety and security of persons or the facility.&rdquo;</p><p>The disciplinary report also cites a confidential informant in the prison who told guards that Neiweem was recruiting other inmates to be part of a collective.</p><p>The Department of Corrections says Neiweem will remain in segregation until January of next year. In a Cook County Adult Probation Department report Neiweem told an investigator that he has a history of drug abuse and mental illness and has attempted suicide on two occasions.</p></p> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 15:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/nato-5-protester-solitary-maximum-security-prison-108511 Horses finding a home at Illinois prison http://www.wbez.org/news/horses-finding-home-illinois-prison-107554 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/illinois prison_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-35246126-164a-e4c2-c0be-48911d1be987">The Vandalia prison in southern Illinois used to be a farm and dairy where the inmates could work. These days instead of milking cows the inmates just mix powdered milk with water. But a new program for retired racehorses is bringing animals back to the picturesque farmland.</p><p>Kathleen Mattingly runs vocational programs for the Illinois Department of Corrections and says inmates will be taught how to care for the horses and will also get a certificate. &ldquo;You know, we&rsquo;ve got 200 people that showed interest in enrolling in this program just at Vandalia and a wait list of 50 and we&rsquo;re going to do everything we can to make sure all the students that are eligible will be in this program,&rdquo; Mattingly said.</p><p>Mattingly says 15 inmates will be in the class at a time. She recognizes that&rsquo;s a small number given that the population of the department is nearly 49,000, but she says they hope to expand the program to include more horses and inmates. She says she hopes they can grow hay on some of the 1,600 acres owned by the prison. Mattingly says the training in caring for horses is in addition to the other opportunities behind bars. For example, she says nearly 5,000 inmates completed college classes in the last year.</p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 16:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/horses-finding-home-illinois-prison-107554 Illinois prison health care lawsuit getting boost from ACLU http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prison-health-care-lawsuit-getting-boost-aclu-107446 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Mills.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Update: The Illinois Department of Corrections and attorneys for plaintiffs say they have a settlement conference scheduled for late June.&nbsp; The date for that settlement conference was set several weeks ago.</em></p><p>A lawsuit over health care in prisons in Illinois is getting a boost from the American Civil Liberties Union. The federal class action lawsuit charges the Department of Corrections and Wexford Health Sources, a private healthcare company, with providing wholly inadequate health care to inmates.</p><p>The suit was filed by Alan Mills who runs the Uptown People&rsquo;s Law Center, which focuses on prison issues. Mills says the ACLU is joining the case and brings lots of experience to the table in civil rights and class action cases.</p><p>His own group, Mills says, is a very small operation.</p><p>&quot;We have lots of expertise in the way the prisons work,&quot; he said, &quot;but don&rsquo;t have the horses to do this alone, so I think everybody brings to the table here some really good skills which will allow us to bring this case through to a verdict in the plaintiff&rsquo;s favor.&rdquo;</p><p>Mills says, so far, Wexford, the private health care company with a contract to care for the inmates, and the Department of Corrections have refused to sit down and discuss a possible settlement. Wexford and the Department of Corrections did not immediately have a comment on the lawsuit.</p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-prison-health-care-lawsuit-getting-boost-aclu-107446 Gov. Quinn moving inmates into gyms at six prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/gov-quinn-moving-inmates-gyms-six-prisons-105547 <p><p>The Illinois Department of Corrections has told the union for prison workers that they plan to start housing men in the gymnasiums at six already overcrowded prisons.</p><p>The move comes as Gov. Pat Quinn plans to close Dwight Correctional Facility, requiring inmates to be shuffled around the prison system.</p><p>But the system is already overcrowded. There are 49,000 people being housed in facilities built for 33,000.</p><p>Anders Lindall is with the union representing prison workers. The union opposes closing Dwight and opposes housing inmates in gyms.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not only unsafe in and of itself but it heightens tensions in the prisons that due to the crowding are already volatile,&rdquo; Lindall said.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now what we&rsquo;re doing is putting the cart way before the horse,&rdquo; said John Maki, the executive director of The John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group in Illinois.</p><p>Maki says in general his group favors closing prisons because in the past prisons have been overused to house those with mental illness and drug addiction. But Maki says you can&rsquo;t simply squeeze more people into less space.</p><p>&ldquo;Without a plan to safely and significantly reduce the prison population, I don&rsquo;t see how this can be a temporary fix.&nbsp; I think this will become the new status quo, which is dangerous for inmates but also for staff,&rdquo; Maki said.</p><p>In a written statement the Department of Corrections insists that housing men in gyms will be a temporary situation, though they don&rsquo;t outline any plan to relieve the already historic overcrowding that will be made worse by the prison closure.</p><p>For the last eight months WBEZ has had a standing request to interview Gov.Quinn about his prison policy. He has refused.</p></p> Fri, 15 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/gov-quinn-moving-inmates-gyms-six-prisons-105547 Shuttered Joliet prison won't house NATO offenders http://www.wbez.org/news/shuttered-joliet-prison-wont-house-nato-offenders-98778 <p><p>The Illinois Department of Corrections says it won't reopen a shuttered prison in suburban Chicago to house protesters arrested during this month's NATO summit.</p><p>Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart floated that idea in recent days as he prepares for the possibility of a large number of arrests. Thousands of anti-war and other demonstrators are expected to descend on the city during the May 20-21 summit. Dart's office has noted that Cook County jail space is already severely limited.</p><p>The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday that the state prison authority has decided not to reopen the shuttered facility in Joliet.</p><p>Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solano tells the Sun-Times that the former Joliet Correctional Center is "not an option." She didn't explain why.</p></p> Thu, 03 May 2012 09:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/shuttered-joliet-prison-wont-house-nato-offenders-98778 The cost of caring for Illinois' aging prison population http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/cost-caring-illinois-aging-prison-population <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/elderly inmates.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois&rsquo; prisons are strapped for cash and caring for the growing number of elderly prisoners is part of the problem. Inmates over 50 are a fairly small slice of the overall prison population. But according to a <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/illinois-prisons-budget-elderly-old-inmates/Content?oid=3013140" target="_blank">new report</a> released Wednesday in the Chicago Reader, they use about one-third of the <a href="http://www.idoc.state.il.us/" target="_blank">Illinois Department of Corrections</a>&rsquo; total budget.</p><p>Jessica Pupovac is the freelance journalist behind the report and has been sifting through the figures. She joined &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; to discuss what she unearthed for her piece, &quot;Guarding Grandpa: Illinois is spending money it doesn't have to keep convicts who can barely walk behind bars.&quot; <br />&nbsp;</p><p><strong>RELATED&nbsp;LINKS</strong>:</p><p><a href="http://www.vera.org/content/its-about-time-aging-prisoners-increasing-costs-and-geriatric-release" target="_blank">2010 Vera Institute study </a><br /><a href="http://www.idoc.state.il.us/subsections/reports/annual_report/FY09%20DOC%20Annual%20Rpt.pdf" target="_blank">2009 Illinois Department of Corrections annual report</a></p><p><em>Music Button: Four Tet/Bonobo, &quot;Pick Ups&quot;, from the CD Four Tet Remixes, (Domino) </em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/cost-caring-illinois-aging-prison-population