Medical Care in Arizona's Solitary
I'm writing from Arizona solitary confinement, aka SMU2, to let others know what is going with the corrupt medical grievance process. Recently a memo was passed out that all medical grievances are now to be treated differently and go through Corizon staff, which is the contracted company that provides health treatment to Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). This process consists of only 2 steps, which are an "informal resolution complaint" and then the "grievance." Both are to go through the Facility Health Administrator (FHA), which allows for no transparency nor checks and balances. Since this change in the grievance procedure, not one "informal resolution complaint" form has been replied to in accordance to ADC's Department Order #802 "Inmate Grievance System", that is set up to oversee this process.
So after the FHA does not respond, one has to move on to the grievance per this policy. The grievances are not delivered back for 1 to 2 months, and this only due to me writing to a CCO3 (counselor) to inquire about replies. The replies are pretty generic and consist of responses like "your complaint has been forwarded to..." "your complaint is substantiated..." etc. and that the grievance is resolved. Yet nothing is done and there is no type of appeal to this, so no other remedy can be sought as the process is exhausted here.
Before, the process wasn't much better but it would go through 4 steps as a way to oversee this process. I have sought remedy through this process on many occasions, so many as a matter of fact that I have actually had 2 meetings with the FHA. The latest one being in May of this year, where she personally resolved a grievance by renewing one of my prescriptions. Yet these prescriptions were not renewed and instead were allowed to expire without any type of tapering or alternative treatment in place. So I am at a loss as to what my next step is, as even when a grievance is granted it is not followed through on.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a couple of other law firms actually have a lawsuit on behalf of ADOC prisoners named Parsons v. Ryan which is not even being adhered to, as the ACLU recently filed a motion showing that ADOC was not in compliance with this lawsuit. Being that the suit is not for monetary compensation to the actual plaintiffs, being us, the ACLU gets their so-called expenses paid as well as the fine, which in this last case was a cool $2 million.
ADOC would rather pay the fine than provide adequate health care as it is much cheaper to do so, and they will continue to do so because it will save them a ton of money! I have written the ACLU in Washington and the Arizona ACLU, as well as the Prison Law Office out of San Quentin who are the attorneys in charge of the lawsuit and all that they do is forward my informal grievances and HNRs to each other as well as shoot me one another's addresses for me to contact them. The replies are to grieve it, which I have, and the grievances were substantiated and granted yet I am here in my little cell without treatment as I write these very words.
Any ideas of what to do next would be greatly appreciated! I let the FHA know that this type of deliberate indifference and derelict of duty would not be allowed in any other type of medical treatment setting. Therefore why is it allowed here in SMU2? If anyone has suggestions on how to proceed please contact MIM(Prisons) for me, thank you.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides yet another good example of the failure of prison grievance systems as well as the courts. In this case Arizona has set up a system that just wastes prisoners' time while offering no accountability, even when grievances and Court Orders are granted.
It is for situations like this that the campaign to demand our grievances be addressed was initiated. We have a petition pertaining to Arizona State Prison that could be modified for this battle in solitary confinement. While these petitions don't often win the battles for us immediately, they help us build support by spreading the campaign to others and giving them specific actions they can take. At the same time we're all too well aware that prisons don't have an interest in addressing grievances. Anything that costs more money or requires more services, or that forces COs to treat prisoners with respect and dignity, is going to be a hard battle. The criminal injustice system is set up to do the opposite, and so we will have to fight for each right. Write to us to get a copy of the Arizona petition to modify for this battle.
While grievances and courts fail, we learn the same lesson over and over again — that legal battles will not get us where we need to be, to a world without oppression. Court cases and grievance campaigns sometimes win some victories, that is true. But for long-lasting change we really need to organize with each other, build unity, educate and struggle together to force change. We hope this correspondent will take this failure of the courts as inspiration to try a different method of resolution.
We Demand Our Grievances are Addressed in Arizona