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Tennessee County Seeks New Jail Medical Contract After Inmate Deaths

About one month after two inmates died in one week at the Henderson County Jail in Tennessee, the county issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) [PDF] for a new jail medical contract.

Henderson County Jail had a contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) at the time of the deaths—a company which has come under fire for multiple inmate deaths and injuries at jails throughout the midwest in recent years.

Henderson County officials confirmed to Shadowproof the county no longer holds a contract with ACH.

In February, local news outlets reported Jeff Conley was found dead at the jail two days after he had been arrested for public intoxication. Conley’s family told reporters “He had a heart condition where he needed a defibrillator,” as well as a pacemaker.

Less than a week before Conley’s death, inmate Gina White was found dead in an isolation cell. No cause of death or further details have been reported in either case as of yet.

The Henderson County Sheriff told reporters he did not believe any protocols had been broken and asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Department of Corrections to open an inquiry into the deaths.

The new jail medical RFP was issued in March, weeks after the inmate deaths occurred in February, 2015. Proposals for a one-year contract to provide care for “approximately 185 average daily incarcerated patients” were due on April 24.

The RFP states a doctor, nurse practitioner, or doctor’s assistant must be on site at least one day per week, although there may be “variable requests dependent upon situations.” The company must provide one full-time and one part-time nurse per-week on site.

The bidding contractor must provide proof of medical liability insurance, malpractice insurance, liability and workers compensation coverage, and must adhere to the Tennessee Correction Institute Standards for Jail and Medical Protocols.

The contractor will “assume all expenses incurred in connection with performance” of the agreement. The contractor must “indemnify, hold harmless and defend the Organization and its Board of Trustees, officers, employees, and agents from any liability, losses, costs, damages, claims, and obligations relating to or arising from this agreement.”

Henderson County has not responded to our request for ACH’s contract, and the outcome of this RFP is presently unknown. But the staffing, insurance, and liability provisions of the request sound troublingly similar to terms in contracts in other facilities, where inmate health has been neglected in favor of savings.

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Brian Nam-Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.