clearn.png
Monday September 16th, 2019 4:23AM

Delaware AG investigating prison medical contractor

By The Associated Press

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Delaware's attorney general is investigating the state's prison system medical contractor amid allegations that staffers were ordered to forge documents to falsely state that inmates were getting mental health treatment they never received.

Officials confirmed the investigation this week and urged anyone with information about the record-keeping practices of Connections Community Support Programs Inc. to contact the Office of Civil Rights and Public Trust.

The investigation is the latest sign of problems within Delaware's prison health system, which was the target of a federal investigation more than a decade ago.

"It's upsetting that so many years down the road, and we're still not apparently getting what we're paying for," a frustrated Gov. John Carney said Tuesday. "That's just unacceptable."

Connections CEO Cathy McKay did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The allegations involve at least a dozen female inmates who were enrolled in a substance-abuse program called Crest at Sussex Correctional Institution in southern Delaware.

Former Connections staffer Shannon Lasek claims she was ordered by Crest South managers to falsify documents late last year to indicate that inmates were getting individual counseling sessions and treatment plans.

"They weren't actually done, they were just signed," Lasek said Tuesday.

Lasek made her concerns known in a resignation letter in December, with copies to McKay and to Jim Elder, chief of the Bureau of Community Corrections. She said no one from the Department of Correction reached out to her until last week, shortly before the News Journal of Wilmington, which first reported the allegations, published a story.

State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, said he sent an email to DOC Commissioner Perry Phelps in late April after hearing rumors for weeks about problems with Connections. Pettyjohn said Phelps indicated to him that DOC officials had looked into the allegations and found nothing wrong.

"I'm not happy about that," Carney said of the DOC's apparently cursory review.

Asked whether he thought Phelps and DOC management were doing a good job, and whether he still had confidence in Phelps, the governor was noncommittal.

"We're going to have a long conversation about this particular problem," Carney said. "If the allegations that I've read about are accurate, we're going to get it fixed."

In response to an Associated Press query in February — two months after Lasek sent Elder a copy of her resignation letter — DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell denied that prison officials had been made aware of allegations against Crest facilitators.

"However, there are mechanisms in place that allow the DOC to confirm offender programming and treatment and we will review the records of any inmates who come forward stating they were held past their release date due to falsified documents," Gravell wrote in an email. She added that if wrongdoing were discovered, the DOC would refer the matter to the DOJ for investigation.

Marc Richman, chief of the Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, did not return a telephone message Tuesday.

Bill Northey, chief operating officer for Connections, did not answer questions about the allegations Tuesday and said he didn't know when McKay might be available.

Lasek said she was told to begin falsifying documents last November, after several counselors quit over a period of months, leaving the Crest program severely short-staffed.

"It became obvious that all these charts were falling behind," she said.

After getting no reply from officials at DOC or Connections to her concerns, Lasek sent a letter late last month to Democratic and Republican leaders in the General Assembly and to the attorney general's office.

"I first hand witnessed clients go through this 90+ day program without a single counseling session or treatment plan," despite records falsely indicating otherwise, she wrote.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating conditions at Delaware prisons after a preliminary inquiry prompted by inmate lawsuits and media reports alleging inadequate medical care. The investigation resulted in a memorandum of agreement under which Delaware agreed to take steps to improve health care services. The state was released from the agreement in late 2012, a few months after awarding Connections a contract for mental health and substance abuse services.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Texas officer shoots and kills woman after stun-gun struggle
A Texas police officer shot and killed a woman who police say grabbed his Taser and used it on him, moments after she seemed to say 'I'm pregnant' in a videotaped altercation
4:57PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Trump pushes 'America First energy policy' on Louisiana trip
President Donald Trump is showcasing his 'America First energy policy' during a trip to Louisiana
4:54PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Consumers could be collateral damage if US expands tariffs
American consumers could be collateral damage if US expands tariffs to nearly all Chinese products
4:48PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Alabama Senate heads toward vote on abortion ban measure
The Alabama Senate will vote Tuesday evening on a bill that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony.
11:47AM ( 5 hours ago )
What helps prevent dementia? Try exercise, not vitamin pills
New guidelines for preventing dementia focus on keeping the whole body healthy as a way to prevent mental decline
9:05AM ( 8 hours ago )
Jury: Monsanto to pay $2 billion in weed killer cancer case
A Northern California jury ordered agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. to pay a combined $2.05 billion to a couple who claimed the company's popular weed killer Roundup Ready caused each of their cancer
9:57PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Health
Texas officer shoots and kills woman after stun-gun struggle
A Texas police officer shot and killed a woman who police say grabbed his Taser and used it on him, moments after she seemed to say 'I'm pregnant' in a videotaped altercation
4:57PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Trump pushes 'America First energy policy' on Louisiana trip
President Donald Trump is showcasing his 'America First energy policy' during a trip to Louisiana
4:54PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Consumers could be collateral damage if US expands tariffs
American consumers could be collateral damage if US expands tariffs to nearly all Chinese products
4:48PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Coach pleads to college admissions scam, could hurt Loughlin
A former soccer coach at the University of Southern California has pleaded guilty to creating fake athletic profiles in the college admissions bribery scheme
4:36PM ( 29 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump handicaps 2020 rivals at government event
President Donald Trump is using an official government event at a liquefied natural gas export facility to handicap his potential 2020 Democratic opponents
4:20PM ( 45 minutes ago )