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Department Of Corrections Renews Prison Health Care Contract With Centurion Of Arizona

Despite continued failures to meet court-ordered performance benchmarks, the Arizona Department of Corrections has renewed its prison health care contract with Centurion of Arizona. The department pays a medical company to facilitate health care in the 10 state-run prisons.

The department says it will stick with Centurion for 15 more months,  after switching from Corizon Health in 2019.

The new contract includes $12 million in increases and a $2.7 million reimbursement to Centurion for pandemic-related expenses, for a total cost of more than $216 million.

Two federal judges have  levied contempt fines totaling $2.5 million against the department for inadequate prison health care in recent years. The department is seeking to have its previous contractor, Corizon Health, pay for those fines.

The contract renewal with Centurion amends the indemnification cap for the company at $2 million for “court ordered judicial sanctions and fees” related to the Parsons versus Shinn prison health care lawsuit.

Plaintiff attorneys in the case say the department could be liable for millions more dollars in sanctions.

ACLU National Prison Project attorney Corene Kendrick said she believes the state is liable for an additional $24 million in fines for failing to meet performance benchmarks in the Parsons versus Shinn lawsuit

"The amendment in the contract says Centurion will only reimburse the department for up to $2 million, " Kendrick said. "So, when and if the judge issues a final contempt order, the state is potentially going to have to come up with another $22 million to pay for the fines."

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.