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Archive for November, 2009

The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) today released a Request For Proposals (RFP) soliciting vendors to provide healthcare services to the prison inmate population.

The new RFP will allow the option of multiple vendors, so potential vendors will be able to bid to provide a portion of services, such as mental health services, substance abuse services or prescription drugs, among others, as well as to bid on the entire contract.

Another change will be to allow the option for a “shared risk” model, with DOC agreeing to bear the risk of certain costs in certain categories.

“We expect this flexibility, and the increased competition it is expected to provide, will foster improved medical care and cost savings,” DOC Commissioner Carl Danberg said in a written statement. “The Department spent significant time exploring alternative solutions to the way we contract for medical services. We believe this alternative will allow for large and small service providers to bid on the areas that fall within their specialization.”

Shoddy medical care provided by the DOC’s current medical vendor, Correctional Medical Services, was  highlighted in a recent special by the Caesar Rodney Institute.

The RFP can be found here.

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An inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna has a four-inch hole in his buttocks, which is full of MRSA, staph and other bacteria.

The abscess is burrowing toward the 50-year-old inmate’s midline, according to medical documents obtained by the Caesar Rodney Institute.

He’s had the wound for more than six months, and now faces surgery to remove the dead tissue, and possible skin grafts. The ulcerous wound has formed a pus pocket, referred to as a “sinus tract” in his medical records, which is four inches long.

Five months ago, according to the records, medical staff were irrigating the wound with saline, and packing it with 10 to 12 inches of gauze.

Not only does the inmate constitute a serious health risk to other inmates, the guards too are at risk for contracting the highly-communicable MRSA, which is also known as flesh-eating bacteria. Their families too could be exposed to MRSA, as could anyone they contact.

 

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The Delaware Department of Correction killed Daniel Kern, according to the findings of an autopsy report obtained by the Caesar Rodney Institute.

Kern, 41, was serving a one-year sentence for his third drunk-driving conviction. He was being held at the Sussex Correctional Institution. He acquired pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, which can be caused by alcoholism, other infections or gall stones.

Pancreatitis should have been easy to detect. A simple blood test would have revealed that Kern’s blood contained elevated levels of digestive enzymes, which are formed in the pancreas. However, Kern’s frequent complaints of abdominal pain and pleas for help went unheeded by the DOC and its medical vendor Correctional Medical Services.

The Caesar Rodney Institute, as part of its ongoing special report “Rogue Force,” reported what Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Adrienne Sekula-Perlman told Kern’s family after the post-mortem exam, that Kern died as a result of pancreatitis, which constitutes “gross medical negligence.”

The last page of Sekula-Perlman’s autopsy report confirms what she told Kern’s family.

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A 36-year-old Newark man is the latest inmate to die in Delaware’s prison system.

Gernell J. Archie died Friday, Nov. 13 at the Sussex Correctional Institute (SCI) in Georgetown.

He was serving an eight-year sentence for robbery, possession of a weapon and theft.

According to a press release, sent by Department of Correction spokesman John Painter after the Caesar Rodney Institute made inquiries about the death, “no foul play is suspected.” No cause of death information was provided.

Unlike other inmate deaths, the DOC did not notify the Caesar Rodney Institute of Archie’s death via the department’s press release e-mail system. Painter blamed this on another spokesperson, whom he said used an outdated e-mail list.

The death announcement, dated Monday, Nov. 16, was also not placed in the DOC’s press release archive, as has been the DOC’s policy.

 

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From the National Rifle Association:

As a critical Second Amendment case goes before the United States Supreme Court, U.S. Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT), and Congressmen Mike Ross (D-AR) and Mark Souder (R-IN) are gathering signatures for an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief by Members of Congress.  And we need your support for this important effort next week.

The case is McDonald v. City of Chicago, and it will answer the question of whether the Second Amendment applies to the states—as the Congress clearly intended in the 1860s, when it adopted the Fourteenth Amendment to protect constitutional rights against abuse by state and local governments.  This brief is an opportunity for today’s Congress to show just as clearly that it respects the Second Amendment’s importance to all Americans—not just residents of the District of Columbia and other federal territories.

The brief describes Congress’s debates on the Fourteenth Amendment, and points out the many occasions—from 1866 to 2005—when the Congress has spoken in favor of the Second Amendment as protecting a right of all Americans, and taken action to protect that right against actions such as gun confiscation and predatory lawsuits.  It also makes the case for Congress’s interest (under its constitutional war powers) in preserving an armed citizenry as part of America’s national defense.

When Congress speaks, the Supreme Court listens.   And it did in the historic Heller case last year when 55 Senators and 250 Representatives signed an amicus brief supporting the Second Amendment as an individual right.  Now every Senator and Congressman who supports the rights of all Americans should step forward to be heard by signing this brief in the McDonald case.

The brief must be filed within the week, so we need your immediate help! On Monday through Thursday, please call your U.S. Senators and Representative, and urge them to sign on to this critically important brief, which will be a key part of the legal battle to protect the Second Amendment in the U.S. Supreme Court.

You can call your U.S. Senators at (202) 224-3121, and your U.S. Representative at (202) 225-3121.

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The Caesar Rodney Institute is seeking information about an alleged beating of an inmate by guards at the Sussex Correctional Institute. which reportedly occurred within the past 48 hours.

The inmate, said to be Yusef Dickerson, was struck repeatedly in the face by several guards, in what was described as an unprovoked attack.

CRI would like to hear from the victim’s family, or the families of the more than 40 inmates who witnessed the assault and signed a grievance form reporting the incident.

If you have any information about the incident, please contact CRI investigative reporter Lee Williams at (302) 242-9272 or lee@caesarrodney.org

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Yesterday’s release of the final requirements for federal Race to the Top funds is a positive step for education reform in the states. Coming a couple weeks after an informative and substantive education conference at the University of Delaware, it seems that Delaware could be in good standing to be awarded some of these funds.

One of the premises of Race to the Top, that funds will be allocated in a large enough amount to achieve a critical mass to affect real reform is a significant paradigm shift for federal funding to programs. Instead of spreading the wealth across the board so that everyone gets “their share,” Race to the Top funds will go to select states in amounts that should make a difference. It isn’t about making everyone happy – it is about generating enough resources to truly make a difference.

The final criteria for the funds will be determined through two phases. Per the Enterprise Blog’s Andrew Smarick,

In terms of timing and process, there will be two competitions, with awards given in the spring and fall of 2010. The few awards will reflect the winning states’ populations (for example, should Wyoming win, it will get far less than California).

What are the feds looking for? Among other criteria,

  • Professional development and training
  • Local district buy-in
  • Improved teacher and administrative evaluation
  • Data driven accountability and review processes
  • Support for choice and charter schools

As The News Journal has noted, “Delaware could receive up to $75 million to drive education reform if it’s selected as a recipient of the federal Race to the Top Fund.”

That is a key benefit of the program for Delaware. As a small state, a smaller chunk of the funds can get a lot more done in Delaware than in larger states. Delaware can affect real reform with $75 million unlike states such as California or New York or Texas where even $500 million would likely not be enough to make a true difference.

The criterion that states will be judged in part on their commitment to charter schools is nothing short of positive. Additionally, the criterion that covers using student performance measures in teacher evaluations is a welcomed piece of the competition’s requirements.

 

Education Week has a listing of all 30 of the criteria viewable here.

 

Education Week also gives a good synopsis of the crux of the program:

To win funding, states will have to do much more than lift their charter school caps, or remove data firewalls between student and teacher data, said Mr. Duncan, who pushed those two issues in recent months to get states ready for the competition, which he has described as America’s education “moonshot.”

Race to the Tops commitment to utilizing some form of performance based pay should be applauded. Though it has been noted by experts who are most familiar with the program that the final guidelines scaled back the importance of reforms promoting peformance-based pay.

In a nod to teachers’ union concerns, the final regulations make clear that student test scores should be just one component of a teacher- or principal-evaluation system. The regulations now require that such systems include multiple measures, including growth in student test scores.

In all, the revised guidelines appear to have stayed true to the programs intentions. There is no question that obtaining buy-in across the board from parents, teachers, administrations, unions and policymakers is of the utmost importance – as long as this buy-in does not result in the program being watered down to the point of ineffectiveness or lacking real reform. It looks like there is a legitimate commitment to the key reforms and that the program won’t become too vanilla to actually make a difference.

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