Feds grant DOC more time to satisfy Memorandum of Agreement
The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) has failed to keep it’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, in which it promised to improve inmate health care.
According to an e-mail sent Thursday morning by the DOC, the U.S. Department of Justice has granted the DOC an extension to make the necessary changes, and it has allowed the DOC to remove two institutions from the agreement.
The DOC entered into an agreement with the federal Department of Justice in 2006, after federal investigators determined that shoddy medical care was violating the civil rights of the inmates in state custody.
The e-mail from the DOC touts the improvements the agency has made. It does not specify the amount of additional time granted by the federal government.
The Justice Department had three options, as the DOC was not expected to fulfill it’s portion of the MOA. The DOJ could have brought suit against the state, quit the MOA without further action, or granted the extension.
The full text of the DOC’s email follows:
Department of Correction & US Department of Justice
Announce Extension of Medical Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
Significant progress cited, reduction in scope from initial agreement
The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) announced today that it has extended its Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on inmate medical and mental health care services with the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ). The extended agreement is greatly reduced in its scope from the original MOA and credits the State of Delaware with “significant” progress already made over the past three years.
During the time period covered by the current agreement, the State has come into full or partial compliance with 98 percent of the provisions – 214 out of 217 – contained in the original MOA. As a result of that effort, the extension eliminates provisions at every facility.
Improvements at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution were so substantial that the women’s prison is released entirely from the extended agreement. In addition, Sussex Correctional Institution has been removed from the medical care portion of the extension.
The new agreement, effective December 30, 2009, continues the role of the Independent Monitor, Joshua W. Martin, III of the Wilmington law firm of Potter Anderson and Corroon LLP, for the next year; however, the agreement specifically calls for the reduction of the role of the Independent Monitoring Team during the first year, and for the DOC to begin self-monitoring and reporting to the USDOJ during the second year.
The extension permits an extremely collaborative relationship between the DOC and the USDOJ to continue as the agencies share the common goal of bringing the State into full compliance with the MOA.
“I am pleased to sign this agreement,” said DOC Commissioner Carl C. Danberg. “Significant progress has been made as we continue to address the needs of inmate health care, and that effort is acknowledged in this new agreement. Through this extension, we are renewing our commitment to completely satisfy the MOA.”
While admitting there is still improvement to be made, Commissioner Danberg notes that the agreement itself reflects the State’s enormous progress over the past three years:
“Since monitoring began in early 2007, the State of Delaware and Department of Corrections staff have cooperated thoroughly with the Independent Monitor and his staff, as well as with the Department of Justice; have demonstrated a strong and consistent commitment to addressing the challenging issues posed by meeting the requirements of the MOA; and have shown a willingness to proactively and voluntarily undertake measures to improve conditions throughout the system.”
- “DOJ acknowledges that significant improvements have been made in many areas covered by the MOA during the past three years, and that the State has achieved substantial compliance with many specific provisions of the MOA.”
- “In recognition of the substantial progress made towards improving the quality of medical and mental health care delivered at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution (“BWCI”), the greatly improved internal monitoring mechanisms established by the State, and the State’s demonstrated commitment to sustaining and building on these improvements, the Parties agree that BWCI is hereby released from the requirements of this Amended MOA….
- “The DOJ also acknowledges that substantial improvements have been made to the quality of medical care delivered at the Sussex Correctional Institution (“SCI”).”
“Through this agreement, the Department of Justice confirms the tremendous strides we have made in providing inmate heath care in the State of Delaware,” said Danberg. “Using that as a foundation, we will continue to move forward and aggressively address the provisions in the new agreement.”
“This is good news for Delaware,” said State Representative J.J. Johnson, Chair of the House Corrections Committee. “The U.S. Department of Justice has clearly indicated that significant progress has been made, but we have more work to do. This agreement commits the State to finish what we started.”
The two agencies entered into the original MOA on December 29, 2006, when the State agreed to take specific actions intended to improve medical and mental health care services at four prison facilities – Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution, Howard R. Young Correctional Institution, James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (previously known as Delaware Correctional Center), and Sussex Correctional Institution.
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