Audit finds prison doctors paid for hours not worked

From: Las Vegas Sun
Dec 12th 2012, By Cy Ryan

CARSON CITY — Doctors hired by Nevada’s prison system may have been paid $1.9 million for hours they didn’t work, an audit found.

The audit found that full-time physicians, who are employed to work four ten-hour shifts a week, put in an average of only 5.3 hours per day. Part-time doctors work two ten-hour days.

“We estimate the annualized unsupported payments for full time doctors and part time doctors for fiscal year 2012 were approximately $1.9 million,” said the report by the Division of Internal Audits in the state Department of Administration.

The 23 physicians at the seven state prisons are paid an hourly rate ranging from $64 to $82.
An audit several years ago found that physicians hired in the state mental health system failed to put in the hours they were paid for, prompting officials to tighten controls.

The prison audit included physicians, dentists and psychiatrists.

The audit says physicians, as exempt employees, are not required to work the full ten-hour daily shift, but standard practice in Nevada is they put in “something equivalent to a 40 hour work week or more.”

Read the rest here: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/dec/12/audit-finds-prison-doctors-paid-hours-not-worked/

How Bad is the Crisis in America’s Prisons?

By Corrections.com
By John Dewar Gleissner, Esq  
Published: 12/20/2010  


Pretty bad. From 1987 to 2007, the U.S. prison population nearly tripled.[1] The American prison population in 2004 was eight times larger than it was in 1954.[2] In 2008, it was 40 times greater than it was in 1904.[3] On a per capita basis, there were 15 times more sentenced prisoners in 2008 than in 1904. At the beginning of 2008, 2,319,258 Americans were in prison or jail, more than in any other country in the world, and a greater percentage of our population is in prison or jail than in any other country in the world.[4] At the start of 2009, the total incarcerated population in the United States was 2,424,279.[5] That is just the number behind bars, four times more people than are in the U.S. Army, more than Utah in the last census. “The United States incarcerates more people than the Russian Federation, South Africa, Mexico, Iran, India, Australia, Brazil, and Canada combined.”[6] With 5% of the world’s population, the United States has 25% of the world’s prisoners. As U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia put it: “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different – and vastly counterproductive.” In 2010, more Americans are serving life sentences than ever before. Prisoners now have their own inspirational lifestyle publication, Prison Living Magazine.

In 2007, the entire U.S. correctional population, which includes jail and penitentiary prisoners plus those on probation and parole totaled 7,328,200.[7] By the end of 2008, the number of probationers and parolees rose again.[8] Add in ex-convicts who have completed sentences, parole, or probation, and all who are slaves to their addictions, and the number of living Americans who are now or have ever been enslaved exceeds 10,000,000. “Over the course of a year, 13.5 million people spend time in jail or prison, and 95% of them eventually return to our communities.”[9] Reducing the number behind bars does not directly decrease the correctional population. Over two-thirds of the correctional population is outside prison, on probation, on parole or awaiting trial. When the prison population peaks and then declines, it will probably just mean more offenders are on the outside.

The hyper-incarceration statistics for African-American males are much worse. We incarcerate one in nine African-Americans between the ages of 20 and 34.[10] In 2003, it was calculated that “At current levels of incarceration newborn black males in this country have a greater than a 1 in 4 chance of going to prison during their lifetimes, while Hispanic males have a 1 in 6 chance, and white males have a 1 in 23 chance of serving time.”[11] By 2007, just four years later, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that African-American males have a 32% chance of going to prison or jail – becoming slaves – in their lifetimes.[12] Young black male high school dropouts are almost 50 times more likely to wind up behind bars than the average American, and 60% of that demographic cohort eventually goes to prison.[13]

“Prison costs are blowing holes in state budgets but barely making a dent in recidivism rates.”[14] The total cost exceeded $49,000,000,000.00 in 2007, and fairly recent figures show a national per prisoner operating cost of $23,876.00 per year.[15] One study pegged the total costs at over 60 billion dollars.[16] Costs are still rising, taking ever-larger shares of state general funds and crowding out other priorities.[17] “The national inmate count marches onward and upward, almost exactly as it was projected to do last year. And with one in 100 adults looking out at this country from behind an expensive wall of bars, the potential for new approaches cannot be ignored.”[18] Forward thinking criminologists, recognizing the lack of good answers in penology, actively seek new evidence-based techniques from other disciplines.[19] The State of California pays $49,000 per prisoner per year according to its governor at mid-year 2009, who also said the national average is now $32,000 per prisoner per year.[20] With more inmates serving life-without-parole and longer sentences, incarceration costs continually increase due to rising health-care expenses for older convicts.

 Read the rest and the notes here.




Obama and Bureau of Prisons Lowball Supermax Costs

How much does it cost society to pay for a locked down prison, as there are a few of these in Nevada? Is it really necessary? Would other, more positive and constructive measures not be much better and payable for society? Jobs in prisons, education, proper health care, better food, creating possibilities to build up a career on release?

Apart from the financial aspect: is it ethical to warehouse people, to store them in cages, some ´til they die? Is it ethical to be a revengeful society? Should we not concentrate on healing wounds and making sure tragedy does not strike again? What about warehousing people who are wrongfully convicted? Who are mentally ill? The court system being clogged up because of the wrongs in the prisons?

Hereby an article by the people of SolitaryWatch:

October 3, 2010
by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella
SolitaryWatch

In response to questions at his September 10 press conference, President Obama spoke about his failure to fulfill his clear campaign promise to close the military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He blamed fear and “political rhetoric” for blocking his plan to move Gitmo detainees to prisons in on U.S. soil. In the course of discussing Guantánamo, Obama said:

“And by the way, just from a purely fiscal point of view, the costs of holding folks in Guantánamo is massively higher than it is holding them in a supermax maximum security prison here in the United States.”

There’s no question that the president’s statement was true. The trouble started when the federal Bureau of Prisons was asked to provide information on the cost of holding a prisoner in a U.S. supermax. The Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg followed up on the numbers. In an article following the press conference, she wrote:

“Pentagon reports the annual cost of running the prison camps, staffed by a variety of U.S. military troops, at $116 million. With a current population of 176 war-on-terror detainees, that’s more than $650,000 each.

By contrast, it costs nearly $5,575 a year to keep a prisoner in federal detention, said Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley on Friday. A Supermax prisoner’s cost might be a bit higher, she said, because of additional security.”

That just didn’t sound right to us–neither the $5,575 figure, nor the fact that supermax costs would only be just “a bit higher.” And sure enough, a few days later Rosenberg reported:

“A Bureau of Prisons spokesman on Monday revised upwards the cost of housing a captive in federal detention, days after the bureau said it spends a tiny fraction of what the military spends at Guantánamo Bay.

The new figure — $27,251 a year per federal prisoner compared to $650,000 per captive at the U.S. base in Cuba — is still a tiny fraction. “Obviously we’re far less expensive than what the military is doing,” said Bureau of Prisons spokesman Edmond Ross.

The per prisoner cost has exceeded $25,000 for several years now in the federal system, he said. It was unclear how a colleague arrived Friday at $5,750 a year, he said.”

Now, $27,351 may still be a “tiny fraction” of what’s spent at Gitmo–but multiplied by more than 200,000 federal prisoners, it’s still a lot of money. More importantly, it’s still not an accurate figure for the cost of keeping a supermax prisoner–something the BOP spokesperson neglected to mention when he provided the “corrected” number.

If the Bureau of Prisons wished to provide an accurate projection of costs, it could have provided figures for ADX Florence, the notorious federal supermax in Colorado, or for the “Communications Management Units” (CMUs) at Marion or Terre Haute federal penitentiaries– the units that most resemble any proposed future home for Guantánamo detainees. Yet it chose instead to offer the media misleading lowball figures.

We do know that the average annual cost for a supermax prisoner, according to one study by the Urban Institute, is $75,000 a year, as opposed to $25,000 for a prisoner in the general population. At the Illinois State Tamms supermax, it’s about $92,000 a year.

And this does not take into account the cost of building supermax prisons in the first place. The price tag for ADX Florence, completed in 1994, was $60 million, and it houses only about 400 prisoners. Obama’s proposed future home for Gitmo detainees, an unused state prison in Thomson, Illinois, would cost $237 million to buy, retrofit, and activate.

From: http://solitarywatch.com/2010/10/03/obama-and-bureau-of-prisons-lowball-cost-of-supermax-confinement/ (Solitarywatch.wordpress.com)

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