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Hays County Commissioners unanimously voted to move forward with a bid process that could privatize health care services for inmates in less than three months.

The process will allow the Sheriff’s Office to compare the use of internal and external medical care options for the jail and they could request commissioners approve moving forward with a private provider or remain with their current medical staff, according to county spokesperson Laureen Chernow.

According to the timeline, the Request for Proposal (RFP) will be distributed Nov. 14 with a deadline of Dec. 14. The contract for medical care services will be finalized on Jan. 2 and the start date for a medical service provider to begin on-site services would be Feb. 1, 2013, if commissioners decide to advance with a private provider.

Adrienne Evans-Stark, a medic at the Hays County Jail, whose job may be in jeopardy, disagrees with the Commissioners Court decision to move forward so quickly with seeking RFPs for private medical services. Instead, she advocates “taking time to consider the ramifications to public health and other potential impacts” of privatizing services at the jail.

“Besides public health being impacted, there is the fact that it is impossible to make a profit on inmate health care without cutting corners in care that jeopardize the county budget,” Evans-Stark told commissioners Tuesday. “If corners are cut in care, patient care is thereby degraded and inmates die. This exponentially increases the liability to the county and does not save money.”

The matter was put on the Commissioners Court agenda by Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler and sponsored by recently re-elected Pct. 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe. The court voted 4-0, with Hays County Judge Cobb out on medical leave, to begin soliciting bids and proposals for service.


This story was originally published in the Hays Free Press.

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4 thoughts on “Hays considers privatizing medical care for jail inmates

  1. “Besides public health being impacted, there is the fact that it is impossible to make a profit on inmate health care without cutting corners in care that jeopardize the county budget,” Evans-Stark told commissioners Tuesday. …” -Adrienne Evans-Stark, a medic at the Hays County Jail

    Macro lens-like remark.

    “We have been experimenting with prison privatization in the U.S. now for over twenty-five years. The privatization idea originated out of a notion that the private sector, with its competition-driven efficiency and innovation, could operate prisons of higher quality and lower cost than the public sector. Create a market for incarceration services, the argument ran, and the market will work its magic, improving prison conditions and rehabilitative outcomes while saving the taxpayers millions of dollars. That market has effectively been created over the past quarter century and we have now arrived at a place where prison privatization has been studied extensively and evaluated rigorously.

    Although hyperbole continues to propel prison privatization policy along, research findings are incontrovertible: even in the best private prisons, quality of prisoner care is no better than in public prisons and the cost advantage of privatization, which initially accounted for minimal savings, is steadily eroding as the private prison industry matures.
    The big promises of prison privatization – less cost, higher quality – have simply not materialized. Despite these disappointing results, prison privatization advocacy maintains traction in diverse jurisdictions as policymakers from Ohio to Florida and from Maine to California seek expedient solutions to budget shortfalls triggered by a lingering great recession.” -The Failed Promise of Prison Privatization by Richard Culp, Ph.D.

    No to promoting anymore incentives for profit in the prison system.

  2. I think prison is too nice and accomadating these days. A return to the cat-of-nine-tails days may be a fantastic deterrent for the decaying moral fabric of America. I mean really, why would criminals be more deserved of the best that their is, when there are those that work diligently in society and have even less than those that blatantly choose not to. Yes, my words may have the hair on the back of your stiff necks standing up perhaps, especially if you are one of those social engineering types, all ideas and no results. Oh, I personally went through the prison system over 30 years ago by the way, and believe me, it was no Sunday afternoon tea party. jlb

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