Legislators review corrections contract with medical firm in search of answers into Eddyville death

05/13/2014 05:06 PM

A legislative panel reviewed but ultimately gave the go-ahead to continue a nearly $66 million contract with a Lexington company to provide medical and dental care to prisoners in the wake of a death of an inmate last month.

The legislature’s Contract Review Committee approved a $4.9 million change to the contract between the Department of Corrections and Correct Care Inc. but not before legislators requested more information on the death of an inmate under the company’s care.

The company, which shows a Lexington address, has a $65.7 million contract with the Department of Corrections. That’s a $4.9 million increase over last year to provide for inmate medical costs.

In late April the Associated Press broke the news that 57 year-old James Embry starved himself to death while under the care of medical personnel at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville.

Steve Castle, the director of administrative services for the Department of Corrections, represented the agency before the Government Contract Review Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, asked about the incident and if Castle thought the private company should get a raise.

Yonts made several attempts to get information about the policies of medical staff and if proper regulations were followed at the prison. After Embry’s death, the AP reported that a prison doctor was fired.

Attorney General Jack Conway’s office is investigating Embry’s death. And Yonts said he expected that legislators would also explore what went wrong. In part, he blames the privatization of government services.

Yonts passed on his vote to consider the contract reviewed. Retiring Rep. Jesse Crenshaw, D-Lexington, abstained from a vote.


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