Nassau County jail’s health provider was fined $350,000 and temporarily barred from working in New York State after settling a lawsuit in which the state alleged the company failed to properly treat inmates.
Florida-based Armor Correctional Health Services agreed to not bid on jail health services in the state for three years under the settlement of the lawsuit announced Wednesday by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, which alleged that Armor risked inmates’ health by failing to meet its contractual obligations.
“For-profit jail providers must ensure that appropriate medical care is provided in jails, where many inmates suffer from complex medical needs,” Schneiderman said. “When these companies fail to uphold their contractual obligations, they not only defraud taxpayers, the health of inmates, and, by extension, the health of the general population, is jeopardized.”
Nassau approved an $11 million annual contract with Armor in 2011. A month after Schneiderman filed suit against Armor in July, the company said it would not bid to renew its contract with the Nassau. In September, the county hired an independent jail health care monitor—another goal of the lawsuit—to ease the transition to a new inmate medical provider and ensure contract compliance.
The state had accused Armor of neglecting to provide the county with timely statistics detailing the services it provided. Nassau then withheld payment to Armor until the company provided those stats.
“Armor is pleased to have the New York Attorney General … matter resolved in order to focus on and expedite a smooth transition with the new medical provider in Nassau,” Armor said in a statement. “Armor provided the NY AG with clinical data that clearly supported the enhancement of patient care to an extremely acute patient population. We are exceptionally proud of our caregivers for the dedication and passion they have continually demonstrated under challenging circumstances.”
The attorney general’s suit was filed after the state Commission on Corrections blamed Armor’s staff for failing to prevent the deaths of five inmates. Those deaths are subject of lawsuits filed by the inmates’ families.
The state attorney general’s office will retain $100,000 of the fine as payment of penalties and the other $250,000 will be given to Nassau as reimbursement for Armor’s performance.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano had proposed privatizing the jail’s health care in an effort to save taxpayer money in his first term.
“I thank the Attorney General for his efforts in settling this matter as we move forward in contracting with a subsequent inmate health care provider,” Mangano said.