Press Releases

Congressman David Scott Demands Answers Regarding Georgia Prison Healthcare Conditions

WASHINGTON- Today, Congressman David Scott (GA-13), Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, sent a letter to the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDC) Commissioner Tyrone Oliver regarding the state of prison healthcare in the Georgia correctional system—specifically surrounding the relationship between GDC and Wellpath, the nation’s largest private prison health services provider.


“I am deeply concerned by reports of substandard medical treatment in Georgia’s prisons and jails by Wellpath,” said Congressman David Scott. “GDC is entrusted with the responsibility of providing incarcerated individuals with an adequate standard of care compliant with the Constitutions of the United States and Georgia. The decision to privatize prison healthcare and prioritize cost savings over health and safety has translated into considerable deficiencies. I will protect the human rights of incarcerated individuals as they pay their debt to society and ensure that equal protection of the law is applied no matter the circumstance.”


In his letter, Congressman Scott raises questions regarding GDC’s contract with Wellpath and requests information on previously undisclosed data, such as referral rates and cost ratios. To gain a better understanding of the issues plaguing GDC, he highlights systemic issues driven by Wellpath’s incentive to maximize profits while ignoring “staffing shortages, the prevalence of preexisting conditions, improper procedures for handling mental health or substance abuse disorders, or timely responses to medical emergencies.” Congressman Scott has also asked the GDC for important information to assess whether Wellpath’s conduct and operations will play a future role in prison healthcare at the expense of Georgia taxpayers.

The reports emanating from Wellpath-serviced facilities are alarming. A 2017 report from the Atlanta Journal Constitution alleged that the deaths of five individuals in custody were exacerbated by the company’s decisions. Reports of decreased referral rates for specialized care, a mismanaged health records policy, inappropriate procedures for pain management, and failures to respond to mental health or substance abuse crises reveal significant deficiencies in care. Wellpath has further been named in 1,400 federal lawsuits alleging theft, patient injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. The Department of Justice found Wellpath’s work to be so egregious that it constituted a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.


The letter has been endorsed by the Southern Center for Human Rights, with Executive Director Terrica Redfield Ganzy stating, “For decades, the Southern Center for Human Rights has fought to end inhumane prison and jail conditions, including the denial of adequate medical care. Wellpath’s repeated and well-documented indifference toward the health of incarcerated people causes needless suffering for its patients and their families. We support Congressman David Scott’s inquiry into the GDC’s duty to obtain constitutionally required healthcare that prioritizes people over profits.”


The text of the letter can be found HERE.