Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals
Press Release

Nurses and Healthcare Professionals Statement on Criminal Charges Against Armor Correctional in Tragic Death of Inmate – Nurses Lost Their Voice, Milwaukee Needlessly Lost a Life

"The systemic practices and procedures adopted by Armor have resulted in deaths which provision of appropriate medical care could and should have prevented."

Milwaukee, WI– The Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (WFNHP), is saddened and disturbed at the loss of life and the conditions the for-profit Florida company, Armor, created in Milwaukee County’s jail. Unfortunately, there were plenty of warnings that tragedy could strike and lives would be needlessly lost under Armor’s direction.

In 2012, Candice Owley, RN, President of WFNHP testified, “the County and the County Executive should take the time to do a thorough review of this corporation before terminating over 100 jobs of dedicated professionals and further endangering the care and lives of the inmates in the Milwaukee County correctional system.” Today, Owley adds, “Privatization comes at a cost, and this tragic death is the ultimate price. Healthcare is a human right, and every corporation doing business in our country needs to respect that right. While we don’t know all of the details, we do know that we warned against this horrible, preventable occurrence.”

WFNHP repeatedly warned the County politicians of the troubling practices that followed Armor around the country when the corporation assumed private control of public healthcare services. The union presented the County Board and County Executive a report titled, “Bribery and Bad Medicine?”  which included the Department of Justice’s findings that Armor “failed to provide constitutionally mandated health care” and provided “inadequate screenings of detainees’ medical conditions” in an Oklahoma County Jail in 2012, as well as the haunting excerpt from a civil lawsuit from the same tragic death that, “The systemic practices and procedures adopted by Armor have resulted in deaths which provision of appropriate medical care could and should have prevented.” This shouldn’t have happened in Milwaukee.

Prior to 2012, nurses and healthcare staff at the County jail were represented by Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and had a voice on the job. The employees lost their whistleblower protection when Governor Walker‘s union busting law, Act 10, made it illegal for nurses employed by Milwaukee County to formally have a say in their working conditions–in this case, inside the jail. Milwaukee County employees were then replaced by Armor Correctional employees and had no protected means of speaking out without fear of retaliation. The criminal charges issued by Milwaukee County prosecutors yesterday shine light on the true cost of the privatization of public services, and the impact of the loss of nurses’ voices in their workplace.

WFNHP is a division of AFT Nurses & Health Professionals, which represents more than 120,000 nurses and other healthcare professionals.

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