HARTFORD, CT — He’s serving a sentence of more than 17 years for manslaughter, but his mother said it became a death sentence when her son got cancer and the Department of Correction failed to treat him for two years.
The dark spots started showing up on Wayne World’s skin in 2012 and got to a point where they covered 95 percent of his body. According to a federal lawsuit, the doctors maintained that he was suffering from psoriasis and they continued to wrap his open sores with gauze until an assistant warden looked at him one day and sent him to the hospital.
However, “because they let the cancer progress to this point he doesn’t have a good chance of survival,” DeVaughn Ward, one of his attorneys, said.
Carrie World, his mother, said Wednesday in serving his time her son has been given a “second sentence of inadequate medical care that could cost him his life.” She said she has seen her son suffer needlessly under “what is a cruel and careless prison administration.”
World is suffering from subcutaneous t-cell lymphoma and the decision not to treat him for two years is extreme, but not unique.
The medical neglect lawsuits are starting to pile up for the Department of Correction. At least eight inmates have died and several more have gotten seriously ill, however, it’s unknown exactly what the state’s exposure and liability might be from those lawsuits or potential lawsuits.
A consultant was hired by the DOC to go over 25 medical cases, but Correction Commissioner Scott Semple has argued at times that the information in the consultant’s report was privileged because it involved legal strategy.
During an Appropriations Committee meeting he told Sen. Gary Winfield that the consultant was brought in “to review the files of 25 cases and to examine if the health care that was delivered was appropriate and to make recommendations to us as to what we should be considering in the future to improve our health care delivery system.”
The Correction Department claimed attorney-client and attorney work product privilege in its decision not to release the report, for which the department paid the consultant $63,000. The department also paid A Health Adventure Inc., another consultant, more than $600,000 to make recommendations on how to move inmate medical care back in-house.
In February, the department announced it ended its prison medical-care agreement with UConn Health, which has dispatched more than 600 doctors, nurses, and technicians into the state’s prisons to provide medical care. The arrangement has been valued at more than $100 million a year.
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said as lawmakers they should be able to have all the information they need to make a decision. And that includes reports from consultants.
Fasano said he’s aware of the doctrine of attorney-client privilege, but “this is not a small issue. This is a critical issue.”
From news organizations to the Auditors of Public Accounts, no one has been able to get a hold of the consultant’s report.
“I think it’s inappropriate on every level to say ‘we don’t want to expose the truth because of liability,’” Fasano said.
He called for the legislature’s Public Health Committee to hold a public hearing on the issue.
He suggested that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration could waive its privilege and release the document to lawmakers.
Later in the day Wednesday, Malloy said Commissioner Semple has his full support in the matter.
“I’m not going to waive anything that I’ve not been fully briefed on,” Malloy said.
He said Semple raised his concerns about inmate medical care with his office and it’s led to a number of things, including increasing the meal allowance in prison so they can serve more protein.
The budget for inmate medical care is expected to decrease $8 million in 2019, but Malloy said he doesn’t know that the “weakness of the system is simply a matter of dollars, but supervision and operational issues.”
Malloy said he has confidence in Semple to resolve those problems. He said his office authorized Semple to take these steps to improve the system “and I support him fully.”
The Correction Department released a PowerPoint presentation Tuesday outlining how it would transition away from UConn Health, toward its own system of care. But it declined to release the Criminal Justice Institute Inc. report examining the 25 cases of inmate medical care.
“Ensuring the delivery of high-quality healthcare in a cost-effective and efficient manner is the precise reason the Department of Correction is already undertaking a review of our inmate medical care system, and why we are currently on a path to delivering services in new ways,” the Correction Department said Wednesday in a statement. “We welcome Senator Fasano and others to this discussion and will gladly consider input they may offer. This specific report referenced today falls under attorney-client and attorney work product privilege, which has been confirmed by the FOI Commission.”
Democratic lawmakers did not attend the press conference, but the Black and Puerto Rican caucus, which includes mostly Democratic members, has said reforming the inmate medical system is a priority for them this session.