Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Update: Tampa Officials Apologize To Jailed Rape Victim

After the story was picked up by every news outlet, from CNN to to England's The Guardian, Tampa Police spokesperson Laura McElroy, along with Tampa's mayor Pam Iorio, apologized yesterday to the college student who was raped shortly after the Gasparilla parade on Saturday, then incarcerated by Tampa Police and denied emergency birth control medication by a jail worker:

"In this case the victim was not treated properly, and we don't want this to ever happen again," said Mayor Pam Iorio.

"We feel remorse that she ended up in jail," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy, offering an apology on behalf of the department.

At the jail, a nurse refused to give the woman a timely, important second dose of a "morning-after" pill to prevent pregnancy.

The woman's attorney said a jail nurse refused to give the medication because of religious objections. On Tuesday, the nurse's attorney said she refused not because of religious objections but because dispensing medication that is not listed on a medical chart violates protocol.

McElroy, the police spokeswoman, said Tampa police Officer Lisa Cordero told several jail employees about the woman's situation and specifically told them she needed the medication.

And of course, the finger-pointing begins, with police and jail employees all denying the medication denial.

The mother, whose name is being withheld to protect her daughter's identity, says a jail nurse cited religious objections for withholding the emergency contraceptive.

"I was in total disbelief," the mother said. "You just can't imagine the fury that was going through me. How dare that person force their religious beliefs upon my daughter in such a way that it may harm her?"

Jennifer D'Angelo, attorney for the nurse, said the nurse didn't administer the pill because it wasn't listed on a medical chart.

"It had nothing to do with any religious preference or beliefs," D'Angelo said. "I think it might have been a miscommunication. Clearly the poor girl was distraught."

The nurse said only that she would do what she could to help, regardless of her personal beliefs, D'Angelo said.

The nurse is employed by Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services, which supplies medical care for the jail. A spokeswoman said the claim that medication was withheld on religious grounds is false.

"All medications are administered to patients as prescribed," said spokeswoman Dana Clay. "A person's individual beliefs would not interfere."

Sheriff's officials declined to comment, citing an internal investigation.

Tampa police said several jail employees knew of the woman's situation and of the medication.

When something turns out to be such a huge, snarly ball of wrong, one can't help but think the Bush family must somehow be involved. Which, as nitpicker points out, (thanks, DBK) is actually dead right:

The medical services at the jail are run by Armor Correctional Health Services an affiliate of Medical Care Consortium, Inc., which has donated $18,000 to Republicans and $4,000 to conservative Democrats since its founding in 1998, according to

One lobbyist for MCCI is Sports Illustrated writer Don Yaeger, who was suspected of doing favors for Jeb Bush's second Secretary of Corrections, James Crosby. Why would he do such a thing? Because they wanted the big state contracts being offered up by Jeb's drive to privatize the whole friggin state apparatus. There was a requirement, though, that a company had to manage the health of 10,000 inmates for a year. Managing Hillsborough county's jail was just a step along the path to a bigger payday, and MCCI tried to get the state to lift the 10,000 head requirement based on the Hillsborough gig--which Armor bid on three days after being founded and won despite not being the lowest bidder for the job and submitting MCCI's financials instead of its own. Hillsborough is, of course, where the young woman was detained and denied the medical treatment prescribed by her doctor. It was also inside Katherine Harris's old district and one of her biggest supporters, both politically and financially, was Don Yaeger.


What does this all mean? It means that a near-maniacal belief in the power of privatization to make life better, the appointment of corrupt bastards, connections to dirty lobbyists and fucking over the people you're supposed to help aren't simply aspects of the George W. Bush administration. It seems to run in the family.
After a long, sad sigh, what is left to say? Perhaps the tourism board should stop beating around the, ah, ex-governor, and adopt this new slogan:

Florida--you'll come for our politicians; you'll stay for our privatizin'!

(Blurbex examines the differences between Tampa and St. Petersburg in terms of how leaders in each city handled recent PR crises: the Mayor Baker-ordered destruction of the homeless tent city followed by days of stonewalling and deflecting blame vs. the Mayor Iorio-ordered apology and revisions to police policy that immediately followed a day of media interest in the rape/arrest case. Hat-tip to griftdrift.)

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