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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Missouri correctional centers, officers, inmates hurt by budget cuts

By Beverly Jaynes
May 2, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

An initiative that could be included on the November ballot is being made to replace Missouri's income tax with a higher and broader sales tax. Opponents say this would demand large cuts from programs such as education, Medicaid and the Missouri Department of Corrections.

This alarms me as an offender in the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center, where we are already experiencing cuts. Officers tell me that they are among the lowest paid corrections officers in the nation as it is. Corizon, the health care provider to Missouri prisons, contracted by the Department of Corrections, has been cutting back our medical appointments to outside specialists since they took over correctional medical services in 2011.

In the 20 years of my incarceration (12 years here), I have been receiving treatment shots for my spasmodic dysphonia vocal cord disorder, for the most part in four-month intervals by university physicians in Columbia. Now I've been informed by a doctor here that Corizon won't approve the next shot (the last one was in September) until I no longer have speech. That is a dangerous position to be in, unable to ask for help in prison, and he told me they realize that (how cruel!).

So I hope that with this current big budget deficit in the state as it is, there won't be further cuts to the state's Department of Corrections, endangering not only offenders but also the public.

Beverly Jaynes is an inmate at the Women's Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.