DOC contracts with behavioral therapy provider

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Correction contracted with Chicago-based Gateway Foundation Inc. in mid-February to provide “cognitive behavioral therapy” (CBT) programs to the state’s inmates, noted the agency. According to the contract, the cost to the state “shall not” exceed $437,880.

“A 2015 gap analysis revealed the DOC was lacking in CBT programs in its facilities and the governor’s independent review team made three recommendations for additional evidence-based programs,” said DOC spokeswoman Jayme Gravell. “This past year, the DOC received additional funding from the legislature to provide CBT to all offenders. Gateway successfully bid for the contract through the request for proposal process.”

Gov. John Carney’s independent review was commissioned in the wake of the 2017 riot at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center that left correctional officer Lt. Steven Floyd dead. The review wrapped up that September and provided a list of “41 key recommendations” for crucial prison reforms. The DOC has since reported that they’ve addressed, or at least put a plan in place to address, the majority of the recommendations.

According to the recently signed contract, the Gateway Foundation will provide CBT to the state’s inmates at level 4 and 5 facilities using “evidence-based methods and curriculums that addresses anti-social attitudes, values, beliefs, thinking and/or other criminogenic behaviors.”

Gateway Foundation didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The new contract doesn’t overlap or supplant the DOC’s existing contract with Connections CSP — the DOC’s primary medical services provider — said Ms. Gravell.

Frequent criticism

The DOC has come under fire frequently in the past several years for the quality of both its medical and mental health care. Inmate advocates and other stakeholders have decried accessibility and wait times associated with obtaining healthcare for afflicted inmates.

For example, over 100 inmates filed a lawsuit against the state last year alleging mistreatment and punitive denial of healthcare services.

Dover attorney Stephen Hampton filed the lawsuit on behalf of the inmates formerly housed in C Building, the site of the 2017 riot.

The 80-page complaint alleges “inhumane conditions” at Vaughn, the state’s maximum security prison near Smyrna, and states that for many years prior to the riot, prison personnel “illegally abused, mistreated and tortured inmates with virtually nothing being done by their JTVCC (Vaughn prison) or DOC supervisors, to stop them.”

The lawsuit claims elected officials overseeing the facilities “including governors, ignored all of the complaints that the Department of Correction was simply warehousing inmates, allowing correctional officers to abuse them, providing them with very little rehabilitation or education, and denying them adequate healthcare for serious injuries and illnesses.”

Given that it’s “ongoing litigation,” the governor’s office and DOC have refused to comment directly on the accusations.

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