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These are the redacted (blacked out) pages returned to the Sun newspaper to satisfy a Freedom of Information request for inmates’ complaints against the Charlotte County Jail’s health provider.

For months, through various sources, the Sun has received complaints from inmates, current or former, at the Charlotte County Jail on how difficult it is to get medications while they are locked up.

We have no way of knowing if the complaints are legitimate. That’s because when we filed a Freedom of Information request to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office asking for a copy of any complaints filed against medical provider Corizon, we met the proverbial brick wall.

The CCSO requested, and we paid, almost $200 to get the information. But, when we received the records, all information was blacked out (redacted). There was not a word that we were able to read. Dozens of black pages.

When we protested, we were told because of state and federal statutes, including HIPPA laws regarding medical information on patients, we could not see the complaints. When we protested further and suggested that blacking out the inmates name should satisfy HIPPA requirements, we were emailed by a local lawyer representing the sheriff’s office. He agreed with what the CCSO did and said only if we get written permission from the inmate can we see the records.

Well, of course we know HIPPA laws. We have more than one question and the first would be why did the CCSO not inform us before we paid the money that they could not provide the information. But, money aside, the First Amendment Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Tallahassee, believes the CCSO’s actions were “absurd.”

If laws prevent the public, or the media, from obtaining any information about inmates’ medical care while incarcerated, how scary is that? How easy might it be to intimidate an inmate to not sign a permission slip to allow someone to see medical records and verify the level of care an inmate is receiving from Corizon.

We need your help to open up these concealed records to the public.

If you have been jailed, if you have a friend or relative who has been jailed or is currently in the Charlotte County Jail, and medications were required, we want to hear from you.

You can email me at john.hackworth@yoursun.com or call 941-206-1117.

With your help we can hold Corizon accountable for inmates’ health.

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