US jails are required by law to provide adequate medical care to prisoners. But a combination of negligence and the wish to cut costs often conspire against the quality of care provided to inmates.
For profit medical contractors and prison administrations alike have paid millions of dollars to settle in-custody medical neglect claims.
In many cases, jail medical neglect results in the prisoner’s death. Often, this happens time over time at the same prisons. Recently, St. Louis County, Minnesota, has seen an unprecedented recurrence of prison deaths. Meanwhile the official story, as told by medical examiners, routinely makes no mention of medical neglect as the cause of death.
Between January 2016 and February 2017, six inmates died in St Louis city-run jails. Another six died in jails run by St. Louis County during 2016. In several cases, the families of deceased inmates, as well as witnesses, claim the prisoners were systematically denied medication.
When questioned about the cases, St. Louis Corrections Commissioner Dale Glass told reporters, “Why would I deny them medication? We have it here, we pay for it. If they have some rare medication, we have contracts, we can get it... There’s no logical reason to deny a person medication.”
The one thing all the seemingly deadly facilities have in common is a private medical contractor based in Tennessee, namely, Corizon Health, which received $7.6 million from the city of St. Louis for its services during fiscal year 2016.
According to a recent lawsuit, inmates held at a Medium Security Institution in St. Louis were denied medication, including drugs to treat allergies and infections. In one particular case, an inmate was denied medication he took twice daily to prevent chronic seizures.
Maleek Coleman-Chambly died at the facility, following one of the seizures that could be easily be prevented by his medication. His girlfriend claims he phoned her from prison and told her that guards refused to give him his medicine.
Maleek had only been held under suspicion of a crime (promoting child pornography); he died before he could appear in court. The medical examiner wrote in his report that he died of natural causes.
Maleek’s case is sadly the norm rather than the exception in many US prisons. About 1,500 inmates die due to illness every year in US jails and prisons. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against prison medical contractors like Corizon Health. There is abundant evidence that inmates seldom receive adequate healthcare in detention centers across the nation.
Prisoners often wait weeks to see a doctor, even if their ailments require urgent medical attention. Time and again witnesses have recounted how guards routinely mock a prisoner’s medical needs instead of calling a doctor or handing over their medication.
Jail medical neglect will continue to kill Americans unless the authorities implement new quality controls for in-custody medical services. And the more families come forward with their stories and sue jails and medical contractors, the faster the system will reform.
If you or a family member have been denied medication or required medical treatment at a US detention center, prison, or jail, our team of attorneys and investigators can help. Our civil rights lawyers have a solid track records of holding the culprits accountable and maximizing compensation in a variety of jail medical neglect cases. 866.836.4684 or EMAIL