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Prison inmates denied proper medical care

3 incidents submitted by readers between 2000 and 2004:

Medical treatment delayed without cause for Arizona inmate

November 10, 2004

X, 50 year old prisoner of [location deleted] was denied hospitalization on at least two occassions that ulimately placed him in a life-and-death situatuion that required emergency treatment and intensive care at a local hospital. X is a paraplegic with twenty three bullets holes and fragments in his back . He has received no physical therapy of any kind in the past two years. Until recently he had a wheelchair that was not made for him. It had no brakes (creating many falls when transfering to the toilet) and a piece of cloth tied on back of the wheelchair for him to lean against. The bolts had long since fallen out of the arms and the seat squeezed his hips ogether.

A month ago X's catheters. hoses and jelly were cut back. This is dangerous but he was not allowed a disinfectant to clean used catheters and hoses with..Three weeks ago X became very ill with infection, Doctor Y gave X antibiotics for a week but it did not help. He then requested the Head of Medical Care that X be taken to the local hospital. The head refused.

X was finally sent to hospital dangerouly ill with weight loss, fever and massive seizures. He was in so much pain he could not tolerate human touch on his skin . He was admitted on Monday the 8th of November 2004, a month after his illness began. The last time X was admitted to hospital some months ago he was in intensive care for six days with an infection that had entered his collor bone. He had also cried out in terrible pain for many days before a doctor was summoned. WHY??????????

I am X's sister and his legal medical representive for the family.

Arizona inmate denied medical treatment

December 6, 2002

Re: Request for Immediate Medical Treatment

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to request that the County immediately provide medical treatment for one of your inmates, [information deleted], who is currently being housed at Madison Street Jail.

[information deleted] was taken into custody on September 3, 2002. On September 11, 2002, he was at Maricopa Medical Center receiving treatment when he attempted suicide by breaking out a window in his room on the third floor and jumping out. [information deleted] landed on his feet, literally shattering a number of bones in his feet and ankles. Since September 11 the Sheriff's Office has provided no reasonable treatment for [information deleted] feet and ankles. It has been nearly three months since this incident and the bones in [information deleted] feet and ankles are fusing back together without being properly set.

On or about November 8, [information deleted] was taken to St. Joseph's Medical Center for treatment. According to [information deleted], the Doctors at St. Joe's thought he should be admitted immediately for treatment. However, the Sheriff's Office refused to admit him into the hospital and took him back to Madison Street Jail.

During the suicide attempt, [information deleted]'s right heel was split vertically and the bone appears to be fusing improperly. Currently, he has an infection in his right ankle and if he does not receive treatment soon, he will at best be hobbled for life and at worst could lose his feet. Although [information deleted] has filled out numerous grievances and tank orders, the Sheriff's Office has refused proper medical care.

Further aggravating [information deleted] condition is the fact that he has degenerative disc disease resulting from a work related accident occurring in 1990. He has a ruptured disc at L3-L4 and has been on permanent disability since 1990. As a result of the damage to his ankles [information deleted] has been spending most of his time laying down which actually aggravates his back condition because many of his muscles in his torso are in atrophy. This morning [information deleted] back pain became nearly unbearable when he developed a spinal headache and severe nausea. Dr. [name deleted] attended to him but only offered him anti-inflammatory medication.

It is perplexing as to why the County would be opening itself up to enormous liability by refusing medical treatment to an inmate who obviously needs it thereby causing him permanent damage. The County has a duty to provide adequate medical treatment to its inmates regardless of the cause of the injury.

[information deleted] has been in enormous pain since September 11, 2002 and medical attention is long overdue. This is a request that someone take the proper steps to ensure that [information deleted] receive the treatment he needs.

Since this above letter was written [information deleted] has still not received proper medical treatment. As of last night (December 13, 2002) he was laying in his bed no longer able to turn over or sit up. He filled out two medical kites (requests) and was told that a doctor wasn't available. He is in severe and excruciating pain, he was given a Flexeril (muscle relaxer) at 10:00 pm.

I have contacted everyone I can think of at a City, County and State level, I get no response or I'm told that I need to contact so and so in such and such a department, which I do. We don't leave our pets in this kind of agony, but we will apparently leave our prisoners/convicts in this kind of torturous pain. Irregardless of how this injury came about or his legal history, Jim is still a citizen of the United States and his lack of medical attention sickens and shocks me. I thought this type of cruel, inhumane neglect only happened in other countries!

Please, I'm begging you to please, please help!

[invformation deleted]

Injured Texas inmate denied medical attention for a week


An inmate thought she cracked a bone, possibly more, on [date deleted], while [exercising]. She notified the guards, the doctor or medic, unsure of his position) refused to examine her foot, saying there was nothing wrong with her.

She continued protesting to the guards that she was in pain. Two guards made her stand in the rain, barefoot, for two hours because she could not put her boot on. Another guard told her to fall down while marching to get attention, but refused to let her lie down and made her march with a broken foot. [about a week later] she finally convinced someone that she was truly hurt and a preliminary x-ray revealed a cracked bone. She received another x-ray and was told that there might be more than one broken bone.

She was put in a cast on [date deleted], nearly two weeks after her accident. She requested a handicap shower stall because she continued slipping in the shower while trying to avoid getting her cast wet, she was told to stick her foot out of the shower, thus resulting in exposing herself to male guards.

Also in the past 6 months there have been two suicides in that facility, and one girl impregnated by a guard. The inmate is serving her last year of a two year sentence for possession of less than ten dollars worth of crack cocaine. She is a confinee and is ineligible for time credit and must serve her entire sentence "flat time."

From DT


American Civil Liberties Union (has reports on inmate abuse)

Human Rights Campaign report on Abuses in the State of Georgia

American Friends Service Committee (Arizona) Prison Concerns Subcommittee ->has a group OUTMATES which provides support to family/friends of incarcerated individuals.

Middle Ground Prison Reform Inc (based in Tempe, AZ)