The Star article shows Hancock County Sheriff Bud Gray immediately taking action. As a result of his preliminary investigation, he fired a jail nurse and placed a deputy on administrative leave pending an investigation. Sheriff Gray stated:
"Based on vital signs that were taken, a doctor should have been called," Gray said. "We have a doctor on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we pay for that service. That's why we have him , for situations like this one. (The jail nurse) should have contacted the doctor on call, and that didn't happen."Sheriff Gray should be commended for his immediate and thorough response to this inmate's death. It stands in sharp contrast to the continual non-response by Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson to the numerous deaths and injuries in the jails in Marion County. For example, five inmates died at Jail #2, run by Corrections Corporation of America, in 2006. Sheriff Anderson did no investigation on any of them, and has not even audited the facility in at least three years. Despite the deaths in 2006, he gave CCA a brand new 10 year contract in 2007. From 2005 through 2008, there were thirteen lawsuits filed against CCA for problems in its operation of Jail #2
There are problems in the other Marion County jails, usually related to the privatization of medical services. Inmates have died of week-long untreated pneumonia, not getting heart medication, not getting blood pressure medication, etc. Other inmates have been injured by not getting their prescribed medication. Not surprisingly, private companies like to make money and aren't quick to hand out expensive medication to inmates few people outside of their families care about.
But if people aren't sympathetic to the inmates, they should at the very least be concerned about the cost to the taxpayers. When these private companies providing medical services at jails get sued, so does the Marion County Sheriff for failing to supervise the privatization contracts and force these companies to follow the contract and the law. Even though there is an indemnity provision in the CCA contract, for example, that would allow the Marion County Sheriff to recoup litigation costs on behalf of taxpayers, it is never enforced. During late 2008, the Sheriff's office got council permission to transfer money from one account to another in order to pay CCA for inmate meals and an inflation adjustment CCA had decided to take. As I recounted on the pages of this blog, the reason stated to the Council for the payment was bogus. CCA, and not the Marion County Sheriff, pays for inmate meals and the inflation adjustment in the contract is automatic and takes place on 1/1 of every year. I have tried to obtain open records to see if this taxpayer money was, in fact, destined for the pockets of CCA's lawyers, Barnes & Thornburg, but CCA has refused to comply with the open records request, even though these are documents the public acccess counselor has determined need to be provided in the past.
Contrasting sheriffs. On the one hand you have Hancock Sheriff Bud Gray who investigated the matter and took responsibility for what happened in his jail. Then you have Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson who, despite the inordinate amount of deaths and injuries in his jails, won't lift a finger to investigate the matter or hold anyone responsible, including himself.