Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Marion County Jail Death; Will New Sheriff John Layton Investigate Medical Care at Private Jail Facilities and Demand Accountability?

The Indianapolis Star reports on another death at a Marion County jail facility:
A pregnant Marion County jail inmate died from internal bleeding caused by an abnormal pregnancy, police said today.

Amber Redden, 27, collapsed in a bathroom at Liberty Hall, at 675 E. Washington St., at 10 p.m. Sunday.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officials said Redden’s death was “natural” and caused by a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that led to hemorrhaging.
Sherriff John Layton
Regular followers of this blog know of my complaints about the failure of former Sheriff Frank Anderson to exercise any oversight over Jail #2 run by CCA or private medical care provided at other facilities.  Jail #1, which is run by Sheriff deputies, is, in fact, extremely well run and has few problems.  But every place you look in the county where correctional services have been privatized, you see problems.  While privatizing corrections is always questionable, the situation is made much worse when the person in charge of the contractors refuses to exercise any oversight.  Scores of people have died or been injured at Jail #2 and at other faciliies due to poor medical care.  Many of those incidents could have been avoided if Sheriff Anderson exercised any oversight or asked for accountability from the contractors.  Yet in eight years, Sheriff Anderson didn't investigate a single a death or injury at his jails.  If the medical providers were negligent or needed to change how they were providing services, Sheriff Anderson didn't want to know.
I once represented a former nurse who had been incarcerated at Liberty Hall, the facility where Redden died.  The client, who has since passed away, would break out in tears about what she witnessed.  She said that she ended up helping inmates with medical issues due to her training and the lack of medical personnel at the facility.  The client talked about the private company using guards to pass out medication, which according to the former nurse, is illegal.  She also talked about the 250 bed facility not being staffed with medical personnel at night and on weekends.  I do believe there is a legal and conractual requirement that medical staff be at thefacility 24/7.   When informed of these problems at privatized Liberty Hall, Sheriff Anderson did what he always did when confronted with problems with private jail contractors ... he ignored them. 

Given the timing of Redden's collapse, 10 pm. on a Sunday, I wonder if this is one of those times when medical personnel was at Liberty Hall.  One would think more immediate care could well have saved this young woman's life.   It is interesting that IMPD conducted the investigation of Liberty Hall which is actually the Sheriff's turf.

Fortunately, there is a new sheriff in town - John Layton.  Hopefully he will, unlike his predecessor, take his job to oversee the private correctional companies seriously and not be afraid to conduct investigations and demand that private companies follow the law and their contracts.

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