OUR POSITION: Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell should take action to either void the contract with Corizon for health services at the jail or force the provider to do its job.
Inmates have every right to proper medical care and, if you listen to their stories, that is not the case at the Charlotte County Jail.
The Sun’s Anne Easker spent four months talking to current and former inmates, going over health records filed at the jail and interviewing jail personnel and Corizon representatives. What she found was an arrogant attitude toward treating “criminals” and a reluctance, if not a downright refusal, to give inmates — especially those with addiction issues — their prescribed medicines.
On more than one occasion an inmate, and even a nurse who worked for Corizon, related comments like “they’re addicts,” or “they’re criminals,” from people who were supposed to be caring for the mentally ill, the sick and addicts.
That is a disgusting attitude.
Many people in the jail aren’t even convicted of a crime. Many are awaiting trial or a hearing. And, those who have been convicted are no less human than we are. They have made mistakes. Bad choices do not mean relegating them to the trash heap, denying them treatment that would alleviate pain and suffering.
Many of the allegations are extremely serious. In one instance, which has resulted in a lawsuit against the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, a man arrested for DUI and awaiting bail died. The lawsuit filed by the parents of Gregg Ireland alleges he was not given medication prescribed by the hospital where he was taken for treatment. Ireland was so drunk, according to jail records and the lawsuit, that medical personnel prescribed something to be administered at the jail to aid him as he sobered up.
The lawsuit alleges he was never given that medicine. And, a couple days later as his father waited to post bail, Ireland became agitated and was restrained by jail officers. He was tasered nine times and died.
Another inmate alleges that he was jailed with a broken arm that was in a cast. He says the cast was removed in jail because he “might have hidden something in it.” His arm and hand were then put in a splint that he said caused a second break that never healed properly.
Several inmates spoke of needing medications for various illnesses like depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental and health problems.
In an column written for the Sun, Sheriff Prummell said in many cases he understands inmates must be free of symptoms of drug use before they can be properly medicated. Behavioral health professionals Easker contacted said that would not be a standard procedure. They even indicated that a drug addict or someone who is not sober might need their medical prescriptions even more.
The investigation into Corizon Health and the Charlotte County Jail is not a case of the Sun chasing headlines. We have had phone calls and emails for more than a year about a problem at the jail.
It was after Ireland’s death and other more serious incidents we decided enough is enough. Someone has to stand up for people who have little means and opportunity to fight for themselves.
People in jail are deserving of proper health care. If it was your son, daughter, husband or wife we believe you would demand it. Sheriff Prummell should also.