Medical neglect is killing inmates

A Louisiana prison’s dirty environment made a man sick. He later died because of malpractice, your Friday long read from The Marshall Project

We go to The Marshall Project for this week’s long read by Lois Ratcliff and told by Jamiles Lartey. Read the whole story, “Filthy New Orleans Jail Made My Son Sick. The ‘Cruel and Unusual’ Medical Treatment at Angola Prison Killed Him.” We include key excerpts below to convince you it’s worth your time.

Sampier’s Eighth Amendment rights were violated by a Louisiana prison

My son Farrell Sampier was 45 when he was sentenced to 20 years in the Louisiana State prison system. He died at 51, shackled to a hospital bed.

Between the time of his arrest and the plea deal that sent him to Angola prison on a 20-year sentence for manslaughter, Farrell remained behind bars at Orleans Parish Prison, the New Orleans jail. It was there that the funny, active, energetic son I knew fell gravely ill. First his feet went numb, then the numbness traveled up his legs and started to impede his movement. By the time Farrell was transferred to prison, he was using a wheelchair, but hadn’t yet received the kind of medical attention that could lead to a diagnosis.

Underscored

“It hurt — the idea of my 45-year-old son in hospice — but I thought, at least there, Farrell would be well taken care of. I cared for many terminally ill patients over my career, and I hadn’t seen a bad hospice yet — until I saw the one at Angola.”

Farrell had to beg for the simplest items of care. He waited weeks for a trapeze bar above his bed so he could use his arms to turn himself and prevent bedsores or to maneuver into his wheelchair from bed. Some nights, he would call me crying because they wouldn’t give him the medication he needed. He had blisters on his hands from using his wheelchair, and staff refused to get him adequate gloves to help with mobility. He wound up trading another inmate for a pair used in the fields.

Bottom Line

Farrell died in 2019, after having a stroke and a heart attack. He had just testified in a federal trial against Angola administrators over the inadequate care that inmates received. On the last car ride to see my son, I hollered the whole eight hours. It was living hell right on Earth.

In March, a federal judge ruled that the inadequate healthcare at Angola amounted to a violation of the Eighth Amendment, which bars the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. Farrell’s testimony to the court was cited seven times in the decision, which also found that the prison violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read the whole story here.


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