A lot of state and local governments — including counties here in Oregon — have outsourced the provision of medical care inside their jails to large out-of-state corporations like Corizon Health and Wellpath. Too many times, big companies like these prioritize profits over proper care. As a result, incarcerated patients needlessly suffer and, too often, die. It’s been nearly 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court first said that a failure to provide proper medical care to a jail inmate is a violation of that inmate’s Eighth Amendment rights. If you have a family member who didn’t get the medical attention they should have while behind bars, then you should get in touch with an Oregon jail medical neglect lawyer to find out if your family potentially has a civil rights case.
Recent news reports have revealed that another woman has entered an Oregon jail only to die shortly after booking. The deceased person was a 34-year-old woman from Central Point who, according to court documents filed on Nov.7, was arrested on methamphetamine and fentanyl charges. Police housed her in the Jackson County jail.
Less than a week later, the woman was dead. According to news reports, corrections officers identified the woman as “in medical need” at 10:14 pm on Sunday, Nov. 13. At that point, the woman supposedly was “alert and responsive to deputy questions,” KDRV reported.
Within minutes, all that changed as the woman became unresponsive. Life-savings efforts proved unsuccessful and the woman was pronounced dead. The entire period from identification of medical need to declaration of death was only about 30 minutes, according to information the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office provided.
The specifics of the woman’s death remained under investigation at the time of KDRV’s report.
A Long History of Similar Deaths Inside Oregon Jails
Although we don’t know this woman’s official cause of death yet, we know that she is far from the first person to die recently in Oregon’s jails. Many of those, like this person, are people with a history of involvement with illegal drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl… and they also are women.
In August, a 34-year-old woman from Gold Beach died inside the Curry County Jail. Before that, a 24-year-old woman died in that same jail less than 72 hours after booking, despite the fact that officers were supposed to have the woman under “close monitoring” for heroin withdrawal.
Perhaps most infamously, in April 2014, 26-year-old Madeline Pitkin died inside the Washington County Jail. Pitkin died in her cell despite having sent Corizon – the entity responsible for providing medical care to people housed in the Washington County Jail – four different written documents begging for treatment. Pitkin was in the throes of heroin withdrawal, but she received little other than powdered Gatorade.
While all of these women had a history with either meth or heroin, the risk is greater than just drug withdrawal. This office represented the family of Kathy Norman, a woman who died inside the Yamhill County Jail as a result of her detox from alcohol and the failure by the staff inside the jail to deal appropriately with her medical condition.
The fact that these medical patients were also jail inmates does not diminish their human dignity or their entitlement to appropriate medical care. If your loved one didn’t get proper medical care while behind bars, those responsible for providing that care may be civilly liable and should be held accountable. The experienced Oregon jail medical neglect attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC are here to help families that have been touched by this sort of negligent conduct. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.