Friday, October 17, 2008
One diabetic prisoner showing symptoms of high blood sugar had to wait two hours to be treated with insulin, the ACLU said after a yearlong investigation. And some prisoners with dental problems chose simply to have all their teeth removed rather than suffer pain while waiting for complicated procedures, it said.
The probe by the ACLU's National Prison Project uncovered "grossly inadequate" conditions that "fail to meet constitutional standards and jeopardize the health and safety" of the more than 50 inmates awaiting execution at the prison, the organization said in the letter to Harley Lappin, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
"The Constitution prohibits deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of prisoners, including those sentenced to die," ACLU attorney Gabriel B. Eber said in a news release. He called on officials to "do whatever is necessary" to correct the problems.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said she could not comment because she was not sure whether Lappin had seen the letter.
Eber said his investigation included interviews with prisoners and a review of hundreds of pages of prison records.
According to the letter, prison officials do not promptly respond to medical emergencies, provide "woefully deficient" access to acute health care and consistently ignore signs of possibly serious medical conditions. It cited one instance of an inmate pressing an emergency call button in his cell for 45 minutes before receiving attention for a heart problem. [Mark Godsey]