CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, February 12, 2007

Women's Prison Hospital Under Scrutiny

From Hospital personnel at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, TX took so long to call the exterminators for an ant infestation in December that the tiny biters were found crawling on comatose and dying patients in their beds and covering the body of at least one paraplegic.

Last week a woman with heart trouble collapsed and died after complaining repeatedly that her pacemaker was not working properly, only to be sent back to her ward without treatment. And when prison authorities were told last month by one of their own doctors that a breast cancer patient whose left breast had been removed needed a CAT scan because of a probable recurrence of cancer, she was ordered instead to go for a mammogram on the breast that no longer exists. When she demanded the scan instead, she was written up for refusing medical care.

Those charges and others were made recently by two inmate patients at Carswell — Ramona Holcombe, the breast cancer victim who, according to her attorney, also witnessed the ant infestation, and a second woman who found the dead inmate. The latter asked for anonymity for fear of retaliation. These are just the latest, however, in the litany of allegations of medical misconduct and neglect reported to Fort Worth Weekly since 1999 by female prisoners and their families at the facility located just outside Fort Worth’s western city limits, the only hospital in the country for chronically ill and dying women in the federal penal system.

The federal Bureau of Prisons for years has ignored, denied, and downplayed the growing mountain of evidence of often- fatal malpractice at Carswell. Now, with a U.S. senator, a retired Texas judge, a sitting federal judge, and others finally bringing official attention to bear, prison officials have responded — and their responses are filled with contradictions, errors, and statements that make it appear that they don’t even know which civilian hospital they send their patients to. The responses also indicate that families have repeatedly been given false information about such things as autopsies. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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My sister Marty Donohue Foakes is in Prison at Carswell and is at stage 4 cancer thanks to their misdiagnosis 3 years ago. We have been asking for a compassionte release but it gets postponed weekly. We have requested Marty's medical records repeatedly and are told she has to ask for them in writting. She had been requesting them for months and now that she is on high doeses of moraphine so even when we reminder her it is not likely she is able to do it. We have been waiting so long for Marty to start her chemo therapy but their medical neglect let her go into a lung collapse with a sticky water substance oozing from her back with her white blood count off the charts. At that point they did rush her to a hospital and if I hadn't been in Texas to visit her the family would never had known where she was. For 5 days we went without knowing if she was in a coma or what was going on. Please continue the investigation maybe it will help Marty get home. She was to come home to a halfway house this June but if she stays there it will become a death sentence and that is not right. Thank you for listening.
Love and Light,
Shari Miller Brown

Posted by: Shari Miller Brown | Mar 14, 2007 11:13:34 AM

Hello, this is in regard to Marty Donohue Foakes, who remains at Carswell, in spite of many requests for compassionate leave, release of medical records --and calls to the prison by Congressman Miller of California. I have contacted the New York Times, the Washington Post as well as the governors of California and Texas. How can these crimes against humanity continue? Marty's family is waiting daily for her release and no word comes--and we cannot contact her. What has happened to this country? To whom can we go now? Will our sister have to die without the comfort of her family--her children? Is there no one there monitoring this facility? Can you help? Thank you. Suzanne Miller

Posted by: Suzanne Miller | Apr 17, 2007 3:29:25 PM

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