Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Medical Neglect Is The Norm For Women's Prisons

From the perspective of someone who has suffered from horrific medical care needlessly as the hands of prison staff, I applaud the author for bringing this subject to light.

By Betty Brink, Ms. Magazine
Posted on October 20, 2008, Printed on October 23, 2008

My name is Janice Pugh. I was released from FMC Carswell [the only federal prison facility in the U.S. that includes a hospital for inmates] on January 10, 2000. ... The reason for me being at Carswell was for medical treatment. I have a history of lung cancer. ... The last six months I was coughing up blood, and a lot of it. ... There was sputum tests done and a test where they put a scope down your nose. Well, I received NO results from these tests. ... [Pugh went home to Alabama after her release; she had served 18 months for drug possession.] On January 20 at the Southern University of Alabama Medical Center there was a test done. ... On January 24 I was admitted. ... A bacteria was found growing in my lungs ... and a mass was found on my top right lobe. They done a biopsy today, January 31, 2000. This is just a few things I have to say and proof that it's true.

On March 27, 2000, two months after I received this letter, Janice Pugh died of metastasized cancer in a Mobile, Ala., hospice. She was 52 years old. She had served her sentence at FMC (Federal Medical Center) Carswell, near Fort Worth, Texas, because of her medical needs, yet her symptoms went undiagnosed and untreated there.

"We were told by the oncologist who treated Mama [in Alabama] that she was 'very neglected' at Carswell," said her daughter, Tracy Ingram.

I wish I could write that Janice Pugh's case is an aberration. It is not. For almost a decade, I have been writing about the Janice Pughs of FMC Carswell -- women as old as 80 and as young as 18, from all races and all classes, who have needlessly suffered or died from what a former Carswell doctor described as "medical mistakes, substandard care and unconscionable delays" in treatment.

Behind the nation's razor-wire fences, egregious medical neglect has been the norm for decades. But for the most part, this dark side of prison life is ignored by the mainstream media and lawmakers, and too often accepted by the general population as just another price paid by those committing crimes. The Carswell women's debt to society, however, shouldn't have included their lives.

The hospital at Carswell is located on a former World War II Air Force base. The facility opened in June 1994 after the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) closed its women's hospital in Lexington, Ky., following a scathing General Accounting Office report that cited the bureau for failing to provide adequate medical care in its federal prisons and singled out the Lexington hospital's care as particularly egregious. Little has changed since then, critics say.

According to Bureau of Prison figures, more than 32,500 women were incarcerated in the nation's federal prisons as of this June. That's far fewer than men, but women's rates at all prisons (federal, state, local) are increasing at nearly double the men's.

Medical neglect is not the only hazard faced by women at Carswell. This May, Vincent Inametti, the prison's Catholic chaplain for the past seven years, was sentenced to four years in jail for what the judge called "surprisingly heinous" sexual crimes against two imprisoned women. He is now the eighth sexual predator since 1997 to be convicted after working at Carswell. Most were professionals in high positions, including another chaplain, a gynecologist, a counselor, a supervisor of food services and three guards.

Most women currently behind bars in local jails, state prisons, federal penitentiaries and private for-profit penal institutions will eventually return to their communities. Their health care while incarcerated can thus have a huge social impact, financially and otherwise. If not treated effectively in prison hospitals, released inmates return to their homes with a host of mental and medical problems, including untreated AIDS and hepatitis.



Anonymous said...

My friend, Daniel Clark DOC 116663, broke his hand in several places last November at Colorado Territorial Prison. He hit the wall in frustration because the guard threatened him that he would have to stay in prison for 6 months more, after serving the past 6 months for snapping a dish towel, for having a necklace. He had the necklace for nearly the entire 6 month sentence, but had never been told he could not wear it. The guard knew that he had waited for 6 years for drug rehabilitation and that he was to be released to the program in Alamosa in 4 days. He was written up and sent to medical, after waiting for hours, he was given an aspirin and sent back to his cell.
4 days later he was still released to rehab, but CTCF took his necklace.
Alamosa CIRT sent him to the hospital and they xrayed his hand and saw mulitple fractures. He was kicked out of the program and sent to be homeless in Denver, with the broken hand. With no medications, he went back to heroin and died 4 days later, December 20, 2007 because the DOC refused to treat him.mpc

Anonymous said...

You are sadly mistaken if you think anybody that can fix this cares. This happens with DOC many times a year. Seen it with my own eyes. DOC in Colorado is totally uncareing.

Prison Inmate Justice: Karla Fuller said...

I know this post was done several months ago, but I just came across your blog. We have a sister in Carswell FMC with a brain tumor and we feel like she is in a concentration camp. The treatment has been horrific and we have had to fight with help from an attorney and our Senator for her to even receive radiation treatment. Please check my blog out for more information. I have been sickened that treatment like this can happen in the US. As we have investigated and found many stories similiar to our sister's it has really disturbed us. It makes you wonder, does anybody care what this facility gets away with?

Anonymous said...