Scott County jail faces three lawsuits over medical care of inmates

Three federal court lawsuits have been filed accusing the Scott County jail of failing to provide proper medical care for inmates, reports the News Sentinel.

One contends the jail staff and private medical providers ignored “cries for help” from an inmate who wound up dead of a staph infection; another says a woman was left to languish without care while suffering hundreds of seizures; a third charges that a case of tuberculosis was ignored. All three alleged incidents came after the jail failed  a 2016 jail inspection by the Tennessee Corrections Institute in 2016 — and after the Institute declared problems with medical treatments had been corrected.

Inmates arriving at the jail weren’t being “consistently” screened for medical conditions, prescriptions or suicide risk as required by state standards, according to a TCI report of a May 26, 2016, inspection of the Scott County Jail.

They weren’t being informed of how to seek medical help while behind bars. A required medical protocol letter had expired. Records designed to prove inmates received medical care were missing required initials and signatures.

Yet, TCI could not close the facility or bar new inmates from being accepted. TCI can only decertify a county jail. Even that isn’t automatic. State law allows counties as much as 60 days to satisfy TCI inspectors.

TCI gave Scott County Sheriff Ronnie Phillips that 60-day extension. In a follow-up report and letter dated July 13, 2016, TCI reported – without explanation or documentation – the jail’s “deficiencies” had been corrected.

Two days later, inmate Tammy Brawner left the jail via ambulance in the throes of seizures that a lawsuit contends she’d been suffering for weeks. She suffered permanent brain injury, according to the lawsuit.

… The lawsuits – all recently filed within a few months of each other in U.S. District Court – highlight the lack of independent oversight of the quality of medical care provided by private firms and jail staff in the dozens of county jails across Tennessee.

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