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Civil Rights

What to Do If an Imprisoned Loved One Isn’t Receiving Medical Care

— December 11, 2018

As a citizen of the United States, you are entitled to a number of rights that help you live a just and free life. However, these rights significantly diminish if you are found guilty of a crime resulting in imprisonment. However, some basic rights prevail regardless. One of the most essential ones includes ensuring that an inmate remains healthy, both mentally and physically. If you believe that your loved one is not receiving medical care that they need, here’s all the information you will need to help remedy the situation.

Medical rights of inmates

There are rules laid down for prison inmates wherein they have the right to get appropriate medical treatment should they fall ill and need medical attention. These rights have been specified in the Federal Constitution and are strongly encouraged by the United States Supreme Court. In a situation where an inmate needs medical help, government employees need to provide it efficiently. If this is not a possibility, the government is required to provide the necessary medical attention through private medical employees with whom they’ve entered into a contract. In the unlikely event that the prison authorities decline medical help to the inmate, they can fight for their rights by means of a constitutional claim. In such a situation, the prison warden would, by default, become the inmate’s defendant.

Prison authorities must obey the Eighth Amendment

Essentially, the Federal Constitution has laid down the eighth amendment, whereby, prisoners cannot be treated in a cruel manner. This amendment states that inmates who are suffering from a serious medical condition have the complete right to demand medical help and that it is the duty of the prison officials to assist the inmates with it. This is simply because there is absolutely no one else that a prisoner can rely on for help. This makes them more dependent on the prison authorities.

Need to prove unjust behavior

If an inmate believes that they did not receive the medical help and attention in a timely manner, resulting in worsening of their condition, they have the right to contest this and fight for justice. However, for such a claim to receive any kind of success, the inmate would have to provide sufficient proof as well. They would have to prove that the prison officials did not attend to him/her deliberately and that the inmate’s condition was critical.

When the prison officials deliberately ignore an inmate’s critical condition

Stethoscope on cloth; image by Hush Naidoo, via
Stethoscope on cloth; image by Hush Naidoo, via

As the term suggests, this simply means that the prison authorities, despite being aware of an inmate’s ill health, chose to not take any action to provide the necessary medical help. It indicates a certain level of recklessness on the part of the prison officials. It states that the authorities were aware of the deteriorating health conditions of an inmate thereby putting them at an increased risk of falling further ill and in some cases, even dying.

How prison officials show negligence in inmate’s treatment

Prison authorities can show indifference in numerous ways, which an inmate can contest in their claim. One of the most common ways is by delaying the process in which an inmate can get required assessment from medical authorities. In case the medical professional has advised that a certain course of action be taken, it is required by the prison officials to comply with the same in a systematic manner. They could also be negligent by avoiding to make an effort to inquire effectively regarding the magnitude of the illness of the inmate.

Claiming that an inmate’s condition was serious

While it is inappropriate for prison authorities to show negligence to an inmate’s medical condition, it is also equally important that the prisoner’s condition is of a serious nature. This implies that his/her condition should make it evident that it was, in fact, in need of a physician’s attention. In some cases, it is also important for a doctor to state that medical treatment was essential to the healing of the inmate. This serious condition is considered when an inmate is unable to perform his/her daily activities in an efficient manner. In such cases, is a reliable resource to help send care packages for your loved one’s speedy recovery.

Inmates cannot get treatment as and when requested

Based on the points discussed above, it is vital for an inmate to prove that the officials showed negligence in providing essential medical care and that the condition they were suffering from was of a serious nature. Inmates cannot demand medical attention as and when they need it. There have to be specific grounds to request an examination from a doctor. Therefore, every request has to be individually considered.

How the inmates can support their claims

In order to be eligible to receive medical help, it is essential for an inmate to make the prison officials aware of their situation and that they will require to be examined by a medical professional. They must do so in writing so as to avoid any confusion in the future. The content of this written document is crucial and must contain all the necessary information like the date and the description of the discomfort being caused to the inmate. If the inmate has already seen a doctor, then this document must also include information with regards to the treatment and medication being recommended. Using the myriad features of Prisonfinder, you can visit your loved one to discuss these in greater detail.

By knowing the rights of an inmate, a loved one can then consult with a lawyer to discuss how they can best approach the situation to ensure that the inmate is being well looked after and is being given the necessary treatment and medical help to recover from an ailment or a serious health condition.

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