A Texas inmate is suing the state corrections department, claiming officials refused to treat a flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Filed by inmate Harold Millican in federal court, the lawsuit accuses the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and Gist State Jail’s warden of “callous indifference.” Millican says jail staff wouldn’t offer “proper care” or take him to a hospital, waiting only until his foul-smelling arm infection grew so severe that he went into shock and fell unconscious.
“TDCJ knew that allowing an abscess that was yellow and green in color, growing painful, damaging the skin, and eating away at the skin and muscle of Plaintiff, and that had a foul odor was dangerous and or harmful to his health,” the lawsuit claims. “TDCJ knew or should have known that the denial of treatment for a wound such as this was an act that was deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff’s health and safety.”
Millican, says Fox News, purportedly had to undergo multiple surgeries to control the infection. Photographs supporting his filing show ‘several layers of skin extending from his elbow to his hand cut away.’
Chron.com reports that the suit asks for at least $200,000 in damages.
Aside from receiving money for his pain and suffering, Millican also wants Texas to reform its corrections training and medical procedures.
“They sat up there and watched him suffer,” said Allie Booker, a Houston-based attorney representing the inmate. “How can you allow someone to go through that?”
Prison officials allegedly ignored Millican’s reported pleas for attention—even as in the inmate’s mother began making calls to the jail on his behalf.
While Millican was eventually taken to the prison infirmary, the facility wasn’t adequately outfitted to treat him. Requests for outside medical attention was denied, because “no one was available to take him to the hospital.”
According to Chron.com, Texas advocates say the case is exemplary of the problems caused by chronic under-staffing at Texas jails. Others say it’s high time to hire independent oversight for penitentiaries.
“What independent oversight will do for these types of situations is it will provide a way to figure out what is going on with the system so it can be corrected so these incidents don’t happen over and over again,” said Jennifer Erschabek of the Texas Inmate Families Association. “We need the ability for someone independent to look and make the system better.”
Despite Millican’s medical records, spokespeople for Texas’s prisons don’t buy the accusations outlined by the suit.
“We believe the allegations in this lawsuit are grossly inaccurate,” said Jeremy Desel. “The offender received both appropriate and timely medical care.”
Doug Smith, a senior policy analyst with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said the state did wrong.
“They dropped the ball,” Smith said. “This is exactly the type of instance where you absolutely need independent oversight to review how that ball got dropped to look at staffing patterns to be proactive about keeping this from ever happening again.”