Female inmates at Virginia prison sue over health care

Posted at 7:43 PM, Jul 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-28 11:24:46-04

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WTVR) - Five female inmates have accused the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women of cruel and unusual punishment.

That’s why they filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville against prison officials and Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. who provide medical care for prisoners.

According to the complaint, the women weren’t properly treated for ailments including degenerative cervical spine and disc disease, high blood pressure and poor circulation all the way to Hepatitis C.

“We have heard over and over they have been trying to get basic life saving health care,” said Debora Golden, attorney for the inmates. “Basic access to meds that would stop their pain, stop premature death.”

But, Larry Traylor with the Virginia Department of Corrections says they do care for the inmates.

“Many offenders arrive in our system with multiple medical conditions that they have developed over time and have often been neglected,” Traylor. “Once health care is made available to them, they often want immediate cures, despite their years of self-neglect.”

“If a doctor or doctors feels a procedure is necessary to preserve life, reduce deterioration of health and to follow a community standard of care, we will provide it,” he said.

But attorney Bill Shields supports the lawsuits.

“Because I am looking at two suits myself, both of them involve Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, and both of them involve denial of medical care,” he said.

Shields said one of them alleges an inmate didn’t get the meds she needed, and died.

And, Kathleen Greenier with the Virginia ACLU is trying to ban shackling pregnant women in Virginia prisons.

“It’s degrading, inhumane and poses serious health risks to her pregnancy ,” she said.

We called the Attorney General’s office, the prison Warden and the company contracted to provide care, but they declined to comment.