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Criminal Negligence and Willful Negligence

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years ago

Criminal Negligence and Willful Negligence

Blog from January 30th, 2007 - www.JoshWolf.net


This blog post was actually written October 3rd, 2006. The post was somehow misplaced after it was sent out and we are uncertain whether it ever arrived. Fortunately I held onto the rough draft and was able to reconstruct the entry.


Earlier today I witnessed one of the most disturbing incidents that I’ve ever experienced. It wasn’t a brutal attack or a sadistic guard’s behavior that left me feeling dejected, but the cold, casual response to what may have been a medical emergency.


At approximately 4:00 PM, a man named Bill was discovered in the walkway. He had collapsed to his knees and was feeling faint. With the help of another prisoner, the correctional officer helped support Bill as he walked up to the top of the staircase and then guided him into a chair. Before long Bill began drifting in and out of consciousness.


Given that his condition was not improving, the guard immediately called for medical assistance. For the next 20 minutes I stayed with Bill as the guard and myself continued reassuring Bill that medical help was on the way.


I asked Bill what was wrong. He told me that he felt faint and his arm hurt. Given that he was phasing in and out of consciousness, I asked him if he was diabetic. He told me that he wasn’t – at least as far as he was aware. I noticed his breathing was shallow and I went to check his pulse. Although his pulse didn’t seem abnormal, he told me that checking it was making his chest hurt more. I thought Bill might be having a heart attack and I asked the guard if they had a first aid kit with nitroglycerin; they did not.



About then, the guard noticed Bill’s hands were turning blue and we decided to lay him down with his legs elevated. His eyelids began to flutter, and it became more and more difficult to keep Bill awake.


Finally, at 4:30 PM, the P.A. arrived inside the unit and proceeded to casually approach the patient and ask him how he was doing. By this point, Bill was essentially unconscious, and the PA responded, saying, “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” It’s a little fuzzy what happened next, but within a few minutes he was hoisted onto a stretcher, carried down the stairs, and taken out of the unit.


Enraged that it took nearly half an hour for the P.A. on-duty to arrive, I sat down to try to describe what I had just witnessed and the lack of empathy I had observed when our unit was locked-down. Confused, I peered out of my cell and saw Bill being led back inside and taken into solitary confinement. As the guards departed from the hole, I could hear them laughing and became sick to my stomach.


I’m still not sure why Bill was placed in segregation, but within minutes the unit was locked down again. This time Bill was led out of the hole, down the hall, and out of the unit as a guard on each side supported him to help him walk.


I have no idea how Bill is doing right now or where he was taken. I assume he was driven to the hospital, but I have no idea why he wasn’t taken there in the first place. That fact that so much time transpired before any medical assistance arrived is abominable; the fact that there is no first aid equipment within the unit should be criminal. And finally, the fact that Bill was thrown in the hole before they decided to actually treat him is unforgivable.


I only hope that I’m not plagued by any medical emergency while in B.O.P. custody, because I know that help will be slow in coming and likely inadequate. I hope Bill is okay; but if he is not, then it is my belief that criminal negligence and willful neglect may be to blame.


Update: The next day, on October 4th, Bill returned to the unit. Although feeling weak and somewhat ill, he seemed to be O.K. He did not remember his experience at the hospital and to the best of his knowledge had not been told what was wrong.

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