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Are Connecticut Inmates Receiving Adequate Medical Care?

Multiple lawsuits allege Connecticut’s prison system failed to properly diagnose and treat prisoners with serious illnesses. This hour we hear from a mother whose 19-year-old son died of an infection while incarcerated. Scott Semple, the outgoing prisons Commissioner, also joins us. What steps have been taken to improve health care behind bars?

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  • Scott Semple - Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Correction. He is stepping down from the position this January.
  • Josh Kovner - Reporter for the Hartford Courant. (@jkovner_courant)
  • Keshanna Staten - Mother of Karon Nealy Jr., who in 2015 died of a lung infection in prison in Connecticut at age 19.
  • Brad Brockmann - Civil rights attorney and Assistant Professor of the Practice at the Brown University’s School of Public Health, where he teaches courses on the intersection of criminal justice and health. He was the first executive director of the Rhode Island-based Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights from 2010-2018, which is focused on bringing a public health lens to the nation's epidemic of incarceration. (@bradbrockmann)


Hartford Courant: Latest inmate death lawsuit adds to prison medical crisis (Josh Kovner, November 2018) – “The other inmates had taken to calling William Bennett “Chewbacca” because of the raspy grunts and hoarse groans that, for months, had passed for talking for Bennett, who also was having trouble swallowing. By the time Bennett died of larynx cancer in November 2017… Bennett had developed an 11- by 4-centimeter tumor that covered his larynx, trachea, and thyroid, and emergency surgery couldn’t save him, says the latest medical malpractice case to be filed against the state prison system.”

Hartford Courant: Latest Prison Death Lawsuit Cites Deficient Care Behind The Walls (Josh Kovner, July 2018)– “[Karon] Nealy developed raging headaches in early 2015. He was treated with pills, though he was wasting away, losing his hair, having seizures and was unable to get out of his bunk. By July 2015, he was dead, succumbing to a lung infection associated with lupus, according to the lawsuit. He was serving nine months behind bars and would have been released in September 2015.

NPR: Rhode Island Prisons Push To Get Inmates The Best Treatment For Opioid Addiction (November 2018) – “Today, Rhode Island remains the only state to screen every individual who comes into the correctional system for opioid use disorder, and to offer, along with drug counseling, all three types of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat addiction — methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.”

Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.
Carmen Baskauf was a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show Where We Live, hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil from 2017-2021. She has also contributed to The Colin McEnroe Show.

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