Tennessee’s largest prison, Trousdale Turner Correctional Facility, now faces three lawsuits filed on behalf of prisoners suffering from diabetes. The inmates were allegedly unable to access insulin during prison lockdowns, the Nashville Tennessean reported.
In a prisoner complaint form, inmate Douglas Dodson described several nights during a three-week lockdown during which he and about 60 other diabetic inmates were not called to the prison clinic to receive insulin shots. In his complaint, Dodson said the insulin was either provided hours later or not at all.
“I know my insulin is keeping me alive, and I really need it every day. This has went on long enough here at this facility!” Dodson wrote.
The complaint, which was written during Trousdale’s three-week lockdown in 2016, eventually resulted in a class action lawsuit that claims the prison is operated by a “skeleton crew,” which forces the prison into lockdown because of a lack of manpower.
The Tennessean reports that diabetic care is the worst during lockdowns.
“Meals are provided at irregular and often unpredictable times and are often not diabetic appropriate despite medical directions for a diabetic appropriate diet,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges that lockdowns come as a result of understaffing because the private prison company that oversees the prison, CoreCivic, fails to adequately staff and secure the 2,552-bed Hartsville, Tenn., prison—despite its five-year $276 million contract.
The class-action lawsuit alleges that Dodson and other diabetic inmates face daily risks because of the unhealthy prison food served at unpredictable meal times and spotty access to insulin shots.
The American Diabetes Association filed a court motion in March to join the class-action lawsuit against Trousdale. In a news release, Sarah Fech-Baughman, an attorney for the association, described inmates as being “at the mercy of prison staff” to provide them with access to medication to manage their diabetes.
Thomas Leach, a former inmate at Trousdale, filed a separate suit in 2016 with similar complaints. In a third and more recent lawsuit filed this year, diabetic inmate Jonathan Salada allegedly died in “excruciating pain” because of “diabetic complications” and “negligent care.”
The three suits have received little attention over the past two years, according to The Tennessean. But in August, a protest at CoreCivic’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., revived the previous allegations.
Ashely Dixon, a former CoreCivic employee, who resigned from Trousdale, attended the protest. At the protest, Dixon told The Tennessean she remembered hearing Salada shouting in his cell. “He screamed in pain for three days,” she said. “I tried to get him help, but nurses told me he was faking it.”
The lawsuit filed by Salada’s family explains that he had three blood tests done, all of which revealed his blood sugar was “alarmingly high,” but he never “received appropriate or proper medical care.”
Salada was found unconscious in his cell.
In response to the lawsuits, CoreCivic denies any wrong doing and instead insists the plaintiffs are responsible for their own health complications.
According to The Tennessean, CoreCivic claims Dodson and other diabetic inmates are known for skipping meals and refusing insulin shots, as well as neglecting their health by using illegal drugs and buying sugary snacks, which they describe as “willful non-compliance” with a diabetic diet.