In addition to a place where prison guards beat inmates to death with impunity, Rikers Island is also a place where inmates die from medical mistreatment and their families are lied to about it, DNAinfo reports.
Working from documents received through a Freedom of Information Law request, reporters Rosa Goldensohn and James Fanelli tell the stories of three Rikers inmates who died in prison due to substandard medical care. Though state-commissioned reports revealed that neglect or mistreatment were contributing factors in each death, New York City's Department of Correction never shared that information with the inmates' families.
John Loadholt died in 2006 after receiving poor care for his asthma:
"Loadholt's asthma was inadequately managed by Prison Health Services, a business corporation holding itself out as a medical care provider," Frederick C. Lamy, the commissioner of the State Commission of Correction, wrote in a report reviewing Loadholt's Jan. 9, 2006 death that was issued a year later.
The report said Loadholt was never taken to several appointments at the jail's medical clinic, and that staff from Prison Health Services never followed up with him. State investigators wrote that PHS routinely overbooked its clinic schedule, only seeing a fraction of the inmates who had appointments each day.
The report, shared with the DOC commissioner and high-ranking officials at the city Health Department, also found that Rikers guards failed to follow the rules when Loadholt told them he had difficulty breathing.
Instead of immediately contacting medical personnel, a guard walked him from his housing unit to the clinic, despite him having a "staggered gait" and being unable to talk. Loadholt collapsed on the walk and died.
Loadholt's family, like the families of all victims mentioned, was not told about the substandard care. "I'm pissed off that this was never forwarded to my family," Loadholt's brother told DNAinfo after learning of the report. "I didn't know there was an investigation as to what happened."
[Image via AP]