The Justice Department is making another visit to investigate conditions at a Missouri prison where two female inmates died this year, the Kansas City Star says. Family members question whether the women received adequate medical treatment in the prison, at Vandalia, Mo. The family of a third inmate who died hours after being released on a medical parole has filed a medical malpractice and wrongful-death lawsuit.
Justice Department officials will meet with inmates in the prison’s visiting area, but the state refused a request for unrestricted access to the facility, citing safety and security concerns, the Star reports. A nun who coordinates prison ministries for the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City is critical of conditions at the prison and has been working with the American Civil Liberties Union and federal investigators.
Medical care at the prison is provided by the private Correctional Medical Services of St. Louis, which is paid a fixed rate per prisoner per day. It operates in more than 20 other states. Ken Fields, spokesman for the company, said its employees “do an excellent job of meeting the health-care needs of inmate patients.”
On March 22, a woman was pronounced dead of heart disease at the prison. On July 2 another woman died of a ruptured aneurysm. Her mother said the woman had called a day earlier, saying “she had something sizzling in her brain … She told me the doctor saw her for 10 minutes….The doctor said it was all in her head. They would give her nothing.”