Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Unsealed Report Calls Idaho Prison ‘Indifferent’ To Inmate Health

A new report says Idaho’s largest prison provides such substandard health care to inmates that in some cases it may have resulted in death. A federal judge unsealed an expert’s opinion in a decades-long case Monday. In it, Dr. Marc Stern details a range of problems at the Idaho State Correctional Institution near Boise.

He says patients there face cruel and unusual treatment. One inmate wasn’t told he had cancer for months. Another bed-ridden inmate wasn’t fed. And Stern said an emergency ventilator that should be used often was caked in dust.

Boise attorney Walt Sinclair first took the inmates’ federal class-action case in the 1980s. He says the report suggests constitutional violations persist.

“The framers of our Constitution, they guaranteed certain minimum rights to all people, whether they’re in jail or not," Sinclair says. "And when government is responsible for providing the living conditions for a group of people, they can’t deprive them of their constitutional rights.”

The report does say the Idaho prison managers have improved health conditions. Even so, it concludes authorities are overall “deliberately indifferent” to the health care needs of inmates.

The Idaho Department of Correction contracts its health services out to Corizon, a company that also provides care at other Idaho prisons, and two county jails in Oregon.

Idaho officials and Corizon declined to be interviewed. But they issued statements calling the report “misleading and erroneous.”

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.