I am not totally blind to the economic realities of this world. We can’t afford to give first class medical care to inmates in Jefferson, Boulder and Adams County Jails. But, I am see life threatening conditions given minimal medical treatment. It is what Sheriffs all over Colorado do, in an effort to cut costs. Even food is an issue. Jails seek out the cheapest bids for food and medical programs which barely keep inmates alive.
This week I saw a judge blindly ignore the serious health condition of a client of mine. The attitude seemed to be that if you don’t want to be in jail suffering, then don’t commit a crime. Judges are busy with too many people committing crimes and filling jails and prisons. At some point, many simply quit caring and will not invest themselves in helping the individual. They are more concerned with following policies which promise the utmost safety for the community and for the judge’s career. No one will criticize a judge who takes the safest course with an inmate – even if the inmate is seriously ill. I grieve for the men and women in jail who only get minimal medical care or for addicts who can’t get help coming down from their addiction.
I remember a client who just had surgery and was taken to jail shortly after. He was prescribed narcotic pain medication following a serious surgery. When he arrived at jail, he was given Tylenol in place of the narcotics. There was no weaning him off – he had to go cold turkey. Tylenol was less costly and did not present any risk of inmate abuse. Jails in Arapahoe, Douglas and Denver County want to save money and medical care, like food, is an easy place to cut expenses.
We have pleaded with judges about the poor medical care for inmates, only to be told that “I am not going to order the Sheriff how to run his jail.” You see, there is a boundary which the judges don’t want to cross. They don’t want the political fallout from telling a Sheriff to spend money or change policies within the walls of the jail. If they do, Sheriffs can make life pretty rough on a judge. Judges count on the Sheriff to house inmates, enforce sentences given by the judge, bring inmates to court, and to provide courthouse security. An angry Sheriff could make life miserable for a judge he did not like. This wall of separation leaves Colorado’s jails lacking in accountability to the public. A Sheriff has a ton of independence in how their county jail is managed.
We understand how to move judges and even a Sheriff’s Department toward action to protect our clients in jail. This is not always successful, but it often is. Call our experienced criminal defense attorneys at 303-731-0719 today if you need help with a friend or family member in the county jail. Together, we can protect their future.