The Justice Department is investigating the death of Larry Eugene Price, Jr., an Arkansas man who died of starvation after serving more than a year in prison for not being able to afford his $1,000 bail. news week reports.
When Price went to jail, he weighed 185 pounds; at the time of his death, after a jaunary legal action Submitted by his family, he weighed 90 pounds, suffered from a mental health crisis and ate his own urine and feces.
“Because he could not afford the $1,000 bail that would have allowed him to remain free while awaiting his day in court, Mr. Price spent the next year in prison without being convicted of a felony, and just waited,” the lawsuit states. “Despite his dire need for urgent psychiatric care, Mr. Price has spent most of this year alone in solitary confinement – in a state of active psychosis – neglected by prison doctors and prison staff.”
Turn Key Health Clinics, the medical provider at the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center where Price was staying, responded in February that it had no warning or responsibility that Price was at risk of serious injury. They also argued that Price, who had previously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, was aware of his medication regimen but refused to follow it.
Turn Key denied “any causal connection to Mr. Price’s death… (or) any knowledge of… Mr. Price. Price was ever at imminent risk of harm prior to the time of his medical emergency on August 29, 2021.” according to court records.
The Justice Department oversaw the Arkansas prison for over a decade, ending in 2017 after inmates and family members filed complaints about preventable deaths, poor health care, and a lack of basic infection control that allowed tuberculosis to spread behind bars.
According to the Justice Department, inmates were routinely debited from their commissary accounts for essential medical care, including pregnancy tests, and for being released from suicide squad.
“In the more than 25 years since the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act was passed, we have never encountered a facility requiring release from suicide care,” the DOJ said called in his report on the institution.
Federal law requires prisons to report the number of deaths in custody, but the data is woefully incomplete.
“Put simply, the federal government doesn’t know how many people die in US prisons and jails each year,” according to the Vera Institute of Justicea criminal justice organization.
External estimates suggest deaths have risen nearly 50 percent during the pandemic. after a New York Times Investigation.
These deaths sometimes involve bail, which requires those accused of a crime to pay a fee to be released from custody before their trial.
In a notorious case from New York City, a teenager from the Bronx is named Kalief Brother died by suicide in 2015 after spending years in the notorious Rikers Island prison, including nearly two years in solitary confinement, after failing to raise the $3,000 to save himself.