PHOENIX (CN) – The death of one detainee and the alleged medical abuse of another have led to two more lawsuits against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio made news again this week by denying the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights access to county jails.
The dead detainee’s family claims the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office failed to diagnose David McClurg, a pretrial detainee, with type 2 diabetes and provide him with a diabetic diet and more room in his cell. He developed gangrene in his feet and buttocks within six weeks of his incarceration, and died.
The family says Arpaio determined that McClurg was a “minimal risk prisoner” and housed him in overcrowded conditions that led to his immobility.
The lawsuit, filed by McClurg’s two sons in Maricopa County Court, claims McClurg didn’t know he was diabetic because of his diet outside of the jail. While in a cell McClurg allegedly had no access to a place to sit or sleep and was not provided with a diabetic diet, leading to gangrene.
During the six weeks McClurg was incarcerated, he repeatedly asked, and was refused, a visit with the jail’s medical staff because of loss of feeling in his legs, his sons says.
When he finally was seen by the staff, he was taken to Maricopa Medical Center, where the gangrene on his buttocks had to be removed, along with four toes on his left foot and three toes on his right foot. His left leg was later amputated below the knee due to the spreading decay.
McClurg’s sons say their father’s initial screening at the jail showed that he was diabetic, but “the county was deliberately indifferent to his medical needs.”
In the second complaint, Arpaio is accused of failing to provide an inmate with his epilepsy medication, causing him to suffer two grand mal seizures.
Kevin Smith turned himself in in July 2008 to spend two days in jail, and says he was denied the medication that he had provided to the Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, causing him to have a grand mal seizure and hit his head.
Smith says he broke several teeth and injured his head, causing him to be hospitalized, which made him miss work and lose his job.
Smith says he turned himself in again in November, for failing to pay a fine, and was denied his medication again, causing him to suffer another grand mal seizure and fall from his top bunk.
According to Smith’s complaint, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care took away the Maricopa County Correctional Health Services accreditation in January.
Also this week, the ACLU claims that Arpaio denied members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights access to Maricopa County jails.
The ACLU claims Arpaio denied the human rights group access to his jails “because of four pending federal lawsuits involving one or more organizations that have previously testified before the commission.”
The commission is investigating conditions of detention for immigrants in the United States. Twelve percent of inmates in Maricopa County jails have U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds, the ACLU said.
Arpaio was the subject of a devastating profile in the July 20 issue of The New Yorker magazine.
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