Georgia Criminal Defense Blog

Concern for Georgia Inmates with Diabetes

Posted by Richard Lawson | May 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

As a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer, I find recent headlines absolutely deplorable. News that diabetics in Georgia prisons are dying from neglect has made headlines recently. As a diabetic, I am very concerned that people in prison and jail are not getting needed medication.

To be clear, diabetes is a treatable condition. The common mediations have been around for 50 years. When a diabetic is not properly treated they are at risk of diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic ketoacidosis is life-threatening and extremely dangerous. To explain it simply, the body begins to break down fat at a rate that is too fast for the body. The liver then processes the fat into ketones which then cause the blood to become acidic. No person should die of diabetic ketoacidosis.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this treatment of diabetics warranted an in depth investigation by their investigators and journalists. What they discovered was absolutely horrific.

As of right now, at least a dozen inmates have died because they didn't get the help or the medication they needed for their diabetes. Some states have gone as far to treat such failures of their jail systems as crimes. None of the deaths of diabetics in Georgia have led to any criminal charges.

Diabetes is a huge problem in the United States, which with such a high population of individuals in correctional institutions means that diabetes is also a huge problem in correctional institutions. The American Diabetes Association has actually published policies to guide diabetic inmate care.

As of right now, there is no data to show how many inmates actually die from diabetic ketoacidosis. Bottom line - this should never happen to a person while he or she is in custody of the state.

In today's post, I will take a closer look at what it means to be in custody.

What does it mean to be “in custody?”

When you are in the custody of someone else, they are responsible for your care. For example, children are in the custody of adult parents or guardians. If a child was so neglected that he or she died while in parental custody, that person would be charged with Cruelty to Children in Georgia and possibly Murder in Georgia.

Therefore, people in state or county custody are in the care of the government. Although unpopular because it costs money, those individuals deserve a level of care that includes basic medication for treatable conditions. There can be some debate as to what is “basic” and treatable” but providing medication and insulin to a diabetic is well inside the realm of basic care. Suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis can be gruesome.  The body stops functioning and eats itself alive from the inside.  Eventually organs shut down and the person dies a horribly painful death. It is unimaginable that prison and jail guards could watch a fellow human being wither away in pain and do nothing.

Georgia has a long history of deplorable conditions in our jail-system. The Fulton Conty jail was under a Federal Order for years up until 2015 because of conditions.

People are now protesting poor conditions at the jail in DeKalb County. These protests have also made headlines as they have been put on by the inmate-rights group, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. This group has a large Atlanta chapter and has continued to fight against the unsafe conditions inside the DeKalb County Jail.

Practice Note

Taking care of those suspected of crimes is unpopular; that is, until it's your loved-one who has been falsely or wrongly accused.

The sad reality is that most people in jail are awaiting their trial and are presumed innocent.  Treating those only accused of a crime as expendable and not worthy of basic heath care is disgusting and needs to end right now.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact our offices today. A Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney will help you today - we care about your rights and your freedom. Call now.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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