A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Illinois prison sued for witholding HIV medication

An Illinois man on Monday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in the US District Court for the Central District of Illinois [official website] against Bureau County alleging that prison officials in the county denied him necessary HIV medication during his weeklong incarceration. Plaintiff Arick Buckles alleges in his complaint that officials at the Bureau County Jail were "were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's serious medical need for life-sustaining HIV medications" and violated his rights under the Fourteenth Amendment [text] of the US Constitution. Buckles also claims prison officials violated the Americans with Disabilities Act [text] by discriminating against him on the sole basis of his status as an HIV-positive individual and is seeking both punitive and compensatory damages as redress. As a direct consequence of the prison's failure to provide him with medication, Buckles claims he suffered from various ailments including weight loss, severe vomiting, and detrimental effects to his prognosis.

Prisons have recently come under fire from various groups calling for prison reform. Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report [JURIST report] claiming that it costs $68,270 per year to house a prisoner age 50 and older while many pose virtually no threat to society. The ACLU estimated that states could save approximately $66,000 per year by releasing aging prisoners. In January, the US District Court for the Northern District of California ruled [JURIST report] that California prison officials have failed to protect disabled parolees by not providing them wheelchairs and other mobility assistance devices. The Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Plata upheld an order [JURIST report] requiring California to release up to 46,000 prisoners because the overcrowding of the state's prison system is causing inmates to receive inadequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

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