Arkansas jail, medical provider settle suit in inmate death

Local News
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Pulaski County jail and its medical services provider have settled a wrongful death lawsuit accusing them of denying an inhaler to an asthmatic inmate who died in custody.

Attorneys said Thursday that Pulaski County agreed to pay $50,000 and Oklahoma-based Turn Key Health Clinics will pay $375,000 to Sharon Lavette Alexander’s family, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Alexander died at the jail Dec. 14, 2016. The 41-year-old woman had been arrested and booked into the jail a day earlier on a shoplifting charge. Her inhaler was confiscated at that point.

Alexander’s daughter, Porcha Alexander, sued in early 2018. The lawsuit says her mother was repeatedly refused access to her inhaler — including by a Turn Key nurse — during her incarceration by Pulaski County.

An autopsy completed by the state Crime Laboratory found that she died of severe asthma exacerbation.

The jail has since changed its policy on inmate belongings, specifically asthma inhalers.

“No amount of money can bring back their mother,” Little Rock attorney Austin Porter Jr. said Thursday. But he said the family was comforted by the resolution of the case and that the jail policy was changed in response to Alexander’s death.

Under the previous policy, deputies had to seize an inmate’s inhaler and inspect it within 24 hours for drugs and other illegal imports. The restructured policy instructs deputies to instantly examine an inmate’s inhaler and return the device to the inmate if no contraband is discovered. The inhaler must also be prescribed.

Lt. Cody Burk, spokesman for the county sheriff’s office, confirmed that Turn Key is still the jail’s medical provider.
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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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