Jefferson City – The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri against Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) and Pettis County for denying an incarcerated individual access to life-saving medication after he was diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The ACLU seeks a preliminary injunction from the Court to ensure that their client has continued access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) medication.
For months after the plaintiff was diagnosed while in custody, ACH doctor Alan Weaver and jail staff ignored his increasingly urgent pleas for HIV treatment and his worsening symptoms of acute infection. Only after the detainee was able to secure outside funding did staff relent and allow him to see an outside doctor and obtain ART. Even after he was prescribed medication, staff failed to administer it consistently or properly, causing the detainee to miss more than 10 doses of life-saving medication. In addition, since entering Pettis County Jail, the detainee has also not received any of his other prescribed medications for mental health conditions.
Despite knowing that ART is crucial to suppress HIV viral load and prevent life-threatening consequences, Dr. Weaver refused to prescribe medication — or even conduct appropriate testing — because the plaintiff is poor and therefore could not pay for the necessary medication. Employees of Pettis County knew the detainee’s medical care was constitutionally deficient but ignored his suffering. A Pettis County employee told the plaintiff that if he pled guilty, he would gain access to his medications, presumably because he would be transferred to the Missouri Department of Corrections and out of the Pettis County Jail.
"Every day, incarcerated men, women, and children suffer needlessly from a lack of medical treatment for chronic diseases, mental illness, and injury,” said Gillian Wilcox, Deputy Director for Litigation at the ACLU. “Pettis County has demonstrated a pattern of deliberate indifference by denying life-saving care to those in their custody simply based on their inability to pay, knowing that it is a violation of the inmates’ constitutional rights.”
Pettis County policies have been designed to avoid accountability for failing to meet its constitutional duty to provide health care to the people in their custody. The county entered a contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare, which provides only an hour of medical care per week for the whole jail population, depriving incarcerated people access to necessary medical care. When the doctor does visit the jail, he regularly refuses to prescribe medication to anyone who cannot pay.
Read full complaint.