Although prison should in theory help rehabilitate inmates, the reality of incarceration is often far more about penalties than development and change. The people working in prisons and jails may eventually become jaded and develop a crass attitude toward the people they watch over as part of their job.

Jailers who don’t respect inmates may not listen when someone has medical complaints. When jail personnel don’t let someone seek necessary medical care, that person could wind up far sicker than they would be with timely care.

In some cases, people die or wind up permanently injured as a result of medical neglect in prison. This could mean that the government has liability for the losses the inmate or their surviving family members suffered due to medical neglect.

Jailers ignore symptoms of physical and mental illnesses

Prison staff members have an obligation to keep inmates safe. Routine checks help deter violence between inmates and ensure that no one engages in behavior intended to harm themselves. Those checks also provide an opportunity for inmates to report symptoms of an illness that they believe requires medical attention.

Unfortunately, if staff members don’t take those concerns seriously, a person with a severe fever, someone who needs prescription medication, someone experiencing a heart attack or an inmate going through extreme psychiatric distress may not receive interventions that could improve their prognosis or potentially save their life.

Inmates who wound up sickened with lasting consequences because of medical neglect may have grounds to take action because of their experience. The same might be true of surviving family members who lose a loved one due to medical neglect during incarceration.