Bell County, Belton, Texas
C.J.'s story illustrates the life-threatening danger that jails place people in by refusing them medical care and essential medications.
C.J. had just hit his 25-year anniversary of being diagnosed as a diabetic in July, 2014. On an ordinary day he needed at least 40 units of insulin to stabilize his blood sugar at a healthy level, between 125-150.
When he was pulled over in Bell County on July 31st, 2014 for a minor traffic violation and warrant, nothing could have prepared him for the trauma he would endure over the next 30 days behind bars in both Bell and Denton County Jails.
At Bell County Jail he was told that as an inmate, he would only receive half the amount of insulin he was prescribed. This meant he would now receive 10 units twice a day instead of 20 units. At first he endured nausea and stomach pains, and made several requests for the correct amount. The medical staff only agreed to up his dosage to 14 units of insulin twice daily.
After nearly ten days in Bell County Jail, Hess was transferred to Denton County Jail to deal with an outstanding warrant. Although Bell County medical staff had somewhat adjusted C.J.’s dosage, Denton would only use the original medical notes from when he was initially booked which stated he would receive 10 units of insulin twice per day as an inmate. Sadly C.J. was back to square one and again fearing for his life as he waited pretrial for his case to be processed.
To make matters worse, the medical staff at the Denton jail is only on site for 8 hours, 3 days a week; if CJ needed to request an emergency insulin dosage it had to be within those times.
On August 3rd, 2014 at 4 a.m., C.J. woke up for his daily insulin routine in agonizing pain. When he arrived to the nurse his blood sugar was checked and documented at an astonishing spike to 500.
“I nearly died. I was evaluated and rushed to Denton Presbyterian Emergency Room. For some reason this also meant I would not receive breakfast that day.”
Mr. Hess did not want to go to the emergency room—he said that he could not afford an expensive hospital bill on top of court fees. All he wanted was his proper dosage of insulin. When he told the officers this they claimed that the hospital bills would be covered by Denton County Jail because he was in their custody. However, since being released on August 27th, 2014, Mr. Hess has been receiving collection calls and bills in the mail notifying him of a $2,069.61 balance.
Prior to being arrested C.J. was employed. When he was released from jail he was told he needed to reapply for his job. He was not rehired.
Mr. Hess nearly died in jail due to avoidable reasons: because Denton and Bell County Jails are arbitrarily altering prescriptions for inmates. That is inhumane, and may damage a person's health for a lifetime.