Patterns of Extreme Medical Neglect in New Mexico Prisons and Jails

There is a longstanding crisis of extreme medical neglect in New Mexico prisons and jails. Unfortunately, the crisis is not improving but growing worse.

Albuquerque, NM — (ReleaseWire) — 02/21/2022 — Extreme medical neglect in New Mexico prisons and jails is the rule rather than the exception. This has long been the case. Unfortunately, although the patterns have been perfectly clear to anybody paying attention, the patterns were not sufficiently clear to overcome dismissal in federal court. This is changing for New Mexico Corrections Department (NMCD), the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) and their medical contractors.

Press Coverage of Extreme Medical Neglect

The local press in Albuquerque and Santa Fe have chronicled the abuses of NMCD and MDC. Over the course of the last 4 years, a number of the articles in the New Mexico press have addressed the prison medical neglect cases filed by the Albuquerque law firm Collins & Collins, P.C. The firm has filed over 30 lawsuits against New Mexico prisons, jails and their prison medical contractors with many more to come. The bulk of these have been against NMCD. However, the medical conditions, based upon local reporting and statements by a former MDC nurse who worked for the current medical provider and the prior medical provider, illustrate shockingly deficient medical care at MDC. Due to the medical conditions at MDC, it should be expected that there will be growing numbers of lawsuits filed against MDC and Bernalillo County. Parrish Collins of Collins & Collins reports that the call volume and the case intake for MDC inmates has gone up dramatically over the last year or so reflecting the precisely what the press and the former nurse have reported.

Clear Patterns of Extreme Medical Neglect of Infections

The 30 plus lawsuits filed by Collins & Collins, P.C. alone show patterns and practices of deliberate and pervasive medical neglect by NMCD and its medical contractors. Many of the lawsuits involve emergent infections that are ignored by the prison medical contractors for days, weeks and months. The inmates complain of severe pain. Other inmates intervene on their behalf attempting to get medical attention. Many of the inmates become completely immobilized unable to walk and some unable to get out of bed. Yet, according to the lawsuits, the easily treated and managed infections are ignored until the inmate is near death at which point the patient inmate is finally sent to the hospital. The end result is weeks or even months of hospitalizations, permanent and severe physical injuries, and in far too many cases death. Inmates report that the only way to get serious attention to an emergent infection is to claim IV drug use even when the inmate is not an IV drug user. Inmates then are forced to face disciplinary issues for IV drug use in order to get attention for emergent and potentially deadly infections. The infections invade the spines, hearts, bones, and even brains of inmates causing severe harm and/or death.

Clear Patterns of Extreme Neglect of Severe Mental Health Issues

Other suits involve complete neglect of severe mental health issues. The neglect is the result of indifference, incompetence and severely deficient mental health services staffing. Rather than provide proper treatment, inmates have reported to Collins & Collins, P.C. that they are ridiculed and even encouraged to attempt to take their own lives. Numerous inmates have reported that guards tell them the only way the inmate will be seen by a mental health provider is to attempt suicide. Even then, judging by the lawsuits filed by Collins & Collins, P.C., it is as likely as not that the inmate will not receive mental health services but instead be placed in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is considered psychological torture in most societies and the United Nations, yet it is used routinely by NMCD for inmates suffering severe mental health crisis. Resulting suicides are perfectly predictable. In fact, if anything, its is surprising that there are not more.

Clear Patterns of Chronic Understaffing
NMCD and MDC are chronically understaffed. This includes severe understaffing of correctional staff, medical staff and mental health staff. Staffing shortages are and have been the rule for years. It is not due to lack of funding. NMCD and MDC are very well funded. In particular, the medical contracts are extremely generous to the contractors representing among the largest budget line items for counties and the State of New Mexico. The lawsuits filed by Collins & Collins, P.C. illustrate a clear pattern of indifference to the health and safety of inmates. This is true of NMCD, MDC and their medical contractors. It is not getting better. It is getting worse by the day.

Patterns of Recklessly Negligent and Deliberately Indifferent Refusal of Proper Medical Care

The many lawsuits filed and to be filed by Collins & Collins, P.C. along with other lawsuits filed in New Mexico will be used to illustrate pervasive and persistent patterns of extreme medical neglect at NMCD and MDC. These cases along with cases around the country against the same shamelessly profit driven medical contractors should go a long way toward avoiding dismissal in federal court and likewise for cases to be filed under the New Mexico Civil Rights Act.

No matter how many suits are filed, NMCD and MDC refuse to change their ways or to exert even minimal control over their prison contractors. The refusal represents reckless indifference to the health, safety and lives of inmates. “Deliberate indifference” is the standard for federal court. Taking just the cases filed by Collins & Collins, P.C, the presence of deliberate indifference is hardly disputable at this point.

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Media Relations Contact

Parrish Collins
Collins & Collins, P.C.
Telephone: 1-505-242-5958
Email: Click to Email Parrish Collins