I just visited my daughter last evening, March 19, 2002, at the Maricopa County Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, after she had just undergone emergency surgery to remove her spleen. She had fallen from her top bunk at Estrella Jail. Within a couple hours, she began asking for medical attention, as her condition progressively got worse. She was in a great deal of pain and was unable to breathe properly.
As her condition readily got worse and worse she continued to ask for help but was told there was nothing they could do and there was nothing medically wrong with her. She eventually made a written request to be seen by the Doctor and again was told there was nothing medically wrong with her.
Five days after her fall, she was lying flat on her back on her bunk unable to move from the tremendous pain, and sneezed. Her spleen ruptured and she began bleeding internally. Again, she asked and finally begged for medical attention, but each time was refused. At this point she was unable to lie down so she to kneel on her bunk.
Finally, the Med Nurse noticed she was jaundice and her abdomen was distended, so they transported her to Maricopa County Medical Center where they did a CAT scan, which confirmed she was bleeding internally and had lost an enormous amount of blood. Her blood level was critically low. Her spleen had ruptured and needed to be removed.
Before operating, the medical staff asked her to sign the necessary papers and explained that because of her weak condition surgery would be very risky. She asked if she could call her parents, and/or her 7-year-old son before she went into surgery but the officer refused her permission. The surgeon who removed her spleen told her he could not believe she was alive.
They had to make a 12-inch incision down the front center of her chest. I counted 28 staples about 1/2 inch apart on the incision when I visited her last evening through a glass window. A police officer stood nearby during our entire 30-minute visit.
During our visit, she told me they were going to return her to the jail that same day with her staples still exposed and transport her back to the hospital to remove them only one day later. She told me that she begged them to allow her to have the staples removed before she would be returned to the jail. She was having difficulty walking with the staples in the incision and was in a great deal of pain when she moved.
My daughter no longer has her spleen. If she had received the medical help she needed and for which she asked for directly after her fall, she would still have her spleen. It wasn't until five days later, when she sneezed, that her spleen ruptured. If she had received proper care immediately, she would not have lost her spleen.
Additionally, the only reason I knew what had happened to her was because I had called the general inmate "jail information" number to confirm her "housing" information so I could send her a letter the next day. I also had planned to visit her on her next visitation day. I was given a different housing code than the code she had been originally assigned when she was incarcerated. I continued to stay on the phone to confirm she still had her three thirty-minute visits available for this week to plan my visit. After the visit availability was confirmed, I dialed "O" to speak to a person to ask the location of the new housing code I was given.
After over an hour and a half on hold, a "person" answered, and I was told my daughter was at "Maricopa County Detention Ward". I then asked for a physical address because I had not heard of this County Jail before. After being put on hold a couple more times, the person I had been speaking to said, "Your daughter has been transported to the hospital". I asked her why, what was wrong with her, or what happened to her. I wanted to know why had I not been notified. She replied, "The family is not notified unless the condition is serious". I then made the comment to her that knowing the jail had a medical facility within itself; I would assume they would only transport an inmate to the County Hospital if their condition were serious.
I was not aware yet, but MY DAUGHTER HAD EMERGENCY SURGERY, AND THEY REFUSED TO LET HER CONTACT HER FAMILY!!!!! This doesn't sound like America.... this sounds like Poland,...1941.
In addition, I was getting this information on Sunday night, March 17th. At the same time I was getting this information from the jail information people, my daughter was in ICU and would remain in intensive care for two more days. Instead of contacting me of her condition, they tell me they only contact family if the condition is serious.
Next, I asked her who I could speak to that could tell me the purpose of her trip to the hospital. I was told that information was not available from anyone. I insisted I be allowed to find out the medical condition of my daughter, and then was told to call the hospital and was given the number.
The hospital told me there was no one there with my daughter's name. I explained she was incarcerated and was an inmate at Estrella Jail. She checked again, and confirmed she was not at Maricopa County Medical Center. So, I asked her if she would transfer me to anyone in the Detention Center. She transferred my call and I spoke to an Officer who told me even if she was there, they were not allowed to give out any information.
I'm afraid my frustration and emotions got the best of me and I burst into tears. I pleaded with the officer and asked him if he would just confirm if she was there and if she was alive. He checked and came back to the phone and reported she was there but not in the Detention Ward. She was in intensive care. He said that she had been in surgery and had to have her spleen removed. I asked if she was in stable condition and he told me he couldn't give me any information. I again, pleaded with him, explaining that as her Mother, I simply needed to know what her medical condition was. He finally told me she had fallen at the Estrella Jail and ruptured her spleen and it had to be removed. I immediately asked if I could speak to some medical person at the hospital to learn her condition and was told, "No." I asked if there was anyone I would be able to speak to that could tell me anything about her condition. He told me to call the next day and speak to Sergeant Levi in the Detention Ward.
I called the next day and asked for Sergeant Levi. I asked if I could speak with anyone to get a medical opinion of her condition and was told, "No." He said he could tell me she was in the Surgery department in intensive care and was stable and seemed to be in good spirits. He told me when she became stable enough, she would be moved to the Detention Ward of the hospital. I asked him if I would be allowed to visit her at the hospital and he told me, "Yes," explaining visiting hours were from 6 to 8 PM. I then asked if the same "visitation" rules applied at the Medical Center, being three 30-minute visits each week, and was told they were a little more lenient at the Medical Center. I told him then that I would visit the very next evening.
When we, (my husband and I) got to the Detention Ward, we signed in, gave them our Arizona Driver's licenses and were told to wait. I was expecting to be sent to a room where I would find my daughter lying in a bed, but instead in just a couple of minutes, my daughter hobbled into a room across from where we were waiting and stood in front of a glass window. We then had to communicate through a speaker to have our conversation.
We were promptly asked to leave after 30 minutes was up, which included about a 10-minute period of time when my daughter was rushed out of the room because her right fore arm doubled in side as we stood talking. Both my husband and I thought the instant swelling appeared to be a blood clot in her arm.
While she was gone from the visit I had to ask the officer what was happening but was told that I would have to sit and wait. About 10 minutes later, my daughter hobbled back to the visit window with an ace bandage wrapped around the area that was swollen and a big ice bag on top of it. She said she was told it was a muscle spasm, they rubbed it and wrapped it and put the ice pack on it. We continued our visit, and approximately ten minutes later were told our time was up.
As we said goodbye, my daughter shared with us that she had no idea if she was returning to Estrella or going to the State Prison from there, but understood she would be unable to contact us for 4 or 6 weeks, if she was going to the State Prison. I asked if there would be any medical follow up after the staples would be removed the next day, but she had no idea.
Why is my daughter in jail? Is she a serial killer? Hardly. There is no doubt she has made some bad choices and made some mistakes. She is serving time for a probation violation. She had been sentenced to 3 years probation for a DUI she got in July of 1999 and began not reporting to her probation officer during the beginning of her third year of probation.
For this violation she has been sentenced to one year in prison. She was at Estrella Jail waiting to be moved to a State Prison.
While I believe that she should be punished for her errors, her punishment should not have PERMANENTLY SCARRED her, nor should it have cost her spleen and nearly COST HER LIFE!!!!
My question is: Is there an attorney out there that can represent her in a Court of Law and win against this "private" Auschwitz of Sheriff Joe Arpaio?
I am truly afraid of what may happen to her now or if she will ever come back from there alive.
Nameless for now - Sheriff Joe's Long Arm of the Law may reach farther than is comfortable for me. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Sheriff Joe Arpaio