Legal Issues in Today’s Jail: Medical Care

Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2018-06-27
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Legal Issues in Today's Jail
Unit 2 Recording: Legal Issues in Today’s Jail
Unit 3 Webinar Notes: Legal Issues in Today's Jail – Medical

For most of the population, being an inmate is somewhat equated to being bereft of rights – this isn’t entirely true. While inmates and detainees have to forego certain rights, they are still protected in specific instances. The Supreme Court decision for Estelle v. Gamble of 1976 established and became the precursor of all rulings related to inmates’ medical rights. It stipulates that medical care needs to be provided to an inmate who experienced injury or is in need of medical care.

Justice Clearinghouse, in partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) invites Carrie Hill as this course’s resource speaker. Carrie is the Director of the National Center for Jail Operations (NCJO) with the NSA. Carrie is a lawyer and national justice consultant, with three decades worth of experience developing seminars in correctional law and criminal justice.

Carrie intends to shed light on the issue of inmates’ medical rights including:

  • A sample cartoon and a real-life headline depicting how people see being in jail as their only means to get access to free healthcare.
  • The legal standards that define the government’s duty to protect and provide medical care to convicted inmates and detainees.
  • Four benchmark cases that became the reference for all later cases relating to medical rights for inmates.
  • The Estelle v. Gamble case that defined where liability exists.
  • The Estelle Standard conditions for liability that enumerates instances where a facility is held liable for any injury/harm/death of inmates.
  • The Farmer v. Brenna case that expounds on the scope of conditions for liability.
  • The Objective Test that determines the condition for liability if the premise/condition is obvious to a lay person or is diagnosed by a physician.
  • Factors that establishes what is “sufficiently serious”, “serious harm”, and “substantial risk of serious harm”.
  • The Subjective Test that establishes culpability and determines deliberate indifference.
  • Example of defenses that a facility, security or medical personnel may use to protect themselves from liabilities arising from medical issue cases.
  • The Prison Litigation Reform Act that provides a level of protection by ensuring that an inmate exhausts administrative remedies before resorting to a lawsuit.
  • Multiple case studies that illustrate the various grounds for a medical rights case to prove deliberate indifference, delayed or denied care, and failure to screen, among others.
  • The guidelines to consider and actions to be taken relating to an inmate’s right to refuse medical treatment.
  • Issues to raise in cases of inmates who refuse to remove jewelry, body piercings, and/or implants.
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the circumstances where confidential medical records may be obtained by law enforcement following certain specific exemptions.
  • Specialized case examples that touch on serious and/or contagious afflictions like HIV and Tuberculosis, future harm as in second-hand smoke, costs of medical treatments, elective treatment, and Custody Death Syndrome.
  • Pointers to avoid deliberate indifference and liability when it comes to medical cases through education and training, facility maintenance, policy review and update, and thorough screening and monitoring.
  • Poll questions asked the availability of medical personnel and facilities and dealing with medical grievances for each of the participants’ respective agencies.
  • Carrie expounded during the Q&A portion the audience’s inquiries on:
    • Providing screening for female health concerns
    • Screening for medical and mental health conditions
    • The facilities’ obligations to inmates’ dietary restrictions
    • Discerning between real and fake medical conditions
    • Dealing with non-urgent medical appointments



** This webinar has been certified by the National Sheriffs' Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units through your POST. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Paid subscribers that attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Sheriffs' Association logo.
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