Seeking immediate help for a disabled man held since April in inhumane conditions at the Iberia Parish Correctional Center ("ICC"), the ACLU of Louisiana today submitted an emergency second request for relief on his behalf. Reginald Peters, who requires a wheelchair due to his muscular dystrophy and needs assistance for basic bodily functions, has been denied adequate medical care, forcing him to lie on the ground, unable to perform basic tasks such as going to the bathroom.
On November 29, 2010, the ACLU of Louisiana submitted an Administrative Remedy Procedure ("ARP") on his behalf, demanding that he be moved to another prison facility with adequate medical care. Although prison officials promised to move Mr. Peters to Elayn Hunt Correctional Center for better care, Mr. Peters remains at ICC and his condition has worsened. He remains unable to attend to his basic bodily functions, must lie on the floor, and his muscles have continued to deteriorate. Today the ACLU submitted an Emergency Second Step ARP, as a step toward litigation if Mr. Peters is not transferred promptly.
"For over a month, officials in Iberia Parish have been on notice that they are forcing a disabled man to lie on the ground, without a mattress, unable to take care of his basic bodily needs," said Katie Schwartzmann, Legal Director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "Mr. Peters has been forced to live under conditions that can truly be described as inhumane. He is forced to ask other prisoners to help him with basic needs like going to the bathroom or taking a bath. There is no excuse for denying basic medical care, or for the needless delay in transferring him to a facility where he can receive better care. Nobody should be subjected to the treatment that Mr. Peters has received in this jail."
Schwartzmann and other ACLU staff members have made several trips to Iberia Parish Correctional Center to investigate Mr. Peters' case. Although there is no known cure for muscular dystrophy, physical therapy is vital to slowing the progression of the disease. Without it, patients with some types of muscular dystrophy rapidly begin to lose muscle mass. This atrophy is oftentimes permanent and irreversible. Since being at ICC, Mr. Peters' muscles have atrophied to the point of near complete loss of the use of his limbs.
This is not the first time that ICC has subjected a disabled inmate to inhumane conditions. In 2005, Nelson Landry sued over his denial of medical and other care at ICC. That case, Landry v. Hebert, resolved with Iberia Parish paying substantial damages to compensate Mr. Landry for his mistreatment.
Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said: "Iberia Parish should have learned that it cannot ignore the basic human needs of the people in its care. Apart from the human cost, the taxpayers of Iberia Parish should not have to pay the price in damages if their officials simply fail to provide care that is available."
Copies of the ACLU's letters on behalf of Reginald Peters are available as follows: