James Kenneth Embry, an inmate at the Kentucky State Penitentiary, died in January due to starvation. As a result, a prison doctor has been fired, and two other prison personnel are in the process of being dismissed due to their negligence in medical treatment.
Embry, 57, just had three years left on his prison sentence of nine years for drug charges before he died. According to reports, he began to behave erratically as soon as he stopped taking anti-anxiety medication in 2013. Embry told staff that he felt paranoid and anxious, and resorted to banging his head on the door of his cell. He then stopped eating most of the meals served to him. “I don’t have any hope,” Embry said to the prison psychiatrist.
By the time he died, he weighed only 138 pounds – 30 pounds shy of his normal weight, which was a cause for concern for his 6-foot frame.
Based on an internal investigation done in the prison, the medical staff failed to give Embry the medical attention that he needed in order to suppress his suicidal tendencies. They also failed to monitor Embry while his condition continued to worsen.
Because of the investigation, more issues within the penitentiary were revealed. One of the big problems with the medical staff is their uncaring attitude towards inmates, which includes the failure to check in with inmates during medical rounds. The lack of communication among the medical staff also poses a problem.
Greg Belzley, an attorney for inmate rights, said that the incident is extremely disturbing. “How do you just watch a man starve to death?” he said.
The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office is now reviewing the circumstances surrounding Embry’s death. After the investigation, officials will have to decide whether to file complaints against the board supervising the doctors in the penitentiary.
Embry’s remains were buried near the penitentiary, since he had no friends and family, and no one claimed his body.
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