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Advocates Say Vt. Prisoners Neglected

Published: 11/9/2017 11:38:43 PM
Modified: 11/9/2017 11:38:48 PM

A second Vermont inmate who was housed at a state prison in Pennsylvania has died after “not getting much treatment” for his cancer, according to a prisoners’ rights advocate.

Vermont Deputy Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette confirmed on Thursday that Timothy Adams, 59, of East Fairfield, Vt., died at Vermont’s Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., last Friday.

Adams had been moved back to his home state from Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill, which houses Vermont prisoners under a contract with the state.

Adams’ death came less than three weeks after another Vermont inmate, 68-year-old Roger Brown, died at the Pennsylvania prison.

Brown died after what Kelly Green, a lawyer with the Vermont Prisoners’ Rights Office, called an “egregious” lack of adequate care for cancer that appeared to have originated in his lungs and metastasized to his bones.

Barry Kade, a private lawyer in Montgomery, Vt., who has advocated for Vermont inmates’ rights for more than 20 years, joined Green in saying that Brown was in excruciating pain in the last several weeks of his life.

Patients in the final weeks of end-stage, metastasized cancer typically are treated with powerful opioids. Medical staff at the Pennsylvania prison were giving Brown ibuprofen, according to documents reviewed by VtDigger.

Vermont Defender General Matthew Valerio said it was his understanding that Adams also had been suffering from cancer.

He said Adams had been getting treatment for the disease in Pennsylvania, but after it was determined the cancer was incurable, “he was transferred back to Vermont for what was effectively hospice and palliative care.”

Kade said he had been told by another Vermont inmate at Camp Hill, whom Kade said he considers a reliable source, that Adams had cancer but was “not getting much treatment” in Pennsylvania.

The DOC’s Touchette said he had not seen a death certificate for Adams and that medical privacy rules barred him from saying if Adams had cancer.

He did say he had seen a death certificate for Brown, and that metastasized cancer was listed as the cause of death.

Touchette said Adams was serving a 16- to 35-year sentence for sexual assault, aggravated domestic assault and kidnapping.

Asked about Brown’s and Adams’ care in Pennsylvania, Amy Worden, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, emailed a statement in which she said: “Pennsylvania DOC has 48,000 inmates under its care and supervision. Because Pennsylvania is a life without parole state, we have a growing number of aging inmates and have been planning ahead for their care.

“We have developed a very good health system which includes a designated chronic and long-term care facility, SCI Laurel Highlands, that provides in-house chemotherapy and dialysis.”

Worden continued, “We provide general care of geriatric inmates and care for those with chronic conditions throughout the system. Care of inmates is constantly evaluated by trained medical professionals, and quality of care is very important to us. We deliver health care services in line with community standards. All 25 prisons in (Pennsylvania) have hospice programs.”

Regarding Brown, Worden said, “Mr. Brown’s Vermont DOC medical record was delivered to SCI Camp Hill along with him on June 12, 2017. At the time of reception this inmate received a complete medical evaluation and was provided any necessary treatment in accordance with DOC policy.”

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