Medical Releases: How to Check on an Inmate’s Medical Condition

First, the inmate has to sign the medical release form. Click on this and print it out: FORM

For you to find out anything about how the jail is treating your inmate’s medical condition, he or she has to sign that form giving permission for you to be told. The medical release form states that the inmate gives the jail permission to speak with you about the inmate’s medical treatment or health. Without that permission form, the jail administration/medical staff will not talk to you. 

Some jails won’t tell you about the form, and some officers will just say, “Privacy law. We’re not allowed to speak to anyone about the inmate’s health or treatment.”

You can then ask the jail to give the inmate the medical release form. Some jails call it the permission form or the medical Authorization. Or you can print the one here (see below) and mail it to your inmate.

Your inmate

  • fills in the blanks on the form and signs it
  • gives it to the jail administration.

Once that happens, you can call up the jail, ask for the medical unit or nurse; they will check to see if you inmate signed the form. Then you can ask the nurse/medical provider about your inmate’s medical condition and what treatment or meds they’re receiving.

Your questions can be very important if a jail has neglected your inmate or hasn’t give them the meds they need.
You may use this form or a form the jail administration gives you –

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The History of Inmates’ Constitutional Right to Medical Care
The Supreme Court, in Estelle v. Gamble, established “the government’s obligation to provide medical care for those whom it is punishing by incarceration.” In Estelle, an inmate of the Texas Department of Corrections (“TDC”)12 sued the Director of the TDC, the warden of the prison, and the chief medical officer of the prison hospital. The inmate suffered an injury while on a prison work assignment and brought a lawsuit alleging that the subsequent medical treatment, or lack thereof, violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment.

The Supreme Court stated that even though “the primary concern of the drafters [of the Eighth Amendment] was to proscribe ‘tortur[ous]’ and other ‘barbar[ic]’ methods of punishment… the Amendment proscribes more than physically barbarous punishments.” The Court held that certain penal measures violate the Eighth Amendment when they are contrary to “evolving standards of decency” or “involve the unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain.”

Estelle prohibited the “unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain, proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.”

A prisoner’s constitutional right is violated by prison doctors or prison guards who deny, delay, or interfere with medical treatment. [And this also applies to jail doctors and jail guards.]

(From a 2011 report by the Texas Civil Rights Project: “A THIN LINE–The Texas Prison Healthcare Crisis and The Secret Death Penalty”)