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Bell County Treatment

Apr 19th, 2007 | Category: Bell County, Jailhouse Stories, Stories

The names in the following article have been changed to protect the privacy of both the inmate it is about and the woman who shared it with Texas Jail Project.

Last fall, Mary T. was temporarily jailed in Bell County on a charge related to her military service. Mary shared a cell with Jane, a woman Mary described as “healthy and vivacious.” Mary’s stay in the Bell County Jail was fortunately a short one, but Jane was serving an 18-month sentence and had been incarcerated since March 2006.

Mary and Jane became fast friends. Mary was inspired by Jane’s positive attitude despite being incarcerated. Jane is a cancer survivor and her strength left a lasting impression on Mary. Mary left jail promising to stay in touch with Jane, unaware that her relationship would evolve into being Jane’s advocate.

In December, while still in Bell County Jail, Jane contracted a common cold that was ignored by jail officials and then developed into a much more serious illness. Despite running a high fever and having clear symptoms of pneumonia, Jane was repeatedly denied medical care. She suffered from the pain in her infected lungs and was unable to sleep due to the constant coughing. The seriousness of her illness was obvious to everyone that come in contact with her, but jail officials ignored her pleas for medical help. At one point Jane’s fellow inmates threatened to riot due to being exposed to someone so obviously ill, but even this did not change the jail’s response.

On December 26, 2006, Jane was admitted to Scott and White Hospital with bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, intractable pain, sepsis, severe nausea/vomiting, anaerobic empyema, and constant coughing that was so severe she needed to be propped up. Jane remained hospitalized for about a week during which time she under went several painful medical procedures to save her life.

After her discharge from Scott and White, Jane was returned to the Bell County Jail where her medical problems had started. Mary was frightened that Jane would be neglected again and suffer further harm. Jane’s doctors all warned that another cold could easily end her life.

Though Bell County continued to minimize Jane’s condition she did survive and was eventually transferred to the jail in Wise County where she had a scheduled court appearance. Upon learning of Jane’s medical ordeal Wise County requested all of her medical records and initiated communication with her doctors. While jail is never a good place for a severely ill woman or man, Wise County made every effort to provide Jane adequate care and her condition improved while she was there.

As a result of her treatment by Bell County, Jane has permanent lung damage and long-term health problems. Even the most basic medical intervention when Jane first became ill would have prevented the entire incident. Jane’s veins were already weak from her prior battle with cancer and are now further damaged from the neglect. Jane has to receive antibiotics and all other medications through a PICC line. She continues to suffer from empyema and is now classified as disabled.

Jane is a mother of two and her convictions are for non-violent crimes she committed to provide for her family. Upon her incarceration, her husband divorced her and was able to obtain sole custody of their two children. Jane has had limited contact with her oldest child, a son, but for the most part her ex-husband does not allow her contact with the children and there is already a new step-mother in the home.

Most of Jane’s friends and family were through her marriage and therefore she currently does not have a support system. The exception of course is Mary who has stayed true to her word and stayed in constant contact with Jane. Mary has also gathered and organized Jane’s records as well as documented the incident in Bell County. Mary is advocating for Jane to be granted early release based on her medical needs and has kept up a consistent letter writing campaign on Jane’s behalf. Mary also created a website to publicize Jane’s situation and seek support. That web address is: www.geocities.com/love_gives_strength.

Jane remains positive and continues to exhibit great strength despite the numerous set backs she has suffered in the past several months. She is scheduled to be released in September 2007 and per her plea agreement should have a clear record after serving her full sentence.

Since this article was written Jane has been transferred twice. She left Wise County and was returned to the state prison system; first to Woodman Unit in Gatesville and now Dawson State Prison in Dallas. Her crimes were committed in multiple counties and she must appear before the judge in each county and that is why she was sent to the various facilities.

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