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Death of Inmate Raises Questions

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By Michael Pope

In Virginia, health-care providers at the Alexandria city jail are facing a wrongful death lawsuit allegeding a constitutional violation of cruel and unusual punishment.

As Northern Virginia Michael Pope reports, the complaint is based on a case involving a 24-year-old mentally ill inmate who died of dehydration.

Like many people who suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, Farah Salah Farah's disease didn't materialize until he was 18.

After he began acting strangely, he was expelled from T.C. Williams High School.

Then he was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon and taken to jail, where he died of dehydration.

Attorney Victor Glasberg says part of the problem is the private health care in the city jail.

"To put it into the hands of a profitmaking enterprise is, I think, a terrible, terrible policy mistake and bespeaks the fact that inmates have no advocates and no political clout," Glasberg says.

American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia director Kent Willis says the problem is systemic.

"We're talking about a delivery of health-care services that is embarrassingly poor in Virginia, and one that results in a lot of illness that shouldn't have to happen," he says.

A spokesman for Tennessee-based Correct Care Solutions wouldn't comment on the lawsuit.

But he says the Alexandria operation is accredited by the National Commission on Correctional Healthcare.

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