Terri Carlisle of Roseburg is suing Douglas County over mistreatment she alleges she received at the county jail.

Carlisle’s claim is a constitutional challenge. She said her Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment was violated by the jail’s staff, and the private company hired by the county to provide medical treatment for inmates. Carlisle said for more than two months she was denied medication she needed to treat her neuropathy. Neuropathy is a serious medical condition in which nerve damage causes pain and weakness, usually in the hands and feet.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene Tuesday, Carlisle alleged that because her medication was withheld, she suffered constant and severe pain in her feet, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and difficulty sleeping.

The complaint also states that Carlisle was subjected to inhumane conditions along with other female inmates, who were confined in disciplinary housing for six days. Carlisle said she was in a 12-by-12-foot cell with 12 other women, nine cots, and a single toilet. She also alleges the women were not given necessary feminine hygiene products or adequate toilet paper.

Carlisle was in the county jail for six months, from Feb. 9 to Aug. 4, 2015, on a conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants. For 10 years prior to her incarceration, Carlisle had been taking the drug Neurontin to manage her neuropathy symptoms.

According to her complaint, Carlisle’s doctor faxed her medical history to the jail the second day she was there, and two days later, a doctor there approved her being given her medication. For three months she received her medications, but then she missed a dose and stored the missed pill in her belongings because she had previously received medical advice that it was better to skip a missed dose than to take it close in time to the next dose. It was after that the pill was discovered during a sweep. She was confined to the disciplinary holding cell. She was accused of “hoarding,” and after that, the complaint states, she was denied her medication for the next 65 days.

Within 36 hours of the medication being removed, the complaint states, she experienced sharp, stabbing pain in her feet that made it difficult to walk. According to the complaint, abruptly stopping the medication is dangerous.

Neurontin is not a narcotic.

Carlisle’s lawsuit specifically names Douglas County, Sheriff John Hanlin and Correct Care Solutions, a Kansas-based company that contracts with the county to provide the jail’s medical services. Individuals named in the complaint include Corrections Lieutenant Mike Root, and physician Steven Blum, who is alleged to have denied Carlisle’s request that the staff resume giving her medication.

Carlisle is represented by attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon. She is seeking damages for pain and suffering as well as punitive damages, in an amount to be determined by the court. She also seeks an injunction requiring the county to implement a policy forbidding withholding medication as a punishment.

Representatives of the ACLU of Oregon did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Kelly Simon, ACLU staff attorney, told an Associated Press reporter Tuesday that, “In our criminal system currently, incarceration is punishment — separation from family, community, professional circles, but it’s not the kind of nasty conditions and torture that our client experienced.”

Carlisle told the AP there’s a “difference between discipline and abuse. They need to be stopped.”

“I made a terrible mistake, but believe me my debt is paid. That doesn’t make it OK for them to take it upon themselves to treat me like I’m less than human,” Carlisle said.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office told The News-Review it could not comment on the pending lawsuit. However, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department issued a written statement that the jail was inspected March 21 and found to be in full compliance with all Oregon Jail Standards.

The inspectors, certified by the Oregon Jail Command Council, found the jail in compliance with 307 of 309 standards, including inmate discipline, staff training and inmate health care. The other two standards weren’t applicable because they involve a work release program the jail doesn’t offer, the statement said.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(18) comments

DL Hitt

When Lt. Commander Griffin lost his position in 1993, never to return, the correctional staff under him were so very thankful. Perhaps this will be a trend of Douglas County, pointing the finger at their appointed once again.

These issues of inmate medical attention, potable water, unhealthy temperatures, access to the law library, inmate access to a remedy of request forms, writing materials, and responsible transparency record need correction. This is not a new issue in the Eugene Branch of United States District Court. Douglas County has been advised by their retained counsel in the past. Toilet paper and water are said not to be a necessity in the segregated rooms that have only a small round hole in the floor for disposal of human waste. Noticing this fact, the planning department needs to spend time there to notice the crude and unusual punishment of feces, urine to sit on. Reminds me of Kurdistan in the rough.

Next time, remind me to include each and every individual named, in a personal capacity suit given their reluctance to humane treatment of people that will soon be roaming. It would behoove one good correction employee to set a good example for the others.

Mogie

Found this on a credible medical website. "The medication is excreted unchanged in urine and often requires multiple administrations throughout the day because of its short half-life (five to seven hours)." Wonder who the inmate got her medical advice from this isn't a med that you overdose on if you take one pill extra. It is accumulates in the system (you don't notice an obvious effect from a few pills it builds up in your body). Usually used to treat people suffering from seizures but there are off label uses to but not that common.

Mogie

My doc had me on this med a few years ago for headaches. I never experienced any problems when stopping cold turkey. Isn't it your own responsibly to take your meds when they are given to you? Someone shouldn't have to sit there and make sure you swallow the pills. Still no answer to my question do they or do they not have cameras in jail? I don't know I have only been there once years ago to visit someone.

Mogie

But without cameras that would provide very good evidence isn't just a he said she said situation? And then you have to ask yourself who is more credible the inmate or the jailer. Wouldn't the burden of proof be on the inmate since she is the one bringing the lawsuit? The only feasible way that she could have evidence is another inmate but a crook would never lie. :p

Mogie

This is a sincere question. Don't they have cameras in the jail to help sort this out?

nr77

Sorry she didn't get the meds she needed

Mogie

"Carlisle said she was in a 12-by-12-foot cell with 12 other women, nine cots, and a single toilet." Is that even physically possible? Putting 12 people and 9 cots in a 12 x 12 foot area? Sounds like someone is stretching the truth a little maybe for effect?

exdep425

***Thanks Mogie. I doubt many other people even noticed those numbers. You could arrange the cots in a way to get 9, with some stacking and still fit the toilet in there also, but still means 3 on the floor and I don't buy that. A simple check of the jails daily records will show the facts.

Creeksend

Douglas County jail has been notorious for witholding meds. This is not a frivolous lawsuit. They have it coming. ACLU seldom takes any cases at all. It has to be big. This is likely not the first case reported, but most likely the best reported and documented.

exdep425

***Actually the ACLU is full of anti-government haters and get involved with even petty complaints. *****How do you know that the jail withholds meds? Have you been an inmate, or just hang with ex-cons that tell you stories?

OregonHusker

The rule is you take your meds when they are given to you. This person chose not to take her meds and hide them instead. Lots of inmates do this to curry favor with other inmates or will sell/give away their meds to more dominant inmates. The rule is present for this reason alone.

Mogie

Excellent point!

just me

i would have hoped for more sense and reason from d.c. jail. just have to make someone suffer i guess

Geteducatedb4ucomment

The ACLU only goes after civil rights injustices so watch out douglas county.

buliga

Shouldn't have been in prison...hahaha

just me

while i was in the army i knew a number of prison guards and i found them to be largely cruel and inhumane

Mogie

LOL ... had to read that a few times but get it now!

exdep425

***That was the military. No comparison. If I had been a jailer, I would be kissy face with inmates either. You are not there to be friends.

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