A woman who sued over allegations of mistreatment at the Douglas County Jail has reached a settlement with the county, the American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday.
Terri Carlisle alleged in a 2017 lawsuit that her Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment was violated by the jail’s staff. She said her medication for neuropathy was withheld, causing her constant and severe pain in her feet, restless leg syndrome and other symptoms. She also said she and other inmates were refused feminine hygiene supplies.
Terri Carlisle of Roseburg is suing Douglas County over mistreatment she alleges she receive…
Under the terms of the agreement, the county will pay Carlisle’s attorneys $25,000 and promise inmates will receive regular showers, clean clothing, hygiene supplies and the medications that are prescribed by their doctors. Jail staff will also be mandated to document when those services are given.
In exchange, Carlisle agreed to drop her suit against the county. Defendants Sheriff John Hanlin and Lt. Mike Root, the jail supervisor, were also released from the lawsuit under the settlement agreement.
Carlisle had also sued the private company that contracts to provide medical services for the jail, Correct Care Solutions, and physician Steven Blum along with other unnamed medical providers. They were not part of the settlement.
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Carlisle was in the county jail for six months in 2015 on a conviction for driving under the influence of intoxicants. She had been taking Neurontin, also known as gabapentin, for her neuropathy symptoms for 10 years at that point, prescribed by her family doctor. She received her medication for the first three months but said she missed a dose and stored the missed pill in her belongings because she had been told it was better to skip a missed dose than take it to close in time to the next dose. The pill was subsequently found during a sweep, which led to an accusation of hoarding.
She said after that her medication was denied for the next 65 days, despite pleas from her own doctor. Neurontin is not a narcotic.
Carlisle said she spent six days in a 12-by-12 foot punishment cell with as many as a dozen women at a time as a punishment for having salt, a pencil sharpener, ibuprophen and the Neurontin pill in her cell. She described conditions in the crowded punishment cell as hot and filthy, with a single toilet for all the women in the cell. She said they were denied showers for long periods of time. She went without one for six days, she said. She also said one woman bled onto her clothing and waited hours before being given feminine hygiene supplies and clean clothing. It was common, she said, for women to wait in their “own mess” for hours before being given toilet paper and hygiene supplies.
“There is a difference in punishment, which I feel I deserved, and abuse, which I did not deserve,” she wrote in a blog on the ACLU of Oregon website.
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The settlement states the jail won’t discontinue current prescription medication without review and authorization by a medical provider. It also mandates holding cells be cleaned at least once a day, that the holding cell Carlisle was placed in house no more than nine inmates at a time and that showers be offered at least twice a week. Clean clothing will be provided at least once every three days and when it has been soiled. And feminine hygiene will be provided when it’s requested.
ACLU of Oregon staff attorney Kelly Simon said her organization remains committed to prisoner rights.
“As a society we say we use jails to hold people accountable for crime,” Simon said. “But all too often, people in jails and prisons are made to suffer in violation of basic human rights and constitutional protections.”
She said the ACLU hears nearly every day from inmates or their loved ones about alleged mistreatment in jails around the state.
“I hope the settlement is a signal that the Douglas County Jail and sheriff are willing to hold themselves accountable, although we continue to have serious concerns about their commitment to these values,” Simon said.
Carlisle said a recent event caught on video involving an inmate being left half-naked outside the jail has left her unconvinced that county officials will change their ways.
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“Before seeing that video, I was hopeful that people were being treated more humanely at the jail,” Carlisle said. “After seeing it, I was sadly disappointed. It’s heartbreaking.”
When reached by phone Thursday, Root referred questions to the sheriff’s public information officer, Brad O’Dell, but O’Dell could not immediately be reached for comment. Hanlin also could not immediately be reached for comment.