Elderly woman sues private prison company for denying cancer medication for the month she was in solitary confinement

By Scott Kaufman
Monday, December 2, 2013 16:06 EDT
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A private prison company allegedly put an elderly woman in solitary confinement and prevented her from taking her medication, according to a lawsuit filed last month.

Carol Lester, a 73-year-old serving time in a New Mexico prison for embezzling funds to fuel her gambling addiction, is suing Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private prison outfit, and Corizon, Inc., a private prison health care company, for denying her medical care while holding her in solitary confinement for over a month.

Lester’s complaint — acquired by ThinkProgress — claims that CCA and Corizon, Inc. began denying her medication for thyroid cancer shortly after she began her three-year sentence, and that in its place they offered her a medicine that only made her more ill. She began fainting regularly and was diagnosed with a possible heart condition, but CCA and Corizon, Inc. employees refused to send her to a hospital.

She complained, and eventually a group of state legislators and the head of health services for the New Mexico Department of Corrections came to the prison to talk to her. Shortly thereafter, she was prescribed Zantac, an over-the-counter heartburn relief medication which has been known to cause false positive for methamphetamine use.

When she tested positive, officials moved her to solitary confinement and, she alleges, denied her access to both her thyroid and heart medication.

Hers is but one of many lawsuits currently pending against both CCA and Corizon, Inc. The former was recently held in contempt for criminally understaffing its facilities, while the latter has been accused of a host of negligent circumstances, including allegedly allowing a man to die because it deemed an ambulance too expensive.

Scott Kaufman
Scott Kaufman
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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