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Diabetic Died Without Treatment in County Jail, Lawsuit Says; In Another Case, a Jailed Epilectic Claims Injury After Being Denied Meds

Two new lawsuits against Maricopa County seem to emphasize why medical treatment for jail inmates needs improving.

In one case, a diabetic man died of gangrene in 2007 after six weeks in the clink. The family of David McClurg alleges that even though McClurg himself didn't know he was diabetic, he exhibited symptoms that should have clued in jail staff. For instance, he complained of having no feeling below his legs, yet the lawsuit -- filed on July 15 -- claims the jail didn't treat him for diabetes.

The second case involves a guy who got sent to jail twice in 2008. When Kevin Smith self-surrendered to the jail each time, his lawsuit claims, he brought his epilepsy meds with him and told jail staff why he needed them. Yet each time, once behind bars, he was denied the meds. The first time, he had a grand mal seizure, fell down and broke teeth. On the second, Smith injured his head, he claims.

The county's jail and correctional health services have been under fire for years for a bunch of problems, including denying inmates required medications.

Last September, a national accreditation agency stripped it of accreditation. Then, in October, U.S. District Court Judge Neil Wake ruled the county was not in compliance with the law, and ordered officials to give the needed meds and improve filthy conditions.

Smith was booked into jail the second time in December. Admittedly, we don't have the "other side" in his case, (we did leave a message today for Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lindsey Smith). But if Smith's allegation is true, it suggests what staff members in the county jail and correctional health services department think of the judge's order, doesn't it?

Thanks to courthousenews.com, where we first heard of these cases, you can read the lawsuits in their entirety online:

David McClurg

Kevin Smith

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.