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NKY inmate has waited months for care for back injury, mother says

Posted at 7:38 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 10:59:42-04

NEWPORT, Ky. — A Westwood mother said she's been fighting for six months to get her son proper medical attention after a back injury at the Campbell County Detention Center.

Jaquan Jackson, 22, had been living at the Campbell County jail since November when he injured his back. He told his mother his back was broken and that no one believed him about the extent of his injuries.

"As a mother, it's driving me crazy," Jackson's mother, Lasandra Houston, said. "I'm worried. I'm scared."

Houston said Jackson was initially treated by Campbell County Detention Center medical staff, who determined nothing was wrong with his back. She kept asking questions.

"I kept asking them if they were going to give my son CAT scans or X-rays or whatnot. They finally ordered an X-ray for my son, and they said they didn't see anything wrong with my son, nothing at all," she said.

Still, most of the text messages she receives from Jackson are about how much pain he's still experiencing, Houston said.

"He's emotionally distressed from him being in so much pain. A body can only take so much pain," she said. "He has broken bones on his back; his spine is sticking out on top of that; he has growth, like y'all don't think this man is in excruciating pain?"

Houston said her concern that Jackson's injuries were serious were confirmed when he was transferred in March to the Blackburn Correctional Facility in Lexington. The medical team there confirmed a spinal fracture.

WCPO requested comment from the Campbell County jail on Houston's allegation that Jackson did not receive adequate care; the county did not immediately reply beyond providing documents from Jackson's transfer from Campbell County to Blackburn. Instead, officials said medical privacy laws prevented them from disclosing any information.

Criminal defense attorney Ben Dusing has worked with families of inmates dealing with medical emergencies.

"It takes a commitment in persistence," he said. "Often times there is an ombudsman or some kind of family contact person or an inmate supervisor. Someone that is a contact person. Sometimes it's the luck of the draw. You get somebody that cares."

While Dusing is not involved in Jackson's case, he has worked similar cases. He said the response to a person in medical distress behind bars is a systemic problem.

"I don't know any U.S. Marshals or corrections officers who wake up in the morning saying, 'I'd really like to be horrible to somebody today,'" Dusing said. "They are just doing their job, but the job is what it is, and the systemic approach and the lack of availability…they just get lost in the system."

As of Monday, Jackson remained in the care of Blackburn Correctional Facility. Houston said her son is still in pain, and she does not know when he will get surgery.

On Tuesday, a corrections department spokesperson issued the following written statement:

In accordance with HIPAA, DOC does not release specific medical circumstances of inmates. However, DOC is committed to providing quality, high-level medical care and services. This includes medical services available at the prison, a referral to outpatient services in the community or inpatient care at a hospital as the inmate’s medical assessment dictates. Every institution has a mechanism in place for addressing health needs and each inmate is provided information on how to access health services. In the case of Mr. Jackson, we can say that he is currently receiving the appropriate level of care for his medical needs.

Mr. Jackson’s March classification assessment showed he was ineligible to be permanently housed in a jail so he was transferred to Blackburn Correctional Complex.