US prisoner died from starvation and lack of medical care


57-year-old Kenneth James Embry died out of prolonged starvation in one of the prisons in Kentucky. The man died in his cell without receiving help from doctors. It is journalists who have launched the investigation, made the legal authorities look through the case and check the prison personnel.

The Associated Press found many documents proving misconduct in prison health system. As was reported, prisoner Kenneth James Embry served six out of nine years and suffered from mental disorders. A year ago, he stopped taking prescribed to him antidepressants. Soon after that he started complained of constant anxiety, paranoia, and after seven months asked a psychologist to re-prescribe him drugs. However, the doctor felt that Embry was exaggerating about his problems, and denied him the medication.

A week later, he started banging his head against the wall of his cell, and refused to eat. He would take tea occasionally instead. According to investigation, before his death Embry refused to take 35 meals out of 36.

After a month, prisoner has lost 13 kilograms, while nurses tried to convince him to eat a little bit, Embry said that it is already too late since a lot of time has passed and his body refuses to take food.

According to published documents, nine days later, Embry’s condition was close to critical. Doctor Bob Wilkinson refused to transfer him under the supervision to the prison hospital, since Embry was no longer on a hunger strike as he is drinking tea. A few hours later Embry was found dead in his cell. Official documents confirm the cause of death was suicide caused by severe dehydration and lack of food.

It seems that prison staff did not fulfill their requirements to monitor prisoner in case of intentional hunger strike and did not provide any medical care for Embry. Everyone in prison were just waiting for Embry to get better by himself and to start easting again.

The local Department of Corrections in case of hunger strikes strongly recommends to monitor the prisoner, check his status with the help of medical devices at least three times per week, as well as regular make therapist and psychologist check on him. However, the main prison doctor Steve Hyland and orderly Wilkinson ignored it. They also did not inform other employees about Embry’s severe condition. As the consequence nobody even talked about possibility of force-feeding.

Dr. Hyland was eventually dismissed from his position. Despite all the accusations, Hyland believes that the incident with Embry was only a pretext to “get rid of him,” because he had been on vacation. He claims he has never seen the patient and has not even heard about what happened to him. Since 1992, the prisoners and their relatives filed 103 lawsuits on him.


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