Prisons

Jail Guards Joked That ReGina Thurman Had 'Jail-litus' and Threatened Her As She Died

Fellow inmates did more to help ReGina Thurman than her guards and nurses.

|

The family of ReGina Thurman is suing her jailers and nurses following Thurman's preventable death behind bars in Jackson County, Missouri. 

According to the lawsuit, which was provided to Reason by one of the lawyers on the case, Thurman passed away on January 20, 2017, while being admitted to the Jackson County Department of Corrections. Thurman told authorities that she had chest pain and that one of her legs was numb. Unbeknownst to Thurman, her aorta was tearing. According to the suit, her jailers should have recognized her symptoms as signs of either a tear specifically, or some kind of heart attack.

Yet neither the prison guards nor jail medical staff, who were contracted through Correct Care Solutions, L.L.C., took Thurman's complaints seriously.

Rather than contacting emergency services, a guard had Thurman wheeled into a dressing room so she could change into her jail clothes. When Thurman ended up on the floor, another guard assumed that she was intentionally holding her breath. That guard told her to breathe, relax, and put the clothes on. A third joked that Thurman was suffering from "jail-litus" during the intake process.

Thurman was screened by a nurse named Jennifer Grimshaw, who checked her vital signs. This was the only medical care she received before she died.

A second nurse by the name of Miranda VanStratten documented that she checked Thurman's vital signs multiple times through the evening. She said that they appeared to be normal and offered Thurman Tums tablets as she believed Thurman had heartburn.

Video from the jail revealed that VanStratten had not actually taken the vital signs as she said. Videos also revealed that Thurman was left alone without attention from a guard or nurse for 18 minutes at one point.

Thurman was threatened by a nurse when she was commanded to stand, despite her crying on the floor that she was in pain and unable to move. The nurse said that if she did not stand, she would be sent to the medical housing where she would be unable to make calls to her family.

A fellow inmate had already called Thurman's daughter while the incident unfolded. The inmate told Thurman's daughter that Thurman was experiencing chest pains and was being ignored. The inmate later said that she believed Thurman would get care if her daughter called the facility. Other inmates helped Thurman by alerting the guards or assisting her in standing.

Emergency paramedics were not called until after Thurman went pulseless.

The lawsuit demands compensation from the guards, the nurses, the county, and the medical contractor. Thurman family lawyers argue that the corrections staff and the medical staff breached their duties "by failing to, among other things, exercise reasonable and ordinary care, skill, and diligence in devising an adequate health care delivery system, promulgating and implementing adequate medical policies and procedures, training and supervising medical and nursing personnel, and actually providing the medical care and treatment ReGina Thurman required."

The lawsuit also criticized the "reckless or callous indifference toward ReGina Thurman's health and safety."

NEXT: Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Is Wrong About the Future of Work

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How big is the Thurman family union?

    1. Damn. But yeah.

  2. Jail always seems to carry a good chance to die, no matter why you might be there. And yet it’s fine that candidate Harris, as a prosecutor, was sending people to jail for all sorts of nonsensical reasons.

    Sad as it is, that’s exactly the kind of callous authoritarian that comes off a “presidential.”

    1. “…Harris, as a prosecutor, was sending people to jail for all sorts of nonsensical reasons.”

      Yes, this is sad but true! My inside sources tell me that ReGina Thurman was arrested and jailed in the first place, for blowing on a cheap plastic flute w/o proper authorization!!!

      To find precise details on what NOT to do, to avoid the flute police, please see http://www.churchofsqrls.com/DONT_DO_THIS/ … This has been a pubic service, courtesy of the Church of SQRLS!

      1. What is this lung flute? I looked at your site and enjoyed the anti-gubmint theme, but curious about the device? What’s it NOT used for?

        1. See root site at http://www.churchofsqrls.com/ for totally long-winded details; search on “lung flute” there, or Google “lung flute”… It’s THE most pathetic over-reach of Government Almighty in the USA! (Among who knows how many other silly examples). We are babies, to be taken care of by Nanny = Government Almighty… The ONLY nation in the friggin’ WORLD where you need PERMISSION to blow on a CHEAP PLASTIC FLUTE, fer Chrissakes!!!

    2. Sorry to bring facts into this, but she was dead anyway before she was booked.

      Yes, the guards and nurses were terrible, but aortic dissection is a death sentence 90% of the time , even if it happens in the best hospital

      1. While I agree, my now passed away father-in-law survived it and lived another 10 years. It still does not excuse the callous reaction of the jailers. And way to many healthy people die in jail after minor offenses.

      2. That was my first thought as well… I don’t know that this immunizes them, but were I on the defense team, one of the first questions I’d be asking my medical expert witnesses is “what would have happened if a competent nurse had seen her and taken vital signs? What would they have seen? What would have happen if she’d been rushed by ambulance to the hospital?”

        If the answer was “vitals would not have appeared too unusual, and she would have died in the ambulance instead of in the jail”, that would be the core of my defense.

        But “depraved indifference” looks pretty much exactly like the attitude of the guards and nurse. Which is probably inevitable when you work in a job where people act like Thurman was acting 20 times without having any illness for every one time they are actually ill.

        1. “Which is probably inevitable when you work in a job where people act like Thurman was acting 20 times without having any illness for every one time they are actually ill.”

          This was my exact thought. The thing is people who work jobs like this deal with so much bullshit and crazy when something real comes up they often ignore it.

          1. I agree, but I’ll also point out that if we didn’t criminalize so many normal human behaviors, or use our prisons as mental health institutions, we probably wouldn’t have so much crazy in our prisons/jails.

            But that’s not the jailer or the guard’s fault.

            1. Yup. I’m not “soft on crime.” Personally I think we should be FAR harder and more cruel to prisoners… It is supposed to be PUNISHMENT. But the caveat to that is that we need to do away with 3/4s of the laws on the books, because most of that shit shouldn’t be illegal in the first place!

              But once that is done, as far as I’m concerned we should start working prisoners 12 hours days of back breaking labor again. REAL criminals don’t deserve to be treated well. And they should be paying for their own imprisonment.

  3. How far does qualified immunity go? Would it cover the medical contractor and nurses, or just the SS guards who were holding her?

  4. Yeah jail staff ain’t nice. I had an experience first hand when being booked for possession of marijuana. The arresting officer was a real drug warrior who took offense with the fact that I didn’t volunteer the info that I had weed in the car. When asked “Is there anything in the car I need to know about”. I answered him honestly, “No sir”. When we got to booking he put the leg irons on too tight (I assume on purpose), when I told him I was loosing blood to my feet, he told me to keep quiet or some nonsense. When the jailer came to move me to my cell I fell flat on my face when I stood up. The jailer, a pleasant woman, agreed that they were extremely tight.

    1. Laws are written by the mother of the cop you’re dealing with and the law you are currently flouting is basically slapping his mother across the face with your cock. It’s that level personal affront.

  5. The Missouri DOC was only trying to toughen up Ms. Thurman by denying her healthcare.
    This way she would be able to defeat the onslaught of any disease, beatings, rapes, etc.
    But she didn’t get enough “tough love” from the guards.
    She died instead.
    This is what happens when not enough tough love is given.

  6. You usually deal with two types in law enforcement/corrections. One is the cop culture authoritarian. The other is the assembly worker. Depending on which you get you’re either his sworn enemy or a troublesome widget on his conveyor belt.

  7. The investigation will uncover the facts that this particular facility is part of an unannounced trial of ‘Medicare for all’.

    1. Gubmint will save us! Hallelujah!

  8. She was obviously faking it

    1. She’s sipping daiquiris on a beach in the DR as we speak!

  9. Why are jail staff all azzh0les? Because they have to deal with LIARS , THIEVES, and abusers of every single form of kindness ever known to man. Face it, we live in a society that runs rampant with pure-dee SCUMBAGS who do NOTHING but prey on others. Instead of running them in and out of jail, those people need to be put DOWN. Yes I said it. Then, and ONLY THEN, can we EVER expect ANYTHING resembling human understanding from law enforcement. Someone HAS to be a cop. If you are so GD righteous, then GO BE ONE and make the world a better place. Else, STFU.

    1. Hope that’s sarcasm….otherwise, you just come off like a clueless jackass….but, that is EXACTLY how anyone who believes that the cops aren’t the problem in society acts. What a cock.

      1. The deliberate misspelling of Galt should be a clue. Not to mention the logical fallacy of its argument.

        Cops don’t have human understanding so make the world a better place by being one?

      2. Honestly, satire or not, he has a point!

        IMO we need to be WAY harder on ACTUAL criminals… But we also need to eliminate all the BS crimes that shouldn’t be crimes.

        If we improved the trial process, got rid of victimless crimes, etc I’d have no problem being raging dicks to the people that still end up in prison.

    2. You will never see anything resembling “human understanding” from law enforcement, no matter how many “scumbags” you put down. The government will just make more laws, to label more “scumbags” to justify more law enforcement.

      A return of the Peace Officer would have a more positive affect.

  10. Corrections officers are usually not very bright, either. I had some criminal justice classes years ago with a few corrections officers. Their colleagues had robbed an armored car and got caught cuz they started buying fancy cars and shit.

    The “honest” ones I was in class with were not much smarter. Probably not much more honest, either, since they prolly knew what their colleagues were up to.

  11. Let me guess… No clearly established right to not be ignored while having chest pains and being unable to stand and left to die, qualified immunity for all!

  12. […] family is now suing, claiming the staff showed “reckless or callous indifference toward ReGina Thurman’s […]

  13. […] family is now suing, claiming the staff showed “reckless or callous indifference toward ReGina Thurman’s […]

  14. […] family is now suing, claiming the staff showed “reckless or callous indifference toward ReGina Thurman’s health and […]

  15. […] family is now suing, claiming the staff showed “reckless or callous indifference toward ReGina Thurman’s […]

  16. Jail always seems to carry. Very intresting.

    http://akiniaipigiau.lt

  17. The second nurse, who faked entries in the log saying she took vital signs several times, is being prosecuted for forging official documents, manslaughter, and felony murder, right? At least she’s been fired, right? If the facts are as alleged in the article and she was fired and prosecuted, the depraved indifference began several levels higher than anyone present that day.

  18. NOT fired and prosecuted.

  19. […] family is now suing, claiming the staff showed “reckless or callous indifference toward ReGina Thurman’s […]

  20. So, here we have a “libertarian” website with a story about the callous indifference that contributed immensely to a woman’s death. The problem is not that all the correctional officers are incompetent, or that the medical provider was as well. The problem is that there has been a push to privatize correctional services, from the officers to the contractors, to the subcontractors. Corizon is the product of a merger between two terrible outfits, Correctional Medical Services and Prison Health Services. They hire staff for as little as possible and don’t give them the tools nor the support that they need. They have immense turnover. Meanwhile Reason and Nick Gillespie endlessly tout the “benefits” of privatization, in B.S. “studies” that are touted by the larcenous industries Reason endlessly promotes, and from which it receives considerable, i.e. “Platinum level,” funding. Reason is a tool of the Koch brothers who want us all to believe that privatization will solve all our problems, when the opposite is the case for core services. So the website owners and staff and the readers here are almost all wrong. Every prisoner is not a malingering dirtbag. Not every one of them has done something terrible. Think Sandra Bland, for instance. The problem is that everyone with a medical complaint needs to be heard, and simple tests which were not done here are easy to administer, so their conditions if they exist can be properly triaged. But inmates have so few advocates that it’s not likely to happen. If you want to research this, here’s a Corizon story from just this past week: http://dnews.com/local/report-private-prison-health-care-provider-falling-short/article_8f1f6a99-55c1-5b3f-8b85-10b0feeb7664.html

    1. I’ve never heard Reason or any other libertarian support the privatization of the justice system (one of the few constitutionally authorized parts of government). As well, they both almost unilaterally support “no victim=no crime.” I’m honestly confused by your whole post.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.