Duchesne County, UT — Madison Jensen’s death could be used as an indictment on America’s love affair with opioids or one of badge abuse or both. At any rate, another inmate has died while in the care of the Duchesne County Jail.
Jensen, 21, had been battling with an opioid addiction before ending up in jail. Her opiate addiction had turned to a heroin addiction, and her behavior had zapped her family of any remaining energy or patience they’d previously held. They called the police.
It’s understandable, really, that her family would want to get her some help. It’s even appreciable that they’d call law-enforcement authorities. Maybe she was a danger to herself or others.
However, at any rate, she was taken to jail, a result of her addiction. Police even warned Jared Jenson jail wasn’t a good alternative to drug treatment. Maybe even the advising officer knew the jail would immediately deprive her of her medicines, even her anti-depressant. But the warning wasn’t heeded, and while in jail, she began to experience withdrawals of both drugs, and lost weight as a result, a lot of weight.
Her family says she was about 130 pounds when she entered lockup. But that quickly changed. She started to get nauseated and began to quickly deteriorate, losing pound upon pound to diarrhea and vomiting. She thought the jail could help her and she filled out a request for medical assistance. However, she apparently put down the wrong date on the request and it was immediately ignored. She dated her request as 12/31/16 but it was supposed to read 12/1/16.
She even stated she wasn’t able to hold down water and indicated her cellmate had gotten sick as well. “I know my body and it is not [detoxing],” she wrote in her petition adding, “I am completely detoxed. My roomate [sic] caught the stomach bug … from me.”
“Can’t hold anything down,” she wrote in a medical request. “Not even water.”
Days passed with Jensen not receiving any medical treatment until, finally, it happened. She was found dead in her jail cell, the result of a jail which didn’t attempt to meet her physical or medical needs, according to the family.
The Salt Lake City Tribune uncovered internal documents which declare her death attributable to natural causes. “A Utah medical examiner’s report the family…classified the 21-year-old woman’s death as ‘natural’ — a result of cardiac arrhythmia caused by opiate withdrawal and dehydration.”
While opiate withdrawal isn’t preventable in a jail were opiates aren’t given to inmates, dehydration is certainly something which could have been addressed by a trained and licensed medical doctor, who would have most certainly ordered fluids be given intravenously. That basic level of care wasn’t given to Jensen and she succumbed to her illness.
According to the Tribune, authorities have “declined to release surveillance video that would show Jensen’s care during her time in jail. The Duchesne County attorney and Uintah County Sheriff’s Office each has declined to release records that would shed more light on Jensen’s treatment.”
The forthcoming cooperation by the county attorney and the sheriff’s office won’t help the family get any of the answers for which they are still looking. Even her weight at the time of her death is in question, with internal documents contradicting her exact weight at the time of her death.
“Medical examiner’s office records indicate Jensen lost at least 17 pounds in four days’ time — perhaps as much as 42 pounds, according to unexplained discrepancies. Investigator John Crowley from the state medical examiner’s office wrote that Jensen, who was nearly 6 feet tall, weighed 87 pounds when she was found dead,” reported the Tribune which also added, “Medical examiners later put her final weight at 112 pounds.”
As TFTP has faithfully reported, a lot of dangerous things happen to inmates while they’re incarcerated. There are beatings, by both inmates and corrections officers, and there are all sorts of mistreatment, none more disturbing than our latest reports of prisoners dying from lack of water, one of the most basic responsibilities jails and prisons have to provide to all inmates.
Jensen passed away on December 1st, 2016 at around 1pm. She had been taking Wellbutrin, Klonipin, and Tramadol but the jail was only giving her Klonipin. Her death is now being investigated as a possible crime, with charges to be brought against any irresponsible jail employee.
“Duchesne County Attorney Stephen Foote is reviewing the case for possible criminal charges for jail staff. He said he would release a timeline of Jensen’s time in the jail, but likely would prevent the release of video that would show what happened, saying it was a matter of security,” writes the Tribune.
In the meantime, Jared Jensen intends to sue the county, Duchesne County jail and staff. “When she says she didn’t eat or drink for four days and you still didn’t put an IV in her arm, you dropped the ball on her,” he said. “I want everyone involved with her death removed from that jail, including the sheriff and Lt. [Jason] Curry, [the jail commander] — so no other parent has to do this again.”