The Disability Law Center has launched an investigation into the death of 62-year-old Ramon Estrada, an inmate at the Utah State Prison. Estrada died on Sunday after failing to receive a scheduled dialysis treatment for kidney failure.
“From what we can tell the third-party contractor that does the dialysis treatment simply failed to show up on Friday,” said the Disability Law Center’s Aaron Kinikini. “Where that should have raised some issues and triggered, probably, some safeguards that should have been in place, it didn’t. Nobody showed up on Saturday, nobody showed up on Sunday and it wasn’t until Sunday evening that they transported Mr. Estrada, and I believe five or six other inmates who were also waiting on dialysis treatment, to the university hospital, and that was too late.”
The Disability Law Center is federally designated to protect and advocate for those with disabilities in the state of Utah. Kinikini said the center launched the investigation to understand how something like this could have fallen through the cracks.
“The tragic thing about this case was that it was completely avoidable,” Kinikini said.
He added that the Utah Department of Corrections has a constitutional duty to protect inmates’ wellbeing, and that the Disability Law Center will be looking into where something went wrong in the chain of procedures. He said the department has been uncharacteristically upfront about the death, and hopes they will be transparent during the investigation.
Kinikini isn’t sure whether his group will file a lawsuit, but he doesn’t doubt someone will.
“The fact that there were at least five or six other inmates who survived this brush with death—really—I’d be surprised if there weren’t at least a couple of civil rights lawsuits coming out of this,” Kinikini said.
He said the inmates who did survive have sustained injuries from the oversight.
Kinikini also brought up another important issue: prison relocation. Currently the state prison is less than a half hours drive from a hospital, but he says if the prison is relocated to a more remote location, it could have a negative impact on the health of inmates.