Amnesty International USA is calling for another investigation into the deaths of two inmates in South Jersey’s Burlington County.
County prosecutors concluded both men died of “natural causes,” which the Amnesty group claims ignores evidence of medical neglect.
The first man, Robert Taylor, died in December. Georgina Shanley, the head of the Cape May chapter of Amnesty International, said she received a letter from another inmate claiming that Taylor, who was put in a restraining jacket in solitary confinement, was going through alcohol withdrawal. He was left unattended for five days before he died, according to the letter.
“Our feeling was that if this gentleman was in dire straits because of alcohol withdrawal, any human being would put him into medical care, at least get him into a situation where he could have IV fluids, where he could be monitored and could be taken care of,” said Shanley.
The Burlington County Detention Center, the county prosecutor’s office and a county representative did not respond to questions about whether any jail procedures have been changed since the pair of fatalities, but Assistant Prosecutor James Ronca defended the correctional facility in a letter to Shanley.
He said corrections officers checked on Taylor every 15 minutes while he was held in solitary confinement, and that he was seen daily by nurses.
“It is clear,” he wrote, “that this inmate died of natural causes and not as the result of any criminal act. Furthermore, there is no basis to conclude that this inmate was treated in a manner that could be considered abusive or neglectful by the staff of the Burlington County Detention Center. He was monitored on a regular basis by corrections officers; had meals brought to his cell; and was seen by medical personnel while committed at that facility.”
A second man, Jerome Iozzia died in February after his pacemaker became infected. Shanley said that the deaths in such close succession suggest the jail’s medical treatment is inadequate.