Health

Mentally Ill Inmate Dies in NYC Prison After Seven Days Without Medication

| by Michael Allen

Bradley Ballard, a mentally ill inmate who was held at Rikers Island jail in New York City, died behind bars on Sept. 11, 2013 after seven days without his medication.

After Ballard reportedly made a lewd advance to a female prison guard, he was locked up alone for seven days in a mental observation unit where he clogged his toilet and tied a rubber band around his genitals.

Numerous prison guards peeked inside his cell, but never went inside until Ballard was found naked and unresponsive. Ballard was reportedly covered in feces and his genitals were infected.

Ballard, who suffers from diabetes and schizophrenia, was taken to a local hospital where he died hours later. Autopsy results have not been released, but it is believed that he died due to sepsis, which is when an infection spreads through the body.

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"He didn't have to leave this world like that. They could have put him in a mental hospital, got him some treatment," Ballard's mother, Beverly Ann Griffin, told the Associated Press. "He was a caring young man."

In March of this year, Jerome Murdough, a homeless mentally ill veteran who was arrested for sleeping in an enclosed stairwell of a housing project, was locked up in a similar mental health unit at the same jail. Murdough was reportedly "baked to death" after malfunctioning heating equipment suffocated him in his cell at 101 degrees.

According to New York magazine, Board of Correction executive director Cathy Potler has admitted that Ballard was not given his medication during the last seven days of his life.

Correction Officers Benevolent Association president Norman Seabrook claims that Ballard's death was caused by "non-communication between medical staff and uniform staff." He adds that prison guards can notify members of the medical staff, "but it's clearly up to them and solely them to determine treatment."

The chief of the medical staff at Rikers was reportedly transferred to another prison while his underlings were ordered to undergo more training.

Correction Department spokesperson Robin Campbell has promised that officials are taking steps to make sure "that a similar tragedy will not happen again."

Sources: New York and Associated Press