09 Jun 09

Shane’s $115,000 Court Victory against the Arizona Department of Corrections

Shane - After being denied psychiatric medication by ValueOptions, Shane turned to illegal drugs financed by burglaries. For stealing a few hundred dollars worth of goods, he was sentenced by Judge Ron Reinstein to eleven years. Shane is the author of the blog Persevering Prison Pages.

Here’s the news as told by Shane:


In 2006 I sued because the Arizona Department of Corrections’ doctors and top administrators wouldn’t treat my liver disease, which they diagnosed me with in 1998. In 2005, I had a liver biopsy, and was diagnosed with early cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C. In 2007 I was given chemotherapy to eradicate the hepatitis C. I took shots weekly in the abdomen and pills daily. It was like I had the flu for a year. It was successful and the hepatitis C is undetectable in me today. Only after I sued did they treat me.

I litigated my own case for a year until the law firm Snell & Wilmer, L.L.P. accepted my case pro bono. I defeated the Assistant Attorney General’s motions and was successful in litigating my case in Federal District Court.

After deposing more than 30 members of ADOC’s medical staff and administrators, including the director, Dora B. Schriro (now working under Janet Napolitano in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security), and hiring two medical experts, my attorneys advised me to accept what the Attorney General’s Office offered, as it was the highest amount ever offered to a prisoner for a non-death medical case in years. $115,000!

After fine-tuning the wording of the legally binding agreement to insure I continue to be given proper medical care while in ADOC custody, the Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard – who will likely run for governor next year – had to authorize the agreement.

Many inmates in Arizona would be interested to learn that the proper standard of care for my hepatitis C is the same they are entitled to legally as ADOC can not have a different standard for individual prisoners. That’s be preferential care, which is illegal.

With the money, I’ve decided to use some to help a couple of good friends and to invest in my future. I’ll finally have a stable foundation to start over with.

I think Shane deserves at least an “Attaboy!” for pulling this off.

Email comments for Shane to writeinside@hotmail.com or post them below. To post a comment if you do not have a Google/Blogger account, just select anonymous for your identity.

Shaun P. Attwood

18 comments:

kaedesmith said...

amazing. good job.

Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

Good job, Shannon-it takes real perseverence to continue to fight such a fight. I know you'll continue to make a difference long after you're outside prison bars.

Anonymous said...

Great! Attaboy! First steal from the innocent, get sent to jail, continue needle use in prison, get infected and then sue the state and by extension the over burdened tax payer. Perfect!

Almost makes one wish for laws from the middle east, cut the arm for stealing, then hang them for drug possession. No need to pay for prison maintenance, food, DOC pensions or medical treatments.

Jennifer S said...

Hey Anonymous,Since you are too much of a coward to use your name, I can only assume you are a C/O. How the hell do you know he used drugs in prison? Hep C is not only spread though IV drug usage, it is also spread though unsanitary living conditions and poor medical care...sounds like the AZ prison system to me.
You are probably the type of person who stands in church and listens to the preacher preach about redemption and forgiveness, but the problem is, its only for you and your ilk when you cheat on your taxes, drive drunk or beat or loved ones isnt it?
Good job, Shannon! Send em a message by hitting them in the pocketbook, thats the only sound they hear.

leigh said...

Shane! You have done such an amazing thing! Congrats on a great job! Way to go!!

Jennifer Sucks said...

Hey Jennifer,

No, I am not a C/O, but I like it that you assume as much as you want about me w/ no basis, 'cheating on taxes, beating loved ones and driving drunk', but refuse to accept a simple extrapolation that someone who went to prison for doing drugs continued to abuse them. Brilliant, that explains why the education standards in our country are so low, we lack analytical skills. Oh and don't believe me on the Hep C, just look it up on the web, (here is a link in case you are too lazy http://www.connecticutcenterforhealth.com/hepatitis-c.html#sec3). The largest cause of Hep C is infected needles, and drug abusers are prime meat.

Regarding, the 'coward' allegation, does posting under a (any) name make me less of one? If so, hope I have that element of your rant satisfied.

Oh and, you probably don't pay your taxes, live on well fare, but you should know it isn't the government pocketbook that is going to be affected, rather it is ours (at least those of us that do pay taxes). So 'attaboy's' settlement is coming out of your social security pocketbook. How do you like dem apples?

Finally, regarding redemption and forgiveness, I strongly believe in it. I hope Jon makes it on the straight and narrow, as I hope for Shane. But it doesn't mean I am going to blindly assume, just because someone got sentenced to prison, (not even served out his time), he has redeemed himself. It is only after he serves his time, and stays clean that trust is re-established.

Get real!

Buttercup said...

Many of us who work with prisoners see the lack of medical treatment that goes on in prisons all the time.

When a judge sentences someone to time in prison, they don't sentence them to lack of medical/dental/mental health care. Leaving someone untreated for Hep C is torture and also bad for the rest of us. When that prisoner gets out, they will be less able to return as a functioning member of society and will likely cost the taxpayers more by using public health services.

When someone is diagnosed with Hep C, the best thing to do is to treat them for it. This case sends a signal to the state of Arizona that depriving people of appropriate health care is unjust.

Someone with appropriate analytical skills would see that since a judge sided on the side of Shannon, then he can hardly be considered a pickpocket. Or is what is legal and illegal only decided by anonymous posters?

Shannon is a good person. He is committed to having a better life after he gets out of prison. There will always be people who want to run him down because of his past. Fortunately there are also lots of compassionate people who can that someone is more that a collection of their past mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous you could not be any more on the mark! What are thse people thinking?? These are criminals who have victimized society hurt our brothers, sisters, parents and terrorized our children and poisened them with there drugs! Yeah Attaboy way to suck a little more out of society. Anyone that condones these frivolous lawsuits is obviously naive beyond belief....just like these women that chase killers behind bars and try and have a "healthy relationship" with them. Jon has paid his debt and is now getting on with his life. Shane is a drug addict that is still paying his debt for victimizing innocent people, does he deserve the publics respect when he feels his time is best spent railing against the establishment? Get a grip man the reality is that these sponges cost us too much money

Jennifer Sucks said...

Buttercup,

Analytical skills, riiight! You will note that in none of my posts, I opined on the 'legality' or lack thereof of 'attaboy' being awarded money for the 'negligence' in medical treatment.

My comments were on the delicious irony that drug addicts in prison expect better care than the hundreds on inner city kids that could use help. Also given prison demographics, expect a lot more older patients and a lot more transplants, medical costs to burden an over burdened system. Further reducing money available to go to law abiding citizens.

My comments also were to draw attention to the fact that there is nothing to cheer for a victory such as this in terms of 'pocketbook' politics, since the government only spends tax payer money and has no 'income' outside our taxes that you can go after.

I am glad you haven't lost the stars in your eyes as far as the redemption of 'attaboy' is concerned and for his sake I hope you are right. But pardon me for not taking empty promises for face value, respect is something that is earned, as is forgiveness.

Finally kudos to you for doing something that many would consider a thankless job. Hope you never lose those stars, or we will be a poorer society for it.

Jon said...

Buttercup makes some good points.

Also, an 11 1/2 year sentence seems disproportionate to Shannon's crimes. If the State of Arizona is going to round up petty criminals during economic boom times to keep the prison industry going, then they need to provide adequate medical care to those people. But what do they care? The contractors have made their money and they can bill future medical costs to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are getting swindled from both sides. If Shannon, who had it rough in his youth, has educated himself in the law sufficiently to be compensated for his medical suffering, then power to him. That is a mammoth accomplishment in itself. If every inmate with hep C did likewise, then the lower tier of criminals wouldn't be so profitable for the prison industry.

Shaun Attwood

Sue O. (aka Joannie, SS) said...

The thing we really can't do is paint every case with a broad brush. In the end the inmates behind bars become our neighbors. So yes, some need to be institutionalized, some may never live a normal life, but I still feel it is in the interest of a healthy society to recognize that treating people like animals is counterproductive. Shannon wiped out his prison debts with his money, gave a substantial amount to a struggling single mother, assisted friends, and according to the law, had a right to a settlement in the first place.

Jennifer S said...

If you want to know why our educational standards are so low, you only have to look at our states heavy investment in the prison industrial complex for that answer. Why would they want to educate kids when it is so much more profitable to lock them up in state run gulags and get federal bucks for doing it? Then, they can keep them out of sight, out of mind, and abuse and neglect them and get paid big bucks from the feds for doing it! Hell, I wouldnt want to spend money on education either!Its much easier to control ignorant, half-starved and disease-ridden inmates than it is to deal with educated, healthy, well-fed people.
Over 90% of what goes in, will eventually come out. If they are crippled, driven insane or saddled with a communicable disease that robs their body of the ability to allow them to work or live independantly, then we will be supporting them for the rest of their lives anyway! Much like we are supporting them now, as well as their families, their children, and their victims, their keepers and so on. Incarcerated inmates do not pay child support, nor do they accrue any while incarcerated, so their children live in poverty, and often live in less than ideal situations, so they end up with no or poor role models or they simply raise themselves and do a piss-poor job of it.
This state eats its young, we cut education and services at every juncture and we prosecute and persecute them and incarcerate them at rates that rival California and Texas.
That Shannon managed to find a judge that actually ruled in his favor is astonishing and refreshing, and it offers a glimmer of hope for a realization that there is such a thing as human rights and a Bill of Rights, and perhaps, once the last of the dinosaurs that have ruled this state for the last 100 or so years have died off, we will see hope for the youth, and we will put the emphasis on education and not incarceration.
And by the way, its WELFARE, not WELL FARE...moron.

Allan Mac Donald AKA weird Al said...

When a state chooses to imprison one it's citizens, that person then looses his/her ability to seek needed medical care on their own. If that state does not then provide said medical care to that person, they will not get it.
These are not my words but rather those of The United States Supreme Court in a landmark case entitled Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97
(1976).
Simply put, in the United States of America, it is clearly unconstitutional to knowingly withhold needed medical treatment from a prisoner with a serious medical condition.
It is not that Arizona officials are unaware of these facts, they simply choose to ignore the Constitution in an effort to save money.
As a direct result of this unconstitutional behavior, many of Arizona's prisoners die each year from cancer, hepatitis B and C as well as a host of other diseases.
Anyone who thinks Shannon's lawsuit/settlement will suddenly cause DOC to begin treating all it's prisoners who require the available Hep. C treatments is naive. It is far cheaper and cost effective to simply pay off a few settlements each year than to provide the medical care the Constitution requires. Also, the only reason the State of Arizona or anyone else, would agree to settle a case like this is that they fear a jury, if the case went to trial, would likely award far more.
I helped Shannon file this case. I did so not to win a monetary award for him but rather to save his life. You see, the State would have let him die. The settlement is simply a by-product of the States unconstitutional behavior.
The real question here is not the settlement. What really should concern all right thinking Americans is that government officals are blatantly ignoring the U.S. Constitution with impunity.
The next person to have his rights trampled on could be you.

Jennifer Sucks said...

Jennifer, thanks for the clarification on 'WELL FARE', unlike you, I only pay the bills, I don't collect the checks, so my apologies for not digging deeper into where my hard earned tax $$$'s go.

There seems to be this misunderstanding here that the comments I have made are to subdue portions of the constitution, and you couldn't be more wrong. If AZ DOC is acting in an unlawful manner, it needs to be punished, but:
a. I don't see what is to cheer about more money being pored down the hole that is the government
b. Morally, I am against paying for illnesses that are self inflicted, case in point, another of Jon's 'characters', two tony has cancer, and I say, yes, the state is obligated to pay for it since it obviously wasn't self inflicted, but things like hep C which are most likely from 'attaboy's drug use - excuse me but I draw a line there.

On the topic of incarcerating larger swathes of the population, this was why I wishfully recommended moving to laws in the middle east where you cut the hand if convicted of robbery, and release the man. No need to pay for prison, and I don't see the criminal committing too many crimes once he has lost both his hands, so it is 2 strikes and you are OUT! Finally drug peddlers are usually executed, so nothing to worry about in terms of prison gangs. I realize this isn't a conversation on a full stomach, but hey, it solves all problems in one swoop. No large DOC, no pensions, no medical claims and we can all be a little safer? Or is that too close to utopia?

Weird Al said...

First of all, calling each other names and making derogatory comments solves nothing. It is counter-productive. To Jennifer:
First, a Judge did not rule in Shannons favor. This was an out of court settlement between the defendants and the Plaintiff. (Shannon) The Judge had nothing to do with it. Second, contary to what you seem to think, state prisons do not make money. This is a common misconception. Instead, they are a huge drain on a states resources. Do you know what was alloted in the states budget last year for DOC? Look it up, it's a matter of public record.
You are absolutely right about one thing however. In a state like Arizona which has a constantly increasing population you are faced with a choice; You can build more new schools or you can build more new prisons. There is simply not enough money to do both. Arizona's politicians have repeatedly choosen to build more prisons. Why? It's simple. "Being tough on crime," a popular catch-phrase, gets them reelected. Ironically, the fact is that if we took care of our young children from an early age we would end up needing less prisons, not more.
As to "Jennifer sucks," I will say this. DOC has been violating the U.S. Consitution regarding medical care afforded to prisoners for many years. They will continue to do so. Shannon's settlement will in no way "punish" anyone in DOC. The money to pay these settlements comes out of the States general funds, not DOC's budget. Trust me, no one in DOC will be fired or demoted because of the settlement. Lack of accountability is a real problem in these things. Secondly, you say taxpayers should not be paying for "self inflicted" illnesses. Would lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking fall into this self inflicted category? Here are a few facts which should greatly trouble you. DOC sells cigarettes to inmates knowing full well that nicotine is highly addictive and that smoking causes all sorts of dieases which are extremely expensive to treat. It is your tax dollars which are being used to pay for a problem which DOC itself has created. Finally, you are most certainly entitled to your moral beliefs. In this instance however, with regard to medical care for inmates, your moral beliefs are starkly in contrast to what our Constitution says must be done.

Vanessa said...

Weird Al is correct in that it is all about lack of accountability. Exactly!

Jon said...

State prisons don't make money. But the contractors do. And some of that money comes back to those in power in the form of political contributions and rises in the value of stock holdings. Just look at the business interests of the Bush clan when it comes to prison industries. By filling prisons with petty offenders under the guise of being tough on crime, the interests of the prison industry are served at the taxpayers expense. Over the years, this is a multi-billion dollar rip off. Shannon's settlement pales in comparison.

Shaun Attwood

~:*:*:Pixie:*:*:~ said...

Excellent job, Shannon and thank you Allan for assisting Shannon. It is my hope that this will set a precedent for prisoners in the future who are ill and in need of treatment.

I am looking forward to watching Shannon's life unfold when he is released. I have complete faith in that he is destined for great things and it will be a joy to observe this.