Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards says he has made changes at the parish jail and fired a nurse in connection with allegations that medication was withheld from a former inmate.
Edwards also acknowledged that there is some validity to complaints that 33-year-old Dennis Bargher did not receive adequate treatment for a psychotic condition while he was at the Louisiana jail.
In a statement, Edwards said a recent lawsuit and a news release by the American Civil Liberties Union were unnecessary because his office had attempted to settle Bargher’s claims amicably.
ACLU staff attorney Justin Harrison told The Advocate newspaper there have been no discussions between the Sheriff’s Office and the ACLU. A lawyer for another group in the case, the Advocacy Center, said Edwards did attempt to negotiate a resolution before the ACLU got involved.
The federal lawsuit filed Monday claims Bargher lost nearly half his body weight and descended into hallucinations and delirium at the jail following his January 2009 arrest on a charge of carnal knowledge of a 15-year-old girl.
The suit accuses Edwards, a physician, a nurse and an assistant warden at the jail of violating Bargher’s constitutional rights. It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“When this matter was first brought to my attention in December of 2011, I made arrangements within a few days to have him transferred to Hunt Correctional Center where he could receive in-patient psychiatric care,” Edwards’ statement said. “No jail in a parish the size of ours is equipped or staffed to treat such medically needy prisoners on the premise. We run a jail, not a hospital.”
The sheriff also said he fired a jail nurse because an internal investigation found that records on the medications given to Bargher were out of order, incomplete or otherwise unacceptable. The Attorney General’s Office has since brought felony charges of forgery and injuring public records against the nurse, Edwards said.
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