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Starved inmate: Prison probe on inmate who starved to death prompts firings

Kentucky inmate starves to death, the man slipped through the cracks of the prison system's medical care.
Kentucky Department of Corrections

The starved inmate’s death prompted a probe that shows the deplorable actions of prison staff and medical personnel that failed this prisoner. The prisoners incarcerated in this Kentucky State Penitentiary are at the mercy of some antiquated procedures and policies, according to NewsMax on April 22.

Prison officials asked prosecutors to investigate how an inmate starved to death after the Associated Press started asking questions about this case. This case was brought to light by the AP who got wind of the inmate who starved to death and they obtained copies of the documents regarding the inmate's untimely passing, according to the Huffington Post.

The documents exposed the lapses in medical treatment and how hunger strikes were handled within the prison. One doctor and two staff have been fired over this and the investigation is on-going.

The inmate, James Kenneth Embry, 57, had three-years left on a nine-year sentence when he stopped eating. This was preceded by numerous complaints to the facility’s psychiatrist that he felt “hopeless.”

Most of the staff questioned in this investigation about the man not eating said that the prison officials and the prison doctor were under the impression that he would just stop the hunger strike routine on his own. Most of the prisoners who go on a hunger strike start eating when they get hungry enough, but not Embry.

The probe has looked into prison documents which shows the inmate had refuse his last 35 of 36 meals before his death. There are some reports stating that he drink tea on one occasion, with the prison doctor stating that the prisoner’s hunger strike was deemed as “over” once he drank the tea.

The doctor was under the impression that this is what the prison policy indicates, once the prisoners eat or drink something the hunger strike is over. The state has placed the doctor, Hinkebein on administrative leave and is in the process of firing her and her associate.

Embry was taken off his medication for anxiety months ago and his behavior reportedly became erratic. He had requested his medication for his anxiety, but the prison doctor denied his request. This was despite Embry’s continuous reporting that he wanted to hurt himself.

He began banging his head on the cell door and was put in an observation cell. The inmate continued to refuse food while in this cell, but no one seemed to do anything further to help this guy, who eventually starved himself to death.

Embry who was about six-feet tall was 138 lbs. when he died. He had lost 30 lbs. during this hunger strike. He was found slumped over in his cell unresponsive with his head tipped to one side then pronounced dead. His body went unclaimed and he was buried in Potter's field.

There was no family or family that cared enough to want answers into his death. If the AP had not probed into this death, there's no telling how many more incidents would slip through the cracks.

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