Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Disability Law Center to Investigate Death of Utah Inmate

Courtesy photo
Ramon Estrada

The Disability Law Center in Utah is conducting an investigation into the death of Ramon Estrada, a state prisoner who died Sunday of apparent cardiac arrest due to renal failure.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections press release, inmate Ramon Estrada was scheduled to receive kidney dialysis at the Olympus facility’s treatment center on Friday. However, a contracted technician failed to show up as anticipated on Friday and also on Saturday. Estrada died Sunday evening as prison medical staff prepared to transport him to University Medical Center for treatment. Aaron Kinikini, Legal Director at the Disability Law Center says he was shocked by what he called an egregious and avoidable situation.

“If a state fails to provide adequate medical services for an inmate’s serious medical need, that is torture,” Kinikini says. “That is cruel and unusual punishment, and when it results in death, as it did in Mr. Estrada’s case, that is deeply troubling.”

The Department of Corrections said itself that the delayed response is unacceptable, and is conducting an internal investigation, as is the Unified Police. The Department’s Clinical Services Bureau director has been placed on administrative leave. Kinikini says the Disability Law Center has decided to conduct their own investigation focused on whether there is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed.

“That might entail a look beyond Mr. Estrada’s specific case,” he says. “I mean, do we have any other complaints from inmates who were receiving a life-sustaining treatment? How far back does that go? At what point was the prison possibly aware that their contractor was possibly inconsistent in performing their duties? So there’s a lot of unanswered questions.”

Following Estrada’s death Sunday evening, six other inmates who require ongoing dialysis treatment were transported to University Medical Center for evaluation. Department of Corrections officials say their internal investigation will include a review of all aspects of the situation, including an analysis of what measures need to be taken to prevent this from happening again.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.