With those poorly phrased words in Wednesday’s Times-Picayune, Sheriff Marlin Gusman rationalized Orleans Parish Prison’s mishandling of asthmatics like Cayne Miceli and others whose medical conditions are obviously beyond the scope of OPP’s capabilities for humane and legal treatment.
And with the death of yet another holding cell inmate this week, the spotlight only got brighter. However, no matter how revealing the coming days may be, the fact that OPP violates human rights in its treatment of those remanded to its care, and the consequent deaths and permanent disabilities caused by this public institution, make us taxpayers all participants in these cases of injustice. With each death and each abuse, we too, bear blame for our failure to demand that our public servants and institutions do their jobs better.
But OPP is not the only institution we need to demand be held accountable. Hospital Corporation of America/Tulane Medical Center’s responsibility to care for patients who receive drugs administered by its staff is paramount. Cayne knew prednisone could have serious side effects. In fact, prednisone’s potential for psychosis is widely known. Cayne’s reaction was hardly rare. Medical personnel on duty that night should have recognized the fruits of their labor–and it remains to be learned whether they were given the chance. Instead, someone reacted in an improper manner and then passed their duty to the police.
Then, Orleans Parish Prison killed Cayne Miceli. There are no other words to describe it.
Nevertheless, the painful fact remains: our dear, magical, sweet, spiritual, compassionate friend was basically tortured to death in OUR jail, by OUR employees.
Marlin Gusman’s statement seems to lack compassion and rubs salt into the wounds of family and friends. And he is reacting predictably. But OPP has blood on its hands, extracted in a cruel, inhumane manner for which OPP and the people in charge of Cayne Miceli bear culpability, liability and responsibility.
If this is “maybe the best medical care” OPP has to offer, all I can say is “God please help us.” And may God have mercy on their souls.