Five years of legal hassle ended last week for John and Carol Eichmann when an Ada County jury declared the county and sheriff’s department were not liable for the death of Carol Eichmann’s son, Michael McClure.
The couple’s pain over losing a son who died in the Ada County Jail is still deep.
McClure had a somewhat troubled life — three DUI convictions and a diagnosed medical condition that was being treated by anti-anxiety medications. In 2003 he was sentenced to serve time in the Ada County jail for DUI.
When he checked in at the jail and informed jailers he needed his meds, they denied him possession of the drugs, citing jail policy. They also would not administer the meds without the authorization of the jail’s doctor.
He soon died in custody and the family claimed it was for lack of medication. The county claimed cause of death was–sarcoidosis– the same condition suffered by comedian Bernie Mac’s who died recently.
Evidence was presented during the three week trial that ended Thursday indicating McClure had the active ingredient of his anti-anxiety medication in his blood, but testimony was offered claiming it was less than one-third the therapeutic dose.
Society will not win or lose debating the cause of death. The important thing is that it not happen again.
Sheriff Gary Raney talked with the GUARDIAN about the incident–which transpired prior to his election as sheriff–and said there was “a break in the continuation of care” for McClure due to the policy in place at the time of not allowing inmates access to their own drugs. He said that break in treatment no longer happens, thanks to new medical facilities, trained medical staff, and new policies.
While still seeking closure and some indication their son did not die in vain, the Eichmanns say they are “at peace” with the jury decision. They may find it in Sheriff Gary Raney.
“Sheriff Raney approached my wife last week during a break in the trial and offered to give us a personal tour so that he could show us the changes in the jail medical unit which were brought about because of Michael’s death. However, all the $6 million improvements don’t address the fact that the jail STILL has a policy of prohibiting medications. That’s barbaric in the 21st Century.”
Raney confirms even today, an inmate would not be allowed access to the drug without authorization–to the jail–from a doctor. However the lag time for that authorization should be shortened drastically, brought about in part as a result of the death of McClure.
We hope they take the tour Raney has offered. If they have some constructive ideas for Raney, he should seriously consider them.
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