Below is the letter we will send to DOJ:
DOJ must investigate Washington County, Arkansas Sheriff's Department!
If you’re wondering, what’s the most dangerous place during the COVID-19 pandemic? The data emphatically points to prisons, jails, and detention centers.
Last month, the Sheriff of Washington County, Arkansas confirmed that the healthcare provider for the county detention center was prescribing Ivermectin, an animal dewormer, to people detained in the jail as a treatment for COVID-19. Now, several incarcerated people have reported that they were given this antiparasitic medication without consent. And the only reason they found out was because of news reports that the jail’s healthcare provider was prescribing it.
Karas Correctional Healthcare has been providing a dangerous, deadly medication, to incarcerated people in desperate need of proper medical care. This practice must end NOW. That’s why we’re calling on the Department of Justice to investigate Washington County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Department, and Karas Correctional Healthcare for violating the constitutional rights of detainees.
The Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC) is one of just six state DOCs that has never publicly reported the number of incarcerated people who have died from COVID-19 — although, according to data obtained by The Marshall Project, at least 52 people have died from the virus in the state’s prisons since March 2020. Prison healthcare providers prescribing ivermectin is a dangerous, deadly threat to incarcerated people in desperate need of proper medical care. This practice must end NOW.
Instead of responding to the ongoing coronavirus crisis by doubling down on the public health strategies that have been proven effective — testing, tracing, isolating cases, vaccinating, and publicly reporting data to inform policy decisions — we are witnessing correctional health care providers reverting to cruel and unusual treatment.
Here is the Petition:
I’m standing with Color of Change to defend Black lives and demand justice. Due to a lack of federal oversight, carceral healthcare providers routinely abuse their medical authority, and incarcerated people are suffering as a result.
On August 25, 2021, Tim Helder, the Sheriff of Washington County, Arkansas confirmed that the medical provider, Karas Correctional Healthcare, was actively prescribing Invermeticin to people detained in the jail. Despite routine warnings from the FDA, that human consumption of the drug can cause serious harm. Owner and lead physician, Robert D. Karas, has defended administering the medication to his patients both in public comments to the media as well as his personal social media accounts.
Prisons are public institutions and it’s time to demand accountability in order to combat this public health crisis. The public deserves to know what's happening inside these facilities, at all times, and especially during this unprecedented pandemic. The lack of oversight of the private jail healthcare industry should be a primary concern for the DOJ, as death rates continue to rise. In 2019, death rates in jails reached 8%, the highest it’s been in more than a decade. That’s why we urge the DOJ to immediately investigate Washington County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Department, and Karas Correctional Healthcare for violating the constitutional rights of detainees.