Inmate says Oakland jail denying him drugs, therapy for bad back
Pontiac — An inmate jailed for driving without a license and having open intoxicants in a vehicle says his punishment is “cruel and unusual” because he does not have access to drugs and is not taken to outside physical therapy to relieve his back pain from a car crash.
But jail officials say Saleh A. Saleh’s discomfort would be relieved if he didn’t refuse to do exercises in the jail that county doctors have ordered.
According to an Oakland Circuit Court lawsuit against Sheriff Michael Bouchard and the jail, Saleh, 23, of Detroit is deemed disabled by the Social Security Administration. He collects nearly $800 a month in benefits, but according to documents signed by his physician, Saleh isn’t able to drive and requires “transportation services.”
Saleh, who began serving a 93-day jail sentence May 5, claims he needs narcotic prescriptions and anti-anxiety medications to relieve acute and chronic back pain from severe and permanent injuries in a June 2011 auto accident that resulted in hospitalization and surgeries. He also wants to maintain a regimen of physical therapy and rehabilitation three times a week.
“I am seeking a court order so my client can get some relief,” Bingham Farms attorney Alvin C. Sallen said. “My hope is this can be accomplished soon and without a hearing on the matter.”
The county jail, which is responsible for supplying or arranging medical services for inmates, requires a court order to release patients on a tether for medical services. Saleh claims the denial of his needed medical services “constitutes cruel and unusual punishment” and is in violation of his rights.
“All inmates receive a physical from a doctor when they come into the jail and their health is assessed and the proper treatment is given to them based on that physical — courtesy of the Oakland County taxpayers,” said Undersheriff Michael McCabe, who noted inmates regularly receive inpatient and outpatient treatments.
Oakland County taxpayers pay between $5 million and $6 million annually on inmate health care.
“I find it quite interesting that one of his complaints is we are not taking him to physical therapy but he refuses to do his exercises here his doctors told him he must do to improve his health,” McCabe said.
The lawsuit contains a May 11 letter from Saleh’s physician which says Saleh should be permitted to get his necessary medical treatment on an outpatient basis because his life is “dependent on it.”
According to Secretary of State records, Saleh has continued to drive since 2011 and racked up multiple citations, ranging from equipment violations to speeding and reckless driving across Metro Detroit. His lengthy driving record includes ongoing license suspensions since he was last legally licensed to drive in 2010.
The lawsuit is assigned to Oakland Circuit Judge Rudy Nichols.