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Former Virginia prison employee to serve three years in prison for ignoring inmate’s medical needs

Crystal Graham
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A former Federal Bureau of Prisons Lieutenant was sentenced today to 36 months in prison for violating the civil rights of an inmate in Virginia by showing deliberate indifference to the inmate’s serious medical needs, resulting in the inmate’s death.

“This inmate’s death was not the result of inadvertence or a lapse in judgment.” said Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “His death was the completely preventable result of the deliberate choices made by the defendant who knew he had the constitutional duty to provide medical care. Inmates are entitled to basic human dignity.”

According to court documents, Michael Anderson, 52, admitted that on Jan. 9-10, 2021, he was working in his official capacity as a BOP lieutenant at the Federal Correctional Institution at Petersburg.

In that capacity, Anderson was the second-highest ranking officer at the prison and was responsible for the care of inmates.

On Jan. 9, 2021, a correctional officer notified Anderson that a 47-year-old inmate was experiencing symptoms of an apparent medical emergency and asked the defendant to help the inmate obtain medical care. Anderson personally observed the inmate’s symptoms and stated that he would get medical help for the inmate.

The defendant nevertheless failed to notify medical staff, obtain a medical assessment, contact the facility’s on-call physician or notify any other staff members of the inmate’s condition.

The next day, a correctional officer notified Anderson that the inmate had fallen to the ground in his cell.

After receiving this information, Anderson failed to obtain any assistance for the inmate.

The inmate laid on the ground, dead or dying, for more than an hour and a half before any correctional or medical staff entered his cell. By the time correctional and medical staff entered the cell, life-saving efforts failed, and the inmate was later pronounced dead.

The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General investigated the case.

“Inmates entrusted to the care and custody of a correctional facility rely on correctional officials for basic healthcare, especially in a medical emergency,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “The Justice Department will continue to hold correctional officials who blatantly disregard inmates’ serious medical needs accountable.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.