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Sunday September 21st 2014

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Mother of Jail Victim 14 addresses County Commission

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Here is the speech that Ms. Coburn read to the Board of County Commissioners during its open forum yesterday afternoon:

Good afternoon my name is Trina Coburn and I am the mother of victim #14. I am not here today to complain or place blame. I am here today as the voice for many families that are too afraid to speak out. The frustration, miscommunication, rumors and division between inmates, their families and the corrections department needs to stop. We need to focus on working together to find solutions instead of creating more problems. In times of crisis we need to come together as Americans and as a community.

I personally challenge you, our elected officials to assist all of us in moving forward in the healing process. I have over a hundred questions that still remain unanswered, but for today I am focused on just a few key points that I believe need the most attention.

Adequate medical attention and more medical doctors are needed. There needs to be a doctor at the camp. Inmates shouldn’t be sitting in a holding cell for 17 hours to see a doctor for five minutes to be given an ibuprofen and told to go lay down. That is NOT adequate it is unacceptable. Medical request forms are given back to inmates (by COs) is simply not right. Medical facilities need to thoroughly complete medical examinations this is a must (not the emergency in and out check at the hospital during the explosion) Mental health has finally made an appearance as of yesterday, thank you Gordon Pike for doing what was necessary to make this happen. Lots of questions still remain regarding each individual mental health plan pertaining to the frequency and length of treatment.

I know county employees are working around the clock and are exhausted. My heart goes out to everyone on both sides. I know there are a lot of caring people that are helping the inmates. But some CO’s are being abusive, how is this being handled? I have a handful of complaints given to me either by phone or email. I have the dates, times, incidents and names. I don’t know why the county hasn’t appointed a family advocate but for now I will help where I can.

My last concern is gain time. Sunday I sat down with a mom and girlfriend of an inmate and listened to a voice mail by the justice system stating the release date is scheduled for June 7th. Since the explosion his gain time has been taken away for May and June. His release day is now scheduled for June 22nd. This needs to be fixed not only for him but for all inmates.
They did not ask to be blown up and displaced. Put my child back on probation. I will feed, clothe and house him. I will be responsible for him.

Finally I would like to personally thank Wilson Robertson, Gordon Pike, Selena Barnes, Tina Seely, Sargent Boswell, Lumon May and numerous others. Through all the bad I truly believe this group has wonderful hearts and intentions. We tend to hear only the bad. I have plenty of good things to say too. When the time is right I will tell my journey. Right now is the time to set personal opinions aside and come together. It is time to do the right thing. After all we are the people, we are the USA. United we stand. Thank you.

(There was certainly tons more I want to say but my speech couldn’t be longer than three minutes. I really have 100+ questions I want answered. Thanks for keeping the story alive. I appreciate you)

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The medical and mental health care for jail staff and the inmates who were in the Central Booking and Detention Center on the night of April 29 when a gas leak rocked the facility. Two prisoners were killed, a guard paralyzed and 200-plus people injured. Many of the 607 inmates in the CBD have complained to their attorneys, families and jail staff of nightmares and other mental health issues.

Twice Corrections Director Gordon Pike has stood before the commissioners had said that he had hired mental health counselors and an additional doctor. He assured the board that the inmates were getting medical and mental health care. Bingham Turner & Associates started performing mental health assessments at the Santa Rosa County Jail and the Escambia County main jail on May 17. However many family members of inmates complained as late as week that they have not had any mental health counseling.

Maxim Healthcare Services was contracted to provide the doctor and LPN and RN services. That company did not begin performing its services until June 2.

Commissioners Lumon May and Grover Robinson were clearly upset about the misinformation from Pike. Robinson told the IN that he had several calls about inmates and was upset that the care Pike promised wasn’t being delivered. The commissioner said individual issues were resolved once he intervened, but he said, “It shouldn’t happen this way.”

Yesterday we reported that the medical director for the jail, David Benoit, had been put on administrative leave. Newsom gave a hint as to why.

After hearing from the public and the commissioners on the issues with care of the prisoner, Interim County Administrator Larry Newman apologized to the commissioners. “Our failure was not getting with those inmates” said Newsom. “I’m disappointed in how long this has taken on the medical and mental health sides.”

Later in the discussion he said something that was almost a “throwaway” line that many may have missed. “It doesn’t help when our own people turn away medical help.”

During a break, I asked Newsom if he was referring to Benoit. He said that was talking about both Benoit and Pike.

“Two days after the disaster, I instructed Gordon to hire whatever medical help he needed,” said Newsom. “I told him, ‘I want have so many white coats that they are tripping over themselves.’ I’m disappointed that it didn’t happen.”