Visitor Question

Not getting medicine in jail…

Submitted By: Bobi (Oregon City, Oregon)

My husband has been in jail nine months. During this time he has not been given his correct medicines or none at all.

He is diabetic, had open heart surgery and urinary dysfunction, and needs a tube to pee which isn’t given to him until several hours later. They had to take him to the hospital one time.

He has had this skin rash from some kind of bug for several months which has covered most of his body and scratching now makes his skin bleed.

What papers does he need to ask for in order to make/file a complaint? He needs to get his medicines and proper medical treatment. Is there any legal action he can take? Thank you for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Bobi,

At this point we may presume you have contacted the jail and requested that your husband be given his medicines. If you haven’t done so already, that should be your first action. If, after going through the jail process for filing a complaint your husband is still not given the medicines he needs, then he might consider filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The most effective way to file a complaint is to write a detailed letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Special Litigation Section, Civil Rights Division, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530.

In the letter, your husband should explain what has occurred, as well as all the actions taken to have the jail give him the required medications. Include copies of any letters, texts or e-mail you or your husband already sent to the jail.

If you or your husband are aware of similar incidents involving other prisoners, include that information as well. Be sure to include your contact information. Your husband can also go online to file a complaint with the DOJ here.

If you are thinking about filing a lawsuit against the jail you will likely run into a problem. Jails are protected under the legal doctrine of Sovereign Immunity. This means government agencies can not be sued unless they agree to waive their immunity.

It is likely the jail will not waive its immunity. Doing so would set a dangerous precedent. Once waived, other prisoners with complaints, whether real or imagined, will follow and file their own lawsuits.

Learn more here: Jail and Prison Inmate Injury Claims

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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