Inmate reports meds altered

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Barb Sweet
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Court gave treatment order in case of convicted prison guard

Ed Taylor

A former prison guard sent to Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) with an order regarding his mental health treatment has had his medications altered and has only seen his own psychiatrist once despite the court’s directions, the man has told his lawyer.

St. John’s lawyer Mark Gruchy was given permission by inmate Ed Taylor to discuss his case with The Telegram this week.

“He’s quite frustrated, like you would be. And he is very concerned,” Gruchy said.

“He said he feels like he is jumping out of his skin. That’s how he put it and he said he has felt like that for some time.”

In an unusual move, a judge ordered that Taylor see his own psychiatrist while he’s in jail, and that he be permitted to take any medications prescribed to him by his own doctors.

But according to Taylor, three  medications used to treat his mental illness have been discontinued and others have been altered since he was treated by the prison psychiatrist.

“(Taylor’s) understanding right now in a nutshell is this — from the time since he has been incarcerated in January this year, his medication has been altered downwards and recently upwards, as well as having some medications completely discontinued,” Gruchy told The Telegram.

“He met with his pre-incarceration physician once and that individual is no longer meeting with him and now he is dealing with the institutional physician.

“What seems to be happening, from what I am hearing from Mr. Taylor, is he’s being treated like everyone else, which I gather was the  whole point of the order — not to be.”

 

The institutional physician is Dr. David Craig, a psychiatrist whose conservative stance on prisoner medications has stirred controversy for years.

Taylor told his lawyer he couldn’t have his own psychiatrist visit him after the one occasion because there appears to be a glitch regarding coverage of his fee if he conducts the appointment inside the prison. 

And Taylor has said the justice system wouldn’t approve of him being taken out of jail to visit the pyschiatrist in his office, even though some prisoners attend specialist appointments.

“His own doctor is sort of hamstrung based on his understanding of the compensation scheme,” Gruchy said.

Gruchy was only recently retained in the case and will pursue the matter and seek Taylor’s medical records to sort through precisely what happened.

A Justice spokesman told The Telegram that although it won’t discuss specific prisoners, outside medical appointments only occur for medical services that cannot be provided at correctional facilities or if there is a medical emergency.

A Department of Health spokesman said an outside fee-for-service psychiatrist could bill MCP at a set rate for visits.

Taylor was sentenced to 16 months in jail, with 18 months’ probation, for planning to deal drugs at HMP, where he worked as a guard.

In sentencing, Justice Wayne Dymond took into consideration Taylor’s drug addiction and mental illness — bipolar disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder — which he had been dealing with through counselling and rehabilitation.

“It has to be clear to prison authorities that, if the courts of this province are incarcerating individuals with mental health issues, the necessary infrastructure programs and medications required to keep inmates healthy have to be provided for them, under proper supervision,” Dymond said in his decision on Jan. 23.

Dymond didn’t refer specifically to a facility, or a particular doctor, but it’s suspected the unusual order was connected to issues surrounding Craig at HMP.

An appeal of the order has been filed by both the federal and provincial Crown, who are also seeking a longer sentence.

Taylor will likely have served his sentence by the time the appeal is heard, but Gruchy said Taylor wants to fight it out of principle.

He said Taylor feels like his mental health is being compromised.

“He’s reported to me he’s sleepless. He’s anxiety ridden. He’s having a lot of problems generally sleeping, and Mr. Taylor has a very serious case of bipolar disorder, I gather,” Gruchy said.

“He suffered from very severe depression for a long time. And right now he is describing himself to me as being in a very bad way, actually, and he is just trying to get through the situation.”

Gruchy said Taylor has indicated he’s made his concerns about his health known to Craig.

“Certainly it looks to me like there is definitely some tangles with respect to how it’s happening, and practically it does look like the same thing is happening to Mr. Taylor that has been alleged to be happening to (other inmates on medication),” Gruchy said.

He said if Taylor is suffering from sleeplessness, that can aggravate his bipolar condition. He also has a poor appetite.

But Gruchy said once Taylor is released, he suspects he will be able to turn his life around.

“I have no doubt, personally, that Mr. Taylor is going to be just fine when he gets out. He has plans to go back to school and actually get in a different career. He’s already got that lined up,” Gruchy said.

Taylor lost his job at HMP in 2010 when he was found with illegal and prescription drugs, along with other unauthorized items, that were destined for inside the prison.

Being incarcerated in the same facility was difficult at first, Taylor reported to his lawyer, but he’s adjusted in that regard and is co-operative with authorities.

As for his medical treatmentin  the Pen, he reported there seems to have been an attempt to rediagnose his condition at one point.

“So what you got happening in January and in the space of what it seems to be two months, three of his medications are gone and some of the ones he was on before are reduced, and as far as I know, the man was diagnosed in 2007,” Gruchy said.

“Just think about it — bipolar disorder, by definition, is about essentially fluctuations of neurotransmitter levels and now, at the same time that you have fluctuations of neurotransmitter levels and so forth, you’ve got fluctuations of the chemicals themselves that are supposed to interact with the fluctuations of transmitter levels and you are in this totally new environment. It doesn’t sound like a very good situation, even to a layman, does it?”

Gruchy, who is president of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, previously told The Telegram in a general interview about the order the fact that a judge made the order at all shows there are serious social and mental health issues within HMP.

“There’s always a distinction between practical and legal. But in a practical sense, what it seems to be about is people having absence of choice,” Gruchy said this week.

“Basically, they end up in the facility and therefore they are a captive audience, so to speak.”

Issues with Craig have been publicly known since a 2008 report into the province’s prison system questioned his methods.

Citizens’ representative Barry Fleming renewed his call for action on psychiatric services at HMP in his annual report of November 2011.

That report said Craig has an extremely conservative stance on the use of psychiatric drugs. When inmates get to HMP, they are often taken off medications that have been prescribed by other psychiatrists.

In March 2011, Fleming issued a report on Craig, based on a raft of complaints from inmates.

After initially dismissing the report, the Justice Department ordered a peer review of Craig's service.

Justice Minister Felix Collins has told the legislature a forensic psychiatrist has conducted the review of psychiatric services at HMP and the department is waiting for a report.

 

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Organizations: RCMP, Department of Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources Cartwright Forest Management

Geographic location: Greenspond, Bonavista Bay, Puffin Island Labrador Port Hope Simpson Red Bay

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  • Sick of Dr's
    April 04, 2012 - 11:44

    I can't believe how many people feel for sorry for this guy. If his medication was working properly before then he wouldn't be an addict and he wouldn't be dealing drugs and in jail. The problem with health care is Dr's giving out drugs like candy. Good job Dr Craig it's good to see someone who is trying to correct the root problem instead of feeding the addiction

  • mike ryan
    April 04, 2012 - 11:05

    ooohhh, too bad, so sad. another fella tryin to screw the system. there should be more like dr craig, he is keepin the drugs out of the prison system. mr taylor should face the fact that he is a criminal, like the rest of the garbage, that he was bringing the drugs in for.

  • Fred Penner
    April 04, 2012 - 11:04

    Give the man his correct medication. Any reasonable doctor why do a follow-up examination and adjust the meds if required.

  • Why aren't prisoners
    April 04, 2012 - 10:43

    Why aren't prisoners entitled to the same human rights with regards to healthcare as other persons? It’s a strange punishment automatically added to the sentence they get. What good does it do or how might it prevent an offender from recidivism? It would be interesting to know the reasoning behind the practice and the purpose of it because it really does seem rather archaic for this day and age.

  • sealcove
    April 04, 2012 - 10:28

    Guess he can do the crime but not the time

  • concerned
    April 04, 2012 - 10:10

    i really hope that Ed gets the help he needs, make you wonder why the guys coming outta the pen go back into the lifestyle, instead of being rehabilitated they are being given less then adequate medical care. my heart breaks for Mr Taylor, because i know when he is on his medication he is a great guy. Hopefully something is done and quick. and the remainder of his sentence goes by quickly for his own sake. Shame on the doctor working with the individuals that need the help more then anything.

  • Murman
    April 04, 2012 - 08:45

    What am I reading here hahahha, I can not believe what I am reading. Prison sucks bottom line,but for a guard,who is an Inmate now, and is unhappy Who now gets his lawyer to cry to the press This is a Late April fools joke right. What am I reading here.

  • Jerome
    April 04, 2012 - 07:43

    When Ed Taylor was employed at the Penitentiary, he certainly didn't care one bit about how the drugs he sold to inmates would adversely affect them. All he cared about then was making money. Now suffer the consequences of not being an employee any more, but a prisoner.

  • Flip Rogers
    April 04, 2012 - 06:35

    Boo Hoo, poor Mr. Taylor, he should have thought about all of this when he was running drugs to the pen, ha ha ha

    • Mary
      April 04, 2012 - 11:24

      What I can't understand is, if a person is receiving medication, and it's working for him, why change it?