Medical Staff Passively Watch Potential Tuberculosis Outbreak: Healthcare in Prison Couldn’t be so Indifferent


Despite having a history for being negligent, abusive, and indifferent to our safety, prison officials and medical staff here at the Clements Unit in remote Amarillo, TX are still getting let off the hook; even though evidence proves that they are responsible for the deaths of three prisoners.

It’s obvious that the problems at this prison aren’t being circulated to the right authorities; or if they are, these officials are being indifferent as well. This can be seen in the way guards strut around the cell block jacking prisoners for their meals, denying others recreation, then gracefully bringing those that complain a grievance form. “Make sure you spell my name right,” they often joke.

Either they’re pain freaks or they too are aware that some unseen hand is giving them qualified immunity for their corruption.

On March 23, 2016, L.V.N.-CID Becky Ramirez and nurse Buckles walked around the cellblock asking a select few prisoners if they wanted a TB shot. The majority declined but one in particular, Abram Gamboa #1426501 chose to get tested. On March 25, 2016, Ramirez and Buckles returned to get the test results, but discovered that his arm had a red lump, which meant he’d been exposed.

They declined to answer any of his questions regarding the positive read. Buckles only told him that she would be back in two weeks to test his other arm. On April 4, 2016, she returned to give him a second injection (which also came back positive) but in between that time no other prisoners on the cellblock were tested, nor was Gamboa isolated pending x-rays, etc.

It’s obvious that someone with active TB is living amongst us passing on the virus, or at the very least exposing us to it. But the feedback he got from Buckles was negative. She didn’t counsel him on the symptoms TB produces or give him any knowledge about his condition. Her only goal seemed to be an attempt to discourage him from accepting any further treatment.

“Even though you tested positive, I guarantee you don’t have TB,” she emphasized. “If you want you can take the medication for nine months, but it will make you feel real shitty the whole time – you still wanna take it?” He said he did, so she gave him the same lecture, but adding that no matter how it made him feel, if he missed even one dose he would get disciplinary punishment. “You wanna take the medication it’s going to make you feel like shit,” she repeated to no avail.

Two hours later he was taken to the x-ray room for testing. On April 7, 2016, he told anyone that would listen that he had Hep C (HCV) and was worried about nobody telling him what was going on with the TB results. Officer Lauren Griego C.O. lll overheard his conversation then went to the nurses station out of fear that she might have been exposed as well. She gave them his name but despite him not giving medical staff any written consent; a nurse provided Griego with all of the information she wanted concerning his TB results.

April 8, 2016, Griego told him that she spoke with a nurse and was told that she had nothing to worry about since his x-rays came back normal. She claimed that the nurse told her his positive read was normal, since Mexicans from Mexico receive shots that make them show false positive readings (Gamboa is a U.S. citizen). We all know this isn’t true since a TB test he got over a year ago came back negative.

Still worried – he wrote a sick call request to the director of nursing to see what the hold-up was on his meds. April 11, 2016, he received a reply from D. Carizales that stated “you are scheduled to see provider and your medication should have started on 4-6-16 per CID”. He didn’t actually receive his first dose of Lsonazid 300 mg tablets until April 15, 2016.

During a requested visit to see PA-Darren Mayer on April 14, 2016, Mayer explained that the medication delay was due to someone having to order the pills from Huntsville, which is something that the CID was supposed to discuss with him amongst other things. They didn’t, so Mayer told him that he would take over and answer all questions and provide all assistance.

Gamboa’s family became concerned and called the Unit’s Business Assistant, Crystal Dawson, but Gamboa had to fill out a Protective Health Info form (PHI) in order to give Dawson authority to release his medical information. Dawson told his family that Buckles and Ramirez violated testing protocol by giving him a second injection instead of immediately scheduling him for an x-ray. Medical staff admitted that they screwed up but Dawson never said whether anybody would be disciplined.

This is just another piece to the systemic indifference puzzle that prison staff are building. According to the 8th Amendment tuberculosis is classified as a serious medical need, therefore treatment is supposed to take precedence over medication cost and unqualified medical staff’s personal opinions.

Since TB is airborne and can be contracted by simply breathing the same air as the infected person, their failure to isolate Gamboa and their refusal to test those he’d been in contact with for over a year satisfies the deliberate indifference standard of the 8th Amendment.[1]

I tried to speak with officer Linda Bradley C.O. IV about TB being airborne, but I was told by her to “breathe in a plastic bag” until I “made parole”.

A big key to the spreading of viruses here is the unsanitary methods staff use to handle our food – officers never wash their hands. During feeding time I’ve seen officers dig in their nose, their behind, and even saw Griego stand by the food cart, unbuckle her belt, reach inside of her pants and scratch vigorously. I’ve actually seen this more times than I can count. Within the last year and a half, and during an annual shakedown I saw officer Loyd Stewart picking up dirty sheets and towels with a pair of dirty motorcycle gloves. He then proceeded to feed us while still wearing them. Several months after, I saw Kristina Rivas C.O. lll use a bag our mail is carried in to blow her nose.

Bottom line is that: This is a serious problem we are facing at this prison. Someone, whether it’s a prisoner or official, is exposing us to TB while medical staff are content with watching it spread. Since qualified medical staff have no interest in giving us TB tests[2] or solving the problem, we desperately need someone to contact state Sen. Rodney Ellis. Tell him that the medical staff are aware that someone on H-pod has active TB and is spreading it, but they are not acknowledging it.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win! All Power to the People!

Jason Renard Walker #1532092
Clements Unit
9601 Spur 591
Amarillo, TX 79107


[1] Prison officials have been found deliberately indifferent in failing to respond to tuberculosis exposure and outbreaks of the disease in order to protect prisoners from infection. See DeGuido v. Pung, 704F. Supp. 922, 937-51, 956-58 (D. Minn. 1989) (deliberate indifference was shown by persistent failure to respond to the obvious complaints and symptoms of the first case, the failure to advise inmates of their exposure, the failure to develop a policy and protocol and the failure of administrators, health department, or physicians to take responsibility, the failure to test all inmates when they tested all staff, and leaving patient education to a laboratory technician)

[2] On April 11, 2016, I filed a grievance and wrote a sick call demanding a TB test. I also explained the possibility of an outbreak. On April 16, 2016, I got a reply to my sick call from Tammy Williams which said “Reply copy to CID”. To my knowledge prison guards haven’t received any tests either.


Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *