Medical care in prison is an exceptionally tricky situation to manage. There already can exist a degree of ill will against prison inmates due to their history, but that does not mean they surrender their rights at the door. Indeed, in certain circumstances they gain special, situational rights due to the fact their private options are restricted. One of these is the right to competent medical care: Because they can’t go to their own doctors, the prisons must provide a level of medical care to the inmates based on certain reasonable standards.

This apparently has not been the case in certain St. Louis jails as of late. Frequently there have been wrongful death cases in the news relating to the standard of medical care in the St. Louis prison system, but a recent one seems to define the particular odiousness of the situation.

According to the ACLU’s recently-filed suit, an HIV-positive inmate assigned to the downtown Justice Center and the medium security facility on Hall Street was denied medical care. This wasn’t a case of a slight delay, either, but rather a lapse of a full 17 days before he was given any care, and only sporadic care provided after that.

Specifically the inmate, who has not been identified, had been successfully treated for his illness prior to incarceration, but was denied medicine or access to a doctor during his stay, according to ACLU attorneys. They further allege falsification of records and highly unsanitary conditions for all inmates, contributing to the complexity of the matter.

The facilities in question have said they cannot comment directly on the suit itself, but that according to all their own records the inmate in question received all due medical care consistent with his constitutional rights.

Doctors and attorneys for the patient said that further tests of his condition are pending now that he has been released. There is still no word on why he was held.