The death of a 33-year-old D.C. jail inmate has prompted the organization of the Percy Turner Action Committee to press for an investigation into Turner's death.
Turner died Jan. 3 in the emergency room of the D.C. General Hospital from complications resulting from sickle cell anemia. He had been charged with the illegal sale of Diaudid, a pain killing drug often used to treat the sickle cell disease. Turner, who had no previous criminal history, had denied the charges.
Turner died 15 days after he was jailed under a $5,000 surety bond he could not meet after being late twice to preliminary court hearings.
Friends of Turner demonstrated at the District Building last week, demanding ann investigation of his death. They charged that Turner did not receive proper medical care and that his pleas for treatment were ignored by jail personnel.
The Percy Turner Action Committee, which has been endorsed by 11 black community organizations, is pressing for an investigation of Turner's death. Spokespersons Jerry White and Angela Cleaves expect the committee to work toward bettering the community's ties with the government and to get involved in several issues important to the community as a whole, among them the anti-Klan network.
Members of the board of Washington's only halfway house for women offenders support the investigation into the death and are asking D.C. officials to investigate the adequacy of medical care in city's jails.
Letters were sent this week to Mayor Marion Barry and Department of Corrections Director Delbert Jackson from Sharon Johnson, chairman of the Washington Halfway House for Women's (WHHW) board of directors.
The halfway house receives all its money from the city's Department of Corrections.
The board is asking the city to establish clear procedures to ensure adequate medical care for all inmates and to automatically investigate any death that might occur in a D.C. jail or prison.
The WHHW board's letter makes no allegations about Turner's death. However, the board is asking the city to take a long, hard look not only at the specific details of Percy Turner's death but also at the administrative practices of D.C.'s correctional institutions.
"What we really want to know is: Do you provide adequate medical care to all your inmates?" Johnson said.
According to the board, these letters to city officials are consistent with WHHW's longtime philosophy and goals of trying to provide dignity and help for women who have been through the criminal justice system.
A hotline will be set up soon by the Percy Turner Action Committee to get response directly from the community, said White. Further information on the committee is available from White at 462-8211.