Sick Woman Died Behind Bars After Jail Officials Deprived Her Of Water

A doctor has determined that a South Carolina woman who died in jail last summer was deprived of water and proper medical treatment which resulted in her death.



Joyce Curnell, 50, died in a Charleston, South Carolina jail last summer one day after being arrested at Roper Hospital where she was being treated for a stomach illness.

According to court documents filed this week, Curnell became too sick to eat anything or even call out to guards for help. Medical staffers ignored jail officials’ requests to check on her, The Root reports.

As these details have come to light, Curnell’s family intends to sue the Carolina Center for Occupational Health — the jail’s medical contractor —for malpractice.  

Dr. Maria Gibson of the Medical University Hospital was consulted by attorneys as an “expert witness” and she concluded that Curnell’s death “more likely than not” could have been prevented had she received proper treatment.

Gibson also said that Curnell’s death was due to “a series of conscious violations.”

“Simply put,” Gibson added, “Ms. Curnell died because she was deprived of water.”

While Curnell was receiving treatment at the hospital before her arrest, it was discovered that she had a warrant out related to a 2011 shoplifting case. It’s unclear who notified authorities that she was at the medical facility, but she was arrested right after being discharged, according to The Root.

Her family is committed to seeking justice. The authorities were aware of her medical condition; they picked her up at a hospital for crying out loud.

She should have been monitored and cared for once in custody, but she was ignored and deprived. She was offered nothing but a trash bag to capture her vomit.

“Providing access to reasonable medical care to those under police custody is a necessity, not a privilege,” family attorney James Moore III said. “It is a constitutional right. We are committed to seeking justice for Joyce and for her family.”

Curnell was one of six black women who died in police custody just in the month of July, following the highly publicized death of Sandra Bland.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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