By Jill Nolin | Valdosta Daily Times | January 16, 2019
ATLANTA – A civil liberties group is alleging that Baldwin State Prison unjustly denied a mentally disabled inmate’s complaint for the quality of his medical care.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia has filed an appeal brief on behalf of the inmate, 53-year-old Jeffery Geter, who has Parkinson’s disease, a brain tumor and other conditions, according to court documents.
Geter’s attempt to submit a grievance was rejected because, in spite of the aid of a prison staff member, he failed to follow a rule requiring that his complaint focus on a single issue. He used the complaint to also report a possible theft.
His attempts to challenge the prison and medical staff in court went nowhere when a judge ruled that he had not first exhausted his administrative options within the prison system before turning to the courts.
But the ACLU has questioned whether the complex remedies are really available to an inmate with serious mental illness and intellectual disabilities and whose reliance on prison staff for assistance backfired.
“Discriminating against people with mental disabilities is unconstitutional and immoral,” Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, said in a statement. “Bureaucratic technicalities on a form should never prevent anyone from receiving the medical attention they need.”
A Georgia Department of Corrections spokeswoman said Tuesday the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
Geter has been incarcerated since 1998 for rape and other offenses committed in Meriwether County, according to the department’s website.