2008-2009

Prison transfer for inmate at risk of liver failure

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An inmate suffering from critical liver disease was sent on a long distance journey covering half of the island from a district prosecutors office in Hualien to the one in Taichung. He died a few days after arriving in Taichung. The Control Yuan launched an investigation into potential maladministration. (Case no. 0980800130)
The investigation found miscommunication between prosecutors of the Hualien District Prosecutors Office, the judicial office and police agencies. Upon learning that the inmate had no identification card with him, the prosecutor at the Hualien District Prosecutors Office, who oversaw the process, refused to take him in. in fact, the law states that secondary identity documents can be adopted when primary ones (identification card) were unavailable. In this case, the available secondary documents were the inmate’s insurance card and copies of his identification card that were included in his personal file. The laws require that inmate serving prison sentence go through medical checkup before being committed to prisons. Prisons may decline taking inmate if doing so would endanger the lives of the said person and those with acute diseases may be placed in a subsidiary medical unit. Since there was no medical unit available at Hualien District Prosecutors Office, it was not improper for the Office to refuse taking the inmate in. However, the prosecutor decided to send the inmate on a long-distance transfer to Taichung Prosecutors Office, referring to the medical record that the inmate had been removed from the intensive care unit to an ordinary ward on October 23th, 2008, when another medical checkup is needed as a precaution.
Upon Control Yuan’s request, Taiwan High Prosecutors Office issued an official letter requesting its subordinate office to conduct controlled and guarded medical treatment upon learning the inmate’s life-threatening illness or health conditions before reporting to the High Prosecutors Office. In the event that identification was unavailable, the responsible prosecutor should contact the original district prosecutors office that issued the arrest order and provide the age and a photographed copy of the inmate’s identification card, or signed deposition. Should questions remain regarding the inmate’s identity, the prosecutor should make a comprehensive judgment and order the bailiff to obtain and preserve the fingerprint and photographs of the inmate for future reference. Following the investigation, the Taiwan High Prosecutors Office has made improvements accordingly, thereby upholding the rights of the inmates.