An Illinois man has filed a federal lawsuit against Bureau County in Princeton, Ill. after he was allegedly jailed for a week in September 2010 without his HIV medication.
Arick Buckles alleges that corrections staff at Bureau County jail refused to give him his HIV meds despite his repeated requests and those of his partner and local HIV advocates.
Buckles' story first came to light a year ago when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois issued a letter on behalf of Buckles to Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson urging reforms at the jail.
But Thompson never responded, the ACLU said.
"Bureau County had an obligation under the Constitution to provide the medical care necessary to protect the health of Arick Buckles," said John Knight, LGBT project director at the ACLU of Illinois, in a statement. "They failed. They elevated concerns about costs and price of health care above the need for health care."
Buckles entered the jail in late September 2010 on a 2003 warrant for forgery, a move the ACLU said was "part of a process that he undertook to clean up his life and take responsibility for past criminal activity."
The suit, filed in the Central District of Illinois in Peoria, alleges that jail medical staff stalled on providing the medication because it was deemed too expensive. According to the complaint, Buckles' partner, advocates at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Gaining Ground all contacted the jail to confirm that Buckles needed the medication.
"I personally informed every officer that came around," Buckles previously told Windy City Times, estimating that because officers checked on him three times daily, he told staff at least 21 times about his need for medication.
Buckles suffered diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, light-headedness, high cholesterol, reddish/yellowish eye color, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes and emotional distress because he missed HIV treatments, according to the complaint.
The suit seeks unspecified monetary relief, punishment for jail staff and Thompson and reimbursement of attorney's fees.
Thompson did not response to an immediate request for comment.