After receiving a copy of the Justice Department?s probe of King County Jail, I wondered how long it would be before the Seattle Times took credit for it. One day, it turns out. In Thursday?s Times story on the federal investigation that found medical and custody treatment were so poor in the downtown jail that inmates? civil rights were being violated, there was this paragraph:
The Justice Department opened its investigation last spring, not long after the county ombudsman raised concerns about Jail Health Services and its two pharmacies, which had failed several state inspections. A Seattle Times investigation also revealed hundreds of medical errors, including the overdose death of one inmate and the death of another from an untreated infection by flesh-eating bacteria.
Let?s see. The "overdose death of one inmate" the paper revealed would be that of Damon Henderson, who in 2003 was given methadone he wasn?t supposed to be taking. The Times reported the death in March this year.
Seattle Weekly reported his death, along with a number of others that hadn't been revealed, in September 2005. In our report, we credited the paper that originally carried the Henderson story, the Seattle P-I, in 2004, after a lawsuit was filed.
The "death of another inmate from an untreated infection by flesh-eating bacteria" the Times revealed would be that of Patrick Harrington?s. The Times reported his death in March this year. SW first revealed it in detail in November 2005, and in two follow-up stories.
That March investigation by the Times also included the revelation that a hapless robber named Ronald Hicks committed suicide in jail by overdosing on jail-issued antidepressants he?d stored up. SW revealed the death in August 2005, and again in more detail the next month.
The Times? March story also revealed contagious staph infections that plagued the jails. That MRSA outbreak was reported by KING-5 News in November 2005. SW reported on that outbreak and new details about flesh eating disease in December 2005, crediting KING?s report as well.
The Justice Department also credits KING, and SW, citing their news stories in the newly released investigative report. The Times isn?t mentioned.
But then, the Times is mentioned in the Times? report. So it?s clear they deserve the credit.
BTW, SW plans to follow up on jail conditions. You can look for our report in the Times.