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May-04-2012 02:31printcomments

Dying Prisoner with Hepatitis C Calls Oregon Out for Denying Medical Treatment

Oregon's DOC announced it has no obligation to report prisoner deaths; here's a story about a death in the making.

2008 photo of Shawn Michael Martin
2008 photo of Shawn Michael Martin, when he weighed 160 pounds., Now, due to untreated Hepatitis-C, reportedly rife in the prison, he weighs only 90 pounds and has little time left.

(SALEM) - We have been contacted by multiple sources over an inmate in the Oregon State Prison, Shawn Michael Martin, who has Hepatitis-C and is being refused medical treatment by doctors with the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC).

According to DOC records, Martin entered custody in March 2008. His health has deteriorated severely in the custody of Oregon prison officials, who he says administer, or fail to administer medication, as a matter of punishment.*

He is dying because he isn't being treated. It is not unavoidable. Advocates leading an awareness campaign over Shawn Martin's predicament, wrote:

    Mr. Martin placed his original request for HCV treatment during 2008, it wouldn't be until June 1, 2011 that Mr. Martin would finally receive Interferon and Ribavirin to treat his serious medical conditions. From this point he was on the treatments for 6 weeks, and then the prison claimed that he was having behavioral problems and stopped the treatments thus placing his life at risk.

    Mr. Martin must be immediately placed back on the Interferon and Ribavirin medications as the discontinuation of these critical medications pose a threat to his life, as is the ongoing retaliation by rogue correctional officers.

Guard on Prisoner Abuse Allegations

These advocates, and other inmates, say this sick man's illness is far from his only problem. In a letter sent to our newsroom, Martin describes having been beaten by a guard by the last name of 'Payne'. In the past we have reported the violent actions of a guard with that same last name, in a case involving another inmate named Clayton Howard.

Martin say the corrections officer's retaliation-based against him took place shortly after he had undergone a medical procedure.

I was in full restraints; feet and hands were cuffed. He choked me and slammed my head in the wall. Then to justify what he did he wrote a false disciplinary report on my accusing me of assaulting him. He said I assaulted him while my hands and feet were bound.

The Shawn Martin Letters

Shawn Martin Letter #1

Shawn Martin Letter #2

Shawn Martin Letter #3

Shawn Martin Letter #4

Shawn Martin Letter #5

This inmate says guard beatings are routine at Oregon's Snake River Correctional Facility (SRCI) and that the victims are often those who brought complaints against the guards - simple retaliation.

Another thing Martin describes as routine, is the denial of food to prisoners who are out of favor with staff. I believe that the violations of this prisoner when added together, quite literally qualify as "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" under the Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) to the United States Constitution; part of the United States Bill of Rights.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment includes:

  • "A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society."
  • "A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary."

I do not see how denying both food and medical attention to a chronically ill man is anything less than cruel and unusual; possibly these words are in fact not strong enough to describe acts of this nature, against a prisoner with no possibly alternative.

Mr Martin shared an unexpected piece of information when describing his desperate need for medical treatment for Hepatitis C. He says there is a scourge of this deadly disease in the prison system. He is due for release in 2015 and at the rate he's going with DOC officials in charge of his fate, the odds for his survival and release on that date are not good.

However the fact that he has been living untreated, and that Hep-C is apparently rife in Oregon prisons, paints a picture of a more wide ranging health problem underway and according to the Centers for Disease Control CDC Emerging Infectious Diseases:

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a serious public health problem in the United States and throughout the world. At least 80% of acute infections become chronic

I have to wonder what kind of medical staff would allow this type of treatment to take place? Doctors take what is called the 'Hippocratic Oath'. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary describes it as one of the oldest binding documents in history, the Oath written by Hippocrates is still held sacred by physicians: to treat the ill to the best of one's ability, to preserve a patient's privacy, to teach the secrets of medicine to the next generation, and so on.

So it seems the doctor who fails to uphold this sacred oath, is like a poacher in the ranks of hunters, just an illegal space filler with a degree there to lap from the public trough while playing God with people's bodies in the most literal sense.

On December 1, 2011, Mr. Martin wrote about being seen by a doctor whose last name is 'Dewsnup' on the 22nd of November.

He's the 'Infectious Disease Specialist' that took me off my [Hep C] treatments. He said he wasn't gonna treat me. He said he'd see me sometime in January. I'm sitting there calm, begging him to help me. He denied me again. I told him I've already filed a state writ on him. I told him the judge will just make him treat me. He said, 'I don't think he's gonna do anything'. The guy drew my blood on the 3rd of November. On the 22nd they had to redraw it cause it was hemolyzed and they couldn't do the test. So when I got the results, the numbers were discouraging. My white blood cell count was 3.0. The range for that is 4.5-11.0, so my body is susceptible to not be able to fight off any infections that may happen. The guards told me that two inmates just died from Hep C. Hanson and all of the other medical people here have denied me pain medication for my leg. They've also refused to fix it. It was when they beat me at Snake River Correctional Institution.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Communicable Disease Investigation Reference Manual which is available online:

A person with hepatitis C can transmit the virus to others one (1) or more weeks prior to the onset of symptoms and may continue to be infectious indefinitely. All patients with chronic hepatitis C should be vaccinated against hepatitis A. Unvaccinated or non- immune persons with risk factors for hepatitis B virus (HBV) should be vaccinated against hepatitis B. Current Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatments for HCV include interferon α (alpha) alone or combination therapy interferon with ribavirin. Combination therapy with ribavirin and pegylated interferon has achieved the highest response rates and better outcomes than treatment with monotherapy. HCV genotypes are critical factors in treatment decisions. A sustained virological response (SVR) is currently the best indicator of effective treatment.

My readers know I am an open critic of this Oregon corrections system that has its roots of corruption in the murder of its own former Director, Michael Francke, who sought to expose the base corruption more than twenty years ago, and paid with his life for trying to bring change to Oregon. Oh, it looks and seems like a nice state, but Oregon's government has so many members with a hand in the Francke murder that it is literally revolting to consider.

And now years later, through the fog of this penn of historic injustice, we find Mr. Martin, who received a 90-month sentence because his dog bit someone. This could turn out to be a death sentence for Martin if his hepatitis is not treated as soon as possible.

The death penalty because your dog attacked somebody?

And to clarify, I did read about Martin's crime, and what it comes down to, is that two teenage boys were bitten by his dog in his yard. The youths said he called them into his yard and told the dog to attack them, Martin said the boys were bitten while trying to break into his camper when he was not home. At any rate, 90 months? The teens were bitten but it was not a life-threatening attack.

An advocate for Martin wrote, "I think from reading his letter it is clear that not only was he abused by Payne, but that his civil rights are being violated at their most basic level. The inhumane comments made by the doctors in the prison turned my stomach. They admit to 'playing with his life' and threaten to withhold treatment. A threat which they have carried out".

Without question, Mr. Martin can use all support possible, those interested can write to him:

Shawn Michael Martin # 13556240
Oregon State Penitentiary
2605 State Street
Salem, OR 97310

To summarize, Mr. Shawn Martin, as referenced above reports that:
  • He has 4th Stage Cirrhosis of the liver due to untreated Hepatitis C virus.
  • His HCV treatment was discontinued even though he was responding to it.
  • The longer that the prison withholds the treatment, the less likely his liver will respond.
  • On July 6, 2010, he was severely beaten and injured by guards, while face down, offering no resistance, and that this incident of abuse was captured on security video.
  • On September 19, 2010, he was assaulted by an officer by the name of "Payne" while in full restraints.

The advocates' plea for Shawn Martin concluded with:

We ask your office to investigate the pattern of what appears to be of a criminal nature against Mr. Martin and other inmates who have fallen to apparently orchestrated injury and/or death by state correctional officers and/or medical personnel.

"Human dignity is sacred, even in those less fortunate than ourselves."

* This article originally stated that Mr. Martin's weight had fallen to below 100 pounds. This was a mistake, his weight had not fallen to such a low level, it was a communication error that led to this mistake, it is now corrected.

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Thomas Scott May 14, 2017 6:00 pm (Pacific time)

I was a convict at Snake River from March of 2008 until my transfer to OSP September 1st 2012. I was released several months later in March 2013. I have zero sympathy for this man or any other that claims abuse at the hands of a CO. You committed a crime and when you are found guilty and sentenced your life as you know it ended. You now are in a sir, yes sir, mam, no mam situation and had better get used to the fact that your life is controlled by others. I met my share of questionable CO's but, the treatment from other prisoners is far worse if you don't have game, a hussle or, a reputation for not taking bullshit from hypocrites...His Hep C is his own with it...if that means death than so be it. This guy is a career criminal and is about a reliable source as Pinocchio...I spent my 70 months making $300 a month in the call center, food in my foot locker, a flat screen T.V. with 150 stations, all the books I could read, yard time, a music room, church and the list goes on. Led a very spoiled life in's that for irony???

Anonymous February 5, 2016 1:15 pm (Pacific time)

I agree they shouldn't of denied him his medication but in this case, they should have let him die. As of Jan 27th 2016 hes been arrested again this time for sex abuse in the first degree and more. Check out Lane county oregon Mugshots.

dirtygma November 17, 2012 12:32 am (Pacific time)

On May 4th, 2012 I read of some person. ( I think they are a person?) But to clear something up for your KNOW all head strong way of thinking. I a FREE real person on the out side prison. I am a tax payer, honest legal citizen of the good ol'e U.S.A. Worked my butt off for the T.V. my husband watch's. In fact it cost $300.00 dollars for a plastic 6" so called t.v. My point is "He watch's but you are blind" Should consider keeping your pie shut be for you spout what you don't KNOW. Thank you Tim King.

Sarah May 14, 2012 11:12 am (Pacific time)

Is the ACLU looking into this?

Editor: I've worked with the ACLU in other places, the NW ACLU may as well not exist.  They do not respond, they don't return phone calls, they don't do anything.  There is a theory that  groups like the ACLU have a window of about ten years for effectiveness, after that they become centered around salaries and donations.  The ACLU is dead in Oregon.

Concerned Citizen May 12, 2012 10:58 pm (Pacific time)

I am understanding that Two Rivers Correctional Institute (TRCI)in Umatilla has the medical facilities to treat inmates with Hep C. Might be worth a shot to see if he can get transferred.

Editor: Good information, thank you.

Concerned Citizen May 10, 2012 12:44 pm (Pacific time)

I like how the ignorant people always post ignorant, uneducated answers. Everyone is entitled to all basic care. DOC's interpretation of basic care does not meet the legal requirements. They will let you die before they will call for medical or allow you to go see medical. Even then the DR's can't make medical decisions on what your treatment needs to be. You have nurse managers making those decisions based on written protocol. The inmates can't even have a bandaid without medical approval. Otherwise it's considered contraband. Oregon DOC does not provide appropriate medical or care to the inmates. The food they consume says on the packaging "not for human consumption" or is rotting and years past the pull dates. No one deserves that. We treat illegal aliens who come here better than the prisoners. Even though they are here "illegally" they get free health care, free food, free housing, and work and/or deal drugs. Fraudulently falsify tax returns to get earned income credit and other tax credits with spouses and children to get free government money for taxes they never paid. That's where the cutbacks need to be and our own people need to be taken care of. This guy shouldn't even be in jail let alone prison for some bull$**t charge. The inmates are beaten and thrown in the hole by officers you get the thrill from bullying others. Do you think some of these murders weren't coerced by people on the inside or outside? Oregon DOC has been crooked for a long time and anyone who tries to make any changes ends up dead, missing, or in prison themselves to live a life of hell. It's been going on for years. Mysterious circumstances on LB Day dying, Michael Franke and possibly an innocent person sits in prison for a crime they didn't committ, other people who came up missing or dead. People need to quit ignoring or pretending things aren't happening that are. We live in a world now of everything only being positive so we don't deal with reality or have cop out excuses. Time for all the drones to wake up and figure out what's going on in this state and country. If things keep going the way they are NONE of us will have any rights.

COLLI May 6, 2012 6:50 am (Pacific time)

DJ: Could the Bill of Rights pass untouched through the Congress we currently have? Are you kidding? The greedy, self-centered vultures who populate Congress would use every element as barter components in order to get more funds for re-election. I do not for one minute believe that the constitution (with or without the Bill of Rights) has meaning to the vast majority of Congressional Representatives or Senators. They will always put re-election before the people or the country. If you were trying to find a visual definition for the word GREED, you would need look no further than the U.S. Congress. However, in my opinion, what you see now is not what those who framed the government and/or the constitution intended. What you see in place, running our country right now, is little more than a very sick joke. It is an excellent example of greed running wild and unchecked. Where so many U.S. citizens go awry is that they focus on the lip-service rendered rather than the deeds done. Remember, ethics is a dirty word in U.S. Politics and lying is simply a tool of the trade. I love my country Daniel and I find the way you have spoken of it in the past angers me but you are 100% correct when you say that the government is broken. Common sense no longer tempers decisions being made. I do not believe that armed insurrection is the answer though . . . at least not until every other effort has failed and every other avenue has been tried.

COLLI May 5, 2012 1:30 pm (Pacific time)

One would think that would be the case but with individuals promoting throwing selected portions of the bill of rights into the trash, it is hard to tell!

My conclusion is that the Bill of Rights is a personalized document, i.e., some people accept some tenets, but disavow others. I think that there is a minority of people who would say they accept all the amendments. Republicans, particularly Tea Party types, from the public comments they make are demonstratively selective on the points they actually accept. 

Give me your opinion on this: Do you think that the Bill of Rights, as currently written, could pass both houses and be adopted without changes? My understanding of American politics suggests they could not. 

COLLI May 5, 2012 5:27 am (Pacific time)

Has anyone approached the Federal government about the number and frequency of the human rights abuses perpetrated by the prison system in Oregon? Why do the Feds continue to turn a blind-eye to such atrocities? Oh . . . that's right . . . this is an election year and they are all too busy soliciting re-election donations while this man is refused treatment! It appears that those politicians in Washington who might exert some control in this case are no better than the callous individuals calling the shots in the Oregon prison system.

DJ: With so many people supporting the Bill of Rights, this should not be an issue, right?

Anonymous May 4, 2012 6:56 pm (Pacific time)

Pretty funny. It's illegal for your convenience only. Mexicans who jump the border are illegals, no big deal, we just ignore it. The President does a lot of illegal stuff, no big deal, we just ignore it. Drugs are illegal, no big deal everybody who wantsit gets it. Everything what is legal becomes illegal these days. How many people will die because they don't get the medical they deserve. Welcome Obama Care that is exactly what's going to happen.

Amanda Black May 4, 2012 6:40 pm (Pacific time)

It is outrageous, that these institutions can do whatever they please, and ignore a persons human right to healthcare and a human right to equal justice. That is what this country is supposed to be all about, Instead it deprives us of equality and justice.

Anonymous May 4, 2012 1:25 pm (Pacific time)

Ok your bleeding hearts. Why should my hard working tax dollars pay for his medical bills or any other scumbag prisoner? He made a choice and ended up in prison. We end millions every year for these dirtbags on food, medical, dental, TV's, sporting equipment. Take it all away from them. Let their families pay the bills. Take out all the exercise equipment and TV's and put them to work, 14 hour a day. Make them work for the free stuff they get. Don't do the crime if you can't take the time. Be more responsible. It's there fault that they are in prison. If they were out they would get the medical attention they need.

Editor: This guy was willing to do his time, but you think he should die?  What if it was your grandson? Huh? Would that be OK, what if the guy was your little brother?  You must be either very cold or perhaps you're one of the guys at OSP, it doesn't matter, what is taking place is dark and wrong, and ILLEGAL.

Summer May 4, 2012 6:35 am (Pacific time)

Thank you for calling attention to this outrage! Something has to be done for this man and others like him.

Richard L. Matteoli May 4, 2012 4:37 am (Pacific time)

This very much sounds like a case of Deliberate Indifference. Tim: Check the Lagal chapter of my Munchausen book. There is a reference with an Endnote that gives the book writen for the Federal Government on Inmate Rights.

Tim King: I will do that Richard, thank you very much.

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