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Scandals continue to pile up around Alabama prisons after a Facebook post raised more questions about its treatment of inmates.

Last week, photos showing a prisoner appearing to be in extremely poor health resulted in backlash from the public. While the man's family claims he was denied appropriate care, the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) said the man refused his own medical treatment.

Several photos were uploaded to Facebook on September 23 depicting Elmore Correctional Facility prisoner Demarcus Vaughan, also known as Kastellio, in declining condition. The images were compared to a photo of Vaughan taken in July.

Vaughan is serving a 20-year sentence for multiple car break-ins and burglary. 

ADOC officials told 1819 News that Vaughan signed the Inmate Authorization for Release of Health Records, allowing the ADOC to disclose additional details about his medical history.

They said Vaughan was admitted to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery for a bowel obstruction on August 5. 

There, he underwent surgery due to a complication from a previous gunshot. He was readmitted on September 3 for post-surgical complications.

The ADOC said Vaughan opted both times to be discharged from the hospital against medical advice and refused to take medication. He also repeatedly refused medical assessment and treatment while back in ADOC custody. 

The ADOC said it couldn't force its inmates to receive medical care.

According to reports, Vaughan and his family hired attorneys Lee Merritt, Ben Crump and Harry Daniels on Friday to face the ADOC in court.

More on the ADOC's plate

Outcry from prison opposition groups and inmates over prison conditions sparked an inmate worker strike on Monday, led by an organization called Both Sides of the Wall.

Reports said around 80 members of Both Sides of the Wall held a rally outside the ADOC office in Montgomery to call for prison reform. The group included family members of inmates as well as former inmates.

The strike is not directly related to Vaughan.

But controversy is nothing new for the Alabama prison system. 

In 2020, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against the state of Alabama concerning poor prison sanitation, violence between inmates and excessive force from staff and sexual assault.

The lawsuit resulted from a multi-year investigation conducted by the DOJ Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Northern, Middle and Southern districts of Alabama.

In October, Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation authorizing the ADOC to build two new 4,000-bed mega prisons to address the issues. Though the plan faced political and economic obstacles, it secured a $509 million bond deal in July.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email will.blakely@1819news.com or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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