How are suspected criminals given hospital treatment?
February 24, 2009 11:10 AM   Subscribe

What would happen to a suspect who was seriously injured while being arrested? Would they be treated in a regular hospital while under guard?

If there are any police officers or lawyers or criminals on AskMetaFilter (and I know there are), could someone please detail for me what the process is?

I just want to know if my assumption is correct - that the suspect would be treated in a hospital for their injuries under police supervision, and then any recovery time would also be under strict police guard.

But also, are patients/suspects put in a special area of the hospital? Are they restrained in any way (handcuffed to the bed, eg)? How many guards are assigned to the suspect? Are there any other complicating factors I'm not thinking of?
posted by Bobby Bittman to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
from what I have seen with no knowledge of official policy but they are usually handcuffed to the bed for triage and if ambulatory, recover in the jail cell.
posted by kanemano at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2009

In the UK they are treated in a regular hospital with two or more guards, and they are handcuffed whenever possible.
posted by fire&wings at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2009

I was hospitalized for some time about ten years ago, and I remember at one end of my floor, on a dead end corridor, there were armed guards since the last couple rooms were prisoners who were hospitalized for one reason or another.
posted by Kellydamnit at 11:31 AM on February 24, 2009

Some prisons have hospital wings.

I don't think there's any single answer to your question. It would depend on where you're talking about, for one thing, and it would depend on the details, and seriousness, of the wounds or injuries.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:37 AM on February 24, 2009

My mom, as a CCU nurse in a small town, frequently treated criminals who were handcuffed and shackled to their beds with guard(s). The injuries were usually sustained during the arrest (or what led up to the arrest).

That said, the specifics you're asking about (how many guards, segregated from the rest of the patients, etc) would very much depend on the situation and the capacity of the hospital. In a large enough city, I imagine there are prison hospitals as well.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:41 AM on February 24, 2009

Like all questions related to the law/criminal justice system, the correct answer is -- it depends. It depends on the state, jurisdiction, and agency involved. In this case, it also would depend on the extent of the injuries.

Regardless, generally speaking, you are correct. If a person is injured during an arrest to the extent they require immediate medical attention, then that person is provided with the most immediate medical attention available. In short, the police officers on scene will provide first aid until EMTs arrive to transport the patient/arrestee to the nearest hospital.

The person will remain hospitalized until doctors authorize release (technically a judge could order transport to another facility, but great deference is given to the doctors for obvious reasons). While remaining in the hospital the patient/arrestee will be in a private room, in the custody of the arresting agency or correctional facility (usually one officer outside room), and restrained to the extent necessary (usually handcuffed to the bed).

About the only complicating factor that you left out is court proceedings. Most states require arraignment on criminal charges within 48 hours. If the patient/arrestee is unable to be transported to court, the arraignment will occur bedside with the necessary parties (judge, DA, court steno, defense attorney) traveling to the hospital to participate. It is at this point that the judge will make the decision as to whether the patient/arrestee will remain under guard. More simply put, if the judge sets bail the patient/arrestee stays under guard, if the judge releases him/her under their own recognizance, guard is no longer required.
posted by Mr. X at 11:47 AM on February 24, 2009

I just asked the parole officer who sits next to me.

In Philly, the suspect would be transported to the nearest hospital and there would be either a police officer or a prison gaurd posted at the door. If the suspect is ambulatory he will be handcuffed to the bed. Upon release from the hospital, he'll be transported to prison where he'll be kept in the medically fragile ward. In the Philadelphia prison system there are a number of prisons clustered on one campus in the northeast of the city. Separate from the central prison unit, Curran Fromhold (CFCF), is the Detention Center, a smaller prison where prisoners with medical complications are held.
posted by The Straightener at 11:50 AM on February 24, 2009

I work at a hospital in Oregon, and the process is pretty much the same as The Straightener described. An officer stays with the inmate throughout the process. At my particular hospital, there aren't any special, dedicated areas for inmates.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:00 PM on February 24, 2009

^ We sing songs and wave the keys to the leathers in the air.

And.... as above. It depends on the injury. In hospital, there's always at least one guard (we keep them supplied with coffee), and restraints are used if deemed necessary.
posted by reflecked at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2009

Most of these answers are correct in that they describe official police procedures, which are similar in most jurisdictions. Laws in nearly all free and democratic nations require the prompt provision of necessary medical care to people in police custody.

In practice, however, a lot of people do not receive necessary medical attention upon arrest. Police sometimes either suspect that they are faking injury or illness to avoid going to jail (because some people do that) or do not want to have to explain how the injuries were sustained if they fear that they might be responsible. It's a hassle to take someone to the hospital, and sometimes officers just want to avoid the hassle. It's not right, and it's not legal, but it happens. You can find a lot of accounts of people who have been arrested or imprisoned who were denied what was later determined to be necessary medical treatment. I can't speak to the extent of the problem, but it's definitely a problem.
posted by decathecting at 1:24 PM on February 24, 2009

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