Large avatar chuniecepatterson

Chuneice Patterson, 21
Syracuse, New York
November 12, 2009

Agencies: Onondaga County Jail New York | Commission of Correction New York | New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

Last updated: over 1 year ago

Summary Help icon

Chuneice Patterson was 21 years old when she found out she was two months pregnant. She was in the Onondaga County Justice Center, in Syracuse, New York: “The Onondaga County Justice Center, located in Syracuse, New York, is a “New Generation”, direct-supervision, maximum-security facility designed with state-of-the-art technology. The basic mission of this facility is to safely and securely house arrested, pre-trial, and Federal, State, and County inmates awaiting transfer to correctional facilities with an intention to positively impact those who are incarcerated and, consequently, our community.”

When Chuneice Patterson was processed, on November 10, she complained of stomach cramps. Her pregnancy was noted in her medical record at the jail. In the next day, nurses visited her three times. Although her pregnancy was on the record, no tests were requested: “Around 6 p.m. on November 11, inmates at the Onondaga County correctional facility told officers that Patterson had been vomiting in her cell. A nurse was called to check on her, no vital signs were taken. A few hours later, Patterson was lying on the floor in her underwear complaining she didn’t feel well and was hot. The same nurse was called again, and again she left without following proper protocol for examining a pregnant inmate. For the next nine hours, deputies saw Patterson rolling around on the floor of her cell, making noises and even splashing water from the toilet on her face before hitting the emergency button when she said she could not breathe.”

Here’s how the New York State Commission of Correction concludes the story: “Chuneice Patterson was a twenty-one year old black woman who died on 11/12/09 at 8:30 a.m. from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy while in the custody of the Onondaga County Sherriff at the Onondaga County Justice Center….Had Ms. Patterson received adequate and competent medical care, her death would have been prevented.”

A local news agency reported the same event: “Chuneice Patterson died from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and as the commission’s investigation shows she spent hours in agony begging for care.”

The same thing happened in 1996: “Patterson was the second inmate to die from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy in the past 14 years. In the previous case, the Commission of Correction found that three nurses and a doctor at the jail repeatedly failed to monitor inmate Lucinda Batts’ worsening condition before she collapsed and died from an ectopic pregnancy. Her death in March 1996 could have been prevented with proper medical care at the jail, the state found.”

The Justice Center is the state of the art of community. Chuneice Patterson had an emergency button, which she had the right to press. She did not have the right or power to expect a response.

Adam Montoya and Chuneice Patterson died in agony and left to their parents agony as their estate. These two stories together tell us that we, we who read the stories, we who comment on and discuss and share the stories, and we who choose to ignore the stories, we live in an Age of Agony. It is the state-of-the-art technology of our community. It is how we make prisoners die.

The Post-Standard story describes the report made by the guard, Deputy Diane Stech, of her repeated visits to the dying woman's cell:

The first time, Patterson obeyed Stech's order to get up, the report said. Fifteen minutes later, Patterson was on the floor again, leaning on the toilet and splashing water in her face, Stech wrote. The deputy told her to stop and Patterson rolled onto the floor, the report said.

At 7:30 a.m., Stech found Patterson on the floor again. The deputy went into the cell, saw the plastic cup in the toilet and removed it, the report said. "I looked down at inmate Patterson, again told inmate to get off the floor," Stech wrote. "It looked as if the inmate looked at me. I continued with my tour."

Inmate Rhonda Dunn said she saw Patterson through her cell window. Patterson was lying on the floor, Dunn said. She'd heard Patterson moaning all night, and watched her writhing in pain, Dunn said. "I was like, 'Miss Diane, get over there!'" Dunn said she told Stech.

On her last visit to Patterson's cell, Stech found her unresponsive, the report said. Stech called in other deputies and medical workers, who tried to revive her, the records show.

Legal Action Help icon

December 2012 Onondaga County has admitted its employees’ negligence caused the death of a jail inmate three years ago from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

Community and Family Efforts Help icon

#sayhername

September 2010 Protest