Mich. appeals after inmate gets inflatable air mattress

Inmate says he needs the device for his pain, DOC says he needs medication and exercise

By C1 Staff

KINGSLEY, Mich. — The Michigan Department of Corrections is appealing a ruling that allows an inmate to have an inflatable air mattress to help with his hip pain.

MLive.com reports that Richard Boone II, an inmate at the Pugsley Correctional Facility, had used an air mattress until March 5, 2012, when a nurse told him he would no longer be able to use it.

Boone had suffered serious hip injuries in separate crashes before he was locked up for armed robbery and assault with intent to cause great bodily harm.

He paid to be transported from the prison to the hospital for hip-replacement surgery.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow granted an injunction ordering the state to provide Boone with an air mattress. He also ordered the state to return his knee brace.

Boone’s attorney, Geoffrey Weed, said the air mattress is a medical necessity because Boon has “ongoing agony.” A surgeon also deemed the air mattress “medically necessary.”

Weed said his client has made it clear he considered suicide because of the pain without his air mattress.

At the hearing, Boone contended that both his air mattress and knee brace were removed in retaliation for the many grievances he filed against medical workers.

The DOC provided a six-month special accommodation, ending March 5, 2012, for a knee brace, air mattress and pillow to put between his legs while sleeping.

Boone’s complaints in late 2013 were back and knee pain, according to Assistant Attorney General James Farrell.

Prison officials said the accommodation wasn’t renewed because they were not medically necessary. Boone has been prescribed Tylenol, which the state says he refuses to take, and a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug for his back.

They believe Boon needs to lose weight and exercise his back muscles.

Farrell said the items were actually hurting Boone’s recovery. He said “medical people from top to bottom,” including the DOC’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jeffrey Stieve, have reviewed Boone’s treatment plan. Boone is under close care of a prison physician and sees a nurse twice a day to receive medication.

Farrell also said the only evidence that Boone needs the devices comes from Boone himself.

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