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Hunger strike leads to prisoner death at Kentucky State Penitentiary


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One prison doctor has been fired and two other are under investigation in the death of an inmate, 57-year-old James Kenneth Embry, at the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

Embry stopped taking his anti-anxiety medication in May 2013. Seven months later, he told the prison psychologist, Jean Hinkebein, that he felt anxious and paranoid on and requested that he be given his medication. Hinkebein denied Embry’s request on Dec. 3, concluding that the patient didn’t have any significant mental health issues.

Seven days later, Embry was observed banging his head against a wall and was moved to an observation room. Although he was refusing meals, nurses took him off hunger strike watch when he was observed drinking tea.

Embry was described as weak and shaky by a nurse on Jan. 4., but an advanced registered nurse, Bob Wilkinson, denied the request to move him to the infirmary 11:51 a.m. Embry was found unresponsive in his cell and pronounced dead at 5:29 p.m.

Embry had just three months left on a nine-month drug charge. He refused 35 of his last 36 meals and lost more than 30 pounds before his death.

Hiland, the lead physician has since been fired, Hinkebein, the psychologist, and nurse Wilkinson are under investigation.

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