US Marijuana Party

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cruel & Unusual

The News Journal, Delaware

Anthony Pierce was known to cellmates as "the brother with two heads."

Pierce was serving 14 months for a parole violation stemming from a burglary charge at the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown when a small lump appeared on the back of his head. It was January 2001 and a prison doctor employed by a private medical contractor said the marble-size lump was most likely a cyst or an ingrown hair.

Seven months later, when the growth had become like a second head, Delaware's contract prison medical director, Dr. Keith Ivens of Correctional Medical Services, stabbed the bulging tumor five times with an 18-gauge needle, withdrawing a bloody fluid.

Rather than keeping the sample for analysis, Ivens emptied the syringe into a trash can, according to Michelle Thomas, a former prison counselor who was holding Pierce's hand during the examination.

The News Journal gained access to Pierce's medical file through his family, and there was no record of a biopsy performed before cancer ate into the 21-year-old's skull.

Asked about the case in a telephone interview, Ivens said, "I'm trying to remember who Anthony Pierce is." He declined to comment further.

Near the end of Pierce's life, the tumor stretched the skin around his face, pulling his right eye closed, causing muscle spasms and crippling pain. The medical staff still ordered no tests or treatments, claims a lawsuit that Pierce's family filed against Ivens, CMS and the state of Delaware.


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