Man in Oregon federal prison dies as conditions questioned


SHERIDAN, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said this week that a 42-year-old man incarcerated at the Sheridan Federal Correctional Institution in Oregon died, possibly from medical complications.

On Aug. 12, Ikaika Ryan Chung was taken to a hospital for low blood pressure, low blood sugar and elevated heart rate, prison officials said in a statement. He was pronounced dead there.

Chung’s death comes amid serious concerns raised about the overall health and medical care of the more than 1,200 men serving sentences inside Oregon’s only federal prison, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“Mentally and physically, inmates are suffering,” Oregon’s federal public defender Lisa Hay wrote in a document she filed in federal court Friday, the day after Chung’s death. “Some have died.”

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons said previously the agency “does not comment on pending litigation or matters subject to legal proceedings.”

In her court filing, Hay detailed a number of troubling accounts her office has received this month from people “begging for help, for themselves and others.”

On Aug. 12, Oregon’s federal public defender’s office received an email from a person incarcerated at Sheridan.

Hay confirmed to OPB the redacted person’s name in her court filing was Chung.

“inmate (redacted) has a medical problem where he is delirious, cant walk cuz his legs are swollen beyond the scope of ‘normal edema’, he has spoke to multiple staff … and they are refusing to do ANYTHING to change his current medical status. he NEEDS HELP,” the email to Hay’s office said.

Chung arrived at the medium security facility Dec. 16, 2019 after pleading guilty to a conspiracy charge involving a drug case and was sentenced to 10 years.

According to the Bureau of Prisons, Chung tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 29, 2020 and was placed in medical isolation and monitored. On Jan. 25, Chung “was converted to a status of recovered,” officials said.

As of Wednesday, Sheridan listed 30 positive cases of COVID-19 inside the facility. That’s the federal prison system’s second largest outbreak in the country behind a facility in Florida.

Hay has asked a federal judge to order an inspection of the prison and regular updates about vaccination rates of Sheridan staff, length of time inmates are confined to their cells and a person to help staff and inmates communicate concerns.


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