By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

An inmate at the Trousdale Turner Correctional Center who was part of a class-action lawsuit over treatment of diabetic prisoners died in March of a drug overdose, according to an autopsy report released by the state last week.

John Randall Young, 56, was among six inmates who filed a lawsuit accusing CoreCivic, which operates the Hartsville prison, of putting the health of diabetics at risk by providing unhealthy food, unpredictable meal times and inconsistent access to insulin shots.

Young died on March 15 after being found unresponsive in his cell by guards, according to the report. He was transported to Trousdale Medical Center and was declared dead shortly thereafter.

The state medical examiner’s office reported the cause of death as acute combined drug toxicity, citing methamphetamine, olanzapine (used to treat schizophrenia/bipolar) and mirtazapine (antidepressant) in his blood.

Chris Gregory / Hartsville Vidette

The report also notes a past history of heart problems, stroke and lung cancer for Young.

The class-action lawsuit filed by prisoners claims that Trousdale Turner is regularly understaffed, putting diabetic inmates at risk. Inmates claim that understaffing causes the prison to often go into lockdown and they are forced to wait hours for insulin shots and that those shots sometimes never arrive.

The lawsuit was filed by six prisoners, of which three have been removed from the case. In addition to Young’s death, a federal judge dismissed the claims of inmate Richard Little in May because he is no longer incarcerated. Another plaintiff, Tazarius Leach, left the class-action case to pursue his own individual case. The remaining plaintiffs are Jasper Vick, Edward Judd and Douglas Dodson.

CoreCivic declined to discuss the specifics of the lawsuit but has previously said it is committed to “high-quality healthcare” for inmates and “appropriate levels of staffing” in the prisons it operates.

In other court filings, CoreCivic has claimed inmates are to blame for their poor health, citing a documented record of refusing insulin, using drugs and buying sugary snacks at the prison store in “willful non-compliance” with a diabetic diet.

CoreCivic has a five-year, $276 million contract to run Trousdale Turner, a 2,552-bed medium security prison in Hartsville. Allegations of understaffing and poor medical treatment have been a consistent issue since the facility opened in 2016 and were among the subjects of hearings by the state legislature last year.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff reports