A Nassau County jail inmate died in custody Saturday, according to her attorney, who said the 58-year-old Amityville woman complained she hadn’t gotten blood pressure medication from the facility’s medical provider for multiple days after her arrest despite court officials putting treatment requests on the record.
Elizabeth Stenson, who pleaded not guilty May 19 to murder charges from a 2016 double vehicular fatality in Hicksville, hadn’t gotten follow-up care from medical personnel or any medication for five days following her initial jail booking, her attorney, William Kephart of Garden City, told Newsday.
Law enforcement sources confirmed Stenson’s death in jail custody.
Armor Correctional Health Services, the jail’s embattled medical provider, issued a statement about the case on Sunday.
“The facts and representations stated are extremely inaccurate,” Armor spokeswoman Yeleny Suarez said in the statement.
Citing medical confidentiality laws, Suarez said Armor cannot disclose specifics of medical matters involving a patient unless the family issues a waiver.
County officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The custody death follows a series of other inmate fatalities at Nassau’s jail during Armor’s tenure, and comes the same week that the county legislature’s Republican-controlled Rules Committee renewed the vendor’s contract at a hefty raise for a three-month period.
Stenson was found unresponsive in her cell around 5:30 a.m. Saturday and CPR was performed before she was taken to Nassau University Medical Center, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the case told Newsday. Stenson died at the hospital around 3 p.m., according to law enforcement sources.
Kephart said he last saw Stenson in Nassau County Court on Tuesday for a bail hearing. At that time, his client told him she had seen no one from Armor and had gotten no medication after her May 19 jail intake.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter had specified at Stenson’s May 19 arraignment that she was to receive medical care as necessary after Kephart said in court then that his client had medical issues that included high blood pressure.
“I know for sure she didn’t get five days of blood pressure medication,” Kephart said Saturday.
Kephart said a friend who visited Stenson in the East Meadow jail on Wednesday said the inmate indicated at that time that she had gotten some medication that morning. But the Garden City attorney told Newsday he had no confirmation of that and didn’t know if she received the proper dosages or the even right prescriptions.
A state oversight agency has found Armor provided inadequate care in connection with the deaths of at least five Nassau inmates since the company first won a contract in mid-2011.
Four federal lawsuits against Armor and the county involving inmate fatalities are ongoing, after a jury’s nearly $8 million April verdict following a veteran’s 2012 jail suicide.
The state attorney general sued Armor last year, before settling the claim that alleged deficient inmate care by fining the company $350,000 and banning the company from New York contract bids for three years.
County Executive Edward Mangano sent a proposal for Armor’s recently approved contract extension to the legislature after no qualified vendors answered a second request for bids for a new jail medical contract.
The county legislature’s minority party leader, Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), has accused Armor of “price-gouging” and called the contract extension proposal “an astronomical amount of money to pay for a provider that is inadequate.”
But he also has said the county was “stuck basically” with Armor, “because the administration has handled this so poorly.”
Mangano officials are now in negotiations with Nassau University Medical Center to take over the jail’s medical contract and have said Armor’s contract extension will fill the gap before the hospital starts providing inmate care.Armor, which has defended its operations, had sued the county in an attempt to enforce its May 31 contract end date. The company then agreed to the contract extension — at a 66 percent increase of its monthly rate — after saying it was only doing so to “ensure there is continuity of patient care.”