Victor Artola died in his prison cell on March 13, 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19, and after three days of vomiting.
Despite the pleas of Artola and those of his cellmate, relatives and friends, the 64-year-old diabetic was never taken to hospital. A March 14 autopsy revealed that Artola had died of COVID-19, which caused his lungs to fill with fluid.
These results seem to contradict the medical entries recorded at the prison. And even if Artola’s vital signs were as good as those shown in prison reports, three consecutive days of inability to keep food or water should have been sufficient indication for a hospital assessment. .
In addition, there was a language barrier that was never lifted. Originally from El Salvador, Artola spoke little English. However, no interpreter was provided during the medical checks. One of the medical reports indicated that the tongue was a problem. Any doctor will say that most and the best medical information comes from the patient.
There’s a lot to unbox here, and investigative journalist Nora Eckert does a fantastic job peeling back the layers in her exclusive Post Bulletin report.
At the most basic level, Artola had the right to live, and that right seems to have been denied. A convicted sex offender, Artola was not a likeable character. But the penalty for this crime is the loss of freedom, not death. What he experienced during the last 10 days of his life amounts to torture; something you might read about life in the Middle Ages.
The Minnesota Department of Corrections has an obligation to improve its policies and procedures and to ensure fair and humane treatment for all of its prisoners.