A coalition of Alabama pastors is calling on Gov. Kay Ivey to do something about the health of Kastellio Vaughan, whose condition while incarcerated within an Alabama prison went viral and sparked outrage last month.
Vaughan, 32, is currently serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted in 2019 of breaking into multiple vehicles and a burglary. The viral photo shows Vaughan looking almost skeletal in a cell.
“Mr. Vaughan’s health situation is deplorable. He is in dire need of comprehensive health care that our state’s corrections system cannot provide,” said Daniel Schwartz, executive director of Faith in Action Alabama. “On top of that, our state’s corrections system is an abomination. Due to systemic failures, the lives of incarcerated individuals are put at great risk daily. Alabama’s corrections system is falling woefully short of helping prepare incarcerated individuals to flourish after completing their sentences. We are long overdue for an overhaul of Alabama’s corrections system. The God of Creation teaches us that we are all the Divine One’s children. Thus, there is not just a constitutional imperative, but also a faith imperative to fundamentally address the horrific conditions that plague our state’s correction system.”
The Alabama Department of Corrections said Vaughan opted twice to be discharged, against medical advice, following surgeries for complications from a gunshot wound.
“The ADOC offers medical assessment and treatment to all inmates but does not force them to accept that care,’’ said ADOC officials in a statement.
Vaughan’s family say he was in a delirious state when he refused medical treatment.
In addition to getting help for Vaughan, the pastors called on Ivey to make systemic change.
“We must hear the cries of our incarcerated brothers and sisters. Our state’s corrections system denigrates their humanity on a daily basis,” said Bishop George D. Crenshaw, presiding prelate of the Alabama – Florida District of the A.M.E. Zion Church. “Building new prisons is not a way to address this crisis. Our state’s corrections places the lives of our incarcerated individuals at risk and are doing nothing to make our communities safer. The God of Justice demands much more from our government officials, specifically Gov. Ivey. We must invest our resources to promote peace and honor and protect life. Our state’s corrections systems profoundly defames these faith teachings.”
The conditions in Alabama prisons, already the subject of a federal lawsuit, sparked a strike over recent weeks by prisoners in facilities across the state who have refused to carry out their jobs in the prisons.