Former Inmate Talks About Scabies, CoreCivic's Response

Posted at 10:39 AM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 12:30:31-04

A former CoreCivic inmate, who was infected with scabies, said detention center employees would not give her prescribed medicine for the infectious mite.

It was four months into Wendy Snead's five-month sentence for a DUI conviction when she first started showing signs of the infection. Snead noticed a red bump, possibly a bite, on her forearm.

Within several days, that bite turned into about 100 more. Snead said she made a medical request and said it took two weeks to see the center's medical staff. Initially, she was told it might be the soap she was using. 

"We were told that it was chiggers, mold, lots of different things until I had called home crying and complaining and asking them to do something because I wasn't going to get anything done," Snead said.

Eventually Snead was sent to an outside dermatologist who she said diagnosed her with scabies, an infectious mite that feeds under the skin of its hosts - laying eggs which hatch and then erupt from the surface of the skin. The infection rarely has any long term effects and is treatable through prescription medication.

However, Snead said she has scars on her skin because of her infection.

After Snead returned to the jail, she said she was kept in isolation from the rest of the inmates. During that time, Snead said she was denied one of her two prescribed medications from the doctor. She was given a pill meant to paralyze living scabies mites under and on top of her skin, but a topical cream called Permethrin, meant to kill scabies larva, was not given to her during the final 10 days of her sentence.

"Because the prescriptions were not filled, I was told they would follow their protocol. In which case was to put me in segregation and wait to be treated with their protocol," Snead said.

Snead said their protocol involved putting on a topical cream that had nothing to do with scabies. She said she was denied showers for days and could not make any phone calls.

"It's very, very itchy. You can't sleep. It spreads. It's frightening because it spreads at a pretty fast rate," Snead said. "Poison ivy on steroids. It's terrible. It's terrible."

When Snead was released on May 30, she went immediately to the emergency room and the doctor gave her the Permethrin on the spot.

"I just want to understand why. What would be their reasoning for not treating this? What would be their reasoning for letting it get out of hand," Snead asked. "I just want to understand. I want to understand why they wouldn't help."

Snead is now part of a class action lawsuit against CoreCivic along with several Metro City employees who claim they came in contact with inmates from the detention facility and were also infected with scabies. 

On Wednesday, Jonathan Burns, CoreCivic Director of Public Affairs, released the following statement:

"As we've previously stated, while we do not comment on pending litigation, the health and safety of our staff, community and those entrusted to our care is our top priority.

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and the Metro Public Health Department were notified of the issue from the start and have been engaged every step of the way. We’re following all protocols and guidelines to mitigate the issue."

(NOTE: The images used in this story and video are not actual images of Snead's rashes. The images are meant as examples only.)