Jefferson: County officials confirm they had previous jail complaints

PORT HADLOCK — Jefferson County administrators confirmed Wednesday that they had received complaints regarding health care at the Jefferson County jail prior to a lawsuit being filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“We have had two complaints filed in the last year,” County Administrator Charles Saddler said Wednesday. “It appeared that they were satisfactorily resolved.”

At least one of those complaints was filed by Port Townsend physician Ann Biedel, who later contacted the ACLU with allegations that prisoners — particularly those with mental-health problems — were being denied their medication at the jail, 81 Elkins Road.

Although Saddler downplayed the allegations, Jefferson County Commissioner Richard Wojt, D-Port Townsend, said health care issues at the jail raised by Biedel and others have been an ongoing concern.

Biedel’s allegation and efforts on behalf of inmate patients appear to be the centerpiece of a 12-page lawsuit filed by the ACLU in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Monday.

Biedel said at least 20 patients she treated, all with mental-health disorders, had been denied medications.

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