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 Artola's pleas and those of his cell mate, relatives and friends, the 64-year-old diabetic was never taken to a hospital. An autopsy on March 14 found that Artola died from COVID-19, which caused his lungs to fill with fluid.
Those results seem at odds with the medical entries recorded at the prison. And even if Artola's vital signs were as good as indicated in the prison reports, three consecutive days of being unable to keep down food or water should have been indication enough for an evaluation at a hospital.
In addition, there was a language barrier that was never addressed. A native of El Salvador, Artola spoke little English. Yet, no interpreter was provided during medical checks. One of the medical reports indicated language was an issue. Any doctor will say that the most and best medical information comes from the patient.
There's a lot to unpack here, and investigative reporter Nora Eckert does a fantastic job of peeling away the layers in her exclusive Post Bulletin report.
At the most basic level, Artola had the right to live, and that right appears to have been denied. A convicted sex offender, Artola was not a sympathetic character. But the sentence for that crime is loss of liberty, not loss of life. What he experienced during the last 10 days of his life is tantamount 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 guarantee just and humane treatment of all its prisoners.