A detainee was forced to endure an almost three-week journey between Virginia and Texas in a privately-owned prisoner transport van. A lawsuit alleges he was denied medication, inadequately fed, and forced to sit in human waste.
Edward Kovari was arrested in Winchester, Virginia, in 2016 on suspicion of stealing a car in Houston. While his charges were later dropped, a lawsuit filed in Virginia alleges that Kovari suffered inhumane conditions while en route to Houston, a violation of his 14th Amendment rights, reported the Washington Post.
The van, operated by Prisoner Transportation Services, stopped several times in seven states to pick up more prisoners. The normally 20-hour journey took 18 days.
Kovari was shackled tightly in chains, and denied his prescription medication for hypertension. When the van arrived in Houston, Kovari was unable to walk and his blood pressure was above 200, the lawsuit alleges.
Throughout the journey, cramped conditions meant that Kovari could not sleep for days on end. Water was rationed and detainees were occasionally fed fast food. In lieu of bathroom breaks, the prisoners were instructed to urinate in bottles or defecate in their clothes.
Kovari’s calls for medical attention were ignored, and he was threatened with tasing for causing a disturbance, the suit alleges.
Prisoner Transportation Services is America’s largest for-profit extradition company. Picking up as many prisoners in the same journey allows companies like this to maximize profits. Tens of thousands of prisoners are packed into vans every year, and multiple deaths and injuries have occured in these “mobile jails.”