Inmate blames DOC official, officer for his disability

Jesse James Babauta Camacho blames two Department of Corrections employees for his disability, saying they allegedly deliberately delayed his medical treatment last November.

In a handwritten letter dated Feb. 9, 2018, that was filed in the court docket yesterday, Camacho, a DOC inmate, appealed to the U.S. District Court for the NMI for a hearing on his complaint.

Camacho, who underwent heart surgery last November, said a DOC official and officer should be held responsible because it’s been a practice at DOC to always deny and delay the inmates’ medical needs.

The inmate said he can’t pay a lawyer to represent him in his complaint.

Saipan Tribune was still trying to contact the DOC official and officer yesterday for comments; their names are being withheld for now.

In his letter, Camacho said he was brought to the Commonwealth Health Center’s emergency room last Aug. 30 for chest pain and breathing difficulty. A doctor reportedly later attributed it to anxiety, saying nothing could be done for him. Camacho wonders how the doctor reached the diagnosis without even conducting a test on him.

He said he again experienced chest pain and breathing difficulty at his cell the following day. Camacho said he asked to be taken to the hospital, but, per the DOC official’s instruction, he would be taken to the Commonwealth Health Center the following day. He said he called his aunt to plead for him to be taken to the hospital. He said his aunt later told him that a DOC officer stated that he had already been taken to the hospital the night before.

Camacho said he told his aunt it was a lie because he was never taken to the hospital the night before.

Camacho said medics checked him and recommended to two DOC officers that he should be taken to the hospital.

He said the two officers, however, were told by the other DOC officer that there would be no hospital run and that he would just be given a nebulizer.

Camacho said that, as his pain was getting worse, he called the main control officer at DOC. He said the DOC official told the officer to take him out for fresh air and that they would call the medics again. Camacho said he called his aunt again to beg for DOC to take him to the hospital. He said his aunt told him that no one was picking up the phone at DOC’s main control.

Camacho said at 7pm that same day, he talked with two DOC officers and asked that he be taken to the hospital. He said the two officers noticed he looked so pale. He said he then blacked out.

Camacho said he was taken to the hospital’s emergency room, where a doctor told him he had a heart attack.

Camacho said he was transferred to the intensive care unit where he stayed for three days.

He said a doctor told him he had a major heart attack and that he needs to see a heart specialist in the Philippines.

Camacho said the doctor told his escorting officer that his heart attack could have been prevented if he was taken to the hospital immediately when he first complained of chest pain last Aug. 31.

He said the Office of the Attorney General stated that he could not be taken to the Philippines as there is no U.S prison facility there. He said a doctor recommended that he see a heart specialist in Hawaii, but a medical referral officer told him last Oct. 3 that he can’t be sent to Hawaii as there is no money.

Camacho said he was brought to Guam, instead, last Oct. 17 to get a second opinion. He said a Guam doctor informed him that he had a severe four-vessel coronary artery disease.

Two days later, Camacho had chest pain again so he was admitted to a Guam hospital, where doctors recommended that he be flown to the Los Angeles Hospital immediately.

Camacho said he was taken last Nov. 16 from Guam to the Los Angeles Hospital, where he underwent a heart bypass the following day (Los Angeles time). Camacho returned to Saipan last Nov. 30.

“Now, after my heart surgery, I will never be the same,” he said.

Camacho was convicted in the killing of a 13-year-old boy in Dandan in April 1988. He was sentenced in 1999 to 45 years in prison. The boy was stabbed numerous times in his own home as part of initiation rites for membership in the so-called Red Rum Gang.

Camacho’s co-defendants, both minors at the time, entered a plea deal with the government and were sentenced to two years imprisonment each.

Last June, Camacho applied for parole, but the Board of Parole denied his application.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at

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