Mathewson, 14 other prisoners sue DOC officials

William Kapono Mathewson, a farmer/fisherman who is serving a 15-year prison term for stabbing a physician with a fishing spear on Rota, together with 14 other inmates, is suing Department of Corrections Commissioner Vincent S. Attao and Division of Corrections director Gregory Castro.

Mathewson and the 14 other prisoners, through counsel Jeanne H. Rayphand, claim that Corrections has failed to provide them with medical care, mental healthcare, dental care, and eye.

The 14 other inmates are Steven Aguon, Ray Anthony Babauta, Joseph Barto, Ji-Jing Borja, George Cruz, Donald Hocog, Nena Langu, Wei Lin, Joaquin Lizama, Daniel Mauricio, Carlos Ramangmau, Alfredo Reyes, Price Shoiter, and Xinqiang Zheng.

The inmates are suing Attao and Castro for alleged cruel and unusual punishment by not providing them with adequate medical care and mental health treatment, and subjecting them to solitary confinement.

The 15 inmates alleged that Attao and Castro subjected them to excessive solitary confinement, in violation of the 8th and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs want the U.S. District Court for the NMI to declare Attao and Castro of having failed to provide adequate medical care, mental healthcare, dental care, and eye care to them and other prisoners, in violation of the 8th and 14th amendments.

The inmates also want a court declaration that they were subjected to excessive solitary confinement, in violation of the 8th and 14th amendments.

Rayphand, of the Northern Marianas Protection & Advocacy Systems Inc., asked the court to provide Mathewson psychiatric care and treatment and medication; psychiatric care and treatment for Aguon and medical care for shoulder pain, heart condition, and tonsillitis, braces for joints, medications for diabetes and mental health and blood sugar tests for diabetes; dental care and medications for back/spinal pain for Babauta; and blood sugar and blood pressure checks, dental care, and medicine for Barto;

For Borja, Rayphand is asking for psychiatric care, treatment, counseling, and to have him placed in an “open bay” and not solitary confinement, medications and renewal of prescriptions for medications on a regular basis, dental care, and payment of medical/dental care incurred for repair of injury to hisfront teeth.

She asked the court to provide Cruz eye care and Hocog dental care and medical evaluation and treatment for injuries and pain in his feet.

The lawyer asked the court to provide Langu medical evaluation and treatment of back pain, and for Lin medical care for head injury and continuing pain, and medication.

She asked the court to provide Lizama dental care such as root canal and dentures, blood sugar checks and medication, and medical care for severe back pain and pain in his elbows and knees; and eye care.

She requested the court to provide Mauricio eye care for an eye condition that causes pain, blurry vision, and headache.

Rayphand asked the court to provide Ramangmau medical care and medications for seizures, medical care for injuries received when having seizure, and medications, and dental care.

She asked the court to provide Reyes eye care and dental care, and Shoiter with dental care, medical care for knee and shoulder pain; and eyeglasses, and medications.

She asked the court to provide Zheng medical treatment for his injured knees, and eyeglasses.

Rayphand asked the court to order the defendants to implement a plan to eliminate risk of harm that prisoners suffer due to inadequate medical care, mental health care, dental care, and eye care.

Jerry Ray, an inmate, also filed last week a separate lawsuit in federal court against Attao, Castro, and four other DOC officials, suing for allegedly subjecting him to solitary confinement and isolation and failing to provide him mental healthcare.

Jerry Ray, through Rayphand, is suing the defendants for allegedly subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment, and providing him inadequate mental health treatment.

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 ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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