HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Protesters gathered outside Dauphin County Prison following the death of an inmate, who they say suffered a medical emergency without receiving the proper care.
Herbert “Herb” Tilghman was taken into custody on a drug charge a week ago.
People who knew him described him as kind and quick to laugh, despite demons with addiction. It’s those demons that dominate this story.
“He was a beautiful soul,” said Kevin Maxson, Voice of the Voiceless CEO.
He was a beautiful soul in an ugly fight.
“I used to tell him, ‘Bro, you need to get some help. People out here love you and care about you.’ He used to smile and he was like, ‘I’m cool, but I’m working on it. Just give me some time. I’m working on it,” Maxson said.
While incarcerated, Maxson said Tilghman was working through detox, and several inmates told him that Tilghman wasn’t getting proper medical care.
“You’re supposed to receive essential medicines to ensure that you don’t pass away, and he was deprived of all that,” Maxson said.
Protester Candace Stepp has walked in Tilghman’s shoes.
“Detoxing is a living hell. My body felt like it was on fire constantly. No matter what they gave me, it didn’t help,” Stepp said, who is three years clean.
While in detox, she had a violent seizure.
“I never want to go through that again, and I don’t doubt in my mind that someone could easily die from detoxing,” Stepp said.
Tilghman’s death is currently under review. District Attorney Fran Chardo said an initial investigation showed that prison staff immediately performed CPR, and there were no signs of trauma.
Maxson is skeptical. He said he receives call and messages from inmates daily about poor treatment.
“Y’all know the problem. Y’all know the solution. It’s time to act and be proactive and stop waiting for people to die before y’all pay attention to an issue that’s affecting our community,” Maxson said.
That community will remember a life lost, even it was troubled.
“I can promise you, it’s not just because they like getting high, it’s because something is going wrong in their life, and they don’t know how to handle it,” Stepp said.
“At the end of the day, whether you’re a addict, whether you’re an inmate, whether you’re a criminal, you’re a human being, and when you stop carrying about humanity, humanity fails,” Maxson said.