Two days after Mississippi Today reported an inmate’s claim he was not receiving proper medical care at South Mississippi Correctional Institute, the prison transported him to an appointment with a specialist, the inmate said.

But the specialist, a urologist, said 30-year-old Charles Young would need to return for a procedure called a scope to determine what was causing his ongoing issues. Nearly a month later, Young still doesn’t know if, or when, he will have the procedure done.

In September, Young began urinating blood and experiencing excruciating pain in his left side. Months later, he is still experiencing pain, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Young said the urologist he saw on Oct. 12 mentioned the possibility of a tumor on his bladder.

Multiple requests for comment from the Mississippi Department of Corrections were not returned.

Young’s complaints arise amid an ongoing lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections and VitalCore, the company it contracts with to provide medical care to the incarcerated population. 

VitalCore’s Mississippi Medical Director Dr. Raman Singh previously told Mississippi Today that the company’s arrangements “ensure that our patients have the same level of access to specialist care as other Mississippians.” 

The lawsuit, filed in 2021 by the advocacy group Disability Rights Mississippi, alleges the defendants don’t provide treatment, medication and medical equipment for those in custody. Incarcerated people experienced worsened health conditions or death from ignored or refused calls for treatment and delayed outside appointments and follow up exams, the complaint says.  

The lawsuit highlighted dozens of situations, including a delayed diagnosis that led to the death of a woman at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl. Similar to Young, she made several sick calls about her symptoms, including blood in her urine, and complained of shortness of breath and passed out the week she died, according to the lawsuit. 

The Mississippi Department of Corrections has previously declined to comment on the lawsuit because it is ongoing. In court records, the department and VitalCore denied most of the allegations. 

Young has been at South Mississippi Correctional since 2019. He was sentenced to 20 years for manslaughter and aggravated assault and a five-year enhanced penalty of cocaine possession.

Though prison records list a 2033 tentative release date, Young said he has earned time off his sentence to be released in three years. He said he did that by enrolling in educational and skills programs as well as having jobs in the prison. 

In the meantime, Young is still in constant physical pain. He worries he’s got cancer.

“It’s the type of pain that never goes away, it’s just right there and makes you dizzy headed,” he said. 

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.