A sentence of weekends in the Fayette County Detention Center for drunken driving shouldn't carry a death penalty.
But that appears to be what happened to a 54-year-old Lexington man who slowly died of a pulmonary embolism while two jail nurses refused to assess his condition, despite his complaints and obvious physical distress.
The nurses said he was faking.
In response to complaints filed by the man's family, the Kentucky Board of Nursing is investigating the nurses who were employees of a private contractor, Correctional Medical Services Inc.
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The jail's internal investigation ended after an autopsy attributed the death to natural causes.
That's an appallingly superficial assessment by the managers of a jail that has had more than its share of problems.
Just last week, two former jail employees were sentenced to 10 years in prison for systematically brutalizing inmates from January to October 2006.
In January, Mayor Jim Newberry asked the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights to investigate allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation against the jail's female employees.
That investigation is ongoing.
Sadly, Dean Ferguson, the inmate who died, assured his sister that, if he became seriously ill at the jail, he would be cared for.
That's a minimal expectation the public shares.
Taxpayers are footing the bill for nursing services at the detention center.
City officials should find out whether those services are being delivered on a reliable basis. If not, why not?