Family of Alabama inmate fears for his life, alleges neglect by prison officials

Kastellio Vaughan is serving a 20-year sentence at Elmore Correctional Facility.

September 26, 2022, 7:18 PM

When twins Kassie and Kascie Vaughan visited their brother at the Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore, Alabama, on Sunday, they said he was unable to walk, had lost a significant amount of weight and was almost unrecognizable.

The family of 32-year-old Kastellio Vaughan, who was convicted on burglary and break-in charges in 2019, now fears for his life, saying the Alabama Department of Corrections is neglecting his health.

"He's looking terrible. Just one word, terrible. He's feeling weak in spirit. He's really just, he's really feeling low," Kascie Vaughan told ABC News. "He doesn't look like Kastellio, the brother that we know."

Kassie Vaughan told ABC News she received harrowing photos of her older brother earlier this month along with a message to get him help. Photos depicting Kastellio Vaughan slumped over, emaciated, and with a large, undressed wound extending down his abdominal area were allegedly sent by an unidentified inmate at Elmore Correctional Center.

"He said, 'Your brother's not gonna make it until Monday. Please get him help.'...[He said] they brought him back to general population at the prison, they didn't cover up his wounds, and the staples was bursting out of his abdomen," Kassie Vaughan told ABC News.

The inmate who sent the photos claimed he saw Kastellio Vaughan vomiting and in a weakened state after being released to Elmore's general population on Aug. 30. That was the same day Kastellio Vaughan had surgery to remove part of his small intestine due to complications from an old gunshot wound, according to his sisters.

They allege they were unaware their brother underwent a procedure until receiving the photos.

Kastellio Vaughan was transferred to Staton Correctional Facility's Medical Observation Unit last Friday, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections.

Prison officials said Kastellio Vaughan had been in touch with his family and was observed walking and eating after his transfer to Staton Correctional.

"He has been in contact with his family to update them on his situation and ease their concerns," the department said in a statement about Vaughan's condition on Friday. "Inmate Vaughan has requested and received medical attention with the ADOC at least 11 times between July 30, 2022, and September 22, 2022. As a result, each time he received appropriate medical treatment and/or care."

"The ADOC offers a constitutional level care to all inmates," its statement continued. "However, inmates are not required to undergo care, just as citizens in the civilian world are afforded choice of whether to receive care."

Following their visit on Sunday, the Vaughan's said their brother's appearance and condition have not appeared to improve "at all" since the photos were taken. They also said he was using a wheelchair and unable to walk while they were at the facility. He also now has to use absorbent briefs, which the sisters said another inmate has to help change or he's forced to try and do it by himself.

The Alabama Department of Corrections has not responded to ABC News' request for comment on these most recent allegations.

Kassie Vaughan said she shared these photos of her brother on Facebook last week to bring attention to his deteriorating health.

Elmore Correctional Facility in Elmore, Ala., is seen in an image from Google Maps Street View from Mar 2022.
Google Maps Street View

"Even after being incarcerated and us being away from him, it really hurts but it was better because we knew that his health was OK," Kascie Vaughan said. "But after his health declined, we really just been feeling like we kind of losing our big brother. Like, we don't have no hope. And he's always protected us and now we feel like we are trying to protect him."

Kastellio Vaughan holds his newborn sisters Kassie and Kascie Vaughan.
Courtesy of Lee Merritt, Esq

Civil rights attorneys Lee Merritt, Harry Daniels, and Ben Crump, who are now representing Vaughan, allege this is a case of medical neglect that points to larger issues in the prison system. Kastellio Vaughan's legal team alleges he's lost 75 pounds in less than a month.

"This is horrific," Crump said in a statement on Sunday. "Let's be clear, the state of Alabama has tried to deflect any action or responsibility for Mr. Vaughan's condition at every turn. If it wasn't for these pictures, the media spotlight and the resulting uproar, we might never have known about the neglect and Mr. Vaughan would have died before the public knew anything was happening."

Kastellio Vaughan's legal team and family "are still deeply concerned about his safety in that prison," Merritt told ABC News. He said they are now pushing for Vaughan to receive a professional medical evaluation, treatment and appropriate accommodations to restore his health.

Kastellio Vaughan at the Elmore Correctional Facility, July 15, 2022 in Elmore, Ala.
Courtesy of Lee Merritt, Esq

"It shouldn't have been prisoners sending emergency text messages and photographs to his family, but it should have been the medical staff who are responsible for the health and safety of everyone who is under their care," Merritt said. "It is not as if Mr. Kastellio could have gone to see a doctor himself or scheduled an appointment. He is an inmate at that prison and the law requires that they honor their duty to provide for their prisoners' wellbeing."

"It doesn't matter what Kastellio did, why he was in jail, doesn't matter. As society as a whole, as human beings, we have a duty to one another. It doesn't matter what that person is imprisoned for," Daniels told ABC News. "We need this man to get well. Alright, we need him to get help. That's not asking for a whole lot."