"I was afraid my entire stay there. That was a seven days of hell," said Buckles, of Chicago.
In September 2010, Buckles, who is HIV positive, was detained for a week at the Bureau County Jail in Princeton. After he was hired for a new job in Chicago, a background check discovered an outstanding arrest warrant for forgery in Bureau County. So he was taken into custody.
"At all times that I came into contact with the sheriff of the Bureau County Department, I made them aware of the necessity that I desperately needed those medications," he said.
But he says no one listened. For a week, he claims the jail denied him HIV medicine and medical attention. That's something he believes is the jail's responsibility. Last Monday, Buckles and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit against Bureau County in the Central District of Illinois in Peoria. It claims the jail put his life at risk by denying him "life-sustaining" medications. It states Bureau County Jail is responsible for the medical care of all individuals in its custody and that all detainees are dependent on the jail for medical services.
Buckles claims jail staff ignored numerous requests by him, Buckles' friends and medical professionals. The lawsuit says he encountered multiple health issues while detained as result of no medication. Buckles, who admits to a criminal history, says his crimes didn't warrant his treatment.
"Basically by my being denied those essential medications to live, i felt as though that was a death sentence. And i honestly felt like i was going to die," he said.
Buckles says he has no idea why he was treated "unfairly".
"I honestly couldn't answer why Sheriff [John] Thompson and his jailers rendered such harsh treatment toward me. I think he could better answer that,"
We've tried contacting Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson. He has not returned our calls.
The ACLU thinks money was an issue. According the lawsuit, medical notes, written by a Bureau County Jail nurse and obtained by the ACLU, say it "would be very costly to provide medical care" to Buckles.
Buckles says his medications costs nearly $3,000 per month. If cost was a factor, Buckles says that's still no excuse. Now, he's seeking compensation for his experience. But he says money would mean nothing, if the jail's policies don't change.
"[Sheriff Thompson's] practices were wrong. I would absolutely love for Sheriff Thompson and his staff to get the adequate training, so that they--so that no one else might experience such harsh treatment and neglect," he said.
The attorney representing Bureau County declined to comment. Last year, the Illinois Department of Corrections investigated the case and found no violation of state standards.
The IDOC County Jail Standards states "all jails shall provide a competent medical authority to ensure [...]documented medical and mental health services are available," including "treatment of ailments, prescription of medications and special diets, liaison with community medical facilities and administration of medications."
Buckles is currently working as an HIV counselor for homeless people in Chicago. It's the job he landed before being detained in Bureau County.