The families of those who have died in prison often receive no closure for the loss of their loved ones. Many are in the dark as to why their loved one was arrested and how they died while in custody. When this happens, often the only remedy that a family can seek is to bring a claim for wrongful death in prison.
Neglecting Ill Inmates
The city of New York just agreed to pay more than $5 million to settle lawsuits brought the families of two inmates who died in prison. One of the inmates swallowed a toxic soap packet and was ignored by jail staff for hours as he complained of being in pain. The other died of complications related to diabetes a mere 15 hours after being brought to the Rikers Island facility. Surveillance videos indicate that he too was neglected while showing obvious signs of suffering from a debilitating illness.
Sadly, this issue is not limited to New York. In August, the family of Sandra Bland—who was reported as having committed suicide while being in custody after a routine traffic stop—also filed a wrongful death suit due to the dangerous conditions that Ms. Bland was left in while in custody.
Ms. Bland was allegedly stopped in her car due to failing to signal when she changed lanes and taken into custody after arguing with the police officer who pulled her over. According to authorities, she was later found in her cell, having ended her own life. Knowing that she had tried to commit suicide in the past, the suit claims that not only did officers demonstrate a conscious disregard for her constitutional rights and safety–as well as use excessive force–but they also placed her in a cell with items that threatened her safety.
Wrongful Death in Prison
Wrongful death suits are essentially personal injury suits brought on behalf of the deceased. In other words, had the deceased survived, they could have brought a claim against defendant(s) for their injuries and damages sustained. This also applies to anyone who has been taken into custody and placed in jail; the government is responsible for ensuring that they are not injured or killed due to their staff’s negligence.
These facilities can do more to ensure that inmates are protected by requiring mental health training for officers and improving the communication and coordination between medical/mental health workers and correctional officers. According to studies, inmates with mental illness are more likely than other inmates to be neglected and abused. In addition, disciplinary action needs to be taken against any staff who abuse or neglect inmates.
Wrongful Death Attorneys Serving Philadelphia & Surrounding Areas
The Pennsylvania wrongful death attorneys at Solnick & Associates, LLC can help surviving family members seeking justice for the death of their loved ones. Sometimes this is the only way to ensure that change occurs in facilities that have deteriorated. Contact us today for a free consultation.