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Wrongful death suit filed against Texas jail

Many lawsuits nowadays are targeting prisons across the country for the mistreatment of inmates. A Texas jail and county sheriff are facing a wrongful death suit after the death of an inmate. Autopsy reports showed that the inmate suffered from meningitis when he died.

The 29-year-old inmate was imprisoned for criminal mischief and was determined to be mentally incompetent to stand trial. His lawyers showed that the man had schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder, which caused him to hallucinate and act psychotic at times. After being put on suicide watch, losing over 30 pounds and acquiring a leg infection, he collapsed in his cell and died shortly afterwards.

The inmate's mother and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed the lawsuit stating that the man should have been transferred to a mental health institution. An assistant police chief said that the inmate was waiting to be transferred to a hospital when he died.

This case, along with many others, shines a light on the problem prisons have with properly caring for people with mental disabilities. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards is trying to remedy the problem by requiring jails to have a mental health plan to address these challenges. A state Senator recently filed a bill that would send mentally ill people to mental health facilities as opposed to jails. The hope is that with these improvements, fewer tragedies will occur and mentally ill people will receive better care.

Wrongful death suits can hold certain parties liable for their negligent actions. They provide a way for the woman who lost her son and others like her to get the closure they need.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "Nueces County Jail Facing Lawsuit Over 2011 Death," Maurice Chammah, Feb. 6, 2013

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Brian Jensen

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