Robenalt Law Seeks Justice for Inmates Injured or Killed Due to Lack of Supervision or Inadequate Mental or Medical Care

Man in prison holding onto bars. - The Robenalt Law Firm, Inc.

Problems continue in Cuyahoga County’s jail system.

According to a U.S. Marshal Service report, eight people died while in custody at the Cuyahoga County Jail in 2018.

2019 did not start much better. In January an inmate committed suicide in an area where a guard was monitoring two times the usual number of inmates.

The U.S. Marshall’s Service report called the Cuyahoga County jail “one of the worst” in the country and claimed that prisoners were being held in “inhumane” dangerous conditions.

The Marshall’s service report found that:

  • Medical care in the Cuyahoga County jail is inadequate, and answers regarding the deaths were “insufficient and inadequate”
  • Food is used as a form of punishment and inmates in Restrictive Housing do not receive an adequate number of calories
  • Inmates are not permitted to perform proper hygiene and are not allowed access to showers, telephones, and recreation opportunities
  • Inmates are not afforded appropriate privacy for showering and other personal hygiene activities
  • Juvenile detainees are housed with adult offenders and are subjected to many of the same shortcomings that affect adult offenders
  • The Cuyahoga County jail is not Prison Rape Elimination Act compliant, and 119 deficiencies identified in 2015 have not been corrected
  • Fire emergency drills are not being performed
  • The facility is over capacity
  • Meals are not properly stored or refrigerated
  • Inmates awaiting court are placed in cells that lack functioning toilets and running water, do not have a place to sit, and house up to 12 inmates in a cell designed for up to 2

Despite promises to improve jail conditions, inmates say that problems persist.

In a July 18, 2019 letter, John Adams, the supervisor in charge of Ohio’s jail inspections, said that the Cuyahoga County jail continues to provide inadequate medical care for inmates.

Families of people who were injured or killed while in custody of the Cuyahoga county jail have already filed several lawsuits seeking justice for their loved ones.

Legal Standards for Those Seeking Justice for Inmates Injured by a Lack of Medical Care

Inmates are constitutionally protected from “cruel and unusual punishment” under the 8th Amendment to the United States’ Constitution, and by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

To establish a case for an unconstitutional denial of medical care, an inmate must be able to show that the inmate had a “sufficiently serious” medical need such that even someone without medical training would recognize the need for a doctor’s attention, and that prison officials had a “culpable state of mind in denying medical care.” The prison official’s state of mind can be shown through “deliberate indifference” to the inmate’s medical need demonstrated by grossly inadequate medical care or a decision to take an easier but less effective course of treatment.

Proving a Case of Inmate Suicide Due to Inadequate Mental Healthcare

Inmates who suffer from mental illness are likewise entitled to appropriate mental health care while incarcerated.

Just as a prison can be held responsible for failing to provide adequate medical care, prisons can be held responsible for failing to adequately provide for the mental health of inmates in their custody.

To establish a claim for failure to provide adequate mental health care, an inmate must show that the prison displayed a deliberate indifference to a clear pattern of suicidal tendencies. Deliberate indifference may involve a failure to perform mental health and psychiatric examinations, or a failure to consider obvious risk factors when assessing the likelihood of inmate suicide.

Inmates Injured in Assaults by Other Inmates

19% of male and 22% of female inmates report being physically assaulted by other inmates.

Unfortunately, violence is a part of life in prison, especially for people convicted of sex-related offenses, LGBT prisoners, and younger prisoners.

Nonetheless, inmates have a right to be free from injuries due to assaults by other inmates, and the prison system has a duty to keep inmates in their custody safe.

Common causes of inmate-on-inmate violence include:

  • Inadequate supervision
  • Blind spots where Closed Circuit TV coverage is insufficient
  • Overcrowding and understaffing

Robenalt Law Seeks Justice for Victims of Prison Injuries

If you or someone you care about was injured while in prison, your family may be entitled to compensation.

Some prisons are run by the state, while others are operated by private, for-profit businesses.

Regardless of the entity managing the correctional facility, prisons and jails have a legal duty to provide reasonable protection for the safety and well-being of the inmates in their custody. If an inmate is injured or killed, whether because of a failure to provide adequate medical care or because the correctional did not provide adequate supervision of other inmates, the inmate has a right to seek compensation for their injuries.

If you or someone you care about was injured in prison, an attorney can help. Contact an experienced prison injury attorney at Robenalt Law today. Call 216-223-7535, email trobenalt@robenaltlaw.com, or complete our online form.

Categories: Types of Injuries

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