Boston, Holt & Durham, PLLC

Prison suicide and a mother's wrongful death suit

America is a nation of laws. People who are found guilty of violating those laws pay a penalty and serve their time. The goal is to enable rehabilitation so they can be released back to society and become productive citizens. One would not expect such a system to be the subject of a wrongful death suit in Tennessee.

A young man was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery. He was found guilty and was serving his sentence at a maximum-security facility. Prior to his incarceration, he had been diagnosed as bi-polar with schizophrenic tendencies. According to the young man's mother, those diagnoses were not taken into consideration in his incarceration.

The young man had attempted suicide numerous times. Those attempts were not successful, and he was reportedly not under suicide watch. In July of 2018, five years into his sentence, his attempt succeeded. A year later, the young man's mother does not know any details of her son's death, and she is filing a wrongful death suit in an attempt to get information. According to a statement by a spokesperson for the Tennessee Department of Corrections (TDOC), mental health histories of inmates are confidential, but those viewed as suicide risks are put on a suicide watch, meaning they are checked on, at minimum, every 15 minutes.

An uptick in prison suicides has become in issue in Tennessee and around the country. The TDOC claims that they have stepped up training of personnel to deal with the issue. According to statistics provided by the TDOC, there were recently 12 suicides at facilities in Tennessee and 35 attempts. A person suffering from the insurmountable grief of losing a loved one in this way may wish to seek the assistance of professional counsel in order to determine if grounds exist for a wrongful death suit.

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