The Lafayette Parish jail is a deadly place. A shocking 26 people have died within its walls since 2000 – or about one every six months. Louisiana officials say that wrongful deathallegations are flying after the most recent death, which occurred after an inmate was left in solitary confinement for 16 days. Defendants in that wrongful death case include the Lafayette Parish sheriff and the parish’s director of corrections. Relatives are seeking both compensatory and punitive damages in the matter, which also includes claims of negligence, constitutional violations and false imprisonment.
Authorities report that the victim was arrested on a misdemeanor in late November 2012, after which he was transported to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center for holding. The man’s uncle said that the victim had been showing signs of mental distress at that time. The victim was found unresponsive in his holding cell on Dec. 15, 2012.
Reports show that the victim had suffered mental and physical illnesses in the past, both of which were documented in the parish’s records. Officials say that the man was being held in solitary confinement while he was waiting for a mental health evaluation. News sources indicate that about 7,000 U.S. inmates die in correctional facilities every year, with many suffering from undiagnosed and untreated mental disorders.
This is of particular concern in Louisiana, which has the highest percentage of incarcerated individuals in the United States. In fact, more people are incarcerated per capita in Louisiana than in any other region of the world. Inmate deaths should be taken very seriously in this state. Sadly, scores of victims have died within the walls of the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center alone. Even though these decedents may have been criminals – or those simply awaiting criminal proceedings – they still deserve the same standard of medical care as that provided outside the prison gates.
Source: Courthouse New Service, “Twenty-Six Deaths in a County Jai” Sabrina Canfield, Dec. 17, 2013