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All Jail and Prison Deaths Should Be Investigated

Steve Wagner


  • Indiana Department of Corrections has reported the deaths of two inmates, each from separate facilities in Marion and Bartholomew counties.
  • Indiana’s 42,000+ prisoners are part of a vulnerable population. No matter what they have found guilty of every one of these inmates possesses a constitutional right to receive appropriate medical care.
  • In the past decade, over 10,000 inmate deaths are attributed to sickness or disease of some kind, while too many others are the result of negligence or abuse from prison guards or other inmates. Families are often left to suffer in their absence.
  • Whether these most recent Indiana jail deaths are the result of inadequate mental health screenings or access to health care, all inmates have the right for medical help to prevent death from known conditions.

Indiana Department of Corrections Investigating Inmate Deaths

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 4,400 jail and prison inmates die every year in both city and county jails. In addition, of the 42,000 some inmates residing in an Indiana Department of Corrections facility, eight to twelve of them will be lost this year. The attorneys at Wagner Reese would argue that many of those deaths could be prevented with proper intake screenings, care and supervision. Correctional facilities have a duty to their inmates to ensure their safety, including those prisoners who recently died while at the Marion County Jail and the Bartholomew County Jail.

Marion County Jail Death Investigated as a Suicide

An investigation of a male inmate who was found unresponsive in his cell is ongoing at the Marion County Jail. Reports say jail officers found a 43-year-old male in his cell about 9:30 p.m. breathing, after what police believe to be an attempted suicide. He unfortunately died soon after. In 2017, Marion County Jail system recorded its largest population spike in five years leaving authorities to struggle with an overcrowding crisis.

Women Dies at Bartholomew County, Cause Unknown

Indiana State Police are also investigating the death of a Bartholomew County Jail inmate who was found unresponsive in her cell. Officials are now awaiting autopsy results of the 61-year-old woman. Indiana State Police said foul play is not suspected and toxicology tests are pending in the case. She was only held in the jail for a few days prior to her passing.

Jails in Indiana have been facing criticism for year on the mistreatment of inmates who require medical attention.

Full Investigation of Any Jail and Prison Death Is Necessary

Whether these inmates’ deaths were the result of a sickness, natural causes, or inadequate or insufficient health care, abuse or mistreatment – family and loved ones are now left to suffer in their absence. A full investigation is necessary to seek out answers and demand that the responsible parties are held accountable.

Filing a civil rights violation or wrongful death case at most times cannot be done without legal representation. Wagner Reese attorneys are experienced in jail and prison death cases and understand the complexities of federal civil rights litigation and how to plead a case for the family and loved ones left with painful questions to be answered.

How Can an Attorney Help?

In Indiana, there is a statutory cap of $700,000 on damages for negligence cases against government agencies or actors. However, many jail and prison death cases involve violations of federal civil rights under 42 U.S.C. §1983. There is no cap on damages in federal civil rights cases, and attorney fees can be recovered. Wagner Reese attorneys understand the complexities of federal civil rights litigation and know how to plead a case, so your claim is not limited by the state tort claims cap.

If your loved one has suffered injury or death in an Indiana jail or prison, the wrongful death attorneys at Wagner Reese can assist you in recovering damages for the losses you have sustained. Contact us now at (888) 204-8440 to schedule an appointment and speak with an attorney, or use our convenient, confidential contact form.


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