Jail Let Mentally Disabled Man Starve to Death, Lawsuit Says

Arrested for stealing $5.05 worth of candy and soda, a 24-year-old man from Portsmouth, Virginia, Jamycheal Mitchell, has allegedly been starved to death by prison guards. Mitchell has been repeatedly diagnosed with psychotic and delusional disorders, has allegedly been left to starve in squalid prison conditions. His aunt, Roxanne Adams, has filed a lawsuit against the prison.

It is reported that his medical records show that he died of a “heart condition “accompanying wasting syndrome of unknown etiology.” The lawsuit alleges that “jail staff had allegedly denied him many meals, cut off the water to his cell and left him naked with no bedding or shoes as he smeared feces on the window of his urine-covered cell.” He had lost 40 pounds in his time in Hampton Roads Regional Jail, and was “nearly cachetic.” The lawsuit also alleges that inmates pleaded with guards to help Mitchell, to no avail.    

The 112 page complaint identifies 39 defendants, including the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, the state Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services and the private prison health care firm, NaphCare. Adams is demanding a jury trial and $60 million in damages for wrongful death. The prison is not commenting on the suit.

Abuse in California’s Legal System

It is no secret that America’s prison system is amongst the most horrifying in the world. In California, massive overcrowding, lack of healthcare and access, and rampant violence erupt, with the mentally ill usually being left to deteriorate. It has already been found that prisons are unconstitutionally overcrowded, which violates the 8th amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Abuse in the prison system by the jail guards include: physical abuse, unreasonable use of restraints, spiteful punishments, starvation, sexual assault, and lack of access to bathrooms and water.

Believe it or not, prisoners do have constitutional rights. They have the right to free speech and the practice of their religion although the state is allowed to impose more restrictions in prison settings than in normal public settings. It is also constitutional for guards to perform random searches because prisoners do not have the same expectation of privacy as free people. In 2010, the American Bar Association published a set of ABA Criminal Justice Standards on Treatment of Prisoners. Amongst those standards was the right to segregated housing to mental health and adequate nutrition.   

Have You Suffered Prison Abuse and Police Brutality? We Can Help

Excessive force is unacceptable. At the Law Offices of David M. Boertje we understand the importance of keeping you out of jail and your right to be treated with dignity even while imprisoned. We will defend your constitutional rights and file complaints on your behalf. We will work to ensure your rights through the booking process to charging, and throughout trial. If you have been charged with a crime or mistreated by prison guards, do not hesitate to contact attorney David Boertje today.