Many incidents occur within prisons and correctional facilities that can and do lead to serious or fatal injuries.
Some of the most common examples include:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Unsafe or unsanitary conditions
- Transport vehicle crashes
- Prison staff misconduct
- Assault by prison staff or fellow inmates
- Failure to provide prompt medical care
- Ignoring an inmate’s request for medical care
- Substandard medical treatment/medical malpractice
- Sexual abuse and assault
- Cruel and unusual punishment
- General neglect
Individuals incarcerated in prisons have the right to a safe and healthy living environment, free from unsanitary conditions or hazards that could cause injury, illness, or death. They also have the absolute right to receive adequate medical care when needed.
When these rights are violated, injured individuals and the families of those wrongfully killed have the right to hold the liable party or parties accountable. At Wolf & Fuhrman LLP, we can help you seek justice. Our Bronx prison injury lawyers have extensive experience in this area of law and are available to immediately begin building your case.
Correction Officer Abuse & Neglect
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all individuals, including those incarcerated in prisons, from “cruel and unusual” punishment. Unfortunately, correction officers and other prison staff members violate this right too frequently—often with few or no consequences.
Examples of correction officer abuse and neglect include but are not limited to:
- Using violent and/or excessive force - Unfortunately, excessive force among staff is very common in prisons and jails, from overly aggressive restraints to assaults like punching and chemical spraying.
- Singling out an inmate- Being singled out for abuse is unacceptable. This can be in the form of physical or sexual assault or denying basic care.
- Sexual abuse or assault - All sexual contact between an incarcerated person and prison or jail staff is expressly forbidden.
- Discriminating against an inmate - Discrimination in prison or jail can come in the form of harassment, barring you from practicing certain religions, or denying disabled individuals what they need to complete basic tasks.
- Stealing from inmates - Stealing can apply to physical items as well as personal information, for example, in the case of fraudulently opening a credit card.
- Failure to intervene in inmate-on-inmate assaults - Allowing inmates to fight with each other or for one to attack the other is not proper protocol.
- Failure to provide adequate/prompt medical attention - Many inmates have passed away as a result from medical neglect from staff.
- Denying food or water - An incarcerated person should not be denied meals or water. While one or two skipped meals probably won't make a case, long periods of time without food/water or regularly skipped meals may be a violation of eighth amendment rights.
- Excessive use of solitary confinement- Solitary confinement has been found to cause lasting harm, capable of permanent changing a person's physical brain structure. It is a method that is supposed to be conservatively used, but sometimes, prisoners are placed in solitary confinement as a solution to nearly every inconvenience that arises for the staff.
When correction officers, guards, and other prison staff assault, abuse, or neglect inmates, they can be held accountable. Injured victims may even have grounds to bring a claim against the prison or facility that employs the correction officer, guard, or another staff member.
Wrongful Death in Prisons & Jails
According to a 2021 report by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 4,135 people died in state and federal prisons in the U.S. in 2018 (the latest year for which data are available). That same year, 1,120 people died in local jails nationwide. In both cases, these numbers represent the highest overall number of deaths in U.S. prisons and jails since at least 2000.
Many people who die in prison or local jails do so because of unsafe, unsanitary, and unhealthy conditions. High rates of abuse, assault, and neglect contribute to countless inmate injuries and deaths across the U.S. each year, including in New York State.
In still other cases, inmates die due to inadequate or delayed medical care, as was the case in a recent high-profile case involving a woman who passed away while jailed for petit larceny at Rikers Island when staff failed to provide her with prescription asthma medication and, later, failed to perform CPR when the woman went into respiratory arrest. After the woman’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against individual prison guards, Prison Health Services, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., and the City of New York, the case settled for $5.5 million in November of 2020.
If your loved one died while incarcerated, you could have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. We encourage you to reach out to our team at Wolf & Fuhrman LLP right away to learn how we can help. Our attorneys understand the ins and outs of the New York State prison system and are prepared to help you fight for justice on behalf of your family member.